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Gamble's Mill


 James Gambel - Gamble (bn. 1759- 1760) and his son John H. (bn. 1782) arrived in what was to become the Shelby area sometime in the Spring of 1823. James was a son of Hugh and Margaret Gambel who were from the Dutchess County area of New York State.

Soon after arriving, James and his John, determined that because of scarcity of cornmeal in this area, they would construct a grist mill. Prior to this time, each settler had to grind their own grain by hand, which was done in a fairly primitive and work intensive manner.
"Knowing full well the value of corn as a food, and having had some milling experience, John Gamble built a grist mill upon the spot now occupied by The First National Bank." *
Gamble used two large stones for the basis of his mill. The first he embedded into the ground and formed into a bowl shape. One end of the second smaller stone was formed to "fit" into the bowl shape of the larger stationary stone. This smaller stone was attached to a small diameter log which could be hitched to a horse or ox which would provide the power for turning this smaller stone within the bowl of the first. The corn was placed into the bowl shaped cavity and the smaller stone was lowered into place, and the circular grinding begun. When the corn was ground to sufficient fineness, the smaller stone was lifted, the ground grain was removed to be sifted through a coarsely woven cloth which removed some of the unground kernals or foreign material. The bowl was refilled with shelled corn and the process was repeated. The corn meal produced, and the uniformity of the end product could not be compared to what is produced by the modern process, however it was superior and more efficient than what could be produced by the
early settler.
"When a settler didn't have the money to pay his grinding fee Gamble reverted to a barter system. That is, he charged one sixth the amount of the grain ground as his fee. It was the standard American charge of the time. The old English miller's fees of one third the amount of the grain ground was considered much too high by the Americans, so they cut their fee in half." *
It was this grist mill the little community of settlers was first identified with, and for which it was first named, in 1826, Gamble's Mill.
John Gamble served as the first Post Master from 1826 until 1839.

* The Story of Early Shelby - Raymond Wilkinson

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