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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Lebanon's First Grist Mill On Turtle Creek

Dallas Bogan on 23 July 2004
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland: Heritage Press, 1979) page 330
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Warren County, with its great abundance of free-flowing water, had many mills in its early days. This greatly eased the pioneers' trials for their food source. The first mill in Lebanon, if not in the County, was Taylor's mill, situated on the west branch of Turtlecreek.
Samuel Gallaher was born in Monmouth County, N. J., September 16, 1769. When a mere lad he was taken to Allegheny County, Pa., where he learned the millwright trade. It was at this location he was united in marriage to Sarah Holcraft.
His son, Carvel, thought Samuel immigrated to the Northwest Territory about the year 1795. The family floated down the Ohio to Cincinnati and stopped for a time at Ludlow's Station. Beedle's Station was located in the fall of 1795. The next spring the future site of Lebanon was being established with the families of Henry Taylor, John Shaw and Ichabod Corwin. Henry Taylor had lived in Cincinnati for some years before moving to Turtlecreek. His claim was that his oldest son, William, was born March 20, 1791, and was the first white male child born in Cincinnati.
Flour and meal were two essentials the pioneers counted on for their daily meals. Waldsmith's mill, near the site of Camp Dennison, was the closest mill in the vicinity of Deerfield and Beedle's Station, the only settlements in the County at the time.
Taylor bought and located on a section of land on Turtlecreek, the tract being situated on the southwest portion of where Lebanon was laid out. He resolved to build a mill on his land to be run by this stream.
Millwrights were hard to come by in this day and-time. Taylor was told of a millwright at Ludlow's Station, Samuel Gallaher. He summoned Gallaher and asked if he would be interested in erecting a mill on Turtlecreek. An agreement was made. The condition was that Gallaher was to be paid, not in money, but land after the mill was completed. The area folks gleefully met arrival of the millwright at Turtlecreek. Immediately they combined their efforts and assembled a log cabin home for the new arrivals. Gallaher was regarded as a public champion as the building began. This mill would increase the value of the surrounding land and promote emigration.
Settlers for miles around willingly helped assemble and raise the mill framework. Some even assisted in building the dam.
Indians were still marauding at this time and, although no murders were committed, horse stealing was still an unsettled issue. Mrs. Gallaher one day, in the absence her husband, spied an Indian sitting close to her cabin door, his face painted in a most frightful fashion. He was casually smoking a long-stemmed pipe and appeared calm. Mrs. Gallaher instinctively screamed. The family dog instantly ran out and attached itself to the Indian's shoulder. The intruder in turn shrieked in pain and ran away in total agony. The woman called off the dog, the unwanted caller fleeing to be seen no more.
Carvel Gallaher seemed to think the mill was completed in 1796. A.H. Dunlevy gave the date as about 1799. If Carvel was right, this mill was the first built in Warren County. William Wood's mill, at the site of Kings Mills, was not completed until 1799. In all respect, Taylor's mill was either the first, or one of the first, built in the County.
After completion, Taylor gave Gallaher a deed for 100 acres. But afterward, by mutual consent, the deed was destroyed and another given in its place. It is possible that a smaller tract of better land was traded for. (A deed is found on record from Henry Taylor to Samuel Gallaher for 81 acres in Section 5, T 4, R 3, dated January 25, 1800.)
The mill was probably a one-story log structure with a single pair of stones used primarily for grinding corn. It is not known where the millstones came from. Some of the earliest stones were formed from boulders found in surrounding neighborhoods, the diameter being sometimes less than eighteen inches.
Turtlecreek's supply of water was more abundant in early days as compared to now. However, during the dryer seasons, the water supply was not enough to run the mill. The settler who took a sack of corn to the mill would have to wait quite a spell for his grist. Taylor sold his mill about 1803 and moved to Butler County. It was abandoned so early that its site cannot be located.
Gallaher farmed the greatest part of his life after the building of Taylor's mill. He was said to have assisted in the erection of a sawmill on Clearcreek, and sometimes worked in repairing mills. About 1808 he traded his farm for one purchased by Jonas Seamon northwest of Lebanon. Here he resided until his death December 14, 1833, aged 64.
Samuel Gallaher and his wife are buried in the old Baptist graveyard in Lebanon.

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