Monday, December 03, 2012

Ruddell Mill in Independence County

Following are photos of the remains of one of the earliest mills in the White River Valley, The Ruddell Mill just outside of Batesville in Independence County. Not only is the mill significant for the role it played in the early industry of the White River Valley, it was built by a significant character with close connections to one of the great figures in American history, Tecumseh.

 Ruddell Mill was built sometime around 1830 by John and Abraham Ruddell. Abraham (also known as Abram) along with his brother Stephen, was taken captive by the Shawnee after a raid on Ruddell's Station in Kentucky in 1780 during the Revolutionary War. The fort was named for Isaac Ruddell, the boys' father, who commanded and refortified the site the year before. After the raid, Stephen, the older of the two, was adopted into the tribe and became very close to Tecumseh. Stephen and Tecumseh grew up together in the same home and became as brothers. Abraham, however, was sold into slavery, bought by a mean and bitter widow of the tribe. Abraham's life among the Shawnee was very rough. He survived to settle and thrive living near the mouth of Mill Creek in the area we know as Ruddell Hill near Batesville.

It is said that Abraham Ruddell spoke in broken English until his death in 1841.  Ruddell was among the first settlers in the White River Valley, likely settling here as a result of his adopted Shawnee having occupied the White River Bottoms of modern-day Stone County by permission of the Cherokee Nation from 1817 to 1828. His reasons for not living among the Shawnee were likely legal. It was unlawful for a white man to own property in the Cherokee Nation of the Ozarks formed by The Treaty of 1817. John Lafferty's widow, Sarah Lindsey Lafferty, was forced to relocate across the River sometime after the treaty was signed.  In fact, Tecumseh's mother, Stephen Ruddell's adopted mother, Methotaske, lived across the river from Sarah Lafferty and  Abrahamm Ruddell in modern-day Stone County until she died. She,  Methotaske, is buried near Penter's Bluff.

The ruins were nominated to The National Register of Historic Places and were listed as they should be. The Mill Dam is an extraordinary piece of work as the rest of the stonework at the site is also. It's a remarkable place and likely one of the most significant historic sites in our area.

If you'd like a little better picture of Abraham and Stephen's  lives, you can download a great essay about the brothers by clicking here!

Another article written by our friend, Historian and Genealogist Dale Hanks, is available to read or download here.



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