The Oil Mill was located on Snow Creek Road (KY 1028) in what is now the extreme western end of Powell County. Snow Creek Road begins at the Clark County line near Log Lick Church and runs east to near Clay City. From Lulbegrud Creek it is 1.7 miles to where the Oil Mill stood, near the intersection of KY 3352. Oil mills were used to grind and crush flax seed under a pair of edge runner millstones. The extract was refined to produce linseed oil, an essential ingredient of paint.
You may wonder why I would write about a place outside Clark County. It’s because of a map. In 1861, Middleton Strobridge & Company of Cincinnati printed “Campbell and Barlow’s New Map of Kentucky and Tennessee from Authentic Reports of County Surveyors.” The map shows Oil Mill located at the junction of the Winchester-Vienna-Irvine Road with the Mt. Sterling-Kiddville-Vienna Road. These roads then intersected at Walter R. Goode’s place, near where KY 89 and KY 974 meet today. In other words, the map put Oil Mill within the bounds of present-day Clark County, not Powell. This error was repeated in several editions of “Lloyd’s Official Map of the State of Kentucky.”
The first mention of a place called Oil Mill was in 1847 when a Clark County post office was established there with James G. Broughton as postmaster. There followed two other postmasters — Dr. John C. Harrison and William M. Anderson — before the post office closed in 1854. Broughton and his father-in-law Walter Karrick had previously run an oil mill in Winchester. The Oil Mill is mentioned in Clark County court records up until 1850.
Powell County was created in 1852, and all subsequent references to Oil Mill are in Powell. The above-mentioned Broughton, Harrison, and Anderson were all residents of Powell. That July election districts were established for the new county and included one called the “Oil Mill Precinct.”
In 1864 Powell County granted Montraville Todd a tavern license at “his house where he now resides” and renewed it the following year at “Oil Mills.” In 1881 Todd sold his land in Powell. The deed refers to his tract that was “Situate in Powell County Ky on waters of Snow Creek and known as the Oil Mill tract.” A 1929 deed conveying a portion of this property describes a corner stake “near a pair of old burs,” meaning a pair of old millstones that almost certainly came from the Oil Mill. One of these stones, measuring a little more than four feet in diameter, is presently on display at the Red River Museum in Clay City.
While it is not possible to determine why the mapmakers erred, a possible explanation may be offered. In 1849, shortly after the Oil Mill Post Office was created, another new post office was established. This one was at Walter Goode’s place, and the post office was called “Goode’s Precinct.” This is exactly where the maps mistakenly placed Oil Mill. Thus, the Oil Mill was located in Clark until Powell County was formed in 1852.
I am indebted to Larry Meadows of Clay City for pointing out the error on “Lloyd’s Map” and then providing the evidence for the Powell County location of Oil Mill.