CLIFTON — After over a year of delays, the Ohio Chapters, Captain Frances Drake and Concord of the National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century placed a bronze historic marker at the historical Clifton Mill, located at 75 Water Street.
The National Society of Colonial Dames has a mission of marking historical sites “so they are not forgotten,” according to Yvonne Hiteshue first vice president general of the national organization and president of the Francis Drake chapter.
“Being an Ohio chapter, we wanted to recognize an important Ohio place,” Hiteshue said. “It reaches out through so many aspects of our country’s history, from the early years of Ohio settlement. It touches the American Revolution, the Civil War; it’s seen so much of our history, so it’s only fitting we recognize it.”
“It was a wonderful, natural thing and a great surprise for us,” Clifton Mill owner Anthony Satariano said. “We didn’t seek them out, they sought us out.”
The Clifton Mill is one of the largest water-powered grist mills still in existence in the United States, according to its website. The first mill at the location was built in 1802 by Owen Davis, a Revolutionary War soldier. The mill also provided corn meal for federal troops during the War of 1812. The Little Miami River powered five other mills that were built within a mile of its location: a woolen mill, saw mill, paper mill, barrel mill and another grist mill. Historic Clifton Mill is the only one still standing.
The process for dedicating a plaque at a historical location takes about a year, and the society had completed the requirements for Clifton Mill by April 0f 2020, when the original ceremony was due to take place. However, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the unveiling for over a year.
“Even though we had to wait a long time, the wait was worth it,” Hiteshue said. “It was a fitting tribute, and today of all days it was wonderful to see so many of our ladies we haven’t seen face to face all this time.”
The Satariano family has owned the Clifton mill since 1987. The family and staff operate tours of the mill, and reach out to schools to talk about its history and culture.
“The history is why we bought it. This is where we all started from in our country, before the industrial revolution, and we do it for kids to appreciate what it took and how it was back then,” Satariano said. “We’re a little corner in Greene County of 155 people. So just to get that recognition, that acknowledgement, it’s just wow.”
“Please come out and see living history,” Satariano added.
Historical Clifton Mill is known additionally for its display of Christmas lights each winter, which sees more than four million lights illuminate the mill, gorge, trees, bridge and surrounding riverbanks.