George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 30 December 1769]

30. Mr. Boucher went away. I Rid to My Mill with [ ] Ball and agreed with [him] to Build here.

GW had decided in the spring to replace his small plantation mill with a merchant mill which could manufacture large quantities of high-grade flour suitable for sale in the colony or for export to lucrative markets abroad (GW to Charles West, 6 June 1769, DLC:GW). By grinding his own wheat he might increase his profit from each year’s crop, and if he bought wheat from other farmers and sold flour ground from it, he could make even more money. The new mill was to be built downstream from the old one, near the point where narrow, shallow Dogue Run widened into navigable Dogue Creek, a convenient location for water transportation. But the exact site would not be determined until the terrain in the area had been thoroughly studied.

The millwright was John Ball of Frederick County, who about this time was sending goods by wagon from the Shenandoah Valley to Falmouth (malone, 701). He was also probably the John Ball (1742–1806) who settled on Licking Run, Fauquier County, in 1771 (deed of James and Sarah Duff to John Ball, 2 April 1771, Fauquier County Deeds, Book 4, 158, Vi Microfilm). A son of William Ball (1718–1785) of Lancaster County, this John Ball married Sarah Ellen Payne in 1767 and later became a captain in the Fauquier militia (snoddy description begins Mrs. Allen B. Snoddy. “Ball Notes.” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 23 (1915): 308–9. description ends , 308; gwathmey description begins John H. Gwathmey. Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution: Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, 1775-1783. Richmond, 1938. description ends , 35). His eldest son, William, may have been the William Ball who was engaged to rebuild GW’s mill in 1791 (George Augustine Washington’s agreement with William Ball, 16 April 1791, DLC:GW).

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