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American Electric Power donation spurs commemorative site for Kingsport Mill

September 2nd, 2013 9:16 am by Matthew Lane

American Electric Power donation spurs commemorative site for Kingsport Mill

Isaac Webb, district manager for AEP, is shown with a mill stone from the Kingsport Mill. Photo by David Grace.

KINGSPORT — Though the Kingsport Mill is no longer with us, the historic landmark is not being forgotten.

American Electric Power has agreed to donate to the city of Kingsport nearly $10,000 and one of the old mill stones used at the factory. The money will be used to create a landscaped seating area along the Kingsport Greenbelt, where the mill stone will be mounted with an informational plaque telling the history of the Kingsport Mill.

AEP purchased the old Kingsport Mill property in 2008 and the historic mill itself burned to the ground in 2010.

Isaac Webb, the district manager for AEP, said the company purchased the property with the intent of locating a new substation.

“When Holston Valley did its expansion, that created an additional demand (for power) and (Holston Medical Group) built its new building. We needed a new substation to handle the load,” Webb said. “We typically try to build stations near the demand. The property was not being used, so we bought the mill property and put our substation there.” 

When the mill burned to the ground in March 2010, the mill stone was recovered from the site. AEP had plans for the mill stone prior to the property burning down, Webb said.

“They actually came to us,” said Kitty Frazier, parks and recreation director for the city. “AEP recognized the importance and history of that site and they wanted to do something in the area that would be commemorative and respectful.” 

The Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen last month approved on first reading a resolution accepting the donation from AEP. A second reading is scheduled for Tuesday.

Frazier said the mill stone will be located between AEP’s new substation and the Kingsport Greenbelt, include about a 10-foot-by-20-foot landscaped area with two park benches. Work could begin by late September or early October and be complete about a month later.

“This is a wonderful donation and contribution,” Frazier said. “Since (AEP) are the ones who initiated it, recognized the history of the site and wanted to be partner with city ... there’s great energy behind (the project).” 

According to the plaque to be located at the mill stone, Capt. Joseph Everett built the first mill on the property in 1814. Andrew Gibson purchased the mill in 1851 and gave the area his name.

In 1915, Roby Anderson Milam, son of Thomas L. Milam — a miller from Elizabethton — purchased the mill for $3,000 and operated the facility until his death in 1947.

Thomas Milam had patented a “secret formula” for flour in 1879, and he called his product “Gold Standard Flour.” One hundred years later that flour continued to be produced at the Kingsport Mill.

Former Sullivan County Commissioner Ralph Harr briefly leased the mill, and in 1951, Roby Milam’s daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Mack Hicks, assumed the lease and went on to operate the Kingsport Milling Co. until 1979.


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