Wewa Historical Group dives into saw mill’s history

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Domino Demunck has always known that the remains of the old saw and grist mill sat in the Stone Mill Creek just a bit off the road.

“Everybody’s always known it was here,” he said, “since we were kids.”

“I think everybody in this county has swam here at one time or another.”

But it wasn’t until after Demunck purchased the property the mill once sat on that he began investigating the ruins and their origins.

He has spent months slowly removing debris from the creek, collecting them on the property and consulting with other locals to piece together the purpose each piece once served.

On Tuesday, June 7, Demunck raised a piece of narrow, rusted piece of metal about a foot and a half long. He examined it in the afternoon sun before passing it around a gathered group from the Wewahitchka Historical Society.

Demunck had invited them to the property to share his discoveries and progress with other individuals interested in preserving the town’s history.

“This is part of the original gear for the damn – the lock,” he said to the group. “And this is half of the original bearing plate for the shaft that rode out for the paddle wheel.”

The grist and saw mill were built by the Stone family after they moved to the area in the 1870s.Wood processed at the mill was used to build many of the area’s historical buildings.

It has since been almost completely demolished. 

All that remains are some submerged beams and pieces of equipment that got left behind.

The Wewahitchka Historical Society, which came together in recent months with the idea of building out a fuller version of the town and its families’ histories, meets every third Thursday of the month, usually at the Corner Cafe in Wewa. 

That Tuesday’s field trip was one of many that the organization has taken to try to build a more physical and permanent understanding of the town’s history, which is often under-documented and unclear.

“The Wewahitchka Historical Society went on another field trip today to Domino's property to see the remnants of the old grist and saw mill,” the group’s president, Ann Johnson, said in a Facebook post. “(It was) very exciting to discover some of our rich history. As a member of our group, Domino Demunck is very proactive in working to preserve the old mill.”

Demunck said he hopes to be able to keep some of the carefully preserved pieces of the mill in his new home, which he is building on the property, where the ruins will be protected from the elements.

In the meantime, he is working to piece together a rough floorplan for the mill. He believed he has located where the old dam once sat and where the paddle wheel might once have been located. The mill itself, he is fairly certain, sat on a flat piece of land about ten feet up from where the water currently sits.

Johnson said the group hopes to have more field trips to explore the efforts of its members and of other members of the community passionate about preserving Wewahitchka's past.

For more information about the Wewahitchka Historical Society or to become a member, contact Ann Johnson at radarmorri@aol.com.

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