Mansfield Mill site was established in 1819 by James Kelsey. Friends, local Indians and a partner, Francis Dickson and Kelsey built a small mill, wooden water-wheel and a log-dam on the Big Raccoon Creek.
Kelsey’s dam was built with a solid rock foundation dug deep into the river bed. Above the foundation, Kelsey built a log dam. His dam was modified and repaired over the next hundred years or so but it had a dependable construction base. It wasn’t until the Flood of 1913 that the entire dam was lost. As soon as possible, the dam was rebuilt with gravel from the creek bed and cement. This dam still remains at Mansfield Mill on the Big Raccoon Creek.
Originally, the first small mill was about 30’ by 30’. It has three stories. The power house was generated by a large wooden water wheel.
The original mill was replaced by the present mill in the mid-1850s. It is a large mill with 4 ½ levels. “The mill is supported on 12” x 12” oak logs pinned together with hickory pegs resting on a foundation of river sandstone rocks.” (Mansfield, It’s More Than a Mill. P. 5, Greencastle Offset Printing, 1989.)
Typically, a mill of this size and its demand replaced its water wheel with turbines during the 1870’s. Once farming and businesses were re-established after the Civil War , hundreds of turbines were placed into operation in mills such as Mansfield Mill. Post-Civil War, Mansfield Mill introduced two turbines to power their demand for grain. Their largest turbine used 85 HP. The smaller turbine used 65 HP.
The power generated by the water wheel and ultimately the two turbines were used by strong wooden/iron main drive shafts. The power of the drive shaft was turned by wooden cog wheels, gears and pinions. Pulleys, attached to the drive shaft, used leather belts to allocate the power from the drive shaft to all the various milling equipment throughout the mill. Mansfield Mill has a 30’ long main drive shaft and the belts ran several hundred feet throughout the mill. (Mansfield, It’s More Than a Mill. Greencastle Offset Printing, 1989. Bud and Ann Monnett, Mrs. Mary Jo Lemont, Mrs. Carolyn Searight, Art and Juanita Taylor and Mrs. Mary Helen Martin.)