(Originally posted at Exploring Izard 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
Creek in the area we know as Ruddell Hill near Batesville.
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.