HISTORY (Page 1 of 2)

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Lancaster Eagle Gazette June 25, 1991

Rock Mill is mute reminder of Past by Katrina Predmore

        New Englanders Joseph Loveland and Hezekiah Smith erected the first mill in 1799 at Rock Mill, named for the rocks in that particular area. They were said to have been traveling west and reached no further when they spotted the scenic site.

         The original building was a log grist mill on the upper falls of the Hocking River, the first built on the river. It's located on old Columbus Marietta Road a few miles from Lancaster.

         Smith and Loveland were said to have sold goods at their mill brought from Detroit on pack horses. The primary supplies were corn bread, potatoes, milk, butter and wild meats. Flour, teas and coffee was scarce and quite expensive if available. The mill, at its site handy to travelers, became a resting place, a general supply stop and a bartering spot for Indians.

        Romance is associated with the old mill, according to an Eagle Gazette article in 1988 by Sue Daniels, Loveland courted and won a Miss Shellenbarger, whose father owned a mill at the lower falls of the Hocking River.

        Another mill was built in the basin below the falls around 1820, but it was washed our by a flood. It was rebuilt in 1824 and was powered like the mill destroyed by flood, by an overshot wheel. This wheel was 26 feet in diameter.

        In addition to Smith and Loveland, the mill has had several owners during its long history. Christian Morehart and Joseph Knabenshue took over from Smith and Loveland, followed by Phillip Homrighous and then John Foor.

        The building was remodeled in 1899 to install a turbine over the falls to replace the outmoded water wheel. Proving unsatisfactory, the turbine was changed to steam power. The remodeling was done by Marion Solt, Foor and Edward and Jacob Alspach. A gentleman named Mr Talley became the new mill owner and was in turn bought out by J. P. Gundy and F. H. Barlow. W. S. Alspach was the last owner of the building while it was still in milling. It stopped operating in 1905. The mill is now owned by Fairfield County Historical Parks. This organization is spearheading a major renovation project at the site.

Photograph of Rockmill, donated to The Wagnalls Memorial. Picture taken circa - 1890.


        The first buhr stones used to grind flour and corn meal in Rock Mill probably were of French derivation or from local quarries in eastern Pennsylvania.

        Three main floors of the building's five floors were used for general milling. Beams inside the building were of hand hewn oak.

        In the historical photo to the right, (courtesy of  Len Hajost ) a photographer and his camera provide a scale to visualize the sheer size of the building.

Excerpt from Crossroads and Fence Corners by Charles Goslin, 1976

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        Bloom Township, one of the 11 townships of Fairfield County listed in tax assessment
book of 1806, is known in legal transactions as Township 14, Range 20.
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        With Franklin County as its west boundary, Bloom Township (organized in 1805) is bordered on the north by Violet Township: on the east by Greenfield Township: on the south by
Amanda Township.
        Although no early roads (before 1802) reached Bloom Township and no navigable streams reached this township, Bloom was settled in the early days of Fairfield County. An
abundance of strong flowing springs may have attracted the early settlers.
        The most famous of these springs were at Jefferson. The waters from these springs were bottled and sold in Columbus under the name ”Jefferson Spring Water”. The waters from these springs were much in demand during a typhoid fever scare which hit central Ohio about the turn
of the century.

        Among the early residents were the Delaware Indians. Their Indian camp, known as Tobytown, was located in Bloom Township on
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        The banks of Little Walnut Creek which heads in this township. The first settlers called this stream Toby Creek because of this small Indian Camp.
        Also, within Bloom Township the Hocking River has its beginning. From the center of the township (where Section 16, 17, 20 and 21 meet) the waters drain in four directions.


        Flowing northward are the small streams which empty into Walnut Creek. Flowing west out of Bloom Township is Big Run. The waters draining south reach Little Walnut and Clear Creek. Flowing east are the waters of the Hocking River, a stream that may have been named by the early Indians of Tobytown.
        Among the first roads laid out in what is now Fairfield County was the New Lancaster-Franklinton Road, opened to Rockmill in 1802 and extended through Bloom Township in 1803.
        The first north-south road across Bloom Township was the Wheeling to the Lakes Road established in 1811. This early road, known as the War Road, passed through Greencastle (laid out in 1815) and Jefferson which was established in 1806, or thereabouts.
        Religion and education were important to the first settlers of Bloom Township. As early as 1805, Abraham Courtright taught school in this township. According to the county records, land for a school west of Rockmill was granted in 1820 by Henry Leopart. The school which stood on this land was known as Number 5 school.
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        Botanically, there are things of interest in Bloom Township. Many interesting plants grow on Chestnut Ridge. The largest Kentucky coffeetrees in Ohio and possibly North America, grow in this township, on outpost for the American Chestnut.

January 23, 1965

Country Schools of Bloom Township
        During our rambles over Fairfield County by car and on foot, numerous small buildings were observed; som brick, and a few frame, structures. These were once one-room schools, some of which have been remodeled into attractive homes. Others ar used as storage sheds. A few still stand as abandoned buildings.
        Quite a number of these early country schools, especially those of frame construction, have been dismantled and the lumber used in other structures on different sites.
        Soon, the information concerning these schools, which are separate units in the field of education, will be lost. Each school district was under the control of a three-member board that did the hiring and controlled the school periods and administration.
        Unless someone saved the minutes of these school districts, the information concerning them is lost. Only from the memories of those who taught or attended these schools will there be knowledge available on many of these early citadels of learning.
        Through the courtesy of Charles L. Thrash, of Bloom Township, Fairfield County, and Curtis Thrash of Lancaster, we learned of the schools of Bloom Township.
        One of the first schools in Bloom Township was a small log structure erected about 1816 by John Chaney a mile south of the present location of Lockville. When this early school was destroyed by fire, a second school was erected on land granted in 1850 to School District No. 1 by John Alspach. This school now converted into a residence continued to be known as the Chaney School.
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        The school at Lockville, known as No. 2 school, was on land transferred to the Bloom Township School District by James Chaney in 1885 and is now the Zion Lutheran Church.
The Jefferson School, known as No. 3 is in the community of Jefferson, laid out by George Hosher in 1806. In laying out this first community of Fairfield County (except for Lancaster), land was set aside for public use. Whether a school stood on this public land, we have been unable to learn. The land where the present abandon school still stands was granted to the school board in 1892 by Talbot and Cross.
        The No. 4 school is now an attractive residence and was known as the Brick School. Land where this school stands, near the Hoy Memorial Church, was granted (1850) by Levi Spangler and (1885) by Nathaniel Hoy. This, too, may not have been the first school in this school district.
Heister Settlement was the name of the District 5 school, which stood midway between Rockmill and Marcy.
        The land where this school stood was the first to be recorded in Bloom Township records. Leopharts transferred this land to the Bloom Township District No. 5 school board in 1820. It may once have been known as the Leophart School.
        The Greencastle school, in the community laid out in 1815 by Jesse Courtright, stood on land transferred by Anderson and Margaret Weiser. This took place in 1877; so, again, this may not have been the first school in the community.
        The No. 7 school stood on the Coonpath Road and was known by that name. The first land for this school was granted in 1830 by John Bear. Years later, John and Rachel Flood granted additional land for the Coonpath School.
        Wesley Chapel School once stood near the Wesley Chapel Methodist Church, in the Rock Mill neighborhood. Known as Number 8 school, the land on which it stood was granted by the Williamson family. Some years ago, all that remained of this school was the pump.
        The No. 9 school was the Egypt School on Salem Church Road. This former school is now a residence. We have never been able to learn the origin of this name.
        The Salem School, known as No. 10 stands near the Salem United Methodist Church and received it name because of the nearness of this church. Where this school stands was once the Zaayer land.

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