Benjamin Bacon, in 1817, first settled with his family along the top of the cliffs overlooking an oxbow in the Vermilion River that would eventually be called Mill Hollow. In 1835 he purchased an interest in the Morse/Hinckley sawmill and Col. Brown’s grist mill that had been relocated to the oxbow in the river. A mill race was cut across the oxbow to increase the water power that turned the mill’s large water wheel. The mills were very successful and, by 1845, had provided Benjamin the means to build a house across the road. (It is now the Historic Benjamin Bacon Home in Mill Hollow Park.)
Benjamin died in 1868 at the age of 78. The house and mills were sold to John Heymann, a German immigrant new to the area. In 1879, Mr. Heymann sold the mills back to Benjamin’s son, Frederick Bacon. They had been modernized with steam power after a fire destroyed them in October of 1876 which started after the close of business. With the advent of the railroad, fewer farmers needed to mill their grain locally, and many local residents weren’t even farmers, but rather worked at the sandstone quarries instead. By 1901, the mills were no longer profitable and had to be sold and dismantled. Benjamin was widowed twice before marrying his third wife, Anna Wells Graham Bacon. They had three children: Julia, Sarah and Frederick.