Indian Hill Historical Society
"Keeping Indian Hill's past and present alive for tomorrow"
Immigrant, pioneer farmer, miller, landowner, merchant,
John Elliott was born in Northern Ireland of Scottish parents in 1762, At age 22 he came to America aboard the ship "Lazy Mary." Family tradition says that he was sent by his father to see what America was like. He supposedly had instructions that if at the end of a year he thought they should move the family there, he was to write them with instructions" to do some impossible thing." The Elliotts were rather wealthy people, and they had a large house in Ireland. John wrote that he was unable to build himself a house and requested his parents to send theirs to him. When they read this, they understood that they should move to America. The reason for the coded message was concern that the correspondence would be read by the authorities in Ireland. At that time all young men had to fulfill a number of years of military service, and the two Elliott sons might be prevented from leaving the country.
It was in 1785 that the rest of the Elliott family sailed from Londonderry, Ireland, on the "Faithful Steward." The group consisted of the father, five daughters, and two sons, Simon and William, accompanied also by a number of cousins named Stewart and Lee. When their ship reached the shore off Mahogany Bay in New Jersey, it was driven by a storm onto the rocks, where all the family perished except John's brothers, Simon and William. Family history says that chests full of the family's valuable goods were washed ashore, but they were stolen by land pirates of the coast.
A history of the Elliott family (1911) records a ballad sung about the shipwreck:
The two brothers made their way to Pennsylvania, where John Elliott had settled. They later married and moved their families to Illinois and Ohio. While in Pennsylvania John had married Mary Miller, of German descent, in 1786, and moved with his wife and son three years later to Columbia (now Lunken Airport) in Ohio.
In 1800 Elliott purchased 112 acres (for $450) for a millsite on the Little Miami River at the mouth of Sycamore Creek. Until they could build a cabin for their growing family of four children, they lived in an immense hollow sycamore tree eleven feet in diameter on their property. Tradition says that it was from this huge tree that Sycamore Creek got its name.
The Elliotts cleared, fenced, and farmed their land. They planted an orchard near their cabin; and, using stones from the nearby river, they built a large two-story house with thick walls and heavy beams of oak. It took two years to complete, and the two youngest of their six children (William, b. 1802 and John, Jr., b. 1806) were born in the house. They joined their oldest brother Simon, who came to Ohio with his parents, Elcy (b. 1791), Sarah (b. 1792), and Isabella (b. 1798). One source says that there were three other children who died in infancy, two being buried at Columbia, and one at the Sycamore Church (site of today's Green Acres program.)
The dense forest along the river and in the surrounding country was inhabited by many Indians, and the family history claims that on more than one occasion during an uprising the Elliotts were forced to gather what they could of their belongings and take refuge at Fort Columbia.
John Elliott built a grist mill in 1810 on his property near Sycamore Creek. He was in partnership with Henry Crist, Cornelius Snider, and Benjamin Sears (the millwright.) A dam was built across the Little Miami, and the millrace later also powered a saw mill, a wool carding mill, and a distillery built on the site. An old section of what is now called Spooky Hollow Road was then called "the road to Elliott's Mills."
Elliott was elected a Columbia Township Trustee in 1803, and he served as a Hamilton County Commissioner from 1812-1820. As their six children matured and married, they and their children settled either in the Sycamore/Montgomery/Symmes Township area or in Illinois or Iowa. As a matter of local note, his daughter Elcy married Nathaniel Terwilliger, a "millwright and farmer." The Terwilliger name is well-known in Montgomery, Ohio, as Nathaniel was one of the founders of that community and the owner of a building on Cooper Road there that has been called "Terwilliger's Tavern."
The Elliott family suffered financial difficulties in the 1820's over unpaid debts, which threatened their ownership of the land on the Little Miami. Parcels of the property changed hands over the next 20 years, and in 1841 it was sold to Williams Hamilton, miller. Subsequent owners of portions of the Elliott land were listed as Silas Hutchinson, Nathanial Paxton, Alfred Wild, Edward Fuller, John Clement, Henry Anderson, and James Hauck. In 1898 the house was sold to the Sterrett family. (See the Elliott House page in Special Historical Feature.)
John Elliott died in 1843 at age 82, having buried his wife three years earlier in Remington Cemetery on the hill above the west side of Spooky Hollow Road. Their children purchased a family plot in the Miamiville (Evergreen) Cemetery in 1867, and John and Mary's graves were moved there in 1922.
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Last updated 4/17/2005.
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