The Heritage of Daniel Haston


The Caney Fork of the Cumberland
Old Mills, M through Y - Pages 45-50
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Old Mills and the People Who Built and Operated Them
on the Caney Fork River and Tributaries - M through Y

Mead & Debards Mill - See Shells Ford Mill.
Miller's, (Wiley) Mill on Laurel Creek in a deed of 1865.
Mitchell's Mill on Caney Fork up river from the Butt's Ford and bridge, was built in 1865. 

A grist mill and sash were operated by Mitchell.  The mills gave employment to 30 to 40 men.  A small community grew up near the mill.  In 1923 there was no trace of any of the buildings.

Mitchell, (Jabez G.) Mill Dam was located "150 poles above Burdens Branch" on the Calfkiller River. 

This would be a little less than 1/2 mile.  This is mentioned in Grant No. 7961 given in 1828.  A deed of 1841 refers to "The old mill and mouth of Spring Branch."  The mill may have been on the Spring Branch rather than the main river.  The mill dam had been built prior to 1827.  The property was sold to Thomas Burrough and Joseph in 1863 including the mill.  Taylor's Mill tract was sold to F.P. Austin in 1894 and included the grist mill, saw mill and tan yard.  The first mills were probably on the left bank of the Calfkiller River.

For the further use of at least a part of this property see "Burroughs & Taylor Factory" on a previous page.

Mormon Mill on Caney Fork River was located about 1/4 miles above the mouth of Cane

Creek.  It was first known as Scarbrough Mill and began operations between 1810 and 1812 according to Goodspeed's History.  According to Jim Baker he first structure was a "wing dam" which diverted the water or the amount needed to the "water-house."  The mill operated on a low head of water.  Next a man named Carnes, from Michigan came in and built a rock dam using the thin flat rocks from the river bed.  When he had finished he said, "Now I've got the old Caney Fork collared."  It was not long before a big spruce pine came down the river on a flood tide and tore down the rock dam.  Mr. Baker went on to say that the first real timber dam was built by a man named Goodman, who built a number of dams on the Caney fork and other streams.  Jim Baker said that when he was a small boy he knew and talked to Mr. Goodman, who was then a very old man.

John Dale built or had built a dam between 1831 and 1839.  He was probably the owner and this may be the dam that Goodman built.  James Anderson became owner of the property and he sold it to John Warren in 1849.  A deed of 1848 and the one of 1849 included "mill and distillery conveyed on Caney Fork in Hickory Valley."  The mill was sold again in 1872 when A.S. Rogers sold to Dyer White and for a time the mill was called the Dyer White mill.  The property went to John Mosley who sold it to C.E. Mormon in 1894.  This accounts for the name "Mormons Mill."

The dam and mill were washed out in the flood of March 1902.  A few traces of the mill were still visible in 1923 but are now under water unless he reservoir level is very low.

Nelson's Iron Forge  - See Iron Forge Rocky River.
Ogden Mill - See listing under Carding Mills.
Phifer Mill - See Reno Mill on Caney Fork River.
Pitt's Bottom - Iron furnace and charcoal.  Traveling east toward Rock Island the Pitt's Bottom was

located to the left of the road after passing the Squire Hash home.  It was up a hollow and in back of the Friendship Church.  The charcoal was made to use in the manufacture of gun powder.  The operations were carried on by either Pitts or Amsterdam or both men.  Very little information was very limited and it appeared to the writer in 1925 that the operations were all prior to the Civil War.

Rock Island Mill - This mill was built at the lower end of the Island by John Goldson, father of

Wiley Goldson, for John B. Rodgers after he acquired the property.  Old Dr. Mason of Quebeck told the writer that Goldson took the job with the understanding that he be paid part in cash and take the balance from the operating profits till paid.  He did not receive any cash payment.  During the War Goldson operated the mill while Rodgers was in the north.  James McGiboney said he remembers going to the mill as a young boy.  He said a dam about 8 feet high was built across the lower end of the slough.  The slough gradually filled with mud, the property was neglected and as Dr. Mason said the mill did not operate after the close of the War.

Reno Mill on the right side of Caney Fork River a few hundred feet down stream from the present Reno Bridge.  It was almost due southeast of the Onward Community.  Spring water flowed out of a cave behind an over-hanging bluff.  The water was carried to a large over-shot wheel.  The mill buildings were gone by 1923 but the over-shot wheel did not disappear until about 1925.  Albert Kuhn owned the property at that time.

The original land grant at Reno was to Elijah Hill.  According to older citizens visited in 1924 there was a mill operating at this location prior to 1822.  In 1841 John E. Turner was operating a saw mill, powder mill and probably a grist mill.  Turner also operated a "large plantation."  E.J. Reno was the owner of the mill site in 1912.  See page 50 [of the book] also.

Source of Reno Spring Water
In October 1927 the writer made a study of some underground stream flows from a stream that dropped into several sink holes at the foot of Gum Spring Mountain and 5 miles north of Reno Spring.  A green dye was used to color the water entering the sink holes.  It reappeared.  Colored water appeared at 2 springs on Calfkiller River, one 2 1/2 miles southeast of the sink holes and one 3 1/2 miles south east.

Much to our surprise the color showed up in a well at Onward, 4 1/2 miles south of the sink holes, at an underground stream, in a cave a half mile further south at Reno Spring another half mile south on the Caney Fork.  The farmer found out that his fine, cool well water came for the run-off on the side of Gum Spring Mountain.  It did not worry him.

Webmaster's note:  This spring that sank near Gum Spring Mountain, was probably the one known as "Sinking Creek." In the early 1800s there was a Primitive Baptist Church at that location by the name of Sinking Creek Baptist Church.

Ross Mill on the right bank of the Caney Fork.  - See Underwood Mill.
Rhodes, James, Mill Branch mentioned in 1851 deed on the right bank of the Caney Fork below

Franks Ferry.  There must have been a mill there at some time.

Rice, T.B. - See Harriet Iron Works.
Savage, George, Mill.  This was an early grist mill on the Barren Fork upstream from McMinnville.
Savage, George - A later generation than one above. - See Brady Haston Mill.
Scarborough Mill on Caney Fork.  See Williams Mill.
Scoggin Mill on Caney Fork.  See Williams Mill.
Shell's Grist Mill on Collins River at Shell's ford and frequently referred to as Shellsford Mill.

It was operated by James Shell.  The mill was built in 1869 by E.G. Mead.  A deed of 1886 mentions both the mill and ford.  In 1887 Mead and Debard were operating a grist mill, saw mill, planing mill, flour mill and grist mill at this location.  A deed of 1903 refers to the "Chastian Mill."

Sims, William, operated a corn mill below Wilhites on Cherry Creek.
Simmon's, James, grist mill on Cane Creek mentioned in deed from James Simmons to Robert

Gamble.  From a deed made in 1882 the grist mill was about 9,000 feet as the crow flies upstream from Carter Drakes Lime Kiln which had been burned.  There is a further reference to "the upper Drake place."

Simpson's Mill on the Calfkiller River about 4 miles below Sparta.  Goodspeed p. 799 states that

"Thomas Simpson settled on Calfkiller River, four miles below Sparta, and Joseph Terry at Rock Island on Caney Fork, now in Warren County, at about the same time."  Terry was at Rock Island prior to 1807.  The Carthage Gazette in the March 19, 1814 issue stated that "Simpson's Mill was operating on the Rocky River."  This statement was incorrect and it should have read "Calfkiller River."

Grant 3399 Entered July 20, 1821 (or 1831, not clear) refers to James Simpson's (deceased) place which, according to the description, was up the river from Simpson Mill.  The mill was located on Simpson's original grant for 100 acres.  There was a saw mill and grist mill and dam in the original layout.  James Williams (1785-1876) helped saw out the lumber for the mill and covered bridge.  This bridge was the main crossing for travel on the Sparta - McMinnville road.  John W. Simpson's name entered the picture at an early date.  The John W. Simpson Mills added 20 acres in 1825, 50 acres in 1826 and 75 acres in 1849.  The latter "adjoins the old 100 acres on which the mills are located."  Reference is also made to "the saw mill under the bluff on the east side of the river.

During August 1862 there was a fight at Simpson's Mill between Col. Whorton's Texans and General Nelson's Federals in an 1851 deed to J.W. Simpson's heirs.  In 1871 and 1872 the properties were transferred to O.F. Young* and from that time were referred to as Young's Mill.  During this period there are references to both a corn and flour mill.  The mills were sold to the Hill family in 1898 and in 1902 to the Farmers Flouring Mill & Elevator Co. which was granted a charter by the White County Court in 1900 with a capital stock of $10,000 and increased to $30,000 in 1902.  The deed of 1902 refers to an old store and an old still house.  The properties were deeded to R.L. Hill in 1911.  200 acres were deeded to White County in 1906 for the White County Poor Farm.

*Note - O.F. refers to Oliver F. Young.

John W. Simpson and the War of 1812
The following is from Goodspeeds History p. 805-06.  "When the War Department made a requisition on the State of Tennessee for 2,500 men to serve in the War of 1812, White County contributed two full companies, which were commanded by Capts. John W. Simpson and George W. Gibbs.  Capt. Simpson was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and distinguished himself for bravery at the Battle of New Orleans."
Smallman & Swan - See Bailiff Mill.
Sparkman's Mill on Cane Creek in the first sharp bend above the mouth of the river. 

The dam was 6 feet and 5 inches high.  The mill building was on the left bank.  There was a foot bridge 200 feet above the dam in 1912.  In 1923 a few of the dam timbers were visible.

Sparkman received the land by deed in 1909.  This mill was on property that probably belonged to Carter Drake.  The writer did not have enough information to identify it for sure.

Sperry, Thomas & Lane, Jacob A. Mill was located on Town Creek, about 2 miles above

Sparta.  At first there was a corn mill.   ____ Givens was the operator at one period.  It was referred to in deeds of 1854 and 1881.  It was later operated by Allen & Mayberry and then to the Tubb family.  At one time there was a saw mill and powder mill at this site.  There was also a tailor shop and Saloon adjacent to the mill.

Swindle, Clark, Sr. - operated a grist mill at an early date on Cedar Cr.  Later it was called Swindle &

Sanders corn and saw mill.

Tailor Shop - See Sperry & Lane Mill.
Tosh Mill was located on the right bank of Caney Fork a few feet upstream from Tosh Bridge and

old ferry site.  The first mill was in a cave and powered by water from a spring branch.  The property was sold to Ed. Blankenship in 1884.  He built a flume from the cave to a new building.  It is of interest to note that the Blankenship property was at one time a part of Van Buren County.  This was the result of an Act of the Legislature of 1869.  It was later transferred back to White County.  The story is told that at one time a pond, some distance away sank and drained out through a sink hole and that many frogs came out at the mill spring branch.  The property was in the name of Wiley Goldstone when first surveyed for the Great Falls development.

Turner, John E. - Powder mill - See Reno Mill.
Underwood Mill - This mill was located in a large cave on the right bank of the Caney

Fork River about half way between Tosh Mill and Reno Mill.  As the writer remembers it the cave was large with a high overhanging bluff.  The water came from an underground stream that flowed out of the cave. There were no remains of the mill in 1923.  There was one reference to the Underground Mill in a land description in 1848.  The property originally belonged to the Ross Family.  According to tradition they built the first mill.

Van Buren Land Co. Saw Mill - They began operations on the Caney Fork in 1902.  Their operations

were not destroyed by the 1902 flood.  They had a log boom from Mitchell's Ford downstream to the Mill.  It appears that they took over the Mitchell Mill.

Wallace, S.D. & Cooper, Wm. Saw Mill and Grist Mill - The White County Court at a meeting in

January 1882 gave Wallace & Cooper the right to build a dam on Caney Fork at Molloy Shoals above the Porter Ford and to erect a saw and grist mill.  This was in the second district of White County.  A grant of 1829 refers to an old mill dam built by John Porter.  This was at Butts ford or upstream from it.

Walling Mill Co. mill on Mountain Cr. was located about 1/4 mile above the mouth of the creek. 

It was also referred to as the J. Walling Mill.  The dam, 10 feet high, was built of logs.  An unusual feature was a flume about 100 feet long, extending down stream to a wheel pit in which a water turbine with a vertical shaft was mounted.  By use of gears a horizontal shaft extended some 50 feet to a 2-story mill building.  An old store building was also located on the property.

All of the above information was taken from the Bylessby drawings made from the 1912 surveys.

Walling Mill Company Mill

Originally the Mill was owned by Walling, W.C. Womack and Alice Jones.  A deed of 1898 refers to "the mill property."  Jesse Walling apparently became the sole owner at that time

Walling, James - See Laurelburg Mill.
Ward, H.R. - See Brickford's Mill.
Warren's Saw Mill - See Brady & Haston Mill.
White's Mill pond - See Dale & White's Mill pond.
White, Dire (Dyer?) in 1865 built a mill and had a sash saw operating in connection with it on Caney Fork.

- See Mitchell Mill.

White, Dyer - See Mormon Mill.
Wilhite Corn Mill was located on Cherry Creek.
Wilkinson's Mill on Collins River.  Notes are incomplete.  Appears to have been near Gribble Ford and

may have been on a small branch.

Williams corn, flour and saw mills were located on the north bank of the Caney Fork above the Scoggins

Shoals and about a mile below River Hill and the mouth of Cane Creek.  The Williams farm was in the lower end of Hickory Valley and extended along the Caney Fork for nearly 1/2 mile.

The property first belonged to the Scoggin Family.  John Scoggins received 144 acres under Grant No. 534 on Caney Fork River near a Spring Branch in 1808.  In 1809 John Scoggin transferred to Jesse Scoggins 64 acres, a part of grant 534.  (Bk. B, p. 113-16)  In 1816 John Scoggin deeded an additional 21 acres to Jesse Scoggin.  (Bk. F, p. 36)  Jesse Scoggins received 23 acres on Caney Fork River near a Spring Branch by Grant No. 10809.

Jesse Scoggins had the first Mills built.  In addition to operating the mills and his farm he was a brandy distiller.

According to Jim Baker the dam was built by Mr. Goodman, an experienced builder of dams and the builder of many dams on the Caney Fork.  Several of the children of Dan Rogers, Mr. Goodman's son-in-law, were living in Doyle in the 1920's.  Jim Baker said Goodman was a very old man when he was a young boy.

The dam was built largely of white oak timbers hewn and mortised in the woods.  It was floored with hewn or sawed planks.  Jim was by the mill in 1892 and said that the dam was "partially rotted out and washed out at the time."

Womack, W.C. - See Walling Mill Company.
Woodman Cotton Mills were located on the right bank of Barren Fork River in McMinnville on the

property where the Annis Cotton Mill was later built.  The mill was also referred to as the McMinnville Manufacturing Co.  The property was sold to Asa Faulkner.  Deeds of 1866-67 refer to "old mills, debris dam, etc."  Another deed refers to "Woodman Mills being on the land sold to Faulkner."  According to an affidavit of W.A. Bell the first mill in the area was the Woodman Cotton Mill.  He further stated that it burned soon after the War.

Asa Faulkner bought the right of way along the right bank of Barren Fork for a canal to carry water from the upper diversion dam down to the mills below the railroad bridge.  This purchase was made in March 1860 by Goodpasture who also sold some additional land for the cotton factory.  In 1859 John B. French, A.P. Welcher and Berry Layne sold Asa Faulkner additional canal rights and the right to build a dam.

After the War Faulkner built the Annis Cotton Mill.  Asa Faulkner and his son W.P. Faulkner bought water rights for a dam to be built below the railroad bridge.  The dam had been built in 1880.

Jesse Walling purchased the Anis Cotton Mill properties in 1903 and the same were transferred to the Walling Light and Power Company in 1903.  For further developments in this area see "McMinnville Hydro Electric Plant" under the general heading "Electric Power Plants."

Young's Mill on Calfkiller River - See Simpson's Mill.
York's Mill on Laurel creek - York received a grant in 1838, Entered 1834 to lands on Laurel Creek

and Rocky River.  A deed of 1860 refers to York's Grist Mill.  A deed in 1883 refers to the above property as "Mrs. Passons Mill."

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