MILLS

THE FITCH MILL

Taken from the booklet “Old Fort News” of February 1942…….”The Water-Powered Mills of Allen County, Indiana” by Roy M. Bates and the Allen Co.-Fort Wayne Historical Society.   (Cost of the booklet was 5 cents in 1942 and contained all of the mills of Allen Co.)   

This mill and the Manning Mill at Hamilton (Leo) both began operations in the year 1840 and quit business in 1908, a record of 68 years of continuous operation, being exceeded only by Stoner’s Mill, which operated continuously for 76 years, the latter holding the record for the county. 

HARRY FAIR (Henry Fair) erected a carding mill on Little Cedar Creek in 1840.   Little Cedar is a tributary of Big Cedar Creek, and the waters of the two streams merge in Perry Township about three quarters of a mile south of the DeKalb County line.   The mill stood on the left bank of the stream, a short distance above its mouth, in the northeast quarter of Section 4.

The dam, about 65 feet in length and 4 feet in height, was situated in DeKalb County, about one mile upstream from the mill.   The mill race serving this mill was the longest of any of the county.

The building was two stories in height and 40 x 20 feet in size.   It was powered by an over-shot wheel.   The mill was moved downstream and the race lengthened, after trouble developed with the water supply.   Shortly after the mill was built, it was purchased by NATHANIEL FITCH, who erected a saw mill adjacent to the carding mill.

The saw mill was a one-story building, 60 x 20 feet.   Its equipment consisted of an upright saw, which was later replaced by a circular saw, and a 6-foot turbine wheel which remains on the site today.

The carding mill was abandoned about 1869 or 1870 and the saw mill was afterward operated by MATHIAS FITCH, son of NATHANIEL, who installed a feed-grinder and continued the mill’s operation until its abandonment in 1908.   The carding mill building is now serving as a stock barn on the farm of JOHN FITCH, who has given us the above information.   A portion of the saw mill fell down and the remainder was dismantled.   

Mathias Fitch, far left with the beard.    The carding mill can be seen in the back behind the saw mill.  

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STONER’S MILL    (Known also as the Shryock Mill)

 

Taken from the booklet “Old Fort News” of February 1942…….”The Water-Powered Mills of Allen County, Indiana” by Roy M. Bates and the Allen Co.-Fort Wayne Historical Society.   (Cost of the booklet was 5 cents in 1942 and contained all of the mills of Allen Co.)   

This mill operated continuously for 76 years (1834-1910), the longest service record among the 35 water-powered mills of Allen County.

BLAIR & WINES erected the mill in 1834, on the line between Sections 3 and 4 of Perry Township, a little less than one mile south of the DeKalb County line, on the right (west) bank of Big Cedar Creek, and near the Old Coldwater Road (now U. S. Highway 27).   The mill was situated very near the confluence of Little Cedar and Big Cedar Creeks.

This was the first water-powered mill erected in Perry Township and was equipped only for sawing lumber by means of an upright saw.   It is supposed that Blair and Wines were aided in their venture by outside capital.   The following year (1835), SAMUEL SHRYOCK acquired the mill and purchased a set of buhrs at Dayton, Ohio, after which, he did custom grinding.   Prior to the installation of the buhrs, an 18-inch corn cracker had been installed, which later proved to be unsatisfactory.   Mr. Shryock operated the mill until 1850 or 1851, when JOHN STONER became the proprietor.   After a number of years of operation by Stoner, GEORGE KELL assumed ownership and installed the “Roller-Process” for milling flour.   After Kell, came JACOB SNYDER and a partner, whose name we do know know.  The last operator of the mill was WILLIAM FREESE, brother of CHARLES FREESE, a prominent Fort Wayne businessman.   Mr. Freese closed the mill about 1910.

The mill building was very large, being 125 feet in length and 50 feet wide.   It was of frame construction, two and a half stories in height.  The mill sat astride the race, which was almost a mile in length.   Water was impounded by a dam, located to the north in DeKalb County.   The dam was about 100 feet in length and 6 feet high, and was constructed of timbers, rock and debris.   A reservoir was constructed near the dam to insure a good supply of water.

Prior to installation of the roller-process, the mill was equipped with two 4-foot stone buhrs, one being used for wheat, and the other for corn grinding.  

The building stood for a good many years after its abandonment and was eventually torn down.   The channel of Big Cedar Creek was deepened by dredging in 1916, and in the following year the dam was destroyed by spring freshets.

The country surrounding Stoner’s Mill is quite scenic, so the mill site became a very popular picnic ground.   Groups came from Fort Wayne and other nearby towns to spend Sundays and holidays amid the beauties of the Cedar Creek Hills.   Shortly after the closing of the mill, some Fort Wayne citizens became interested in purchasing the site for recreation grounds, to be known as “Old Farm Garden,” but the project failed to materialize.

MR. JOHN FITCH of Perry Township, and MR. WILLARD W. CLARK of Fort Wayne, have aided us in the preparation of this account.  

 

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THE JASON HATCH MILL

 

Taken from the booklet “Old Fort News” of February 1942…….”The Water-Powered Mills of Allen County, Indiana” by Roy M. Bates and the Allen Co.-Fort Wayne Historical Society.   (Cost of the booklet was 5 cents in 1942 and contained all of the mills of Allen Co.)   

JASON HATCH cleared some land in the northeast portion of Perry Township and in 1834 built a sash sawmill on the right (south) bank of Big Cedar in the southeast quarter of Section 10.

Not much is known of this mill.  Kingman’s History of Allen County merely gives the date of its erection.   The only person whom we have been able to find with some knowledge of its existence is MR. HARVEY FITCH, a resident of Huntertown, who is now 88 years of age, and who as a boy spent considerable time in the vicinity of the mill site.

The dam serving the mill was a frail structure built of brush, gravel and debris, and required constant repair, due to the ravages of ice and high waters.   It was about 70 feet long and 3 to 4 feet high.   The site of this dam has for years been a favorite swimming hole and the site is now referred to as Miller’s Dam, so named for the last operator of the mill.   The mill was shut down some time between 1855 and 1858 and, Mr. Fitch says that in later years, the mill was equipped with a corn-cracker.   Some traces of the dam abutments are still visible.   

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GLOYD’S MILLS  (Known also as VANDOLAH’S MILLS & CEDAR CREEK MILLS)

Taken from the booklet “Old Fort News” of February 1942…….”The Water-Powered Mills of Allen County, Indiana” by Roy M. Bates and the Allen Co.-Fort Wayne Historical Society.   (Cost of the booklet was 5 cents in 1942 and contained all of the mills of Allen Co.)   

The land on which this mill was situated was purchased from the government in 1832 by JAMES VANDOLAH, on his first visit to Perry Township, for the purpose of locating a desirable site for a sawmill.   After purchase of the land, he returned to his home in Ohio.   In 1835, he came back to the township and commenced work on the mill, completing it in 1939. 

Successive owners of the mill throughout its 61 years of continuous operation were GEORGE GLOYD;  JEROME, son of George Gloyd;  EDWIN, brother of Jerome Gloyd;  JAMES TUCKER, a former employee of Vandolah, and JEROME BLEEKMAN, who purchased the mill in 1896.   The later is the father of ARTHUR BLEEKMAN, who has resided near the mill site for many years, and to whom we are indebted for much of the data concerning this mill.   MR. ELI GARMAN, a life long resident of the vicinity, has also given much assistance.

The mill was located in the northeast quarter of Section 14, Perry Township, on the right (south) bank of Big Cedar Creek, where the Old Auburn Road crosses the stream by means of a long cork screw bend.   The site is picturesque, being situated in one of the most scenic areas of Allen County, where Big Cedar Creek cuts a deep gorge through the broad Wabash moraine.

The sawmill was housed in a small one-story frame building and a short time after its erection, a two-story frame grist mill was built adjacent to it on the north.   The latter building was about 60 feet by 40 feet in size.

The dam, about 200 feet in length and 7 feet high was located a considerable distance upstream from the mill.   The mill race, which was about a third of a mile long, supplied power to both mills.   The sawmill, which was equipped with an upright saw, was abandoned during the ownership of JEROME GLOYD. 

The grist mill was equipped with three four and a half foot French Buhrs, one of which now reposes on the lawn of the Arthur Bleekman home nearby.   One buhr was used for processing flour, another was used for grinding cornmeal, and the third was used for grinding chop feed.   The mill was powered by one large over-shot wheel and an immense turbine wheel which now lies buried in the silt and sand on the mill site.

The mill was discontinued in 1900 and considerable damage was inflicted on the buildings by floods and ice before being dismantled in 1922.  

 

                      VANDOLAH-GLOYD MILL AND BRIDGE OVER CEDAR CREEK

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                   Memories of Gloyd's Mill

                             by Estella Rowe, 1938

 

          On a winding road at the foot of a hill

          Are the tumbled down walls of Gloyd's old mill.

 

          It's a scene of the past, our grandfathers made,

          And a place where their children oft times played.

 

          The miller was kind, so the people said,

          And he ground the flour to make their bread.

 

          The hills were steep and hard to climb,

          But the trip was made many a time.

 

          Across the creek still stands the bridge,

          And the miller's home upon the ridge.

 

          Those days are gone, but our memories still

          Take us back to the grand old mill.

 

          Horse-drawn wagons plowed through the mud,

          Sometimes a wheel mired down to its hub.

 

          'Twas common in winter to travel by sled

          To get the flour to bake the bread.

 

          Our late improvements and modern skill

          Have banished the ways of the old water mill.

 

          A Dream of the future that we might see ..

          What a beautiful park these hills could be.