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Researched & Submitted by Mary Rhodes

Allegany County Democrat Aug 10, 1933

 

“Mixville” Was Industrial Center of Allegany County Back in Days of Long Ago

 

“Mixville” is the story of early pioneer days and its history was retold by L. M. Campbell of Canandaigua at the Wiscoy Old Home Day held in that village on July 26th (1933). The founders of the village had visions of a great industrial center that flourished for a time and then, no doubt, due largely to the fact that it was not on a rail or water route, became only a rural hamlet.  Eventually the name was changed to Wiscoy.

 

Back in the days when the early pioneer history of western New York was in the formative stage, the location of water power meant the development of prosperous communities, the size and importance of which varied directly with the horse power available.  No wonder then, that Mixville, as the present hamlet of Wiscoy was then called, was laid out, planned and mapped as a sizeable town because of the four falls in the Wiscoy Creek.

 

Looking over the old map we find the public square a necessity in any town to a New England Planner – Mechanics Square, Water Street, Mill Street, Main Street and all the other streets laid out on the shelving plateaus above the valley, evidently planned to be comfortably removed from the smoke, dust and noise of the various mills expected to fill the valley.  Nor did all these plans fall short.  The “Up and Down” saw mill and the grist mill were first of course.  As time passed these mills were improved and others built, until finally there was the sawmill with one of the first circular saws ever used in the county and the grist mill had become an ambitious four story structure, housing complete, up to date, flouring machinery as well as a feed “run” and a buckwheat “run.”

 

The other side of the stream saw a planing mill, which grew into a furniture factory which had a very fine automatic turning lathe equipment and made thousands of maple bedsteads, many of which can still be found in your homes here, along with chairs that were turned out at the same time.  Just below sprung up a little foundry and blacksmith shop which grew and grew until it was a series of two story buildings filled with wood and iron working machinery and a good sized foundry “floor” with it cupula for melting iron, all filled with busy workers making chilled plows, good sized steam engines and other working machines.   This was the largest industry in Mixville and was the one which probably shipped its products farthest in those days.  The “Foundry” bell was the combination timepiece and fire alarm for the village.

 

During the boom times of the Civil war and until the panic of ’73, Wiscoy, as it was now renamed at the insistence of some of the residents who did not like the plebian sound of Mixville, hummed along, filling the stream with sawdust, shavings, bran, buckwheat hulls and pomace but soon after slowly changing conditions began to show, and the decline came on slowly.  So that now we have only the whirling of the turbines night and day sending out over the wires the power of a thousand horses that was to make Mixville a city.

 

To those who knew it as it was before the disastrous flood; to those who older, can remember – still more prosperous and busy days and to those of us who have studied our histories a bit and know what was planned, this seems a sad ending to this plan which was more than a dream for it had the firm foundation of power abundant and never failing.  Perhaps more interesting than this trend of thought would be to sketch a few facts in regard to the mills.  Few know that there were three power rights on each dam.  The upper dam was divided among the saw mill, grist mil and an unused water right on the other bank which was owned by the saw mill owners.

 

The lower dam had two rights on the north bank, the planning mill and the foundry, while on the other side was a water or power right for a so called Wheel factory.  This was owned with the saw mill property and rights.

 

The grist mill was fist built with a flume to draw water from the upper dam and discharge it into the lower dam for the use of other mills.  After the flume collapsed one time from flood or ice, the owner of the grist mill tapped the lower dam and usurped the right of the Wheel factory in the lower dam leaving the saw mill alone as the user of the water in the upper dam.

 

This made plenty of trouble in times of low water.  There was the makings of a law suit here but it never got quite that far.  The old deeds were troublesome to interpret and many was the heated argument when the  foundry had a “heat” to run off while the grist mill had a grist to grind and the planing mill was getting out a lot of roof boards and flooring for a new barn, all at the same time and not water enough for a good “Head” all around.  Three water wheels were too much for “Ole Man River” and soon the mud and sawdust of the lower mill pond was in sight and all the mills closed to wait for water.

 

One winter and spring the grist mill was unusually busy running night and day, it was finally discovered that the buckwheat hulls were being pulverized in the flour “run” and shipped down the canal.  Of course the Rochester pepper mills never knew what became of this finely ground black material.

 

Many were the articles, now forgotten that were made in the various mills.  A circular berry shipping crate looked like an open work barrel had perforated circular trays for the berries.  Wooden pails and sap buckets by the thousands.  Bedsteads that we might call “Corrugated” for the posts and foot rails were turned with a series of corrugations and with similar spindles as fillers were the acme of style.  A queer bed spring, made of pine slats and heavy coil springs was another patented article.  It was not much for comfort to sleep on but still an improvement over the cord bedstead and husk tick.

 

The Cabinet Shop was also responsible for a great variety of articles, wood sap spiles, honey boxes, bee hives and sections, porch posts and spindles, chopping bowls, rolling pins, potato mashers, not to mention the potato crates that are used to fill the apple bins sometimes.

 

The foundry would make anything in cast iron that you wanted while in the machine shop were some of the largest iron working machines anywhere around and in the old days many a heavy job was  brought here to be done on the big lathes, iron planers or drill presses.

 

The old pattern house was a wonderful place to delve around after the foundry ceased active operations.  A barn like structure with shelves and racks full of wooden patterns for everything that had been cast, all sanded, shellacked and doweled together.  They were fascinating playthings.

 

We must not forget the cider mill.  Of course it might have been different in the earlier days but all we can remember is the spotless cleanliness, the labor saving pumps, conveyors and devises and that rushing, bubbling, frothing flood of sardonyx colored liquid that gushed out of the spout when the “cheese” was all “made” and the power was turned on the screw.  They tell me that they still make cider over there but it can never be “the Cider” that any of us older boys and girls can remember drinking, cold and refreshing out of that tin cup that hung on the wooden peg by the raceway window.

 

Ebenezer Mix had ambitious plans for Mixville, his namesake.  It met his hopes so we can only leave this sketch narrative without names, dates or personalities to remind you that, here, Mixville once was planned as a thriving bustling town.  It became just that and now because of great changes in life and living it can hardly hope to ever become a busy manufacturing community again.

 

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