I bet that many of you who travel to Oxford, on Oxford Pike, pass by a grouping of houses that you don't even know comprise a town. Mixerville. 

There is a story by Edna Hetrick Brown in the Franklin County Public Library District's files. She was the wife of Homer Brown and died in 1971. It's factual recollections about her life in Mixerville – a narrative in which she relates things that she had been told, and people and things that she remembered from the time she lived there. 

Simple recollections such as Edna's can help to fill in gaps we have in the local historical record. In the 1882 county atlas and the 1915 county history, Mixerville is barely mentioned. The compiler of the county history, August Reifel said, a town was platted by William Mixer, “but it never materialized into a place of much importance.” I'm sure Reifel didn't mean it to be as insensitive as it sounded, because in all probability, it was a place of great pride and importance for those who lived and worked there. So, point being, in this particular case, since not much was written about Mixerville, Edna's stories are invaluable.

Mixerville, located in the southeast most section of Bath Township near the Ohio state line, is comprised of about 24 homes and was the location of the first post office in that township. There were only three small villages established in Bath Township, Mixerville being the oldest platted in 1846, then Old Bath also known as Coulter's Corner and New Bath. According to long-time county historian, Don Dunaway, “It seems William Mixer's purpose in platting the town was to centralize tradesmen who provided services to local farmers.”

According to a historic structures survey of the county that was done in 1978, Mixerville “was a way station for drovers taking livestock to Cincinnati. In Mixerville, poultry were “retread” by driving the fowls through a pen of tar and then a pen of sand. This retreading protected the fowl's feet from raw blisters on the long drive.” The survey also noted that the old houses and cottages on nearby roads were constructed of logs or braced frames but had lost much of their original historic look. 

Edna Hetrick's family moved from Darrtown, Ohio to Mixerville in 1899. She was about 6 years old at the time and remained in that town until her late teen years.

When she lived there, she said there were 21 houses, two blacksmith shops, a post office, general store, barber, a doctor, a carpet weaver, dressmaker, shoe repair shop, livery barn, boarding house, lodge building, town hall, several carpenters, a plasterer and also a house painter.

Edna detailed several of the town's families stating what they did or owned at the time. According to Edna, Mr. and Mrs. Brauchla had several children, and she noted they were quite a busy family. They had “a large livery stable and kept horses for people such as salesmen, and they had a boarding house. A young doctor, Dr. Raye, lived and boarded here.”

“Mr. Henry Stitzel was our shoe repairman. He also made wine. Students from Oxford were his main customers. We often stood by while he made repairs on our school shoes.” 

“Mr. Zink, a blacksmith, lived alone, also sold honey, and made pretty red-white-and- blue martin houses. He spent most of his time in his shop, shoeing horses and keeping wagons and buggies in running order. His anvil was almost a constant ringing in the day time. Mr. Ross Clark also had a blacksmith shop in the other end of town, so many horses to shoe.” 

“Emmet and Lizzie Wilson had the General Store and Post Office and lived in the large house there. We used to go there for our mail twice a day.” Edna said the mailman drove two horses from Brookville to Oxford and back to the Brookville Post Office each day. In addition to groceries, the store sold other things too, such as shoes, clothing, fabrics, dishes and a lot of hardware and nails.

Edna noted; “In those days we had no electricity, no iceboxes, bathrooms, washing machines or automobiles.” And near the store was a large town well where families could get water in dry weather.

At that time, the family horse and buggy were very important. The Hetricks had a former racehorse named Billy Benton. Edna said that her father had trained him on the racetrack at Darrtown for a man named Mr. Keiger. Billy could trot very fast and loved to race, and Edna amusingly stated they “were very careful to pass a church before the bell rang or we would suddenly be heading the other way.” Billy was a smart horse and knew exactly which house along the way the Hetricks would want to visit, as he would turn in the correct driveway every time.

Edna was told a ghost story about one of the old houses there. She said, “A pack peddler - one who went over the country side selling his wares from a pack made of bed ticking so large you could scarcely believe he could carry it - was supposed to have gone in the brick house, later owned by Everett Bourne, and it was rumored that he was never seen again. Afterward, large balls of fire would roll near the house, and all sorts of noise was heard there at night.” 

The beautiful Everett Bourne house was destroyed in 2013 according to the county assessor records. This house was an outstanding version of the Greek Revival style and was built c. 1840. 

As mentioned earlier there is very little documented about Mixerville. In addition to Edna's recollections, however, Don Dunaway compiled a book about Bath Township in 2012. Within this book are some wonderful stories and photos and even a few pertaining to the tiny little village of Mixerville.

Dunaway noted in his book that the International Order of Odd Fellows fraternal organization was instituted in Mixerville in 1857. It ceased to function around 1965. After the Mixerville lodge gave up its charter, the lodge hall was sold, and it was turned into an apartment house.

I found a reference to the I.O.O.F Purity Lodge No. 194, in a 1928 Democrat. The March 8th issue said, “The hall, a new one, is just completed and has been nearly all donated from foundation to completion and shall stand as a landmark for Friendship, Love and Truth.” The new lodge hall was officially dedicated April 5, 1928. Dunaway recollected, “Inside the building, there were large rooms in the front upstairs and downstairs. Downstairs, there was a kitchen and upstairs there were two small rooms connected to the lodge room. Downstairs there were large tables with chairs for pitch-in dinners.

Upstairs, there were captains chairs for the officers and side chairs for the lodge members. I have five of these chairs. My father and grandfather were members of the lodge.”

The brick Mixerville school was a beautiful structure. It was built in 1908 and replaced an earlier frame school. Both were at the northeast corner of the intersection of Hetrick and Harmony roads. The brick school had a basement and a coal fired furnace and was intended to serve the children of the area for a long time, but it closed in 1929. We are not quite sure what happened to the old school, but an ad in the May 23, 1935 Democrat stated  the

Mixerville school was to be sold to the highest bidder and  the building had to be removed from the land that it stood upon by November 1, 1935 unless the bidder could also buy the land from the owner. Dunaway recalls that when he was a small child driving by with his father, he saw a pile of rubble where the school should have been. This was sometime around 1940.

Edna wrote her recollections around or shortly after 1965 because she also mentioned that the “Cox and Gentry homes were destroyed by fire.”

Dunaway elaborated on the story and said  the fire she mentioned occurred in January of 1965. The house caught fire and six members of the Parshall family, the mother and five children who lived there died in the fire. A daughter escaped the fire, the father and son were snowbound in Oxford and another son was visiting his grandparents in Hamilton. The Oxford, College Corner and Franklin County Rural Fire Departments were called but were unable to get there because there had been a severe snowstorm and all roads were snowed shut. According to the Democrat of January 21, 1965, it was “the worst loss of life since the 1913 flood when eight members of the Fries family were drowned at Stavetown.”

Oddly, very little is mentioned about the man who is supposed to have started this town, William Mixer. There is nothing in the standard county references that says when he died or where he's buried. After doing a little investigation, this is what I discovered. William Mixer was born in Vermont about 1815.

After he started his town, he was appointed postmaster. However, what transpired next is possibly a reason we know nothing about Mixer. The Indiana American of November 1854 (and newspapers as far away as Crawfordsville) all discussed the fact that William Mixer was removed as postmaster. The written tirades imply that the Post Master General at the time was Roman Catholic. Mixer was not. Mixer was replaced by “a Mr. Williams,” who the newspapers described in no uncertain terms, “a Catholic foreigner.” 

Mixer remained in the area for a while after that incident, being a prominent merchant of Mixerville, but eventually moving on, first to Butler County, Ohio then to Hamilton County. He died in November of 1897 and was a resident of Lockland, Ohio. The founder of our little town was laid to rest at Spring Grove Cemetery.  

Next time you near Mixerville, don't speed through it. Take a few minutes to notice what's there, and think about what the lives were like for those Franklin County villagers who lived there more than 160 years ago. And speaking of speeding through - take a moment to appreciate the fact that what takes you approximately 20 minutes to drive from Brookville to Mixerville, took someone in a horse and buggy, probably a good two to three hours depending on the road conditions. 

Julie Schlesselman Local History Dept., 
Franklin County Public Library District