Stories of Guernsey County by Wm. Wolfe Page 852-863

 

CHAPTER XXVII

 

Liberty Township

 

     LIBERTY township is five miles square, one of the eight of the county having the same dimensions.  It was formed from Wheeling township in 1820.

     Physical Features.—Wills creek crosses the township from south to north, but instead of flowing a distance of only five miles within its boundaries, as it would were its course straight, it meanders through the bottoms for about twelve miles.  As the stream has but little fall, its waters are sluggish and inundations are frequent.  On each side of the broad Wills creek valley is a sandy ridge, in parts of which coal is found.

     Salt Fork Creek.—Salt Fork is the largest tributary of Wills creek in eastern part of the county, flows through Oxford, Wills, Madison and Jefferson townships, and enters Wills creek near Tyner in Liberty township.  Its length is about thirty miles.

     According to a letter written by William Morton, of Middlebourne, fifty years ago, the creek received its name from an Indian salt well that was dug near it before the white settlers came to Guernsey county. This well was located in Wills township, two miles northeast of Elizabethtown.

     “About 1810,” Mr. Morton wrote, “the well was ten or twelve feet deep. A small tree with many prongs was then in the well, and was used as a ladder for descent and ascent.”  A trail leading from the well towards Antrim was visible for many years after the county was settled.

     First Settlers.—The story of the Gibson family, the first to settle in the township, is told in this chapter.  Soon after the Gibsons arrived others came into that section.  Joseph Bell came in 1807, from Virginia.  He was born in Ireland in 1775, and died in Liberty township in 1839, on the farm he entered, which is now owned by his descendants.  James bell, born in Virginia, in 1776, came to what is now Liberty township in 1810, and entered 320 acres of land.

     Other pioneers were Robert Forsythe, who came from Pennsylvania; James Beggs, who was born in Ireland; Joseph McMullen, also a native of Ireland; R. R. Miller and Isaac Crow.

     Old Folks of 1876.—Following is a list of the residents of Liberty township, who were seventy-six years of age or upwards in 1876; Robert Bell, George Bell, James Boyd, William DeHart, George B. Leeper, James Lacham, Henry Matthews, Ann Milligan, Adam Miller, Elijah Phelps, Alexander Robinson and Thomas Stockdale.

     Population.—1830, 410; 1840, 835; 1850, 1,001; 1860, 1,238; 1870, 1,163; 1880, 1,503; 1890, 1,463; 1900, 1,299; 1910, 1,090; 1920, 991; 1930, 893.

     The township reached its greatest population in the decade between 1870 and 1880.   Within this decade the Cleveland and Marietta Railroad was built through it, which may account for an increase of population.

     John Gibson, oldest son of William Gibson, the original pioneer, laid out a town which he named Liberty, on August 2, 1828. He induced Amon Shannon to open a store in his new town, hoping thereby to attract prospective buyers of his lots. Shannon closed his store in a year or two and left the place; the anticipated Liberty boom had not materialized. Then Naphatali Luccock drove into town on his way to Cambridge where he intended to turn west on the National Road and drive through to Illinois in which state he expected to locate.

     Naphatali Luccock was born in Kimbolton, England, in 1798.  He was a student at the University of Cambridge for a time, then went to London where he was apprenticed to a grocer and iron-monger.  In 1821 he came to America and engaged in the commission business in Philadelphia. Following the moving tide westward, he reached Plainfield, Coshocton county, Ohio, where he opened a general store. But the West kept beckoning him on.  He sold his store and again started towards the setting sun. His wagon breaking down at Liberty, his journey came to a sudden end.

     John Gibson prevailed upon Luccock to remain in Liberty and open a store there. For his horse and the broken-down wagon he traded him a cabin and two town lots. Luccock became a country merchant and farmer, and in the course of time, from his extensive business interests, he amassed considerable wealth.  “Turning his business over to his two sons, Thomas S. and Samuel W., he retired from active life in 1860.  His death occurred in 1868.  As a rule some one man assumes the leadership in every community in its early days; unquestionably the man at Liberty was Naphtali Luccock.

As there were other towns named Liberty in Ohio, Mr. Luccock asked to have the name of the John Gibson town changed to that of his ancestral home in England. This change was made about 1850 and the name given to the postoffice, but the town was not officially called Kimbolton until incorporated November 5, 1884.

     Liberty had a population of 175 in 1850, 163 in 1860, and 169 in 1870.  There were 261 people in Kimbolton in 1890, 245 in 1900, 277 in 1910, 256 in 1920, 218 in 1930, and 214 in 1940.  In 1870 there were two general stores in the town, the proprietors being T. S. Luccock and Isaac Seward.  J. M. Warden and Isaac Ferbrache manufactured salt. Charles Porter operated a grist-mill, and J. Hazlett a woolen-mill.

     Austin Hunt, an itinerant New England teacher with characteristics somewhat eccentric, taught the first school in Liberty. At the home of Naphtali Luccock the first Methodist sermon was preached by Hamilton Robb in 1832.  Robb was a local preacher whose home was in Washington.  He entered politics and fell from grace.  Having served three successive terms as county treasurer, he was elected for a fourth. About the middle of his fourth term he suddenly disappeared as did also $6,570.12 of the county’s money. Robb organized the church at Liberty and Christian Wyrick, also of Washington, became its first regular pastor. Naphtali Luccock was the first class leader.

     As late as 1832 there were no bridges over the streams of Liberty township. During seasons of low water the streams were forded; when the waters were high travelers were ferried across. Salt Fork was forded at Miller’s mill.

     North Salem on Federal Route No. 21, was platted as New Salem by
William Hosack on April 21, 1845.  Its population in 1870 was ninety-three.  The postoffice there was discontinued several years ago, as was the one at Tyner in the southern part of the township.

     Owners of Real Estate in 1840.—One hundred years ago (1840) the following persons owned the farms of Liberty township.  The number of acres in each farm and the section in which it was located are given. This may be considered a complete list of the township’s pioneers.

     Armstrong, John, 160 acres, sec. 20; Bell, Robert, 160 acres, sec. 14; Bradshaw, James, 40 acres, sec. 10; Broom, Hugh, 160 acres, sec. 19; Bell, John, 272 acres, sec. 12 and 20; Beggs, James, 200 acres, sec. 20; Bell, James, 360 acres, sec. 13 and 18; Bell, George, 160 acres, sec. 9; Buchanan, George, 40 acres, sec. 5; Berry, Eli, 99 acres, sec. 2; Brown, David, 71 acres, sec. 16; Bogle, Samuel, 160 acres, sec. 16; Beggs, Robert, 6 acres, sec. 11; Caldwell, William, 80 acres, sec. 11; Cullen, James, 35 acres, sec. 16; Crow, Isaac, 40 acres, sec. 6; Coates, Charles, 1 acres, sec. 20; Chambers, William, 202 acres, sec. 24 and 25; Clark, Andrew, 160 acres, sec. 24; Clark, John, 129 acres, sec. 10; Cullen, James, 35 acres, sec. 16.

     Douglas, Samuel, 150 acres, sec. 25; Douglas, David, Sr., 46 acres, sec. 25; Dehart, Cornelius, 80 acres, sec. 3; Dehart, William, 80 acres, sec. 3; Duffey, William, 30 acres, sec. 23; Drake, William, 160 acres, sec. 21; Douglas, William, 40 acres, sec. 25; Douglas, David, Jr., 40 acres, sec. 5; Fuller, William, 40 acres, sec. 22; Frame, William, 160 acres, sec. 24; Frame, John, 316 acres, sec. 23 and 24; Gill, James, 40 acres, sec. 10; Gibson, James, 120 acres, sec. 9 and 23; Gibson, William, 80 acres, sec. 4 and 22; Gibson, George Jr., 40 acres, sec. 4; Gibson, William, Sr., 150 acres, sec. 22; Gibson, George, Jr., 117 acres, sec. 3, 22 and 23; Gibson, George, Sr., 80 acres, sec. 22; Gibson, John, 161 acres, sec. 22 and 23; Harris, Isaac, 40 acres, sec. 10; Hedge, George M., 33 acres, sec. 5; Hutchison, John, 35 acres, sec. 16; Hedge, Aaron, 33 acres, sec. 5; Hosack, William, 158 acres, sec. 1; Hanna, John, 160 acres, sec. 19; Hammerly, Isaac, 160 acres, sec. 3; Hosack, John, 80 acres, sec. 22.

     King, John S., 35 acres, sec. 6; Kennedy, Andrew, 80 acres, sec. 4 and 7; Kinkead, Isaac, 1 acre, sec. 23; Kerr, Robert, 40 acres, sec. 14; Leeper, George B., 188 acres, sec. 5 and 13; Launtz, George, 30 acres, sec. 23; Leeper, John, 40 acres, sec. 11; Leeper, James, Jr. (Heirs), 167 acres, sec. 8 and 9; Lewis, George, 40 acres, sec. 22; Luccock, Naphtali, 361 acres, sec. 4, 7, 8 and 23; McMullen, Joseph, 200 acres, sec. 10 and 11; Mitchell, James, 118 acres, sec. 1; McKee, Thomas, 65 acres, sec. 10; Miller, Adam, 320 acres, sec. 12 and 13; Mathers, Henry, 120 acres, sec. 15 and 16; Mathers, Samuel (Heirs), 160 acres, sec. 18; Miller, Joseph, 200 acres, sec. 19; McCully, James, 80 acres, sec. 11; Mullen, Joseph, 80 acres, sec. 10 and 11; McCune, Hugh, 80 acres, sec. 21; McCulley, Gilbert, Jr., 40 acres, sec. 20; Mitchell, John B., 153 acres, sec. 25; Marquand, John, 120 acres, sec. 6; Martin, John, 159 acres, sec. 1 and 21; Milligan, Alexander, 80 acres, sec. 10; Mitchell, Alexander, 10 acres, sec. 25; Murry, James, 80 acres, sec. 15; Mitchell, George, 240 acres, sec. 5 and 25; Miller, John, 77 acres, sec. 19; McCulley, Gilbert, Sr., 208 acres, sec 11 and 20; McCleary, Henry, 40 acres, sec. 23; McCleary, H. and J., 4 acres, sec. 23; Miller, John, 40 acres, sec. 19.

     Newell, Charles, 120 acres, sec. 13; Newell, Samuel, 31 acres, sec. 8 and 13; Nash, Joshua, 9 acres, sec. 25; Oldham, James, 160 acres, sec. 18; Pressley, William, Jr., 118 acres, sec. 2; Patterson, Samuel, 80 acres, sec. 21; Philips, Thomas, 40 acres, sec. 3; Patterson, Elias, 146 acres, sec. 14; Patterson, John, 80 acres, sec. 21; Rice, Thomas, 80 acres, sec. 12; Robb, Josiah, 40 acres, sec. 7; Robinson, William, 111 acres, sec. 15; Robinson, Robert, 80 acres, sec. 10 and 11; Robinson, Thomas (Heirs), 81 acres, sec. 19 and 20; Roberts, Charles, 159 acres, sec. 2.

     Shaw, William, 80 acres, sec. 16; Stewart, Edie, 162 acres, sec. 9; Stull, John, 138 acres, sec. 2; Stewart, John, 160 acres, sec. 8; Stiles, J., 120 acres, sec. 3 and 4; Sights, William, 71 acres, sec. 6; Sights, Frazier, 71 acres, sec. 6; Sights, David, 74 acres, sec. 15; Sarchet, David, 40 acres, sec. 16; Stewart, William, 65 acres, sec. 9; Stewart, James, 222 acres, sec. 7, 8, 10 and 14; Theaker, John, 80 acres, sec. 25; Vanpelt, Daniel, 200 acres, sec. 3 and 4; Wagstaff, John, 1 acre, sec. 23; Warden, Isaac, 120 acres, sec. 6 and 7; Warden, Isaac J., 120 acres, sec. 7 and 17; Warden, Isaac, Sr. (Heirs), 400 acres, sec. 17; Warden, Samuel, 160 acres, sec. 4.

     Owners of lots in Liberty (Kimbolton0 were John Bumgardner, James Dye, George Duffey, Thomas Drakely, David Dull, William Fuller, William Frame, James Gibson, George of George Gibson, George Gibson, Jr., William Gibson, Sr., William Gass, John Gibson, Naphtali Luccock, George Launtz, Edward Milliken, James Malone, Margaret McMillen, William Powers, Charles Porter, John Porter, Henry Sills, George Turner, Robert Vanpelt and John Wagstaff.

     (Since 1840 the spelling of many family names has changed. In the lists of property owners the original spelling is retained.)

 

The Pioneer Family of Kimbolton

 

     For many years James Gibson was the proprietor of the hotel in Kimbolton, located on the corner formed by the intersection of the road from North Salem and the principal street of the town. He died in 1895 at the age of ninety-two years.  Having lived in that community since he was three or four years of age, he could relate many incidents that occurred there in the early days.  In his old age he delighted in telling about Kimbolton and the surrounding country as they were in the long ago.  Much that is given in this story was related by him to others.

     Coming of the Gibsons.—In 1806 William Gibson, his wife and six children lived at Newellstown (now St. Clairsville) in Belmont county.  Desiring to locate farther west, Gibson came into what is now Guernsey county (then Muskingum) and selected 320 acres of land in the Military district, which was then for sale by the government. This tract was in the Wills creek valley, ten miles below Cambridge which was laid out that year. There were no white settlers between Cambridge and the place chosen by him for a home, but north of Fish Basket was an Indian town.  At the mouth of bird’s run, several miles down the creek, was another Indian town, near which some white families were settling. To this tract in the unbroken wilderness William Gibson brought his family the next year.  James Gibson, referred to in this story, then four years of age, was one of the six children.

     The journey from Newellstown to Cambridge was made on Zane’s Trace.  The family carried their goods on pack horses and drove their cattle and sheep.  Having reached the Cambridge settlement, they were confronted with a serious problem—how to reach the place selected for a future home.  There were no roads, not even a trail through the forest, over which their heavy goods could be carried. Two boats were obtained and lashed together. Within these were placed their household goods to be conveyed down the stream. The horses, cattle and sheep were taken through the woods near the creek.

     A Rude Home.--Within the primeval forest, on the east side of the creek, to the right of the road now leading from Kimbolton to North Salem, a rude home was hastily constructed. Forks were driven into the ground, poles were placed across, and the sides and top were covered with elm bark. Here the family lived until the following February, when a more pretentious cabin home was erected.

    
    
Game Was Plentiful.—When in one of his reminiscent moods, James Gibson related the following:

 

     “When I was a boy there was never a thought of fattening a hog. Wild hogs were about us in droves, and when a settler wanted a fat hog in the fall of the year he just went out and shot one. They fattened on mast and nuts of all sorts that grew into his country, and were as nice as any fattened hog any one ever saw.

     “For Years we never shot a wild turkey. When we wanted one we built a little pen of poles, thatched the top with brush, dug a little trench up to and under one side, and trailed some grains of corn along it. The turkeys would eat the corn and follow the trench until they got inside, then they never thought of going out the way they came in; they would try to get through the top which, of course, they could not do.  I have known thirteen turkeys to be caught at one time in one small pen.

     “As to deer there were lots and lots of them.  It was nothing in common to see a drove with twenty-five or thirty in it. The bucks shed their horns along in the middle of winter—about Christmas or New Year’s. Their new horns would grow very rapidly, being for the first few months covered with a sort of fur as fine as the finest velvet and known by that name. If you would go through the woods early in the fall you could see every here and there where the young bushes and underbrush were torn and twisted down by the bucks with their antlers, in an effort to clean them of the last of the velvet. One time I was with my father when he was hunting, and up on a bench of the hill, on some rocks, we saw four big bucks lying. He shot every one of them with four single shots from his rifle. I have gone out on nice mornings when I could expect the deer to be astir, and have often killed and skinned two before breakfast.”

     Raised Flax.—He used to tell of the days he was employed in pounding hominy in a “hominy block” and in grinding corn for meal in a hand mill. Their wheat was reaped with a sickle, threshed with a flail and cleaned with a sheet. Flax was raised. This had to be pulled and then hackled to remove the seed; then it was laid on the grass to rot in order that it might be broken and scotched. Flax pullings, and breakings and scutchings were occasions for social gatherings of which dancing was usually a feature. The flax was spun into thread, then woven into fine linen for shirts and dresses, or coarser fabrics for tow linen and materials for sacks.

     Wills Creek.—Wills creek flowed through the Gibson farm. According to James it contained much more water than it does today, water that was clear and pure. The stream was not then clogged with logs, brush and sandbars.  Large trees lined the banks and their overlapping branches almost excluded the summer sun from the water. The creek was full of fish—pike, perch, suckers and catfish—and there were big ones.
     The Gibson Family--
William Gibson, the pioneer of Liberty township, was born September 22, 1770, in Washington county, Pennsylvania, of parents who had come to America from Ireland. His wife was the daughter of John Larison.  To this couple were born twelve children, one of whom died in infancy.  The others were John, Martha, Henry, James, George, Elizabeth, Mary, Lucinda, Abel, Thomas and Hiram.  Excepting John the four sons born before the family came here were too small, at first, to do much work.  To help in clearing his land William Gibson employed Joshua Reeves and George Phillips, who lived several miles down the creek.  Six years after the family’s arrival the War of 1812 began. William Gibson and his son, John, were both drafted for service. As they did not want to leave the large family of children who would be helpless in their absence, they hired substitutes for the army.

     William Gibson was a prosperous man and active in all matters pertaining to the good of the community.  His death occurred in 1849. Nancy Gibson, his wife, lived to be ninety-eight years of age, dying in 1873 at the home of her son, James, in Kimbolton.

     A Pioneer Wedding.—In 1817 John, the oldest son of William and Nancy Gibson, was married.  During the ten years the family had been living on Wills creek, several others had settled there; one of these was the Douglas family, three or four miles farther down the stream. It was a daughter in this family, whom John married.  James who was thirteen years old at this time, told about the big infare at the Gibson home. All the folks arrived on horseback about the same time in the afternoon. Before entering the house, they formed a circle. A jug of whisky was passed around, form which both the men and women drank. Among the guests were the Bells, Douglases, Hedges, Newells and Hosacks. One of the features of the occasion was the supper consisting of venison, wild turkey, cabbage, potatoes, corn bread and other foods of the pioneer days. Following the supper came the dancing which continued until morning.

     As a wedding present, William Gibson gave John sixty acres of land across the creek. Eleven years later (1828) John here laid out a town which he named Liberty. The name was afterwards changed to Kimbolton, and on November 5, 1884, the town was incorporated.

     James Teaches School.—The first school in the Gibson neighborhood was taught by Austin Hunt who came from New England. Like others of the teaching profession in that early day, he believed in the rod as a necessary instrument of persuasion and enlightenment. The building in which he taught was of the most primitive construction. At one end was a huge fireplace in which wood was burnt. Pupils on that side of the room suffered from the heat; on the other side, from the cold. Instead of glass greased paper was used to admit light. Extending around the walls of the room were planks held in place by wooden pins. These were the writing desks. The benches were made of split or hewn logs on upright posts or pegs. The door was of rough boards swung on wooden hinges. Pens were made from goose quills. Skill in making a good goose-quill pen was one of the essential qualifications of a teacher. Ink was made from oak bark ooze and copperas. Pupils ruled their own paper with a piece of lead and the teacher set the copy.

     In such a school as he describes above, James Gibson received his early education, and in a school but better he afterwards taught. We shall let him relate one of his experiences.

 

     “I went to keeping school, and kept school here in Liberty. Some of the boys from over the creek began to run off and stay around the creek and hunt mussels and crawfish. I found it out and brought them up and gave them a tannin’.  They went home and told their folks I had whipped them. The next day their fathers rode up to the schoolhouse, called me to the door and said they had come to give me a tannin’ for whipping their boys. What color are you going to tan me?’ I asked. “If you have any business you can attend to it, but if you come into this schoolhouse I will do the tannin”.”  There was no tannin’ done.  I think a good tannin’ never hurt a boy when he needed it.”

 

     Kept a Tavern.—Few men in the Kimbolton neighborhood were better known over a long period of years then was “Jimmy” Gibson.  In 1833 he married Matilda Morrison. Their eleven children were Leroy, Angeline, William H., Naphtah L., Porter W., Anderson, Nancy M., Thomas D., Margaret J., James M. and Milton.  In politics James Gibson believed in the principles of the Republican party; in religion, the doctrine of the United Presbyterian church.

     The tavern mentioned at the beginning of this story was built by James Gibson in 1840. After operating it for five years he turned his attention to farming, taking over the old farm that had been owned by his father. Some years later he returned to the tavern where the remainder of his days were spent.

 

Going to Mill

 

     Going to mill was often an event of notable interest with families of pioneer days. Until roads were built, journeys of ten to twenty miles—sometimes longer—had to be made through the pathless forest by some pioneers, in order to reach a mill. Pack horses were used to carry the grist, which generally consisted of three sacks of grain, two sacks on one horse and one on another. After trails and roads had been cut through the woods, the pioneer went to mill in cart or wagon, drawn by oxen or horses. His return home was eagerly awaited by the family, as he not only brought fresh meal for bread, but he brought news that he had gathered from those he had contacted at the settlement. Then, too, he often brought purchases made at the store that was generally opened near a mill.

     The “Hominy Block.”—But at first there were no mills that could be reached without hardships and dangers too great to be undertaken.  For meal to make bread and mush the settler pulverized his grain in a mortar with a heavy wooden pestle. The mortar was made by hollowing a block of some hard-grained wood, a foot or more deep. If the family was large, some member was kept pounding corn much of the time. This “hominy block,” as it was called, served as an extra chair when there were visitors at the cabin.

     A stump convenient to the cabin door made a good “hominy block,” after it had been hollowed by burning. However, in stormy weather it was not as desirable as a portable “hominy block.”

     The “Corn Cracker.’-- The first mills to be operated in Guernsey county were called “corn crackers,” because they merely crushed the grain. The pioneer bolted the meal at home, using a wire sieve, which as a necessary household article. Their finer meal was used for making bread and mush, and the coarser for hominy. The “corn-cracker” mills were often so far from the pioneer’s home that, when the weather was bad, he had to resort to the “hominy block” or go without bread.

     Water furnished the power for operating most of the mills. Horse power was applied to some, called “tramp mills.”  As the county became settled these little “corn-cracker” mills sprang up on many of the streams. A dam was built of logs or stone and an overshot wheel was installed. The mill machinery was not complicated, so skilled millers were not required.

     Very few of these early mills were equipped for grinding wheat; for flour the settler often had to go a long distance to mill.  As wheat flour took the place of corn meal for making bread, the little “corn crackers” began to disappear. Along many of the little streams of Guernsey county may yet be seen evidences of pioneer mills.

     The Kimbolton Mill.—The oldest miller in Guernsey county today 91938) is LaFayette Miller, now in his eighty-ninth year. For a half century he ground wheat and corn. For nearly forty years he was the miller at one place—the Kimbolton mill. At present he is living at the home of Mr. and Mrs. LaFayette Temple in Cambridge.  Mrs. Temple is his daughter. When questioned about his experiences as a miller, Mr. Miller related the following concerning this family and the Kimbolton mill:

 

     “My grandparents, Adam and Margaret Miller, came from Ireland to Guernsey county in 1822. Their boat landed at Montreal, Canada. On the journey my father, Robert R. Miller was born. Grandfather purchased the farm upon which the Kimbolton mill stands, and upon this farm I was born.

      “Father was a miller by trade and he built a mill at Salt Fork, near Tyner.  For seven years he operated Barnes’ mill farther up the creek.  When I became old enough to work he took me into the mills with him, and taught me to be a miller.  In 1872 I took charge of the Kimbolton mill where I remained until my retirement a few years ago.

     “The present mill at Kimbolton is the third one that has stood in about the same spot.  I do not remember the first mill, which was built in 1820, but I have heard my grandfather tell much about it.  It was a log mill and stood on the south side of the creek, directly opposite the present mill. A dam built of logs was located on the site of the present stone dam. This mill, at first, was only a ‘corn cracker;’ it was later equipped for making flour.

     “By changing the gearing attached to the water wheel, a saw was operated.  The saw was not circular as those in mills are today, but it was straight and worked up and down. It cut only as it went down. Sometimes, if the log was large, it took a half hour or more for the saw to cut through. The sawyer would start the machinery and then work at something else until the board was sawed.

     “The second mill, the one in which I worked for thirty-five years, was built in 1847 by Julius McCleary, Joseph Brown and William Frame. This mill, which was five stories high, was made of timbers sawed at the old mill across the creek.  The old log dam was torn out and replaced by the one of stone that is still there.  For a long time this second mill was operated by water power, then by steam.  It burned in 1907.  A third mill, four stories high, operated by water power, was built on the same site.  It is now owned by the Kimbolton Milling Company.  W. A. Rose is the miller.

     “Back in the early days, when the Kimbolton mill was only a ‘corn cracker,’ the people of the community went to Cambridge and Zanesville to get their wheat ground. After buhr-stones were put in here, folks came to the Kimbolton mill from every direction—from over on Sugar Tree and farther away.  I have seen a whole string of wagons waiting to get grinding done. Some of the farmers who had come a long distance would have to stay in town over night.

     “We did grinding every day unless there was a drought or a flood.  Sometimes the water was too low, and sometimes it was too high; then we would have to shut down for a week or so.  Once, when the water was high, a man from Birds Run tried to cross the creek above the mill, in a skiff. The current carried him over the dam. His hat was found, but his body was never recovered. At another time, when Joseph McCleary was the miller, his child, playing in the mill, fell through the floor into the turbulent water below, and drowned.

     “For grinding a farmer’s grain the miller took one-eighth as toll.  This was measured in a cubical box, called a ‘toll dish,’ that held an eighth of a bushel.  If the miller, in measuring out his share, grasped the box with his thumb inside, he cheated himself in an amount of grain equal to that displaced by his thumb.  To be fair with himself he usually placed his hand beneath the box. Some millers would cup their hands, and thus gain a handful each time, provided the farmer was not watching.

     “In the course of time the tolls would amount to many bushels of grain, which was made into flour. As nearly everybody had his own wheat, there was little market for the flour at Kimbolton. There was no railroad then by which the flour might be transported elsewhere, and few roads that were passable, especially in bad weather.  McCleary, Brown and Frame loaded flour on flat boats and tried shipping it to Zanesville, by way of Wills creek and the Muskingum River.  I do not think the plan was successful.

     “There used to be water mills all along the creek. Below us were Linton’s and Jacobsport, and above us were Salt Fork, Barnes’s, Morton’s at Cambridge, and Bye’s at Byesville.  At each mill was a dam.  All are now gone excepting Kimbolton, the only water-power mill on Wills creek.

     “Farmers don’t get much grinding done these days. They sell their wheat and buy their flour.  Some of them even buy their bread. Milling isn’t what it used to be. Not many people go to mill any more.”

 

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