Clark’s Mill

Clark’s Mill was on the South Fork of the Sangamon River near Rochester. The Clark brothers, Edward and Phillip, came to the United States from England with the express purpose of building a watermill.

They arrived in Sangamon County in 1819 and started construction of a mill near the forks of the Sangamon River. They soon learned they would not be allowed to build a dam across the river, however, so they moved their mill to the South Fork. In December of 1823, Edward Clark petitioned the Sangamon County Commissioners Court to erect a mill dam across the South Fork.

A Scottish millwright named Andrew Johnson and a man named James Gregory Sr. are credited with being the principal architects of Clark’s mill. The mill also is remembered as the site of an early school, taught by Jabez Capps.

On Nov. 7, 1827, the Springfield firm of Gatton and Enos advertised that they were taking wheat at the mill of Edward Clark. On Sept. 2, 1833, the Clark brothers advertised for sale their flour and saw mill, along with about 2,000 acres of land.

Clark’s Mill appeared in a number of lawsuits in 1834-35, and it was sold at auction on Aug. 11, 1834 to pay the debts of the Clark brothers. The law gave the brothers 15 months to pay their debts, however, and they temporarily succeeded in retaining ownership.

In April 1835, Edward Clark announced that he was carding wool at his mill. In June, the Clarks offered the mills for sale, advertising 750 acres of land, along with a “water flouring mill, a re-action saw mill and a wool-carding establishment”. Joseph and Jacob Loose became owners of the mill after the foreclosure of its mortgage in October of 1846. The mill was sold back to Edward Clark, but the operation was closed by 1850.

Contributor: Curtis Mann

 More information: “Watermills of the Sangamo Country,” Curtis Mann, 2004 (Lincoln Library Sangamon Valley Collection)bridge

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3 Responses to Clark’s Mill

  1. Jerry Woods says:

    George Harrison Ruddell is a native of Bourbon county, Kentucky, born the 26th day of December, 1821, his parents being William and Armenas (Phelan) Ruddell. About the year 1829, his parents removed to Sangamon county, Illinois, where his father took charge of Clark’s mill. There they remained until 1835, when they decided to make their future home in McDonough county. On arriving in this county, they located on section 6, in what is now Hire township. There Mrs. Ruddell died, in 1838, and the father, in 1840, removed to Iowa, and settled in Van Buren county, where he was an early settler. He there died, in 1871. George H. Ruddell removed to his present location in March, 1864, and is now located on section 17, Tennessee township. He was married on the 1st day of November, 1849, to Mary Dorothy, a native of Washington county, Kentucky, and a daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth (Sissel) Dorothy. They came to McDonough county in 1834, and settled in Blandinsville township, where they remained about a year, and went to Hancock county, where Mr. Dorothy died, in 1855, and in 1876, Mrs. Dorothy died in this county. Mr. and Mrs. Ruddell have had eight children: William T., married Mary Ellen Riggins, living now in Hancock county; George H., married Susan Badger, now living in Tennessee township; Robert Marion, married Sarah J. Wixon, March 19, 1885, now residing in Tennessee township; Emily, wife of George Towers, now a resident of this township; Mary; Andrew Jackson; Elizabeth and John Wesley. Mr. Ruddle owns 118 acres of land, about 70 acres of which are under cultivation. He enlisted for the Mexican war in August, 1847, in Wiatt B. Stapp’s independent company, from Monmouth. They marched to Quincy, where they took a boat, and embarked for New Orleans. From there they sailed to Vera Cruz, where they arrived about November, of that year. They were stationed near Jalapa, in the vicinity of which place they were engaged in guarding supply trains, and in other services for the government. After the successful termination of the war, and the signing of the treaty of peace with Mexico, embarked for home again, returning the same way they had gone down. They were discharged at Alton, on the 26th day of July, 1848, and then returned to Warsaw, where they remained but a short time, and started to their homes. Mr. Ruddell arrived at his home in the latter part of July, and has since been a resident of this township. He has the honor of being one of the few veterans of the Mexican war, now residing in McDonough county.

  2. Barbara Johnston says:

    I am excited to finally read an account of the Clark Mill that mentions Andrew Johnson/Johnston. He is my 3rd great-grandfather. Andrew immigrated from Dumfriesshire, Scotland to build the mill for the Clarks. He arrived In Sangamon County about 1822, according to our family lore at the bequest of the Clarks. The mill was operational by 1824.
    I have a document from his probate files dated Sept 20, 1831, with both his signature”Andrew Johnston” and Edward Clark. We are bewildered why he didn’t maintain his name as Johnston. In almost all of his papers drawn by another party, including his original land certificates of 1828, 1830, 1831, his name is written as Johnson, even though he signed as Johnston and in the documents the executor of his estate drafted it is spelled Johnston. But all of that is in the Andrew Johnson Probate files.
    Andrew died in October 1832. Andrew’s wife was Mary Polly Williams, daughter of Elias Williams and Mary Polly Boynton. His sons John and Samuel were only four and two years old when he died. They remained there in Rochester township and were prosperous farmers, expanding on the 240 acres Andrew had purchased as the some of the first deeded land in Sangamon County. They took the name Johnson.
    If you are familiar with the area, Johnson Road south of Rochester is name for this family, and that is where their large acreage of farmland was located. I would appreciate any information about Andrew Johnson and the mill that I can be directed to or that you might have to share.

  3. editor says:

    Ms. Johnston: Thanks for the very detailed note about your ancestor. You may be aware of these already, but I found references to Andrew Johnston (spelled “Johnson” both times) in two local histories: the History of Early Settlers of Sangamon County (1876) and the History of Sangamon County (1881). The two links below should take you to the pages that mention Mr. Johnston. But if you have trouble, both histories are linked on SangamonLink’s “Research sources” page; you can then search within the volumes for “Andrew Johnson”. Good luck, and thanks again for writing.

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