In 1833, Archibald Smith (1803-83) began to build a sawmill a short distance east of here where a tributary enters Blacklick Creek. His work was soon destroyed, he wrote, by a "rise of water known as the great Fourth of July Flood." Undaunted, he completed the mill the next year and used it to saw lumber from trees felled as he cleared land for cultivation.
Archibald's son, Dr. Isaac Newton Smith, described his father's mill as the first on Blacklick Creek. Dr. Smith recalled four mills on Blacklick and one each on Sugar Run and Rocky Fork Creeks. These mills, he noted, received some of the best oak, butternut, chestnut, and walnut timber in the area.
(Continued on other side)
(Continued from side one)
The era of water-powered sawmills in Plain Township lasted from 1833 to around the time of the Civil War. During that period, Plain Township's settlers exchanged log dwellings for comfortable frame houses.
Archibald moved from New Jersey to Plain Township with members of his family in 1818. Having had little formal schooling in New Jersey and none in Ohio, he taught himself practical skills. A carpenter by trade, he supervised the construction of locks, aqueducts, and bridges on the Ohio and Erie Canal between 1827 and 1833. The house he built at 6320 Kitzmiller Road stands as a fine example of early craftsmanship. A self-taught surveyor, he began providing the service in 1834 and his surveys of New Albany and Gahanna are still used. Archibald Smith's autobiography, written in the 1870s, is a valuable record of the lives of this area's pioneers.