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Spyderwort Press

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The Grist Mill Secret

Lillie V. Albrecht

Originally published in hardcover (1962) by Hastings House

Page Under Construction

Children’s historical fiction, ages 9-12.

Tabby Copley can’t understand why, in the fall of 1773, her father would suddenly want to move their whole family from their comfortable house in a Massachusetts village to a lonely corn mill in the country, where the nearest neighbors are a mile away. But on the first night in their new home, Father shows Tabby and her brother, Dan, the secret of the mill: Below the millstones, in a hidden cellar, is a gunshop where Father and Dan will be making muskets for the Minute Men.


The secret of the gunshop has to be kept at all costs—especially from Tory spies, loyal to the king, and there are plenty of those around during the years just before the American Revolution. The question is—who are they?


Everyone suspects everyone else and sometimes the wrong people are caught and punished by angry patriots. And when a wealthy English family, suspected to be loyalist spies, builds a handsome country house near the mill, Tabby is torn between patriotism and her friendship with the new neighbors. Can she remain friends with Alice and Jack and still keep the vital secret of the grist mill?

“By making friends with Tories living nearby, Tabitha Copley caused a crisis in her own family and great concern in the town. This mystery of pre-Revolutionary days has a well-developed plot, good characterization, and gives an authentic picture of divided loyalties in a time of crisis.”

Library Journal (1962)


"About the time the first Minute Men were organized, Squire Copley moved his family to the country where he maintained an arsenal in his grist mill. Young Tabitha Copley found the adjustment to country living difficult until she met the Hillcrofts—Alice and Jack. Until the outbreak of war, their days are filled with the typical pleasures and problems of those times—quilting bees, Christmas parties, weddings—as well as farm chores. Once the Redcoats and Minute Men clash, the Hillcrofts, who support King George, are forced to flee. ... More a portrait of the temper of the times and the way of life in rural New England than a mystery as the title may imply, this reveals an unusual spirit of friendship that prevails even in the face of divergent political feelings. Good supplementary reading for fifth and sixth graders studying this era."

Kirkus Reviews (1962)

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