Ohio History Journal

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The abundance of fertile land was unquestionably the lode-

stone which attracted most of the early settlers to the Ohio

Country. But along with the pioneer farmers came numbers of

skilled mechanics to build the boats and erect the little mills and

shops that were so much needed to furnish those necessities that

could not be profitably brought from the East. No tariff was

necessary to protect the infant industries of the western country.

Sheer distance and the difficulties and costs of transportation

afforded ample protection in the early years of development.

Those enterprising individuals who planned the first settle-

ments in Ohio were quite aware of the fact that they would have

to provide for grinding their grain, sawing the lumber for their

buildings, making the iron for their tools and farming implements,

and the salt for their food. Captain Jonathan Devol, best remem-

bered for his skill as a shipbuilder, rendered a real service to his

pioneer neighbors of Washington County when he constructed a

floating gristmill, the wheels of which were turned by the current

of the Ohio River. The boats to which the machinery was attached

were fastened to trees on the shore.1 The ingenious Captain also

invented a mill to grind and press out the juice of cornstalks to

make molasses.2

Soon after the founding of Marietta, men were sent out to

examine the streams for mill sites. Among the best located was

one on Wolf Creek, about a mile above the junction with the

Muskingum River. The channel of the creek was cut out of lime-

stone rock, and there was a fall of several feet in a few rods.

Colonel Robert Oliver, Major Haffield White, and Captain John

Dodge formed an association in the summer of 1789 for the erec-

tion of mills at this place which was sixteen miles from Marietta.


* Read at the afternoon session of the Annual Meeting of the Ohio Academy of

History, at the Deshler-Wallick Hotel, April 5, 1946.

1 Warren Jenkins, The Ohio Gazetteer and Traveler's Guide (Columbus, 1837),


2 Julia Perkins Cutler, The Founders of Ohio; Brief Sketches of the Forty-eight

Pioneers, Who under the Command of General Rufus Putnam, . . . Commenced the

First White Settlement in the Northwest Territory (Cincinnati, 1888), 25.