Say Daniel Boone and Bee Hunters Explored Dawn Area
by George W. Somerville
Chillicothe Constitution Tribune. March 31, 1956.
[Story is illustrated with one photograph]
A study of the histories of the early mills of Livingston County is being
made by George W. Somerville of Chillicothe, president of the Grand River
Historical Society and Museum. In today's article, Mr. Somerville tells the
history of mills at Dawn.
In a special edition of the Dawn Clipper published on July 3, 1886, there is a story telling of the early history of Dawn. This story relates that Daniel Boone, accompanied by a group of bee hunters from Boone and Howard counties, traveled in a northwesterly course, passing through what is now Chariton, Carroll and Livingston counties. On their return trip, they camped on the bank of Shoal Creek where Dawn now stands. Here they pitched their tents and explored the surrounding country.
Among those who camped on Shoal Creek at that time was Joshua Whitney, a
native of Massachusetts and a miller by trade. Having observed the fertility of
this region, he decided to return with his family and form a settlement. The
following spring he returned and built his home and a mill.
There seems to be a difference of opinion regarding the exact date of the
building of Whitney's Mill. Some of the old settlers say that, "they helped
build the mill dam in 1829." The History of Caldwell and Livingston
Counties, published in 1886, says, "The origin of Dawn was the old
institution on Shoal Creek known as Whitney's Mill, which was built by Joshua
Whitney in the year 1837." This mill was probably built several years prior
to 1837, but the exact date still remains a mystery. There was no doubt that
Joshua Whitney was the first settler and built the first house and the mill in
this community. He is also credited with building the first public bridge in
In 1853, William Hixson purchased the old mill and operated it for a time.
The date has not been definitely established as to just when it was destroyed.
About the year 1880, Mattingly Brothers of Virginia came to Dawn and erected
a large steam flouring mill, with full roller patents. This mill had a capacity
of about 100 barrels of flour per day. It was estimated that this mill cost
about $15,000 when it was erected. It burned in May, 1884. It was thought that
the fire was caused by spontaneous combustion.
A short time after the burning of the Mattingly Brothers Mill another mill
was built in Dawn known as the Dawn Roller Mill. This mill used the water power
from the dam for its operation when the water was available, and would switch to
the use of steam power when the water in Shoal Creek was low. This mill burned
about the year 1900 and was never rebuilt.
The picture in connection with this article is of the Dawn Roller Mill, the
third mill to be constructed on this site. The picture also presents a good view
of the dam across Shoal Creek. I'm indebted to Mrs. A. T. Weatherby,
Chillicothe, for this picture used.