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|Down by the Old Mill Stream
|Earlville Association for Ragtime Lovers Yearning
for Jazz Advancement and Socialization
The Misamore mill – the mill which was the subject of Tell Taylor’s “Down By the Old
Mill Stream” - was constructed around 1835 by Michael Messimore who arrived in
Hancock County, Ohio around 1825 from Pennsylvania/Pickaway County, Ohio,
reputedly by oxcart. During the US censuses of 1840 and 1850, there were many
spellings of the last name – Mecomore, Mesemore, Mesimore, Messimore, Messmore
and Missmore, probably due to limited education both with Michael and his brood, as
well as the census takers. The name evolved eventually to Misamore, and that is what is
on Michael’s tombstone in the rural Siddall Cemetary near Mt. Blanchard, Ohio.
Michael purchased 80 acres straddling the Blanchard River from the State of Ohio in
December, 1830. He probably had in mind the construction of the gristmill when he
bought the property because there was a high demand for that service from farmers in
the area. The business was apparently quite successful since Michael started buying
more acreage around the area and eventually accumulated about 400 acres, which he
then started allocating out to his 15 children. Michael died in 1851 at the age of 61, and
apparently his son John, who had been involved in running the mill took ownership.
Stories vary here, but it appears that the mill burned down and was rebuilt, then
operated for another 20 or so years. There are no records to indicate when the mill
closed, but probably sometime in the 1880’s-1890’s. John Misamore died in 1895 at age
81, although with 17 offspring John had plenty of family to help run the mill.
Tell Taylor, the composer of “Down By the Old Mill Stream” was born in 1876 in
Vanlue, Ohio, a few miles to the east of the mill. When he took his “sweetheart” to the
area of the mill – he termed it his childhood – she was supposedly 16 years old and
presumably he was too, or probably around 1892. The words in the song say “The old
mill wheel is silent and has fallen down” which were words he penned in 1908 when he
was 32. The mill was obviously still in a reasonable state and perhaps the wheel was still
operating when he visited the area in 1892, but it had fallen into disrepair by 1908.
Some people believe that the mill stone (see photo below) was moved to the Riverside
Park in Findlay, Ohio, or that perhaps the pieces of the old grist stone were used to
recreate a replica. An old mill stone still is on display in Riverside Park, although its
concrete presentation stand is largely deteriorated.
I explored the area on May 14, 2011 and found what I believe to be the ruins of the mill
foundation – large round river rock arranged in rows with a 90 degree angle which
appears to be the corner of a building. Many of the stones appear to have been eroded
away on the river side of the foundation from frequent flooding. The stones were found
about 10-15 yards from the current river’s edge, which has obviously changed quite a bit
over the years. The site is about 100 yards south of the bridge over the Blanchard River
on Township Road 166 on the west side of the river.
Historical accounts from the 1960s state that the remains of the old mill are still visible,
but apart from the foundation stones, only a complete excavation will be able to
determine the site. The current owner of the property is Charles Barger, and his house is
almost directly across the river from the mill site on the east side of the river. When I
spoke with him, he was unaware of the existence of the mill, although he had lived in the
house for over 20 years. I presented the Hancock County Parks District with the
information on the foundation and a map with the location, and suggested that they
might want to contact Mr. Barger about a possible excavation.
Tell Taylor is buried in the Van Horn Cemetery which is about 2 miles north of the mill
site on Township Road 190 off Route 15 southeast of Findlay. The Siddall Cemetery is
about 2 miles south of the mill site, also on Township Road 190 and contains the graves
of many of the early Hancock County Misamores.
Bruce K. Misamore
May 18, 2011
Bruce Misamore has
connection to the
famous old song
"Down by the Old
Mill Stream". The
setting for the song is
the old Misamore mill
on the Blanchard river
not far from Findlay,
Ohio. Bruce is a native
Ohioan and is a direct
descendant of the
Misamore family who
established the Mill.
Bruce did a lot of
research and filed the
The Misamore mill stone
(possibly) iRiverside Park,
Tell Taylor Memorial in Riverside
Park, Mt. Findlay, OH
Michael and John
Remnants of the mill foundation.
Remnants of the dam.