Paid Workers (Miller and Overseer)

Student Understandings:

  • Skilled paid laborers, such as millers, were essential to the Ridgely family’s businesses, as they created finished products, such as flour or iron goods. The Ridgely Forge produced cannonballs and metal objects used by slave owners. The Ridgely Mill produced flour and iron products. All were made from natural resources and crops that were found or were grown on Ridgely’s lands (except coal which was imported from regional mines). Students should know which crops and natural resources were refined at the mill, at the furnace and at the forge.  
  • This station takes place at the Farm House. Paid workers, such as overseers, managed the work of unpaid laborers. The overseer reported to the Captain Ridgely directly and managed the unpaid workers.    
  • A gristmill relied on water wheels to press harvested wheat and corn into flour. The flour was then sold and its buyer used it for baking bread. This operation was run by a paid miller. Like the overseer, he was paid once a year and had living accommodations provided by the Ridgelys.

Materials/Teacher Prep:

  • Field Trip Flip Books – prepared by students before the trip
  • A set of Station Posters, which are housed at the Hampton National Historic Site
  • Pencils for students
  • Various artifacts, including farming tools, burlap bags, Indian corn, wheat stalks, piece of coal, iron ore piece, the limestone fragment, cannonball, slave chain, slave collar, slave shackles. All materials are housed in the Farm House.


  1. Have students sit on the steps of the Farm House facing the presenter.
  2. Spend a few minutes restating the focus question: “What impact did the American Revolution have on the lives of people at Hampton?” Review information they have already collected in their flip books at the other stations.
  3. Have students use the map on the back of their flip book to identify the Farm House. 
  4. Read the question-and-answer (3rd person) script or use the 1st person interpretation of Henry Penney, the miller.   
  5. Give students time to write in their flip books, guiding and focusing as necessary.
  6. Bring students back together to review what they added to their flip books to insure that they gathered what they needed to answer the focus question.
  7. Encourage the students to add to their flip books as needed.

Additional Discussion Questions: In what ways did Baltimore County’s economics and resources contribute to the American Revolution? How did the Ridgely businesses operate? What were the advantages and disadvantages of being a miller or overseer at Hampton?

If time permits, visit the Dairy.

Discuss: How did dairy workers keep the milk cold? What types of jobs were involved with milk production? What types of challenges did dairy workers experience? 

  • Acknowlegements and Credits
  • BCPS News
  • Planning a Field Trip to Hampton
This project was developed through a Teaching American History Grant partnership between Baltimore County Public Schools and the Center for History Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), with assistance from Hampton National Historic Site, National Park Service.
Contact Hampton National Historic Site at 410-823-1309 ex. 207 to arrange for class visits. |