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What happened to the wheat berries after they were gathered in the barn?

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The Gristmill

The clean wheat berries were taken to George Washington's gristmill. In the mill, the wheat berries were ground, or crushed, into flour.

This is the gristmill at Mount Vernon today.

This is the flour from the gristmill.

Making Flour

First, the wheat berries were put into the hopper.

The wheat berries went between two big grinding stones.

The mill had a big water wheel.

The water wheel turned and made the gears move. The gears made the grinding stones turn.

As the stones turned, they crushed the wheat berries into flour.

The Mount Vernon Gristmill

The original mill is gone. A new mill was built to show how it worked. It is just like George Washington's mill. Watch the video. Listen to the mill. Is it quiet or loud?

Flour in the Kitchen

Some of the wheat flour from the mill stayed at Mount Vernon. The family and guests at Mount Vernon ate foods made with the flour.

Flour for Sale

But George Washington sold most of the flour. It was put into barrels. Some of the barrels of flour were purchased by merchants in Alexandria, Virginia.

Washington sent his highest quality flour across the ocean on his own ship. He sold it in Portugal and the West Indies.


This is the kitchen at Mount Vernon. Enslaved cooks made bread, pies, and cakes here.


The Price of Flour

George Washington sold the wheat flour to make money.

Look at this letter from George Washington to his farm manager William Pearce. It was written on December 7, 1794. What can you learn from it? Can you read Washington's writing?

"In my last, I desired that my Wheat might all be manufactured and held in readiness for the first good market that shall offer, of which keep me advised. The price of Superfine flour at this place is 65/ pr Barl and that of fine 62/ ...."

George Washington wanted his farm manager to get teh wheat flour ready to sell. He wanted Pearce to know how much money flour was selling for in Philadelphia. Did you figure out that a "Barl" is a barrel?

George Washington to William Pearce, December 7, 1794. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 4: General Correspondence [MSS 44693: Reel 106].

What Do You Think?

  • How much did a barrel of "superfine" flour sell for?

  • How much did a barrel of "fine" flour sell for?

  • Was it better for George Washington to sell superfine flour or fine flour? Why?

What did you find out?

How did people plant and harvest wheat at Mount Vernon? Download worksheet

Think about what you read and watched. Look back if you need to. Then write about planting or harvesting at Mount Vernon. What was the most interesting thing you learned? Write your sentences in your worksheet.

Think about what you have learned. How does it connect to the Essential Question, How did George Washington grow and use wheat at Mount Vernon?

Report Your Findings