By Walter Wood
June of 1907
Raccoon Creek is historical from the earliest settlement of the state of Ohio. It is the largest and longest stream that flows through Ohio south of the Hocking River and east of the Scioto River. It rises in Hocking County flows southeast through Athens and Vinton Counties, strikes Gallia County in Huntington Township and flows through Huntington and Raccoon Townships and about three and one half miles in Perry Township thence southeast through Green, Harrison and Clay Townships, empting into the Ohio River six mile below Gallipolis. The whole length is 90 miles.
Little Raccoon rises in Vinton County, flows nearly southeast through Jackson County and Huntington Township of Gallia County emptying into Big Raccoon about one and a half mile below Vinton.
Also, a stream called Indian Creek so named because it was the trail of the Indians from Chillicothe then Indian Town to their hunting grounds on Big Raccoon, empties into Raccoon one and a quarter miles above Adamsville. That the Indians came down this stream and occupied the heavy timbered county from Adamsville to Vinton during their hunting season is well known.
In 1790, the same year of the French landing in Gallipolis, Colonel Robert Safford, while scouting on the hills opposite the mouth of Indian Creek discovered a cave in rock near which were the remains of an old log cabin entirely decayed with age. Who were its builder and occupier is a mystery that has never been solved.
In 1792, Daniel Boone, the famous Kentuckian, James Bufford, the celebrated storyteller and Colonel Safford, scouted and hunted and trapped on Raccoon from Adamsville to Vinton and continued for two or three years. On their trip Colonel Safford took them to the cave mentioned and they occupied it as a camp can still be seen. It is said they killed during this scout and hunt, one hundred beavers and also one hundred bears at Adamsville and Vinton.
The First grist mill on Raccoon by Adam Ricabaugh in 1803, but was soon sold to Nehemiah Wood who attached to it a sawmill. Carding machine and fulling mill for dressing cloth. It was built at Adamsville. Nehemiah Wood in 1806, one mile and a half below Cora in Perry Township, build the second mill on Raccoon. Enoch McNeal at Vinton built the third mill in 1815. Almost all the mills have sawmills attached. Raccoon Valley, being heavily timbered with valuable timber from its source to its mouth, by the years of 1845, mils had been built wherever a site could be found. There were thirteen mills in Gallia County on this stream. The timber was sawed into lumber and built into rafts and floated down the creek to the Ohio and down the Ohio to Cincinnati.
The sawmills on Raccoon belong to past history; as the timber close to the stream has been all sawed and shipped.
Of the gristmills, some have put in modern machinery, some have stopped and others are still running as they were twenty years ago.
The whole number of mills on the barge stream, run by water power is about twenty-one. Eleven in Gallia County and about ten in Vinton and Athens Counties and about six on the small stream. There are two in Gallia, three in Jackson and one in Vinton County. All of the later have stopped running.
From about the year 1850 to 1865, the Keystone Furnace on Little Raccoon, Jackson County and pig iron was loaded on flat boats and flatted down Little Raccoon to Big Raccoon down Big Raccoon to the Ohio River each spring.
The principal village on this stream is Zaleski and the Ohio Railway crossed it. Zaleski is noted for having the car shops of the B & O Railroad located there, making it a busiest town. Recently the car shops have been removed to Chillicothe.
Samuel R. Holcomb laid out Vinton in 1832. It is about sixteen miles north west of Gallipolis. It contains a flouring mill, a factory for carding and spinning wool, several stores, a bank and three churches. It population is about eight hundred. Ewington Academy laid it out in 1852. It also has a mill and store, etc. Its population is about eighty and has never been incorporated.
Harrisburg is located on the eastern bank of Raccoon twelve miles west from Gallipolis. It was laid out by Samuel McCarley and Charles Topping, and has never been incorporated.
Adamsville is located on the west bank of Raccoon, eleven miles west from Gallipolis and two and one half miles below Harrisburg. In early times it was a noted business center of Gallia County having the first flouring mill in Gallia County and the first sawmill, carding machine, fulling mill and Post Office outside of Gallipolis, all before the county was laid out in 1805. Its location on the only daily stage line in the county made it a business place. Its business at that time reached from Charleston, Virginia on one side to Chillicothe on the other side by wagon in Ohio and flatboats to Ohio from Charleston. It was not laid out as a town until 1837. Other towns have taken all its business away. Northup is located in the southern part of Green township on Raccoon. It was laid out by John S. Northup and has a gristmill, store, etc.
Among the first settlers who came to this part of Raccoon Valley, that is Raccoon Township are Adam Ricabaugh, Henry Ricabaugh, Nehemiah Wood, Harrison Wood, William Wood, David Ridgeway, William Ridgeway, James Bufford, Patrick Reed, Elnathan Barlow and William Steele. Senior and juniors that is prior to 1805, the year the Township was laid out.
The first election was held at the house of Adam Ricabaugh on the third Monday of April, 1805, where Smith French now lives.
The first Post Office in the township was Wood’s Mill Post Office, Nehemiah Wood, Postmaster. The first school taught on Raccoon was in a little log house with openings covered with oilpaper for windows. The teachers’ name was Monday. Its location was near Adamsville.
The whole Raccoon Valley for its sours to its mouth is richly under laid with coal and other valuable minerals. The development of which would make a bright future for the inhabitants.