By A.C. Jeffery

     The period beginning about 1810, was a very remarkable one in the early history of White River.  Quite a sprinkling of inhabitants and every year bringing its four-fold increase, without any restrictions of law, presented a condition very little to be envied.  Almost every grade of character known among man was to be found here -- some hunters, some stock-raisers, horse thieves, murderers, refugees from prisons East of the Mississippi River, comprised this promiscuous mass.  Nor was ignorance by any means a prevailing trait among these pioneers.  Men of education, men who had seen better days were here; nor was the valley of White River so much a scene of terror and bloodshed, as it was a resting place, a hiding place, for the robber, while he preyed upon the early commerce of the Mississippi and the fine stock of Kentucky and Tennessee.  It seems that a scene of this kind had been enacted on the Ohio River, with a hiding-place or depot at a place known among the early inhabitants as Cave Rock, or some such name, but the strong arm of the law reached that country and the organization was re-established on the White River.

     At an early day, perhaps as early as 18 1 0, Old Dan Wilson with his three sons, Dan, Dick, and Jerome, settled at the mouth of Rocky Bayou.  Here the first shadow of a town made its appearance on the river.  It consisted of a blacksmith shop run by Dick, and a race track on a high sand bar, and Bob Bean operated a little trading boat here, and exchanged salt, whiskey, powder, and lead for buffalo hides, bear skins, and peltry.  The inhabitants would meet here and have a good time of it.  On one of these occasions, Dick Wilson's horse flew the track, ran under a leaning tree and killed Wilson.

     Some of the inhabitants from this locality went over on the Blue Mountain, cleared a piece of land, and made a crop of corn, but the buffalo and the bear ate it all up in the Fall.

     During this period, one of the Friends built a mill near the present site of Buffalo City, (about ten miles up river from the Wolf House) to grind corn by water.  Some years afterwards, Jim Darneal (or Darnell) built a mill on Mill Creek, near where Melbourne now is.  What the capacity of these mills was, we are not advised; but we have been informed that Dameal's mill would grind a bushel and a half in twenty-four hours.  These were the first water mills in White River valley.  The ordinary substitutes might be found before every man's door as a necessity -- the sweep and mortar.  These were made by cutting a stump smooth on top, of the requisite height, then burning and digging a mortar in it, then fastening the butt-end of a long spring pole to a tree near the ground; then propping the pole up mid-way with forks and suspending a pestle to the small end of the pole, directly over the mortar, and a pin through this pestle for a handle.  The corn was prepared by placing it in a vessel and pouring hot water over it, and then put into mortar, then coming down on it with the pestle by which it was divided into husks, grits, and meal.  We have described this primitive mill thus particularly for the reflection of those who never saw frontier life. (continued)


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