A Look At Busy Mills' Point During The 1840s

By J. Paul Bushart - 1933
Fulton County News

During the 1840s, Mills' Point (now Hickman) and the surrounding territory were essentially agricultural, but many citizens followed trades other than tilling the soil: grist mills, flour mills, sawmills, tobacco stemmeries, foundries, dry docks, cotton gins, blacksmith shops, lock and gunsmith shops, fish docks, distilleries, etc.

One of the most prominent tobacco stemmeries was that operated under the name of Mills' Point Stemmery, under a co-partnership between Julius Eversman, P. N. Marr, and Charles W. Beaument. This company dissolved partnership during 1841, but continued under new management.

Dodge and Thompson established a saddlery at Mills' Point in 1842. Messrs. Samuel Todd and a Mr. Cox added another feather to Mills' Point's crown in April, when they put into operation another wharf boat to take care of incoming and outgoing freight and produce. Innumerable drays were busy, night and day. Large overland wagons, drawn by oxen, arrived daily with produce from the interior.

The Hickman House, under the management of Ashley and Boyer, reopened in March that year, after being repaired and improved. Stables adjoined it with experienced hostlers to care for the travelers' stock. G. B. Watson took over the Mills' Point House in June and started construction of a new brick building, which the hotel later occupied.

W. W. Alexander imported two wool carding machines, direct from the East, and established a factory at Feliciana in Graves County, near the Hickman County line. He received and carded wool at eight cents per pound, and furnished oil for the same rate of charge.

S. C. Nevil, Esq., was a tobacconist and stemmer at Moscow.

Levi Reed operated a cabinet business on Clinton Street in Hickman, one door below the tailor shop of Dannelly and Gordon.

Bowers and Davis Grist and Sawmill, situated on the North Fork of the Obion River, about 13 miles from Drehden, and 22 miles from Mills' Point (Hickman), was the oldest mill upon that river. From that point, it was convenient and navigable for flatboats, at certain seasons of the year, to transport lumber and grain to Southern markets. William G. Bowers, one of the owners, died in July 1842.

A foundry was established by Wm. Hathaway and Company at Mills' Point in 1842. Major G. W. Marr deeded property for the site, with the understanding that the company erect a foundry and dry dock. It was the intention, at first, to build steamboats for use on the river, but after several had been built and put into use, the business venture was discontinued.

Land could be had for $1 to $12 per acre, according to the quality, improvements, and distance from the river. This section had advantages for farming over other portions. It was well-located, because lower down the river, the climate was too warm for grass, corn, or tobacco; and higher up, you receded from the market, and the greater was the cost of transportation. In those days, the principle method of travel was by boat, via the rivers and streams, and the greater the distance from market.

It is interesting to note that Thomas C. Spencer, who was a blacksmith and gunsmith at Mills' Point, resorted to bartering to improve his business. All pistols, guns, and cane swords were taken to him for repair. Money was so scarce during the 1840s that Tom agreed to accept produce, such as corn, wheat, and bacon, as payment for his work.