Kerr Mill is a National Register of Historic Places Grist Mill that sits in Rowan County, just outside of Salisbury, North Carolina. Kerr Mill was constructed by Joseph Kerr in the early 1820s and was later operated by his son, Dr. Samuel Kerr through the 1850s and 1860s. Kerr Mill operated as a grist mill serving the citizens of Rowan County through the 1940s, and was donated to the county to become a park in the early 1970s. The Mill was once operated using a large mill pond located near the site, but the pond has been drained and turned into a field, and later in the twentieth century the mill was operated by steam power. According to the National Register of Historic Places nomination form, “the Kerr Mill in Rowan County is an unusually handsome and substantial brick grist mill, one of the few brick antebellum grist mills in the state.” The original wheel of the mill has been replaced by a wooden wheel, but the original structure and millstones that were used during the operational period of the mill are all currently located in Sloan Park.
Early History of Kerr Mill
1701 – John Lawson, Surveyor General of the Province of North Carolina, declared he has seen no other land that exceeds the land of Rowan County.
1749 – The Cathey settlement is established on the head waters of Second Creek by James Cathey.
1753 – Rowan County is Established and land is deeded to the congregation for “ye lower meeting house.” Later to become Thyatira Presbyterian Church.
1762 – Millbridge community is settled.
1794 – Doctor Samuel McCorkle opened the Zion Parnassus Academy, the first normal school in the United States, near Thyatira Church.
1823 – Joseph Kerr constructs Kerr Mill on his 1500 acre plantation located between Sills and Cathey’s Creeks.
1861-1865 – Doctor Samuel Kerr, son of Joseph Kerr, strongly supports the Confederacy and by the end of the war Dr. Kerr was destroyed financially.
1865-1872 – Kerr Mill operates on a small scale to serve the needs of the small group of tenant farmers who were working the run down and neglected fields of the Kerr Plantation.
1872 – James Samuel McCubbins purchases 593 acres, the Kerr Mansion, and the mill for $8,140.
1876 – James McCubbins operates Kerr Mill using an undershot wheel which was fed by a long mill race and canal.
1887 – McCubbins and his partner, John Harrison, complete retooling of Kerr Mill to a roller mill powered by a steam engine.
1895 – John W. Page acquires complete title to Kerr Mill.
1900 – Pleasant Owen Tatum purchases the mill from John Page and operates the mill until 1908.
1908 – James Wiseman Sloan purchases Kerr Mill for $3,000.
1925 – Kerr Mill is now powered by a Bessemer diesel engine.
1927 – James W. Sloan sells Kerr Mill to his nephew, James Andrew Sloan, for “one dollar and other valuable considerations.”