Readyville Mill History Project

Readyville Mill

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Title: Readyville Mill History Project

Dates: 1992-2012

Creator: Preserve the Area's Rural Qualities (PARQ) [www.parq.org]

Summary/Abstract: This project includes documentation of both the history of Readyville Mill in Cannon County, Tennessee, and the process of preserving and restoring the site. The mill is an important historical site in Middle Tennessee, providing a glimpse into a specific era and lifestyle that spanned generations. The documentation of the site and efforts to preserve it, as well as the stories of people who remember the mill operations and its importance to the community, are a major part of this project. The project also documents the eventual restoration of the mill and its return to operation as both an active mill, historic site, and tourist destination.

Quantity/Physical Description: One linear foot; oral history interviews with accompanying transcripts and photographic images.

Language(s): English

Repository: Albert Gore Research Center, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN 37132, (615) 898-2632

Restrictions on Access: None

Copyright: Preserve the Area's Rural Qualities has deposited its material at the Albert Gore Research Center with the proviso that researchers can use the material for educational purposes. Copyright and use information for each oral history interview may vary; check the interview release forms for details. Generally, it is presumed that corporate and individual copyrights in manuscripts, photographs, and other materials have been retained by the copyright owners. Copyright restrictions apply. Users of materials should seek necessary permissions from the copyright holders to comply with U.S. copyright laws.

Preferred Citation: (Report Vol. Number or Name, Oral History), Readyville Mill History Project, Albert Gore Research Center, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Acquisition: Donation

Processed By: James T. Havron, archivist (2012)

Arrangement: The project documentation is arranged in two series. The first is the printed report issued by the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University on the history and preservation needs related to the Readyville Mill, along with any additional documents that may be collected for reference. The second series consists of oral histories that were conducted on behalf of Preserve the Area's Rural Qualities (PARQ) and physical documents associated with those oral history interviews.

Biographical Note: Readyville Mill began operating as a grist mill on the Stones River about 1812. The original mill was constructed by Charles Ready, burned in the 1860s, and was rebuilt in the 1870s. This structure continued operations as one of several mills in the area, supporting farms and the few rural businesses. Besides grinding grain, the mill was used to operate a lumber operation, produce ice, and generate electricity. Readyville Mill had several owners over the years, occasionally changing names based upon the name of the new owner, and continued to operate into the latter half of the twentieth century. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. It badly needed restoration work, so preservationists sought and received a grant from the United States Department of Interior for such a purpose in 1978. The grant was only partially used and the mill finally closed later that year.

After closing, it began to fall further into disrepair, although efforts were made by Preserving the Area's Rural Qualities (PARQ) to preserve as much of the structure as posible. The Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University in nearby Murfreesboro conducted a study of the site in 1992, and the majority of the resulting report is part of the documentation of this project. They recommended professional architects be consulted before restoration work was considered. The mill remained empty until 2006 when it was purchased by Tomm Brady, who proceeded to restore the mill, doing most of the work by himself rather than hiring professional contractors. The mill opened for business again in 2009.

In order to help preserve the tradition of Readyville Mill and its importance to the community, PARQ provided grants to conduct oral histories of area residents that recalled earlier days of the mill's operation. These histories document the manner in which grain was ground and stored, the common granary system used by mill customers, the use of the mill for lumber and ice production, and the generation of electricity for the local residents before wires brought it in from elsewhere. The stories also tell much about the community life in Readyville and the surrounding area. The project is ongoing; contact PARQ for more information.

Scope and Content: The project documentation is arranged in two series:

Series one is collected research material, including the printed report issued by the Center for Historic Preservation (CHP) at Middle Tennessee State University after its historical research and site survey in 1992. The report contains a sourced historical narrative on the mill and the surrounding community, as well as a general history on the milling process. The report also contains a site analysis, including the existing condition of the site at the time and recommendations for restoration work. Appended to the report are various forms that would be useful in establishing a nonprofit organization for the preservation of the mill and copies of articles from journals providing restoration tips.

Series one also contains a research material subject file that contains any additional materials accrued that might be of value to researchers, apart from those included in the initial scope of the project.

Series two is the Readyville Mill Oral History Project. In order to help preserve the tradition of Readyville Mill and its importance to the community, Preserve the Area's Rural Qualities (PARQ) has contracted with local historians and MTSU to conduct oral histories of area residents that recalled earlier days of the mill's operation. These histories document the manner in which grain was ground and stored, the common granary system used by mill customers, the use of the mill for lumber and ice production, and the generation of electricity for the local residents before wires brought it in from elsewhere. The stories also tell much about the community life in Readyville and the surrounding area. Transcriptions as well as audio recordings of the interviews are part of the series. This series also include some video recording as well as photo images of the interviewees, all associated with the individual interviews. The Tomm Brady image gallaries, "Before and After" and "Restoring Readyville Mille," will be found with his interview in the table below.

This series also includes documents relating to the oral history project that are not part of the Albert Gore Research Center's records. For example, there are documents related to individual interviews that are not part of the Middle Tennessee Oral History Project as well as the Readyville Mill Oral History Project.

The physical documents for both series are listed in an inventory that is separate from that of the oral history audio files, both of which may be found below.

Associated Materials: There are no known associated materials.

Related Collections: There are no known related collections.

Subject Terms:

Grist Mills
Tennessee Mills
Rural Life
Generating Electricity
Ice Making
Grain Crops
Lumber Mills
Rural Industry
Preserve the Area’s Rural Qualities (PARQ)
National Register of Historic Places
Stones River

Persons:

Brady, Tomm
Brady, Martha
McFerrin, Arthur “Rat”
Epperly, Wayne
Ready, Charles
Peay, Robert
Barker, Ray
Lassiter, James
Jones, Elder
Brandon, Willie
Stroop, Irving
Barrett, Elizabeth

Places:

Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Readyville, Tennessee
Cannon County, Tennessee
Rutherford County, Tennessee
Halls Hill, Tennessee
Woodbury, Tennessee
Milton, Tennessee

Subjects (General):

Middle Tennessee History
Water Powered Mills
Rural Industry
Grist Mills

Material Types:

Paper Reports
Audio Tapes
Photographic Images
Video Recordings
Transcripts

 

PROJECT DOCUMENTS

Box Number Folder Number Series Description
1
2
Research
Readyville Mill Reference - General
1
2
Research
PARQ Oral History Project Contacts
1
3
Research
Center for Historic Preservation Report on Readyville Mill
1
4
Research
Center for Historic Preservation Report on Readyville Mill (continued from previous folder)
1
5
Research
Center for Historic Preservation Report on Readyville Mill (continued from previous folder)
1
6
Research
Center for Historic Preservation Report on Readyville Mill (continued from previous folder)
1
7
Research
Center for Historic Preservation Report on Readyville Mill (continued from previous folder)
1
8
Research
Center for Historic Preservation Report on Readyville Mill (continued from previous folder)
2
1
Oral History
Peay, Robert W., Sr. interview documents
2
2
Oral History
Barker, C. Ray and Henrietta interview documents
2
3
Oral History
Lassiter, James N., Jr. interview documents
2
4
Oral History
Jones, Elder G. interview documents
2
5
Oral History
Sharp, Kathy and Alf interview documents
2
6
Oral History
Tate, Teresa interview documents
2
7
Oral History
Flipse, Joe interview documents
2
8
Oral History
Haley, Normagine and Campbell, Polly interview documents
2
9
Oral History
Hayes, Bobbie interview documents
2
10
Oral History
Branch, Randle interview documents
2
11
Oral History
Gilley, Jean interview documents
2
12
Oral History
Rust, Jane and Prince, Thea interview documents
2
13
Oral History
Helton, Mable interview documents
2
14
Oral History
Brandon, Willie DVD copy of video interview
2
15
Oral History
Brady, TommDVD copy of video interview

 

 

ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEWS:

Interview Number Interviewee Date Link to Transcript Link to Audio Photo
1
Peay, Robert W., Sr.
May 14, 2007
Robert Peay
2
Barker, C. Ray and Henrietta
May 27, 2007
Ray Barker
3
Lassiter, James N., Jr.
October 10, 2007
James Lassiter
4
Jones, Elder G.
November 13, 2007
Elder Jones
5 (same as MT 404)
Brady, Tomm
March 11, 2009
Tomm Brady
 
Tomm Brady photos
   
6 (same as MT 405)
Brandon, Willie

April 22, 2009 and

June 3, 2009

Willie Brandon
7 (same as MT 408)
Stroop, Irving C., Jr.
July 30, 2009
Irving Stroop
8 (same as MT 410)
Barrett, Elizabeth M.
August 7, 2009
Elizabeth Barrett
9
Sharp, Kathy and Alf
January 11, 2012
Kathy and Alf Sharp
10
Tate, Teresa
January 21, 2012
Teresa Tate
11
Flipse, Joe
March 1, 2012
Joe Flipse
12
Haley, Normagine and Campbell, Polly
March 7, 2012
Haley and Campbell
13
Hayes, Bobbie
March 16, 2012
Bobbie Hayes
14
Branch, Randle
April 11, 2012
Randle Branch
15
Gilley, Jean
May 5, 2011
Jean Gilley
16
Rust, Jane and Prince, Thea
May 8, 2012
Jane Rust and Thea Prince
17
Helton, Mable
May 22, 2012
Mable Helton