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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

William Wood's Mill

Dallas Bogan on 13 September 2004
The following is taken from Dallas Bogan's book, "The Pioneer writings of Josiah Morrow."
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

The First In the County of Warren Built On
The Little Miami.

Date of Its Erection--Rapid Increase of Mills on Little Miami--George Sample's Early Journey to Miami Country-- Efforts to Form a Territorial County
With County Seat at Deerfield.

March 11, 1915

Last week the fact was mentioned that early topographical descriptions of Ohio refer to the Little Miami as the best mill stream in the state. A bend in this river in Warren county gives it a due west course for about seven miles so that there are more miles of the stream in this than in any other county. This was favorable to the rapid settlement of the county, because of the number of fine mill seats at which there was water power during the whole year.
A.H. Dunlevy records that he came to the vicinity of Lebanon with his father in the winter of 1797-8 when he was four years old, and after he reached the age of eight he began going to mills in Warren county. The mills he attended were, as he named them, one at the site of Kings Mills built about 1799; one at Stubbs-town above Deerfield built by Jabish Phillips about 1801 or 2; one at Spring Run at the site of Springboro, and one at the site of Lebanon on Turtlecreek built by Henry Taylor about 1788 or 9. He says he never attended the early mills near Waynesville and Fosters. The dates he gave of the building of early mills were from recollection and were intended to be only approximately correct.

Rapid Increase of Mills.

Enterprising men began to look out for the most valuable mill sites on the Little Miami and in the first two decades of the last century mills were built on the river as far up as the settlements were extended. As stated last week, Samuel Linton on December 12, 1806, estimated that there ten mills already on the river and more going forward. E. Dana's Geographical Sketches in 1819 says there were nearly forty mills on the river, of which two were paper mills. This was probably an exaggeration.
When the first survey for the Little Miami railroad was made in 1837 it was stated that there were then on the line of the road from Cincinnati to Springfield, or near the line, fifty flour mills, twenty saw mills, six distilleries, three paper mills and one cotton manufactory. Most of these were on the Little Miami, but doubtless a number of them were on the fine mill streams in the vicinity of Springfield.
In 1849 William R. Collett, of Lebanon, reported to the Ohio state board of agriculture the total number of mills in Warren county as follows: "there are thirty-two flouring mills, some of them large; forty-eight saw mills; four woolen factories, two paper mills, four distilleries; one oil mill." These figures were for the entire county.

Wm. Wood and His Mill.

All accounts agree that the first mill on the Little Miami in Warren county was built at Kings Mills by William Wood before the close of the last century, probably about 1799. This seems to have been the second permanent mill on the Little Miami, Waldsmith's near Camp Dennison having been the first.
The mill site at Kings Mills seems to have early attracted attention as a valuable one. While William Wood is recognized as the builder of the first mill here, his name does not appear in our land records as the owner of the site. He may have had a title by virtue of a written contract, but no deed to him for land at this point seems to have been put on record. The name of William Wood appears as chairman and John T. Hall as clerk of a meeting held at Deerfield April 23, 1801, for the purpose of presenting a memorial to the territorial governor, Arthur St. Clair, in favor of a new county to be formed out of the large county of Hamilton which should have the town of Deerfield for its seat of justice. At a former session of the legislature a bill for the creation of such a county had been passed but it had been vetoed by Gov. St. Clair. The township of Deerfield then embraced the greater portion of the present county of Warren and the mentioned states that no part of the country is more thickly populated than Deerfield township. The meeting appointed a committee to present the memorial to the governor which committee was headed by Rev. William Wood, doubtless the chairman. The other members of the committee were Robert Benham, Jeremiah Morrow, Nathan Kelly, Ignatius Brown, Ephriam Kibbey and John T. Hall.

George Sample's Journey.

An account of an exploring expedition into the Ohio country by a Pennsylvanian before settling in Ohio seems to indicate, if there is no error in the account, that Wood's mill was built as early as 1797.
George Sample of Jackson, Ohio, in the American Pioneer for April, 1842, says that he left Somerset Pa., in 1797 to visit the western country. At Pittsburg he took a Kentucky boat and floated down the Ohio both day and night. The only towns on the river he noted was Stuebenville, Wheeling, Marietta and Alexandria below the mouth of the Scioto, until he reached Massie's settlement called Manchester, in Adams county. Here he left the boat, intending to visit the country on horseback. He says:
"There were fifteen to twenty cabins at Manchester, one of which was called a tavern. It was at least a grog shop. Next morning another person and myself, who came with me from Pennsylvania, bought horses and started to the Miami country by land. There was but one cabin on the trace from Manchester to the Little Miami; that was built by a Mr. Van Metre about seven miles from where New Market in Highland county now is. On the Little Miami a man by the name of Wood had built a mill, and there were several cabins in that vicinity."
Mr. Sample visited Cincinnati where he remained one night, then crossed over into Kentucky which he found was thinly settled. Returning to the north side of the Ohio, he purchased a farm with a cabin on it on Brush Creek, Adams county, seven miles from the mouth of the creek. He and his companion then started back to Pennsylvania on horseback, as there was no way of getting up the river at that day.

Possible Error in the Date.

One of the most interesting facts stated by Mr. Sample is that he remembered seeing but one house on his journey from Adams county to the Little Miami. It is well known, however, from other sources that at a much later period large tracts of the Virginia military lands between the Scioto and the Little Miami remained unsettled. In 1806 Rev. Paul Henkel, in going from New Market to Lebanon, traveled nine miles in the forenoon to find the first house, and twenty miles in the afternoon to find the second.
I am by no means satisfied that this sketch proves that a mill on the Little Miami in Warren county had been built as early as 1797. Wayne's treaty of peace with the Indians was not made until August, 1795, and few owners of land on either side of the Little Miami began their clearings until 1796. If Mr. Sample had copied from a journal kept by him in which he had noted seeing Mr. Wood's mill on this journey, this would have been almost conclusive evidence. But his sketch was written forty- five years after the journey and gives only his recollections of his travels. On examining the article as first printed in the American Pioneer at Chillicothe, I find that the date 1797 occurs but once, and it is easy to see that this may have been an error of the writer or printer for 1799.

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This page created 13 September 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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