Light Vol. 10 page 67 - 71
HISTORY OF MILLTOWN, NEWPORT TWP., WASHINGTON COUNTY, OHIO
notes by O.P.H.:
following paper was read before the First Literary Society of Milltown in March
1890 by Mrs. K. B. Davis (nee Sarah E. Garrison). Officers of the Society at
that time were: Harman A. Bevan, President; Wilbur Davis, Vice-President;
Charles Hartwell, Secretary and Thomas A Becker, Treasurer. This article of reminiscences
was submitted tot he Tallow Light by Mrs. Herman E. (Eileen Berga) Thomas, WCHS
member of Newport, Ohio. Mrs. Thomas added the parenthetical information on the
Rea-Greenwood Elm in paragraph 11.
we have before us tonight the talent, beauty and wit of Milltown, we think it
must be interesting to give you a brief, though somewhat imperfect, history of
our little town -- to all of us present home, if not our native place.
is bounded by green hills. As their towering peaks arise toward the blue dome
of heaven, they stand as mighty sentinels guarding our little town, while the
sparkling waters of Dana's Run divide us, - our homes on either bank.
hamlet is noted as a sheltered spot, the hills breaking the fury of wind and
Milltown, our quiet little home,
Nestled beneath the hills;
In thee life passes on so peacefully,
So secure from ills.
We fear no winds, however wild,
Nor storms for us too hard,
With the dear old hills on every side --
Our everlasting guard.
have tried to imagine how Milltown looked before the first tree had fallen --
When it was a trackless wilderness.
Milltown and the Hendersot farm were first owned by WILLIAM DANA, grandfather
of Rev. Watson and Fannie Dana.
am not able to tell you in what year the first log house was built in Milltown
but I think it was about eighty-two years ago that William Dana built a log
house on the lot owned by Henry E. Stephen; also one on the lot now owned by
the old Jacob Cook house. Our little town in that early day was not called
"Milltown," but on account of the many wild rose-vines, and lovely
faces to the sky, our town was first called "Rose Dale,' as a constant
reminder of the fragrance and beauty of its native wild rose.
years ago the old mill, now used as a packing house, was built by WILLIAM DANA.
It was run by water power. Mr. Dana went a half mile above the old mill, built
a dam across Dana's Run, cut a race through the Crandall pasture now owned by
Aaron Edgell, walling the race with flag stone four feet, leaving here and
there an opening on the top as an entrance for examination and cleaning.
mill-race crosses under the Old Summerfield road above the home of our friend
Miss Nellie Davis, thence back of the Dana Home and on down to the old mill.
The water was let into the race by hoisting a large head gate at the dam, then
running through the race and around west of our town; the small gate being
hoisted at the mill, the water poured on the great wheel, and by this water
power the wheat and corn were ground in the mill.
must know 'twas a happy day for Milltown and Newport when the new mill was
completed. From that day our little town dropped the name of "Rose
Dale," proudly taking the name "Milltown," and the surrounding
country, far and near, came here to mill. Great was the fame of our little
village, for she boasted of one among the finest mills in our country
this spot where the home of our honorable President, Harmon E. Bevan, now
stands and the adjoining field beyond, was the site of the magnificent
"Dana Sugar Camp." Where thousands of pounds of sugar were made. Five
hundred trees were tapped at one time, and Oh! the fun the young people had
gathering in, boiling down the syrup, "sugaring off," roasting eggs,
filling the shells with sugar and talking nonsense around the camp-fire.
have been told that to one a little distance away the trees looked as though
one could step from top to top, there were so even and close together. Among
them was our grand old Elm, now left alone which was bought (June 19, 1879 from
Marcellus Rea) by William C. Greenwood, one of the "boys" who
gathered sap in the old sugar-camp in the years long gone by. The old Elm lives
with us today and spreads forth its green old boughs in memory of the happy
past, while the protector has long been sleeping in the quiet grave. Friends,
where is there another tree like the old Elm? Can anyone tell how old it is?
And can you tell how the "Banjo" got its name?
those days game was plenty in the region of our town. My two uncles, Aaron and
William Edgell, then boys living a little above Milltown, coming down through
the woods, (for they were all around) whom do you suppose the met one day? Why,
no other than Madam Bear taking a morning walk in the quest of breakfast. For
company she had with her two baby cubs. The boys halted, so did the bear. My
uncle said by the light of her eye, he knew she meant business. She slowly
advanced in front of her children, then arose on her hind feet and, with wide
open arms and an angry growl, invited the boys to an embrace; but the boys of
those days not caring so much for a hug as our boys do, took to their heals and
ran home. Getting help and dogs, they treed Mrs. Bear and babies on a leaning
tree a few rods above where Mr. David Henry now lives. Mr. James Nichols, the
first miller of Milltown, shot the bear and capturing her two cubs took them home and chained them in his yard (now
Mr. Rea's), made pets of them, and many was the romp the boys used to have with
old mill is indeed a historical building. It had stood the storms eighty-four
years. Mr. Jacob Cook, when helping to roof it, fell from the top to the
ground, and to the surprise of all, was not killed. The mill was dedicated with
a "Ball." So you see the founders of our little town believed in a
little fun along with their hard work!
miller's family often lived in the mill, occupying the second floor on the east
side. So there have been many births, deaths, and weddings in the old mill.
John H. D. Templeton, Esq., of Lawrence Township, father of Drs. A. M. & F. B. Templeton, of Belpre,
a little more that a quarter a century ago, was married in the old mill to Miss
Mary E. Campbell, whose father was miller at the time. Mrs. Eleanor Cook was
the first bride brought to Milltown. She and Mr. Cook lived in the old log
house that stood where Mrs. Rea's new house now stands. Shall I tell you of the
first reception party given in Milltown? It was about fifty-two years ago, and
my Mother was the bride. Grandma Garrison was living at the time near where M.
E. Hanna now lives. My Father brought my Mother home to Milltown. The wedding guests
were Mr. & Mrs. Aaron Edgell,
brother and sister of the bride. Mr. & Mrs. William Dana, Mr. & Mrs.
Jacob Cook and Mr. & Mrs. Ezekiel Slagle, (Mr. Slagle being the miller at that
And shall I tell you of the presents? They
were of a useful sort. Mr. Slagle and wife brought an old-fashioned hickory
broom, --if you want to know how they were made, ask some of the old folks, --
Mr. & Mrs. Dana tried to make my father's and mother's life very sweet by
giving them a great loaf of maple sugar, made in a large, old fashioned iron
kettle, also five gallons of maple syrup, both syrup and sugar gathered from
the grand old trees in the sugar camp. My grandmother's present was an old
fashioned China set, -- some of the pieces I have now. Mr. & Mrs. Cook
brought a "potato-masher," a rolling-pin and an old fashioned bread
board, -- all made by Mr. Cook. There were other presents which I have not time
to mention. The dinner consisted in part of chicken, ham, roast beef, and dried
venison. A part of the dinner was boiled on a crane over the old fashioned wood
fire; the coffee boiled on coals in the corner of the wide hearth. There were
two kinds of cake, besides the "doughnuts" and all made with maple
sugar. Since that day a great many brides have come to Milltown, --too many for
me to mention.
Robinson, I believe, kept the first store in Milltown, living at the time on
the H. E. Stephen lot in an old house that was burned some years later. Later
still T. M. Gregory built a little store on the Watson Dana lot and sold goods
for a time. Years after Captain George Davenport came to Milltown, bought the
old mill for a packing house and built a store under the old Elm. That store
was burned. Then Mr. Davenport put up a building that was intended for a
dwelling house and store together, and for some years he and Mr. P. H. Hays were partners in business. Then Mr. M.
Rea, a young man, came to Milltown, bought out Captain Davenport and the firm
was known as "Hays & Rea." After a time Mr. Rea bought Mr. Hays interest
and the firm has been ever since been known as the "McRae Co." On
account of water undermining this building, Mr. Rea moved the store to the west
side of the Run. Mr. Rea followed the business of merchant and tobacco packer
successfully until the time of his death. Then his brother Wilbur, with the
help of Mrs. M. Rea, continued the business until Wilbur's death some years
ago. And I must day just here, no town not community was ever blessed with two
nobler Christian men than was "Mac" Rea and his brother Wilbur. After
Wilbur's death, Mrs. M. Rea, all honor to her, took up the business and has
successfully carried it on, proving to some of our male friends that a woman is
capable of doing business as well as a man.
Town was always noted for loyalty. Milltown has the honor of sending the first
soldier from Newport Township. During the dark days of the "sixties,"
when the call came for men to defend their country, Milltown, although a great
deal smaller than now, sent seven soldiers, --James Davis, the first in the
township to enlist; Henry Davis, A. G. O'Bleness, John Davis, Carby Jobes,
Henry O'Bleness and K. B. Davis. All these brave men returned to their homes,
except Henry Davis who sleeps in an unmarked grave in the South. Well do I remember the Morgan Raid in 1863.
There were but four men in our town, and they were all over sixty years of age:
Charles Dana, Thomas M Gregory, Jacob Cook and John V. O'Bleness. How the women
tucked their best spoons in the "rag bag" for safe keeping! How the
old men, boys and women, with the girls turned out to blockade the roads! How
we cut trees, piled brush and built fences till the road up Milltown Hill and
over toward Bear Run was impassable! Had our friend Mr. "Tom" Becker
been with us then and wished to visit his home, he would have been compelled to
go by way of Marietta or else have taken a whole week to clean out the road.
Women and girls in those days had to take care of themselves, care for the
stock, feed and do the chores all winter and so most of the farming. But I do
not believe it hurt us; it only gave us health and made us independent.
influence of the early settlers of our town was good, exceptional indeed and
the lives of our young people have been blessed by their counsel and example.
As the gentle winds of Summer bear of such lives as that of "Aunt Eunice
Dana" and others come back to us, and our lives are more perfect, and
nearer what they should be, for having been blessed by their counsel and
example in the younger days.
peaceful little home,
amongst the hills;
Fragrance of thy roses
around thee still.