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“L” is for Lucas, Jonathan

“L” is for Lucas, Jonathan [ca. 1754-1821]. Millwright. Born in England, Lucas immigrated to South Carolina around 1786. He arrived at a fortuitous time. Most rice was still pounded by hand in mortars and pestles or processed by animal-powered crude pecker or cog mills. Neither of these could keep pace with the rapidly expanding production of tidal rice fields. In 1787, Lucas designed a new pounding mill powered by an undershot waterwheel. In 1793 he built a highly automated, tide-powered mill that could pack as many as twenty 600-pound barrels of rice on a single tide. With his son he constructed his rice mills throughout the lowcountry, providing a means for planters to clean their ever-increasing output of rice. In 1817 Jonathan Lucas purchased land in Charleston and built the first steam-powered mill in the United States.

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.