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Chapter II

The Mill on Rutherford Creek

Reference 1, page 156, states that about 1805, Solomon Bunch (1785 – 1864) built a mill in the Lanton community.  Reference 7, page 26, seems to refer to the same mill when it says: “The first water mill of any character was built by Isham Bunch on Rutherford Creek, and it is still in good running order.  He also built a distillery at the same place.  Maj. Robert Campbell had a distillery in the same neighborhood, as did Esq. Black.”  (Solomon Bunch’s middle name was probably Ishmael, although definitive proof is yet to be found, Ref. 14).  This early date of 1805 has been brought into question by References 8 and 9.  Both Reference 8 and Reference 9 suggest that Solomon Bunch was still in Bertie County, North Carolina, in 1805.  Reference 9 says that Solomon Bunch “emigrated from Bertie County (on the coast) in 1810.  A search of the Maury County tax records indicates that Solomon Bunch first appears on the Tax Lists in 1817 (Ref. 11).  The first listing of a land purchase by Solomon Bunch is found in 1820 (Ref. 11).  The land on which the mill stood appears to have been purchased by Solomon Bunch and James Peters from Thomas Young in 1824 (Ref. 11, Maury County Reverse Index to Deeds, Vol. I, 1807-1843, Bk. M, p. 165).  Thomas Young had purchased this land from D. W. McRee (McRae) in 1818.  With conflicting information, and recognizing that records may be incomplete, it is difficult to determine precisely when Solomon Bunch moved to Maury County and when the mill on Rutherford Creek was built.  Suffice it to say that by the mid 1820s, Solomon Bunch probably owned and operated the mill on Rutherford Creek in the community which would later become known as Green’s Mill. Solomon Bunch married Elizabeth Hill of North Carolina in early 1818.  They had one son, Joseph Green Hill Bunch, who was born on December 9, 1818.  Elizabeth Hill Bunch died on September 2, 1822, and is buried in the Bunch Cemetery which is located near the Lanton/Bunch Cemetery.  On May 13, 1823, Solomon Bunch married Ann Brown and, between 1826 and 1847, they had eleven children (see page 36 for a listing of the children of Solomon Bunch).  Solomon Bunch appears to have prospered in his business interests, with the 1850 Slave Census in Maury County showing that Solomon Bunch owned 20 slaves.  The 1860 census lists the value of Solomon’s real estate at $19,200, and the value of his personal estate as $16,848.  An estate of approximately $36,000 was very substantial in 1860, corresponding to approximately $740,500 in today’s (2005) currency. 

Although the exact date that the mill was built remains uncertain, the mill was one of the earliest in Maury County.  The site was probably chosen because of the limestone bluff, which allowed the mill itself to be situated above the flood- plain, and also provided a solid foundation for the building.  A dam was built at the site to provide the necessary flow to turn the water wheel.  The mill operated continuously through the 1800s and into the early decades of the 1900s (approximately 1932).  It is probable that Cambridge Green (my great-great-grandfather) and his son, Lucratus Green, worked for Solomon Bunch and/or the Bunch family at the mill during the 1800s before the Greens acquired the mill in the late 1800s.  One of the few facts embedded in the Green family history about Cambridge Green was that he was a miller by occupation.  The 1860 census lists the occupation of Lucratus Green as “mechanic,” which is probably consistent with one who worked on the mill machinery.

Solomon Bunch died on March 11, 1864, during the Civil War.  On November 29, 1864, a portion of the Army of Tennessee,  commanded by Confederate General John Bell Hood, crossed Rutherford Creek at Bunch’s Mill (Ref. 2, p. 231;  Note: Sam Watkins in Reference 2 refers to the mill as Burick’s mill, but the reference is obviously to Bunch’s mill).  The army was en route to Spring Hill to try to cut off the Union Army advancing north from Columbia. 

It appears that L. C. Green purchased an interest in the mill as early as 1868, as indicated by the tax list for that year.  The tax list shows that both John B. Bunch and a brother (probably George B. Bunch) (sons of Solomon Bunch) and L. C. Green are listed as owning “1 mill” for tax purposes.  This partnership apparently remained intact until 1880, when L. C. Green (Lucratus C. Green, my great-grandfather) purchased the mill from George B. Bunch (son of Solomon Bunch) and wife (Ref. 11, Maury County Reverse Index to Deeds, Vol. 3, 1876-1892, Book F, pp. 376/377).   Reference 1 states that “In 1902, Alsup & Green purchased the plant and added the roller process, making a capacity of 40 barrels per day.  They erected a new warehouse, 1904, and continue to make meal by the old burr process.”  Thus it appears that John A. Alsup became a partner with L. C. Green in the operation of the mill in 1902.  There is one deed listed wherein L. C. Green and wife sell two acres to J. A. Alsup for $20 in 1902 (Ref. 11, Direct Index to Deeds, 1892-1906, Book 100, pp. 381-382).

At some point in the early 1900s, Lucratus C. Green and his sons, Robert M.(1864-1918), Macon A.(1884-after 1920), and Alexander C. (1875-1941), took over sole operation of the mill and ran it until about 1932, with Alexander C. Green being the last one of the Greens to actually operate the mill.  The mill machinery was sold after the mill ceased operation, but the building remained intact until the late 1940s.

As a child, I remember the mill as being a very large three-story building.  This was apparently the building built in 1904.  I would go to the third story and look out the window down to the creek.  It seemed a very long way down, and I could not look very long without becoming fearful.  The mill was no longer operating, and all that remained of the dam was a pile of rocks strewn in the creek.  A. C. (Alexander Campbell) Green, son of Lucratus Green, owned the mill when I was a small child.  I remember him as a kind old man in overalls who came to the store frequently, since he lived on the farm adjacent to the store.  Uncle Cam, as I called him (my great uncle), died in 1941 when I was about five years old.  He left his entire estate, including the mill property and the store where I lived, to the Tennessee Orphan’s Home in Spring Hill.  In 1945, the Tennessee Orphan’s Home sold Uncle Cam’s property. My father, Ronald Jackson, bought the mill property and the store property located just across the road from the mill.  We lived in the rooms at the rear of the store until the late 1940s.

In 1948, Daddy and Mother (Ronald and Louise Green Jackson) decided to build a new house on the property adjacent to the store.  Since Daddy now owned the mill and used only the first story of the mill for storage, he decided to tear down the second and third stories of the mill and use some of the lumber to build the house.  Although there was some good lumber in the mill, very little was actually used in the house, primarily because the carpenter building the house preferred to use new lumber which was sized better for his usage and which he could be sure contained no nails. 

By 1950, the mill building consisted of only one story, with the shed adjoining it that had been modified to serve as a garage for Daddy’s truck.  The remaining first story still contained built-in scales in the floor, and Daddy used the building for storing bags of cattle feed and chicken feed that he sold at the store.  Daddy operated the store until 1978, and used the mill building for storage until that time.

From 1978 until the mid-1990s, the one-story mill structure remained unused and deteriorating (see page 18).  By the mid-1990s, Daddy’s health was declining and he no longer lived in the Green’s Mill community.  Daddy became concerned that someone might be exploring the old mill building, injure themselves, and that he might incur some liability.  He therefore asked the Columbia Civil Defense Squad to come and burn the deteriorating structure.  The mill structure was completely burned, and today little evidence remains that a mill ever existed on the site.  There are still large stones in the creek that remain from the dam; but, with each flood, these stones become more and more scattered.

Both Solomon Bunch and Lucratus Green are buried in the Lanton/Bunch Cemetery at Green’s Mill.  The cemetery overlooks the old mill site where they labored during their lifetimes.  These two men and their children operated the mill continuously for more than a century.  Although the Greens and Bunches appear to have had many interactions in business, there is no indication that there was any intermarriage between the families, even though they lived in relatively close proximity.  I would suggest two possible reasons for the lack of marriage between these two families of the community: 

1.             The Bunch family was wealthy compared to the Greens.  Both Cambridge and Lucratus Green probably worked for Solomon Bunch and later the Bunch sons during the 1800s.  The difference in economic status may have provided a barrier to social interaction.

2.             The Bunch family was of the Methodist persuasion, religiously.  In 1846, when land was deeded for the Spring Hill Methodist Church, Solomon Bunch was listed as one of the trustees.  In 1870, J. W. Bunch, son of Solomon Bunch, was listed as one of the trustees of the Blanton’s Chapel Methodist Church, located about two miles southeast of Lanton (Ref. 4).  The Greens, on the other hand, were influenced by the Restoration Movement of the 1800s, led by Alexander Campbell, which resulted in the Churches of Christ and the Disciples of Christ.  We will see in Chapter V that Lucratus Green helped organize the Lanton Church of Christ.

These differences in social standing and religious preference probably contributed to the absence of intermarriage between the two families.