Cameron Mill


Introduction

       With fingers reaching into the western and central portions of Person county, the Flat River flows southeast into Durham county where it combines with the Little and the Eno to flow to the Atlantic as the Neuse.

Settlement came early to this river basin. Along with settlement came the watermill. While water wheels were put to many uses, by far the most common uses were grinding grains and sawing logs. Some mills were in this area as early as mid 1700s.

Pending continued research we think this site was in use from 1819, when Duncan Cameron built his second grist mill in Person county, until sometime (yet to be determined) after 1922 when Edwin Moore built a new grist mill at the same site.

History

     One of the area’s earliest and largest plantation owners was Osborne Jeffries. We believe this property was within the Person County holdings of Osborne Jeffries in 1812 when it was acquired by Duncan Cameron. It then remained in the Cameron family until 1922 when 153 acres encompassing the mill site were sold by the Paul Cameron estate to Edwin Moore. Moore raised the dam, made other repairs and opened a new mill at the site.

     The Cameron family was one of the largest landholders in this area. The restored homeplace and grounds are open to the public. It is in Durham county on Old Oxford Road.

     Jean Anderson is the author of the definitive book on the Cameron family, Piedmont Plantation – The Cameron Bennehan Families and Lands in North Carolina. The book is available at Stagville. Mrs. Anderson has inspected the Cameron Mill site and acted as consultant on all the Cameron research. All of the Cameron information below comes either from her book or the current research that she has done for this project. I want to take this time to say thank you to a remarkable and delightful lady.

From Piedmont Plantation we gather the tidbits below.

  • Before 1819, Duncan Cameron had a mill built on a fork of the Flat River on land he had recently acquired.

  • In 1809, Duncan Cameron bought 2300 acres from Osborne Jeffries on forks of Flat River. (We believe this to be the site of the first mill, yet to be located and explored)

  • In 1819, Duncan Cameron had a second mill built on the OTHER fork of the Flat River

  • This second seat was rocky and required “rock blowing” (This site shows evidence of fractured rock at one point in the race which, along with other clues, leads us to believe this is the site we are exploring.)

Location: On the south fork of the Flat River between Dick Holeman Road and Ned Moore Road
GPS:
at head gate 36 15 28.0 N 078 57 52.5 W
        
at first wheel pit 36 15 27.2 N 078 57 50.5 W
         at second wheel pit 36 15 25.5 N 078 57 50.3 W

Description of mill site

The north side of the river at the dam is solid rock that rises quickly and sharply. The rockwork of the northern abutment bonds to this natural stone face. From this abutment, the dam wall extends across the river to the massive gate structure then to the south abutment. The total distance from abutment to abutment is 206 feet. All of the dam wall is intact except for the 54 feet that crosses the river channel.

Because of the natural rise of the land, a fore race of 56 feet was dug upstream of the dam from the pond to the head gate. After passing through the head gate, the head race has a downhill side wall about 50 feet long until the race can again become a trench dug into the hillside. This trenched head race extends downstream for a total of 340 feet before it returns to the river by way of the spillway or one of the wheel pits.

    The first upstream wheel pit is about 250 feet from the head gate. It is lined with rock stacked into walls around three sides and would appear to have housed about a 12 foot wheel. We speculate that this was the wheel pit used by Edwin Moore in 1922.

The wheel pit at the end of the head race appears to be older and larger. Beside this wheel pit are 4 piers of rock and mortar that have a distance of 32 feet between the first and fourth pier. Blacksmith hammered nails and other artifacts found around the piers lead us to speculate that this was the site of the earlier Cameron mill which was probably abandoned by 1900 and allowed to collapse in upon itself.

Further study

This millsite is privately owned but the owners are spearheading the effort to document and research the site. Research will continue as we gather more of the history of the mill seat, its mills and millers.

Diagrams of Cameron' Quarter Mill site

Click below to view:

      Cameron's Quarter-1 Cameron's Quarter-2 Cameron's Quarter-3

2013 by the NCGenWeb Project, Inc., and/or individual contributors.    Last updated 01/24/2013