Goodspeed's History of Stewart County

published 1887

Part 3:  Mills/Still-Houses/Cotton

     The early mills were built some time in 1800, and were all water power, the creeks furnishing an abundance of power. They were all built of rough logs, and were usually of the pattern known as "tub" wheel, though an occasional "overshot" wheel was to be found. William Haggard had a water-mill on Hickman Creek in 1800 which was probably the first one erected in the county. Bryon O'Neal had a gristmill on Lick Creek, three miles above, Dover, a year later, and in 1804, W.R. Bell erected a good grist mill on Wells Creek, below the mouth of Dry Hollow, and in 1805 Jessie Denson built a good water-power saw and grist mill on Long Creek, four miles from the Cumberland River. Then followed William Outlaw, who put up a mill on Lick Creek; near the farm of David Childers; Robert D. Ellison, who built a water-power grist- mill on Wells Creek; Johnson M. Gard's mill on Panther creek, in Asa Atkin's mill on Lick Creek, Davidson's mill on the Tennessee River, Henry Pugh's mill on Long Creek, John Chamber's mill on Hickman Creek, two miles west of Dover, and John James' mill on Lick Creek. In about 1826 Nathan Skinner erected an excellent "overshot" mill on Shelby Creek, in the Fourth District, which is in operation at the present. The building is frame and log, is provided with two sets of buhrs, and has also a sawing outfit. The wheel is twenty feet in diameter, and supplies ample power. Stephen English had a good waterpower mill on Standing Rock Creek in about 1820. The Bumpus Mills, in the Fourth District, were established in 1846 by A.J. Bumpus, and have been enlarged and improved until at the present there are none superior in the county. The mills consist of saw, grist, flour, planing and turning machinery, the power being supplied by water from Saline Creek. At the mills is quite a little village. General merchandising is carried on by Messrs. J. A. Pugh, A.E. Fentrees, and W.A. Pugh. In the First District is located the "Rough and Ready" Steam Grist-mill. In the Second John Tippet has a water-power grist-mill, William Free has a steam saw mill, and Thomas Moreland has a water power grist mill on Cubb Creek. In the Third John Francis has a steam grist mill. In the Sixth J. M. Parchman has a steam saw and grist-mill at Cumberland City. In the Seventh Walter Bros. have a steam flour and grist- mill at Dover, and J.W. Rice has a water-power grist and saw-mill on Hickman Creek, and R. Biggs has a saw mill on Long Creak. In the Ninth J.J. Murphey has a steam flour, grist, and saw- mill. In the Tenth H. H. Magee has a saw and grist mill on Standing Rock Creek. In the Twelfth Harris & Buquo of Erin, Houston County, have a steam saw and grist-mill and a stave factory. The mills are all supplied with good machinery, and as a rule do a prosperous business.

     Quite a number of still-houses were in operation int he county between 1810 and 1830, and a few were continued at even a later date. One of the earliest stills was owned by James Russell, and stood about three-fourths of a mile south of Dover. Russell, it is stated by good authority, was a graduate of Yale College. This still was built in about 1812, and continued in operation for quite a number of years. In 1820 Jacob Geuring built a large still on Bear Creek, five miles west of Dover, and Nathan Ross built one on Hay's Fork of Saline Creek, in the Fourth District, and at a later day George Boyd operated a still on Bear Creek.

    During the years between 1805 and 1840 considerable cotton was grown in Stewart County, and cotton-gins and presses were numerous. Among the first built were those of Philip Hornbarger and Richard Manley in 1806. Joseph Smith build a gin and press in 1810 which he operated for thirty years or more, and in 1815 William Magee had a gin and press on Long Creek, and in 1820 James Caldwell erected a gin and press on the Tennessee River. Capt. Elbert G. Sexton was one of the last to operate a gin and press, he continuing to run one until along in the fifties, when there was so little cotton grown there ceased to be work for a gin.

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