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Welcome To Aqua Therapy

First I would like to introduce myself - my name is R.J. Guildenstern. I will be taking over for J.R. Rosencrans while he does an internship with a national fishing magazine. J.R.’s articles have been a part of the White River Watchers’ newsletter for the last ten years. My attempt will be to continue in the same direction and writing about the love of the aqua world that J.R. enjoyed so much.

Thus the name will change from Grins and Giggles to Aqua Therapy.    Aqua Therapy will be my (R.J.’s) masthead for the newsletter.

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The Admiral and the White River

 

Harvesting Ice

 

To preserve food back in the early 1800's Ice from rivers and lakes was used to help slow down spoilage. Long before the Admiral electric refrigerator was invented man learned that keeping food around the 32°F to 38° F was a lot better for him and his family. During the winter month's food would never spoil. When spring would arrive off an assortment of insects, bugs, and blow flys would attack the deer meat hanging out side his back door. With the warmer temperatures arriving he would also see his meat starting to spoil. He tried to rub salt into the meat to help preserve it, he also tried to smoke the meat to help make it last longer into the warmer months. Keeping it cool was the only answer. Attempts to pack snow into caves and caverns to help produce cooler temperatures seemed to work for a while, but he needed something more substantial than packed snow.

Nobody knows who came up with the first concept of taking ice from the rivers lakes and ponds. But large chucks of Ice kept underground, lasted long into the summer. With the pioneer family it wasn't a large challenge to harvest enough ice to preserve food into the warmer months. But as more and more folks settling in Indiana finding caves to pack with Ice and store food in them was a problem.

Around 1825 in Pennsylvania, a farmer had developed a tool to harvest ice from a pond on his property. He knew the ice was thick enough to hold himself, his horse and an improvised ice cutter. He cut into the ice, a pattern that went north and south. Then he cut another pattern that went east and west. He had out lined "blocks of Ice", that were two feet wide and six feet long. He then went to his barn to get his two-man crosscut saw then he removed one handle from the saw so the blade of the saw could fit into the cut into the ice. By pulling and pushing the saw in each ice block pattern, he was cutting from the lake ice blocks that were 2 ft. by 6 ft. long. It wasn't long his idea of winter ice harvesting was traveling west into Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.

Indiana had natural lakes in the northern part of the state that would make great areas to cut and harvest ice. Central Indiana was lacking lakes, but we had the River. White River would freeze over thick enough for travelers to cross the river in a buggy or on horseback. By the 1900's Ice harvesting had turned into a lucrative business. Looking at all the pro and cons of ice cutting, the river ice was a better and safer bet to go with. Over the years it was learned the ice was cleaner because the current of the river would keep sediment and debris from collecting in the ice.

Many times the horse team or man would fall through the ice. In lakes and ponds the water was too deep to do a quick rescue. Rivers were normally 5 to 7 feet deep and a rescue could be made a lot easier. One of best advantages to river ice harvesting was the river current. The  ice cutters could cut out a block of ice, and let it float down river to a shallow spot, where a conveyor belt was set up to bring the ice to a horse drawn wagon.

The Ice collected was taken to an ice house. Ice houses were built with large amounts of insulation all around it so the Ice would last well into the summer. The blocks were then cut into a size that could be managed with Ice tongs. As the blocks were stored on top of each other, hay was sprinkled on each row to keep them from freezing into each other. Back in the early 1900's most homes had an "ice box".  The ice box was the great grandfather of the modern refrigerator. Many boxes were built at home; some could be bought from the Sears and Roebuck Catalog. The leading Ice box had the name Admiral stamped across the top of the box and had several shelves to store food items and a removable tray at the bottom to catch the melting ice drippings. You could go to the Ice House to buy ice or you could have it delivered to your kitchen.

Yep back in the 1900's the White River made it cool to live in Anderson.

Aqua Therapy
R.J.  Guildenstern

 

Commerce on the White River

Old Moss Island Mill

I think most of us know, back in the days of the frontier commerce and the White River kind of went hand in hand.  Small settlements were started along rivers and larger creeks because they provided an easy way to transport people and goods.  These areas (or settlements) all had a name that they were know by. Some of the names have stuck for over 200 hundred years, some have faded into history. A few examples of the names that have faded long ago are "Wapahani". That is the name the Miami Tribe used to describe what is now known as the White River. The meaning for Wapahani is "White Sands"

 Another name lost long ago was "Toad Level." Toad Level was located down river from Anderson-Town.  Some people called "Anderson -Town"  "Nancy-Town".  No one knows why one of the first names of Anderson was named "Nancy-Town" but as time went on more and more folks preferred to call this area along the river Anderson-Town. As time went on, the name was shortened to just Anderson. 

The above photo is a spot along The White River Called "Moss Island".  Moss Island was known by all the folks living around Anderson in the early 1800’s as, "Toad Level." Again, history has not recorded how that community got that name, but for years and years everyone knew Toad Level was just down river from Anderson. What made that spot so special for folks to settle in was the "bend in the river". That bend caused a long shallow spot in the river. That shallow area became one of the natural crossing spots for wild animals, & travelers who wanted to cross the river. Folks who canoed down the river had to get out of the water, and portage the supplies and their canoe past the shallow spot. Because they were out of the water, some would set up a camp to spend the night, and hunt for food. If you crossed the river at Toads Level, pulling a wagon or on horseback, you would have to get your wagon ready for the crossing, or pull your stirrups up and make sure you wouldn't get your rifle and powder wet. It became a natural stopping spot. And a natural place to start a settlement.

One or two cabins grew into fifteen cabins over the years. Traders started using that area along the river as a meeting spot. The seed of commerce had been planted. In 1836 the first real investment was made by a man named Joe Mullenix. He foresaw that this location would be perfect for a Grist Mill. He wanted to use the power of the river, to propel a large mill stone to make flour. He saw two things that would make his investment pay off. One was the river; because of the shallow spot in the river he could build a mill run to divert just enough water to power his mill stones. The second part of his dream was the old road that that ran along the river, and the shallow crossing, that would allow wagons to carry wheat and ground flour to and from his location. He made a successful business for several years being a "Miller" Mr. Mullenix died several years later. The mill was bought by a family named Snelson. They also made a very profitable business milling flour. They had a sign painted large enough for travelers  to see from the road "Snelson's Mill".  In 1867 the Mill was sold to a man by the name of John Moss his wife was named Ann. 

The Moss family were known to be very good business people, He paid top dollar for the mill because Indiana was growing by leaps and bounds. John had learned the Central Canal that was being built in Toledo Ohio would go only a few feet from his property line. The Central Canal would end at Evansville at the Ohio River. That canal would open up business from central Indiana to the Ohio River down to the Mississippi River. John anticipated a tremendous boom to his business. He expanded the operation, by adding two more wheels to grind the wheat.  John Moss took grader boxes and a team of horses into the river to create a large Island, and a manmade channel to divert the river to his improved mill. He also improved the river crossing that made it a lot easier for wagons to cross. He built a low head dam up river so he could control some of the river flow for his mill. Because of his river improvements aka...the large island he had built… the public started calling the area “The Moss Island". John Moss capitalized on his improvement at his crossing by charging five cents for every wagon that crossed the river.

The Central Canal never made it to Anderson, poor construction and poor soil content caused the sides of the canal to collapse when they started flowing water into the canal in the northern part of the state. The State of Indiana almost went bankrupt because of the cost of the project. That part of John Moss’ dream never came true, but his legacy lives on today. His man made river crossing was the start of the Anderson Frankton Road. The elected officials knew they needed to build a bridge to connect west 8th Street to the north side of the river. That Bridge was called the Moss Island Bridge and it lasted till the 1980's. Parts of his mill can be seen by the canoeing public as they slide down the river once called the Wapahani.

Aqua Therapy
By R.J. Guildenstern

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