No place on this earth I’d rather be
Neither in country, city nor town,
On river, lake or the boundless sea,
When mid-summer sun’s bilin’ down,
Than in some nice cool water mill
Free from all care there is to feel.
On grain bags lay quiet and still
And hear water splash over the wheel.
–Excerpt from Dog Days
by Moses Hodson (1855-1941)
If you were to take a walk through Greensboro, making your way west, you’d eventually come to a little blue house. It sits to the left of a wide road. Most likely, you wouldn’t think anything of it. It’s just another house—except it’s not.
That house used to be the Greensboro Mill, some sixty-plus years ago. A poet, Moses Hodson, operated it. Even though Moses published three books of his poems, he never became widely famous. Then again, maybe he didn’t need to. His great poems resonated with many.
So did the Mill.
Kedric Wallace, a Greensboro native who currently lives in Spiceland, grew up around the mill. He walked past it often on his way to Duck Creek to fish. He and his friend would take a frying pan and cook the fish as they caught them, using bait of soft craws (crawfish that were going through the molting process). They’d find them under rocks and Kedric would carry them in his hat. Sometimes, he’d even stop to play on the wheel.
“We’d get it going so fast,” he says of he and his friend, Richard Rutherford. “We couldn’t stop until the wheel slowed down naturally.”
The wheel was the focal point of the mill, and after it was removed from the building several years ago, its new home became a patch of land.
“The wheel laid down where (an over-) flowing well was for some time until somebody came by and bought it,” Kedric said. No one seems to know where it went. Kedric added that people came and used the well all the time. Doctors even came from New Castle for the water.
Even though there are pictures of the mill, nowadays it’s virtually unrecognizable. The only hints of the Mill that remain today are the roof that mirrors the shape of the old one, and the length of the building.
There only seem to be a few photos taken of the mill, but there are many paintings to show what it looked like. Kedric himself has painted three.
His first encounter with a painting of the mill was when he was ten years old. He was walking his usual route to Duck Creek when he came upon a woman in the middle of the road. She was painting the mill. He remembers thinking to himself, Really?, and then continuing on.
To this day, he doesn’t know who that woman was. But she still managed to impact him in a small way. She may have even sparked his interest in painting.
In the painting above, in the far right, you can plainly make out a brick house. That home belonged to Paul and Waneta Cowan, who moved there after selling their store in Greensboro. Their daughter, Virginia Cripps, was a young teenager at the time. Beside the house, on the left side of the painting, is a barn where they milked cows.
“Then there was this upstairs where the hay was,” Virginia said. “And then a stairway going on up which was kind of scary.” From the hayloft, she could look out on Greensboro.
The barn is gone today. Virginia was told it has been taken apart, moved to Texas, and rebuilt as a restaurant. But she’s not certain whether that’s true or not.
At the time she was living by the mill, Virginia says, “(It) wasn’t operating (as a mill) but the wheel ran if the stream got up.”
Virginia remembers when the mill caught fire.
“When the mill burned, that was a big thing, and I remember standing out on the hill and watching it,” she says. The year was 1949.
But that wasn’t the first time it burned. After a fire in 1927, the mill was reconstructed and made with sheet metal instead of the original wood siding.
Moses Hodson operated the mill from 1906 to 1924, shortly after Levi Ulrich bought it in 1905. It quickly became the inspiration for many of his poems. As stated by an article published by the Kennard Historical Society in 1998, Moses hummed as he worked. It also says his humming led people to believe he was coming up with rhymes in his head as well.
Moses passed away in 1941, after servicing the Greensboro community for many years. He was a husband, a poet, and a miller—but moreover I think he was a friend.
When Moses quit operating the mill in 1924, it was sold to Wilk Holland. Marcelle Taylor bought the mill after the 1927 fire, reconstructed it (minus the third story), and sold it in 1930 to Orion Wilson, who passed away five years later. The mill was then operated by his wife and son until, strangely enough, 1941—the year Moses died. Floyd Hosier bought it and owned it until the 1949 fire (source: information provided by Henry County Historical Society and an article published in the Courier Times, 8/6/41 provided by Kevin Stonerock of Greensboro). It was then converted into a beauty parlor for a short time. And then it became what it is today—a home.
Another matter that seems to sit heavily with people is the fact that the mill was converted from water to electric. Times changed, and though the owners of the mill scrambled to keep up, it never did equal the success of its early years.
But we look back, and we remember fondly the people who have owned it. It is amazing that something as simple as a mill was able to touch numerous lives.
We’ll look at pictures. And we’ll tell stories. We can only hope that the legacy of the mill won’t be lost as generations come. If you remember the mill, talk about it.
The thing we all love about history is that it draws us in and keeps us wanting to know more. It’s the intimacy of it. We wonder: how can so many people who are so different be a part of the same thing? The answer, in fact, is the people themselves. We become united through a shared interest or experience. From that, we form friendships.
I’ve learned a lot about the mill I barely knew existed in the past couple of months. I spent a morning in Greensboro with my Papaw Kedric, chatted on the phone with Virginia Cripps, read through old articles and looked at old pictures. But my favorite part about the mill is Moses Hodson’s poetry. I learned the most about the mill through him. It was obvious, from his carefully crafted words, that he loved it.
He wasn’t the only one.
As long as I live no doubt I’ll be found
Foolin’ ‘round some old water mill
Writing jingles as grain is ground,
In my happy, go-lucky way still.
Some will joke as they laughingly say
They believe a miller will steal,
As I toll the grists in my jolly old way
And hear water splash over the wheel.
(Excerpt from Dog Days by Moses Hodson)
by Maddie Wallace 07/31/2012
About the Author:
Maddie Wallace is a 14-year-old homeschooler in New Castle, Indiana. She loves writing, reading, singing, & playing piano.
This was Henry County’s first attempt at passing on the history of the first settlers who came into this area in the 1820s. Their method was what we would now label as an “oral tradition”- using the art of storytelling to keep alive the history of an area and its people. There was much concern by many of the pioneer families that posterity would not recall their deeds of clearing the land, battling the harsh and often brutal conditions of the Indiana wilderness, and all the other joys and hardships experienced as a part of bringing progress to the land if an historical organization was not founded to ensure it.
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Much the surviving information about this society can be found in Herbert Heller’s Historic Henry County vol. 3 1880- Early 1940s and is available at the libraries at the Henry County Historical Society(HCHS) & NCHCPL. The HCHS also has log books, photographs, & programs from these annual meetings- the precursor to the Semi-Annual Meetings held by the Historical Society every spring & fall. Men such as Martin L. Bundy (father of General Omar Bundy), Nathan H. Ballenger, Elwood Pleas (who wrote the county’s first history in 1871), Dr. Daniel H. Stafford, & Benjamin S. Parker (famous poet & namesake of Parker Elementary) served as officers of the Old Settler’s Society & were among the founders of the HCHS. The first Old Settlers’ meeting was in August 1871. They continued into the 1890s, overlapping with the 1887 founding of the HCHS. As recorded in a September 6, 1889 article in the New Castle Courier, after a joint committee met to discuss the future of the two societies, it was decided…
“…that the present arrangements of the two societies, with cooperative executive committies, is the best for all practical purposes, for the reason that the Historical (society) is not an old settlers’ society; that young people, scholars, students, and in fact, all who are interested in history and growth of the county are qualified for membership and earnestly desired to become active members of the Historical society, while the idea that it is an old settlers’ society would repel them; on the other hand many elderly people enjoy the old settler’s meetings who would not take interest in or attend the meetings of the Historical society.”
Urging the early pioneers of the county to begin writing down these stories- or preparing sketches- of their lives, toils, and reminiscences was a central and important step in the preservation of our county history.
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♦Indiana Historical Society http://www.indianahistory.org/
HCHS is a History Partner of the Indiana Historical Society & a participant in the Indiana County Historian program (Richard P. Ratcliff, County Historian).
♦Indiana Genealogical Society http://www.indgensoc.org
HCHS Executive Director Kaye Ford is the Henry County Genealogist through the IGS County Genealogist program.
♦Indiana State Archives https://secure.in.gov/apps/iara/search/
♦Indiana Landmarks http://www.indianalandmarks.org
Henry County is a part of Indiana Landmark’s Eastern Region- office is in the Huddleston Farmhouse in Cambridge City, Wayne County.
♦Indiana Department of Historic Preservation and Archaeology http://www.in.gov/dnr/historic/
♦Association of Indiana Museums http://www.indianamuseums.org/
♦Indiana State Museum http://www.indianamuseum.org/visit/exhibit/
♦Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art http://www.eiteljorg.org/
♦Richmond Art Museum (RAM) http://www.richmondartmuseum.org/
HENRY COUNTY RESOURCES:
♦Henry County Genealogical Services http://hcgs.net/
♦Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame http://www.hoopshall.com/
♦New Castle-Henry County Public Library http://www.nchcpl.org/
♦Historic Knightstown http://oldktown.com/
♦Knightstown Public Library http://firesidelibrarian.com/projects/s532/kpl/
♦Wilbur Wright Birthplace & Museum http://www.wwbirthplace.com/
♦Middletown-Fall Creek Library http://www.middletownpubliclibrary.net/
♦New Castle-Henry County Chamber of Commerce http://www.nchcchamber.com/
♦Spiceland Preservation and Tourism Society http://www.countyhistory.com/spiceland/
♦New Castle Courier-Times http://www.thecouriertimes.com/index.asp
♦Henry County YMCA http://www.henrycountyymca.org/
Housed in the beautiful Victorian home of General William Grose, constructed for the retired Civil War veteran in 1870, the Henry County Historical Society is dedicated to enriching the lives of the local residents and visitors through the wonderful and exciting medium of history. Our exhibits display a diverse array of original artifacts representing nearly a century and a half of historical changes beginning with the first pioneers that arrived in the early1820s until after World War II.
The Henry County Historical Society is the third-oldest in Indiana. The museum, opened in 1902, is the oldest, continuously operating facility of its kind in the state.
The Henry County Historical Society mission is to serve present and future generations by collecting, preserving and sharing artifacts and documents that represent the diversity of life in Henry County, both past and present, and to help interpret those items in new and creative ways.
This is a demo store for testing purposes — no orders shall be fulfilled. Dismiss