Spain Creek begins its meandering course in the vicinity of Mulberry, an original railroad town which sprang up as a result of the construction of the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad in this part of Ohio in the 1860s. The rails traveled through Urbana, North Lewisburg, and on to Marion, connecting the rich, farm land with the urban areas of Cincinnati and other points on the map. The railroad brought progress to this rural area, and for a short period of time it was a “boom town,” where hard-working entrepreneurs provided goods and services to the folks who lived in the vicinity.
But look for Mulberry on a map of Champaign County, and it will not be found. The community is still there, but it has gone by a different name – Mingo – for many, many years. It has a unique history, population, and culture which all blends together to make an attractive place to live, and a close-knit community of both young and old.
The area was well-known for a number of years before it became a gathering place where people could sink roots. Native Americans undoubtedly traversed the plain and the surrounding wooded hills and dales prior to the arrival of the first white hunters and settlers. Tales are told of the various tribes which hunted and lived off the land long before the new adventurers encroached upon their territory. But, as the years passed the virgin forest and unplowed ground gave way to a tide of people.
Ebenezer C. Williams is credited with platting the town along about 1866. Even before that, however, industry had come to the region. There was at least one grist mill in the area to grind the grain into much-needed flour. There was a sawmill to rip and plane the lumber to be used in the construction of the houses, stores, churches, school, barns and other outbuildings. There was an early grocery store, and even a post office was operational before Williams had completed his task.
A review of a list of the business establishments which once thrived in Mingo conjures up images of the past and a life-style long gone. There were demands for coal, salt, harnesses and other tackle for the horses and oxen. Horses needed to be fitted for iron shoes. Buggies and wagons needed to be crafted for transportation of people and supplies. People needed shoes, shirts, dresses, groceries, medicines, flour, liquor, and religion.
There were excursions by foot, horseback, buggy, or railroad to the neighboring communities of Urbana, Middletown, Cable, Kingscreek, and North Lewisburg. People sought social outlets and entertainment with church groups, fraternal organizations, and town gatherings to enjoy the bounty of the harvests or the spirit of the holiday seasons.
They waded, swam, and fished in the waters of Spain Creek, and harnessed the stream’s power to run the early mills. They were born, grew up, married, worked and farmed, raised families, died and were buried all within a short distance of that ancient waterway.
For generations, Mingo has survived. And the people who live there today rejoice in that survival. Just another of the many wonders to be found along Spain Creek.
Interested in knowing more about Champaign County and its environs? Get your hands on a copy of "A History of Champaign County, Ohio," published by W. H. Beers & Company, Chicago, 1881.