The colony of Owenites referred to in the Duke’s Diary lived in a huge log house near the Cascades. They numbered one to two hundred and shared all their goods among them. They hoped to establish themselves permanently by starting small factories of various kinds, to be operated by the members. They failed, and the community broke up in 1827.
In 1827 Elisha Mills, emigrating from Cincinnati to the western country, bought the Yellow Spring and glen lands from Martin Baum and Lewis Whiteman (who had acquired them from Davis) for $6, 135. On May 27 of that year he advertised the opening of the “watering place” on June first. The ad tells us that “there are six cottages of frame and brick, each 50 feet by 24, containing in all 48 rooms, calculated expressly for families.”
William Mills was the son of Elisha, who was to become literally the founder of the town. He was born January 5, 1814, and is said to have played with the Indians when they returned occasionally for visits during the summer. Mills went to Miami University but his father withdrew him before he finished his course. Elisha Mills’ interest in the town is evidenced by his efforts to incorporate a turnpike from Cincinnati to Springfield in 1838. Part of this document is shown on the facing page.
Two years after the opening of Elisha Mills’ original hotel, the “Farmers Record and Xenia Gazette” Volume I, No. 30, Thursday, July 30, 1829, carried a story about the Yellow Springs of Ohio, written by a man who signed himself “A Virginian.” It is presented here in full.
The first railroad to be built north of the Ohio River was the Little Miami, chartered in 1836, to connect Cincinnati with the newly constructed national trail. Part of the track had been laid from Xenia to Clifton when the project ran out of funds.
William Mills made a landmark in Yellow Springs history by obtaining half a million dollars in Boston for investment in the railroad, on the condition that the road go through Yellow Springs. The road was completed with eighty-four miles of track between Cincinnati and Springfield and was opened in August, 1846.
The coming of the railroad made Yellow Springs more accessible as a resort, and also made it the center of trade for the region. By 1850, several hundred people had settled here and the town had a cider mill, a carpenter shop, a flour mill, a grain elevator, two general stores, a lime kiln, a tin shop, a painter and a shoemaker.