Location and Founder
Aldie is located in Loudoun County, Virginia. At the time of settlement, before Loudoun County existed, this was where the Little River flowed through Bull Run Mountain. In 1764, James Mercer settled this area and had a small mill built. The name “Aldie” is significant because whenever a member of the Mercer family settled somewhere, they named the area Aldie after the Mercer family’s ancestral home in Perthshire, Scotland.
The Aldie Gristmill was a much larger mill that was built between 1807 and 1809. William Cooke was the contractor of the mill. Matthew Adam was the millwright and John Sinclair surveyed the property. Cooke and Mercer, James Mercer’s son, were the Aldie Gristmill’s joint owners. Their total shares in the mill were valued at $22,500. This was significant because it was over ten times the assessed value of Mercer’s Aldie home.
Connections to the Community
The fortunes of Aldie Village were closely intertwined with the Aldie Gristmill, the larger of the two mills. The mill was used to grind wheat and corn from the lower Loudoun countryside, Fauquier County, and Prince William County. Aldie Village’s rapid growth was tied to its location and the power of the mill. Along with wheat and corn, the mill could also cut timber, grind land plaster, and distill fruit into whiskey. There was also a one-stone mill for grinding the feed used for cattle and horses. The mill had five millstones imported from France which increased the productivity of the mill, allowing for more customers to be served at once.
Aldie Village’s location near several turnpikes increased the size of its community. With 268 people, Aldie Village became the fourth-largest community in the Loudoun region. This ideal location added to the success and productivity of the mill.
Timeline of Events
Analysis of the Aldie Mill During the Early American Republic
Aldie Mill shows some of the topics we have discussed in class.
Development of Turnpikes – In class we discussed how turnpikes and road improvements allowed for increased production. After the larger mill was built, a community began to develop in the surrounding region. As the village grew, turnpikes were built to allow for increased movement and transportation. Increased transportation then allowed for increased profit.
Diversifying Products – In our discussions of the Market Revolution, we talked about how farmers began choosing their best produce to sell rather than keeping it for themselves. Even small farmers began growing purely for profit. Aldie Mill shows this idea in how they diversified what they processed in order to sell more. Along with corn and wheat, they could also process timber, grind land plaster, and distill fruit into whiskey. The mill also had a store nearby that sold staples. So, they could process and sell other products at the same time. Again leading to increased profits.
Industrialization – In the case of Aldie Mill, industrialization had a negative impact. Machines were able to ground products faster than the Aldie Mill could. The mill did not receive renovations until 1877.
“Loudoun County, Virginia Genealogy.” FamilySearch Wiki, 2010. https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Loudoun_County,_Virginia_Genealogy.
The website provides an image of the Loudoun County boundaries. This shows the location of Aldie within Loudoun County, Virginia.
Scheel, Eugene. “The History of Loudoun County, Virginia.” History of Loudoun County Virginia. Accessed November 20, 2020. https://www.loudounhistory.org/history/aldie-mill/.
Scheel’s article provides a thorough explanation of the history of the Aldie Mill Historic District. The author provides information on the founding of the area, the connections to the Aldie community at large, and how the mill changed over time. The website also provides photographs and maps relevant to Aldie Mill.