Source: The Zanesville Daily Courier, Zanesville, Muskingum Co., Ohio
Saturday, April 20, 1878, page 1, cols 2-4
Contributed by Ky Longley
The Early History of Zanesville
For the Courier,
John McIntire, the man who laid the foundations of Zanesville, was a man of great energy, industry, and public spirit. He is the first man who attempted to utilize the water power and Zanesville. In 1806 he built a mill race, and saw mill, located north of Hatcher & Co.'s coffin manufactory. Originally there was a slue or low ground where the mill race was constructed. In times of a very high freshet, much water would run through the falls, and again flow into the river channel, below where the C. & M. V. Railroad bridge spans the river. McIntire, perceiving this, conceived the idea of constructing a mill race, and building a saw mill, to utilize this water power. The head of the race was a short distance above the falls, and was protected by wooden abutments, well braced with logs running through them, and filled with stone and gravel.
The logs of the abutments were bound together with iron spikes, and between the abutments was a guard gate to be closed in times of high water. The saw mill stood a short distance from the mouth of the race. The sides of the race were protected by long poles slanting down stream, at an angle of about 45 degrees, with two long poles running along the top and center, fastened together so the water could not wash away the earth. The race was from 25 to 30 feet wide at the top, with a greater width at the point where the mill stood. The dam was several feet high so that it held the water on a level with that above the falls, forming a nice little island between the race and the river.
The shore along the river and race was lined with sycamore and elm trees, forming a very beautiful and shady walk during the hot days of summer. Daniel and Allen McClain aided to construct the race and saw-mill. This island was a summer resort for the Zanesvillians of that day. The zephyrs from the river sported among the branches of the trees all the day long. Many a Zanesville swain, on beautiful moonlight nights, whispered love into the ears of his sweetheart while the gentle breezes whistled softly through the lofty branches, and the waters of the beautiful Muskingum glided swiftly past on their way to the sea.
What stories of love-making, in the days of "auld lang syne," these trees could tell if they could only speak? But like the brave men and their fair ladies who frequented this lovely spot, they, too have passed away. This island was also a great resort for the housewives in the neighborhood, who came here in the olden time to wash and dry the clothes of the household. The water was soft, and clear, and sweet.
It cost money to haul it to the household, and in those days money in the western wilderness was an article hard to get. During good, clear weather, from early spring until late in the fall, two or three women at a time could be seen engaged in washing and hanging out clothes to dry. They would in those days leave the wash kettles on the island for weeks at a time, with no guard thrown around them, and no one disturbed them. In the morning the boys could be seen carrying the tubs and clothes to the island, and in the evening carry the tubs and the clothes home again.
While the mothers were washing, the little folks would while the fleeting hours wading in the water. It was grand sport for the little folks, and they doubtless wished that washing-day would extend throughout every day in the week. The saw mill was finished in 1807, but never made much money for the enterprising proprietor. It became, in time, a complete failure.
The river, during a rise, would force the sand into the mouth of the race and stop the water wheel, which was a large over-shot wheel. After every rise, it became necessary to shovel the sand out of the mouth of the race, before the water wheel could revolve. This was expensive, and the mill was soon abandoned. Had the enterprise proven a success, McIntire had arranged to bring logs down the Muskingum and Licking to the head of the mill race and from that point to the mill. In those early days, the settlers worked hard, and yet enjoyed life. It wasn't all work and no play, as many suppose. The old settlers were as fond of enjoying the good things of life, as their successors. Card playing was quite common in those days.
The settlers would collect together often times at the residence of a neighbor and spend the day and evening in a social game of cards. The best the household could furnish was placed on the table, and good old whisky was never wanting. The old Democratic "comforter," was very popular in those days. It had the capacity to revive and invigorate, make a man feel happy and rich without headache the next morning. In June, 1807, just before the mill was finished, John McIntire, Captain James Taylor, and David Urie, the millwright, crossed the river in a skiff to Isaac Zane's, who lived on the bank of the Licking, west of Chapp's run. This house is still standing, and is now the residence of Thomas Drake. It was erected in 1801 and 1802 by Isaac Zane, a nephew of Mrs. McIntire. They went over to pass the day with their old friend, in playing cards, feasting on the best the household of the pioneer furnished, and indulging at intervals in draughts of the inspiring fluid.
The fleeting hours passed swiftly away, and evening came, and with it the time to return to the opposite shore. The day before it had rained, and while they were passing the time agreeably away, the waters were coming down swifter and swifter, and as the waters met, they whirled and rushed, and gurgled and ran round and round. The three discovered they couldn't keep the skiff in perfect trim, and amid the whirling waters it turned over, and the three were thrown out into the river. Mr. Urie was a strong, powerful, fine looking gentleman, and a splendid swimmer. The other two could not swim and Mr. Urie told the others to cling to the boat, and he struck out for shore.
The current was much swifter than he had anticipated, and carried him, notwithstanding all his exertions, down stream. He fought most manfully for life, but in spit of all he could do he was carried down to the head of the falls, and seeing death staring him in the face, he threw up his arms, gave one loud cry for help, and sank beneath the waters to rise no more. McIntire and Taylor clung to the boat and drifted down stream toward the Zanesville shore, which kept them from going over the whipple wing dam. They went over the falls, but still clung to the boat, and floated down the stream until rescued by Black Mess, who reached them in a boat from the Zanesville shore and landed them at the foot of Fourth street. Isaac Green, a son of General Green, was an apprentice to Mr. Urie at the time of his death.
David Urie was a man in the prime of life, with brilliant prospects ahead of him. He possessed all that made life desirable, and was much respected by all who knew him. At the time of this death he was engaged to be married to an interesting young lady of Zanesville. In a few weeks only, the bonds were to be solemnized. After a few days his body was taken from the river and his remains buried in the graveyard at the head of Main street. He was buried in June, 1807, and was the fourth body laid to rest in that graveyard. The writer has often heard the old settlers tell how this lady would go, unaccompanied, to the grave of her betrothed, and there, all alone beside her buried love, bemoan her hard fate. The snows of three quarters of a century have covered this grave. The birds have swung in the leafy branches above it for years and years. The oldest inhabitants even, can't locate it to-day.
The lady has gone, long years ago, to join her betrothed in that land where pain and trials and separation never come. Doubtless the two spirits, united after years upon years of waiting, look down up on the spot oftentimes, where the remains of the lover will sleep until resurrection morn. In the olden times, there was not much work don on Saturday. That day was usually given up to sport. The pioneer after mauling rails, and building fences, and chopping wood, and ploughing the ground, and planting corn, for five days, would come to town on Saturday, to lay in a week's supply of provisions, and other articles necessary on the farm.
In later years, as wealth increased, they would only spare half a day on Saturday to fish or hunt, or go to the city, and of late years such is the craving for that with moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves do break through and steal, they have disposed of this good old custom and work from early Monday morning until late Saturday night. Some years after the sawmill was abandoned, the dam was broken and water ran through the race, when there was a good stage of water in the river.
The writer, when a small boy, in the fall of 1815, on his way with two other boys = Ike Childs and Gash Blizzard - to the fish pots at the head of the second falls, in attempting to cross the slab laid over the race, and supported in the middle by a tressle, when half way over, fell off the slab and was plunged into the mill race. The current drifted the writer down fast toward the river. As fortune would have it, there was an empty wood flat below the dam, and as the writer rose to the surface the second time, Samuel Craft having seen me fall in, caught me just as I was drifting into the swift water.
In those days when a lad was dragged from the river, it was customary to roll him on a barrel, on the supposition that he was full of water and the water must come out before life would come in. Samuel Craft rolled me on the boat, then ran with me to old Davy Anson's who lived close by, and rolled me up in flannel, rubbed me and placed me before a large wood fire. AFter consciousness returned I had no recollection whatever of what had happened, after I fell into the water. I remember of falling from the slab and all that followed was a blank. Samuel Craft was an apprentice to Mr. Anson, and learned the shoemaking business with him.
In the summer of 1848, after a high spring fresbet, I purchased 225 cart loads of sharp, washed sand, from Mr. Geo. Reeve, for John R. Pratt's block of store rooms on Main street, between First and Second streets. In hauling and shoveling the sand the lower abutment at the head of the old saw-mill race, in a tolerably good state of preservation, was exposed to view. This is the last that has ever been seen of the relics of the first saw-mill over erected at Zanesville. For many years after the saw-mill was abandoned the axle shaft of the old overshot water wheel, lay across the race. It was a large piece of timber, over two feet in diameter, and hexagonal in shape, and more than twenty-five feet long. It was used for the purpose of crossing the race over to the island, and was finally buried in the sand, and doubtless still lies there still buried from the sight of man.
In future years, perhaps, when the next generation comes upon the stage and for the purpose of making way for some new enterprise the old shaft will be unearthed again and the people will wonder by whom fashioned; how it came to its last resting place; for what used; by what people, and in what age. Mr. McIntire, or the Canal and Manufacturing Company in digging the canal and building the dam at the foot of Market street, threw the dirt and rubbish at the head of the old saw-mill race. The charter for the dam and race around the upper falls was granted in 1812, during the last session of the Legislature in Zanesville. The Canal & Manufacturing Company commenced to dig the canal in the spring of 1815, the dam having been commenced the year previous and finished in 1815. Four months after the canal was commenced John McIntire died.
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