Ellerbe’s Mill — Rembert, South Carolina
SC Picture Project | Sumter County | Ellerbe’s Mill
This gristmill was once the center of social activity in the Sumter County community of Rembert. Built around 1830 for Garner Sanders, the mill was not operated by a wheel but rather by chutes and a turbine, with Rafting Creek feeding the 90-acre millpond. Water entered the mill through an intake on the north side and powered the turbine before exiting through an outlet on the south side. The south side of the mill can be seen below. The mill was part of Millvale Plantation, which numbered 1,500 acres when it was granted to the Sanders family in the mid-1700s. Today, the surrounding land is still cultivated.
The grits and cornmeal ground at the mill – which was operated by slaves prior to Emancipation – were sold at a nearby store on Sanders’ property. It was here where locals gathered for conversation and political debate. The estate was acquired by William Crawford Sanders (W.C.S.) Ellerbe, Garner Sanders’ nephew, in 1860. Ellerbe added several buildings to the property, including the 1890 Victorian home that sits near the mill on the site that was once occupied by the house of the plantation overseer. Ellerbe also updated the mill with modern equipment in 1880. The mill and surrounding area carry the Ellerbe name, as he contributed to the development of the property and also was a legend unto himself.
A local story claims that during the Civil War when Ellerbe was fighting for the Confederacy, Union soldiers led by General Potter raided his property in 1865 with the intention of burning it. Before the troops could act, however, a slave greeted them wearing Ellerbe’s Masonic apron. General Potter was also a Mason and thus decided to spare the property.
The mill and its property stayed in the family throughout the twentieth century, continuing to grind cornmeal, which was sold under the name of Brown and Garrison in the 1950s. Despite the updates to the mill over time, the rough-hewn pine clapboard exterior and interior beams and flooring are original.
Ellerbe’s Mill is listed in the National Register:
(Millvale) Built around 1830 by Garner Sanders, Ellerbe’s Mill is a two-and-one-half-story pine clapboard building mounted on wooden pilings situated on a 90-acre millpond. The grist mill, in operation since before the Civil War, is a functioning example of an essential nineteenth century industrial process. Its water power is derived from internal chutes and a turbine rather than a wheel. Modern equipment has been added to the grist mill – working parts were replaced in 1880 and the interior was remodeled in 1928. The building was once a center for social and political interaction in rural Sumter County. Ellerbe’s Mill and the nearby store (originally built before the Civil War but replaced in 1910) once formed the chief commercial center for a 10-mile square area. In addition to the mill and store, structures on the property include a ca.1890 house, several tenant houses, and a dovecote. The two-story white clapboard house was built by W.C.S. Ellerbe, nephew of Sanders, and features a first floor veranda with square columns and gingerbread scroll saw-work and a second floor partially screened porch with a Victorian vine-bracketed balustrade.
Ellerbe’s Mill Info
Address: Ellerbe Mill Road, Rembert, SC 29128
GPS Coordinates: 34.067500,-80.531510
Ellerbe’s Mill Map
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