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Fidler's Mill

Rediscovering an Upshur County Landmark

By Jeffery Harvey

Fidler's Mill today
Fidler's Mill today. The mill has been a landmark in rural Upshur County for more than 180 years.
Photograph by Michael Keller.

Fidler's Mill was the hub of community life in Arlington, Upshur County, for as long as anyone can remember. First built by Daniel Peck in 1821, the mill eventually became a community building, an economic center, a social hall, and the primary visual attraction of the area.

The original mill was a small structure built on four posts along the Little Kanawha River. The mill was then purchased by William Fidler in the 1840's along with the adjacent 200-acre farm, and it remained in the Fidler family for most of the next 140 years. William, using slave labor, enlarged the mill and built a dam a short distance upstream. A wooden mill race powered a saw mill, and a 20-foot overshot wheel was used to grind grain.

For the next century, farmers from Arlington, Rock Cave, French Creek, Gaines, and elsewhere would bring their corn and wheat to Fidler's Mill to be ground into flour, meal, buckwheat, and animal feed. They would gather at the mill, trading tales and socializing, while the Fidlers ground their lot.

Margaret Fidler Demastes, daughter of former mill operator Russell Fidler, still lives in nearby French Creek. She recalls that this grinding and visiting would take so long that sometimes her father would not get home until six or seven in the evening.

You can read the rest of this article in the Summer 2002 issue of Goldenseal, available in bookstores, libraries or direct from Goldenseal.