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Hans Jacob Honegger (Honaker is the Americanized name) immigrated to Pennsylvania from Switzerland in 1749. His son, Martin Honaker, ended up in present day Russell County, Virginia, sometime after the Revolutionary War. It is known that Martin and other family members operated gristmills, which are buildings equipped with machinery for grinding grain into flower or meal. They did this for decades along Lewis Creek and Clinch River.
On 10 August 2002, there was a Civil War ceremony at the grave of Martin's grandson (Harvey Honaker) in Honaker, Virginia. Harvey served in the 37th Virginia Infantry and was heir to the family gristmills. The town was named in his honor in 1884.
Minutes after the ceremony, Dr. Sexton Burkett, Chairman of the Honaker Reunion Committee, led attendees a short distance out of town to the site of where Abram Fuller's House once stood. A Honaker family originally built the home in 1770. It is located 2.8 miles west of Route 80 alongside SR 640, better known to local people as the River Mountain Road.
Two millstones adorned with flower baskets were clearly visible at the driveway entrance. We gathered there while Dr. Burkett shared a few historical facts and speculations about them. He informed us that it remains unclear as to where the stones originated, or for that matter, how and when they arrived at their present location.
The ability of imported millstones to cut wheat rather than crush the seed was a great improvement over native stones that were too soft, often producing stone dust with the grist. Many of the millstones that made their way from the East Coast were transported from the port of Charleston, South Carolina, which would have required perhaps several weeks to reach Southwest Virginia by wagon. According to mill researcher and retired engineer Tom Bishop, many hard buhrstones were brought to America from France by ship in the 1700s. The American Heritage Dictionary defines buhrstone [variation of BURR + STONE] as a tough limestone impregnated with silica, from which millstones were formerly made.
The well-documented American company B. F. Star of Baltimore, Maryland, also imported French millstones. In those times, numerous firms in the United States were engaged in making millstones. Several people that day questioned how much one of these stones might weigh.
After the gathering had broken, my father and I made measurements of the larger stone. Since the shape of the millstone is what geometricians call a right cylinder, one needs only to know the radius r (distance from the center to the edge) and height h to compute the volume by using the mathematical formula V = r2h, where (3.14...) is the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. The lengths obtained were r = 2 feet and h = 1 foot. The tricky part of estimating the weight would be finding the density (mass over volume) of this particular rock. I based this on the specific gravity of high-density limestone, which is roughly 2.7. This would be about 169 pounds per cubic foot, therefore V = (22)(1), or simply 4 (over 12.5) cubic feet, and 4 times 169 equals 2123.7 pounds. If we take it a step farther and consider the missing mass due to the 9-inch square hole in the center, then 95.1 pounds should be subtracted. I figure this particular millstone could easily weigh around 2029 pounds.
The possibility of the stone being moved to the grounds of the local library was also discussed on that warm afternoon. If this were to happen, then a detour to the nearest weigh station might prove worthwhile to the curious.
Submitted: 2019-08-19 07:20:43; Last Modified: 2019-08-19 07:23:34.