Two weeks before our wedding my fiancée, Christian and I were going to visit his sister, Lisa. She lived in this hushed, quaint, miniscule town named Smithmills. It sat south of the Ohio River. We went to a diner to meet her for lunch. It was pretty empty except for the two waitresses and about six customers. When we were talking about good places for our honeymoon I brought up the name of this town.
“So how did this town get its name? I mean Smithmills, really?” I asked Lisa.
She responded, “I don’t know but maybe Bertha could help us.” Bertha was one of the waitresses; she looked like she worked there since the Stone Age.
“Hey can you tell us the story of how this town came to be?”I asked.
“Sure honey, of course I can. But there are a lot of myths. There’s one in particular though that’s true.”
It was about 29 years ago when the Smithson family came and settled. There was Ms. Mary Smithson, little Johnny Smithson, and their dog, Sam. When they first got to this rugged place nothing was here. The only thing here was a bunch of cabins, some small fields, and a stream. They moved into a nice cabin along a river in the back. Johnny’s father died in a fire three years ago. His mom got a job at the general store and Johnny and Sam built stuff in their backyard each day. You see, Johnny had a hard time making friends.
One day when Sam and Johnny were walking they met some children. Their names were Millie, Billy, Clare, and Chuck. They were all around Johnny’s age. When he introduced himself to them they thought he was strange. All the kids ran off except for Millie. Millie was a tall blonde ten year old. She thought Johnny was cool and friendly. The day she moved he sat in his backyard building things.
A few months later this town ran out of running water. People didn’t know what to do about this crisis. Some people thought about using water from water bottles, but it ran out too quickly. Others thought about getting water from the river, but it wasn’t clean.
Around this time Johnny was lonely and everyone was worrying about their own problems. Johnny thought about how to get everyone to settle down and become happy again. He started with the running water problem.
When his mom, Mary, went to work Johnny would go into town. He found things he needed to fix the water problem. The river behind his house helped him test out his different inventions. Johnny worked every day and night until he came up with a solution. When the day finally came to show his invention, no one thought it would work. So the next week he built a prototype. The prototype was a spinning wheel with filters and a bucket set to fall and pour out running water.
Everyone from town came out to see this. When the people of the town saw the working model they were surprised. Over the next few days everyone was getting new running water systems in their backyards. People were wondering what these new contraptions were called. Johnny really couldn’t think of anything until he thought about Millie.
“They’re called mills,” he said.
Everyone wondered about the name he came up with. Johnny told them about her and their friendship.
The next week the mayor of the nameless town came to the Smithson’s household. He wanted to tell Johnny and his family that the town had a new name. The new name was Smithmills. The name was after Johnny’s last name, the mills, and Millie.
“So that’s how this great town got its name?” I asked.
“Yep, and Johnny is still alive and married to his wife Millie,” Bertha said.
“There is even a working water mill outside and across the street with both of their handprints.” Sara added.
When Christian and I left we agreed to spend our honeymoon here and come here every March 17th which is the same day Smithmills was named.