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Copied from Harbaugh's 1909 History


Miami County Ohio

Chapter 22


Early Mills and Distilleries - Brick and Tile Making -
- Present Industries of the County -

The manufactures of Miami County have kept pace with its growth
from the beginning. Today it is one of the largest manufacturing
counties of the State. Its products are diversified. Within late
years many new manufacturing plants have sprung up. Nearly all have
been incorporated under the laws of Ohio and, so far as known, all
are prosperous.

The first manufactures within the county were limited to the scant population. These consisted almost wholly of mills, cereal and lumber. Later on cooperage was carried on to considerable extent and when the canal came into being this business thrived and continued to do so for some years. In some parts of the county small distilleries were operated, producing a great deal of corn whiskey. Much of this output was flatboated down the Miami and found a ready market in the South.

One of the first cereal mills built in the county was owned by John Yount of Monroe Township. Yount was rather secretive and did not give away his plans to everybody. It is told of the erection of this mill that the builder cut down a large beech tree that grew in front of his house and burned out the center of the stump till a hole, shaped somewhat like the cavity of a bowl, was obtained. The charred surface of the concavity was rubbed with sandstone till the charcoal was all removed, when the most difficult of the labor was completed. A contrivance something like an old sweep was erected over the stump. Instead of attaching a bucket to one end of the sweep they fastened a large round stone which was placed in such a position that, when lowered, it fell into the burned depression in the stump. Owing to the fact that this simple contrivance could be worked without either steam or water, it possessed one advantage over our more modern mills. The motor power necessary to keep such a machine moving demanded such a wonderful expenditure of muscular activity that it was not to be wondered at that the head of the family felt by no means elated when informed by the good wife that the flour barrel was empty and it was necessary for him to go to mill."

In 1809 John Freeman of the same township made an improvement on the Yount mill and put up a hopper for grinding corn. This hopper was set up in a shed of logs.

It was considered a great thing, this primitive corn-mill. Rattle, rattle went the old hopper from morning till night and the neighbors brought in their grist from the surrounding country. The Freeman mill existed for a number of years, but at last the groanings of the old machinery ceased and more pretentious mills came into being.

As early as 1805 Benjamin Leavell, a millwright, came to Piqua and engaged in his business. It was the first milling done in this part of the country. The first manufacture of linseed oil, a business which has given Piqua a name everywhere, was engaged in by John McCorkle of that city in 1824. The McCorkle mill was run by water power, and the crusher was a large circular block of limestone. Notwithstanding Mr.McCorkle's industry his primitive machinery proved a serious drawback and there was but a limited demand for his output, owing no doubt to this handicaps an other parts of the county little flour mills sprang up and proved a great benefit to the inhabitants. As most of these were operated by water power they were to be found along streams. Their machinery was of the simplest description, built by the hands that had erected the pioneer cabins or guided the first emigrant teams over the mountains.

The people, acknowledging the necessity of mills, gave their proprietors their patronage. It would require more scope than I have at my command to enumerate all the mills that were operated during the two first decades of our country's history. They were busy though primitive institutions. Their patrons were compelled to make long journeys in order to have their grists ground and as some of these trips were made in the dead of winter, when the snow was deep on the ground and the icy winds howled through the forests, the sufferings of the gristers were intense. More than once they were chased by the rapacious wolf and sometimes they were compelled to wait two days at the mills before the grists could be ground, there being orders ahead of them and the miller's motto was "First come first served."

It was natural that the mills of the country were the first industries that appeared. The inhabitants must have bread, though "Johnny cake " was for some time the staple food. When there was no white bread in the house the corn-dodger was called into requisition and the pioneer boys and girls waxed fat on it. It was always a good omen when a mill site was selected and some enterprising person began to set up his burrs and hoppers. It meant a food supply and consequently more money in circulation, for the miller paid the prevailing price for grain. Consequently flatboating fell off and the first farmers bought more land with their money and were not compelled to rely on the cereal mills of Dayton and Cincinnati for their food.

There still stand within the limits of the county some of the later mills which succeeded the first ones. Almost every township has one or more of these buildings. They were strongly built. Their timbers were heavy and well seasoned and the gigantic water wheels held out for many years, or until modern machinery was placed in them, when the old "tail race" vanished and the "roller process" seemed the acme of modern milling. The Edwards mill near Troy is a famous milling structure, so is the Allen mill at Eldean and numerous ones along the Miami and Stillwater. One of the well known old flour mills of the east side is the Sheets Mill on Lost Creek. This mill for many years was the mainstay of the contiguous region and many of the older inhabitants, who as boys carried grists to it viewed its recent demolition with real sorrow. Another Lost Creek mill is the Burkholder mill, which is yet in operation. This old structure, along with the one at Sheets' kept the people in flour and cornmeal sixty years ago and survived to witness the changes in the milling system which came along with advancing years.

Among the early industries on the west side was John Mast's grist-mill in Union Township, in connection with which was a carding machine, as a good deal of wool and flax were then produced in the county. In 1820 David Thayer bought and refitted the Kelley mills and a loom for weaving blankets was put in. This was a needed improvement and was well patronized. Mr.Kelley erected a cotton factory near West Milton and later a scythe manufactory was added to the industries of Union Township. In 1819 the manufacture of linseed oil was commenced in the same locality. It is said that powder was made in the same vicinity at an early day, but the story that Tecumseh once came to the powder mill and gun shop to have his rifle repaired is probably a myth. Jacob Embree put up a corn cracker of the most primitive construction in Newton Township in 1808 and this mill did considerable business for a number of years. Saw-mills which turned out a great deal of lumber flourished everywhere throughout the country and they were among the first industries to follow the white settlers.

Also at an early date tile and brick making came into existence. It had been discovered that different parts of the county possessed the right sort of earth for this business and there were men who stood ready to take hold of it. In course of time the cabins and frame houses gave place to brick ones, the frame churches also did the same, and there grew up a steady demand for brick buildings. A number of kilns were established and in course of time there were many in successful operation. A great many brick were carried on the canal when that waterway assumed business and boats were built looking to this sort of transportation. Many of the first industries of the country gave way for others which came to supply the increasing population. Modern machinery took the place of the old and every new invention was seized upon and given a trial. The old mills disappeared entirely or were renovated and new machinery added, water power was succeeded by steam, until today every manufactory in the country is carried on after the most modern methods. The output of the farmer demanded the grain elevator and it came at his call. A list of even the early manufactories of the country would fill a volume. As a rule they were conducted by enterprising men who were not only anxious to turn an honest penny, but to serve the best interests of the people as well.

Before the day of the woolen, knitting mill and kindred factories the merchants of Miami were compelled to go to the eastern marts for their goods. This necessitated trouble and expense as transportation was then in its first stages. Today much of the stuff manufactured within the county is purchased and consumed at home.

Following is an approximately complete list of the principal
industries of Miami County:


The Union Underwear Co.               The Atlas Underwear Co.

The Superior Underwear Co.            The Piqua Hosiery Co.

The Stuart Brown Underwear Co.        The ORR Felt & Blanket Co.

The Pioneer Shaft & Pole Co.          The Piqua Handle & Mfg. Co.

The Piqua Furniture Co.               The Cron-Kills Co.

The Wood Shovel & Tool Co.            The Sprague-Smith Furniture Co.

The Piqua Gas & Coke Co.              The Piqua Malt Co.

The Piqua Foundry & Machine Co.       The Piqua Packer Co.

The Piqua Milling Co.                 The George H. Rundle Co.

The Ohio Marble Co.                   The American Sheet Steel & Tin Plate

The King Manufacturing Co.            The Favorite Stove & Range Co.

The American Wagon Stock Co.          The American Straw Board Co.

The Piqua Flour Co.                   The French Oil Machinery Co.

The Bowdle Bros. Foundry & Machiner   The L. Wood Planing Mill.

The Piqua Blower Co.                  The Rankin Dyeing & Bleaching Works.

The Piqua Creamery Co.


The Allen & Wheeler Co.               The American Fixture & Mf g. Co.

The Chas.  A. P. Barrett Co.          The Hayner Distillery.

The Hobart Electric Mfg.  Co.         The Julian Manufacturing Co.

The McKinnon Dash Factory.            The Pioneer Pole & Shaft Co.

The Troy Buggy Works.                 The Royal Polished Steel Roaster Co.

The Troy Carriagge & Sunshade Wks.    The Troy Foundry & Machine Co.

The Troy Skirt Co.                    The Troy Tile & Brick Co.

The Troy Umbrella & Canopy Co.        The Troy Wagon Works Co.

The Troy Marble Granite Works.        The Allen & Wheeler Tobacco Warehouse.

                        TIPPECANOE CITY.

The Ford & Co.'s, Wheelworks.         The Tippecanoe Strawboard Co.

The Tipp Furniture Factory.           The Tipp Whip Co.

The Davis Whip Co.                    The W.H.Ethell & Co., Millers.

Miami Valley Mills.                   Tipp Underwear Co.

The Vaughn Gas Engine Co.             The Tipp Building @ Mfg.

Saunders & Kerr Tobacco Wh             Eli Saunders Tobacco Wh.

The Detrick Milling Co.               The Detrick Distillery Co.

C. W. Jenson Mfg. & Building          George Honeyman, Concrete

The Wm Fenstemaker, Concrete Blocks


Covington Woolen Mills.               Wagner's Tile & Brick Yard.

Crampton & Son's Boiler Works.    Covington Flouring, Mills.

Sugar Grove Flouring Mills.           Crescent & Metallic Fence Stay

J.W. Ruhl Quarries.                   C.H.Jackson Quarries.

Drees Saw Mills.                      R.F. Albery Saw Mills.

C.F.Drees Talcum Powder Co.           Covington Lumber Co.

Covington Telephone Co.               Falls Electric Light Co.

Covington Steam Laundry.

                          PLEASANT HILL

Deeter Brick Yard & Tile Co.          M.& P.Tobacco Warehouse.

Longnaker Sand & Gravel Co            Busy Mail Order Co.

End chapter 22
1909 History of Miami County Ohio

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