Last Friday afternoon I was copied on an e-mail from my boss regarding a discovery. This summer they are doing some sewer work at Reidville Elementary School, and according to the e-mail the construction workers had dug up an old mill stone behind the school. The e-mail was addressed to the principal of the school, asking if she wanted to keep it. I was copied on the e-mail because Dr. Wood knew I had an interested both in local history and photography. Of course, I had to go see it and try to find out more about it.
The stone was found right behind the school, and is a bit of an anomaly. It’s a composite stone. There is a central octagonal stone with a key/axle hole in the middle. Eight more segments radiate out from the central core. The entire stone was held together with iron banding.
As I was taking these photos the digger operator stopped and come over. He pointed out where the stone was found, about five to six feet under the ground.
As fascinating as the stone and its design are, I was even more intrigued with its origins. Where did it come from? Why was it buried so deeply on a school ground?
I checked the 1825 Robert Mills Atlas for Spartanburg County. It not only shows roads and towns, but mills in the area. Unfortunately, it wasn’t much help here. The only mills in the area were several miles away. There was not a creek or river nearby to provide power for a local mill, so it’s doubtful there was one closer.
It’s possible that an animal-driven mill was located here. However, that’s not likely. A school of some type has been on this location for over a hundred years, so any mill would have to be prior to that time.
The more likely story is that the stone was moved onto the school grounds, possibly as part of the landscaping. It was forgotten, and subsequent construction and grass covered it up until it was forgotten. That seems a more likely story.
Regardless, it’s a fascinating discovery. The stone will become a centerpiece for the school’s garden area. The local historical society has been contacted, and with luck, they can add more to the story.