Documenting the forgotten memories of Ontario before they're gone forever.



DAWN MILLS

Location
DAWN MILLS (GHOST TOWN)
Database location #10
Public Location
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Created by OAP (CONTACT)
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Creation Date: 1/1/2006
Last Photos Uploaded: 1/1/2006

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On October 19, 1826 William Taylor received from Colonol Talbot, a land grant of 100 undeveloped acres of land along what was known as Bear Creek (today's Sydenham River). On this land he and his partner James Smith, built a saw, grist and wool mill. The local community were quite pleased as no longer did they have to transport their produce by canoe to mills located in Detroit. A small community began to develop around the mill site.

Taylor expanded his land to an eventual 1000 acre area along the northern shore of the creek. On this land he built a general store, lumber mill and ship yard. Two of his ships, the "Sara Taylor" and the "Dawn" became part of his business operations.

Taylor also added a woolen mill, which brought the total number of mills he owned to four. His sons and sons-in-law all worked in his various businesses as partners or part-owners. In 1837, Smith and Taylor opened a post office which they would continue to operate for the next 30 years.

Dawn Mills grew to include six streets, three hotels, Methodist church (1908) and a store. The population stood at around 100.

In 1841, the Reverend Josiah Henson and other abolitionists purchased 200 acres of land and established the British American Institute. The purpose of the Institute was to develop vocational training for slavery refugees. The Institute's residents farmed, attended the Institute, and worked at the mills and other local industries.

Dawn Mills demise came when, in the 1860's, the railroad pulled into southern Ontario, replacing the former means of waterway travel. The Taylors fought to have the railroad pass through Dawn Mills, however were not successful in their efforts. Like many other towns in the region, Dawn Mills industries suffered as a result of businesses moving to where the railway was located. The population began to decline and the post office closed in 1918.

After William Taylor died, his son Thomas Hulme kept the family businesses operating until such time that his mother, Sarah Chew, died. Upon her death, Thomas sold most of the businesses and moved the woolen mill to Chatham where the Taylor Mills Company continued in the family until well into the mid-20th century.

Today Dawn Mills is a quiet rural setting. The former hotel and residence may be found on the west side of the road. On the other side of the road you will find the former church and parsonage. If you walk around to the back of the church you will notice that you are facing the front of the church. The buildings face what used to be the main road.

For an indepth website about this town go here: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~rykbrown/taylor_of_dawn_mills.htm

Location: Take the main highway (21) towards Dresden from Thamesville. Look for county road 15 which reads "Dawn Mills" right from the highway. It is 5km east of Dresden.

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