The Harbine Industrial Complex...

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1874 Map of Harbine Industrial Complex 1874 Map of Harbine Industrial Complex

When you reach the stop sign at Factory Road, you are facing the location of The Harbine Industrial Complex.  Please turn north and pull into the RV and boat storage parking lot.  In 1828 John Harbine (also spelled Harbein) and his new bride, Hettie Herr, traveled by wagon from Maryland to Beavercreek Township with what money they had nailed under the axle for safe keeping from highway robbery.  He purchased the 180 acre farm of Owen Davis, the first settler of Greene County.  As a business entrepreneur, John began constructing his mill complex during the same period as he built his residence. The grist mill, saw mill and distillery [the core of the Harbine Industrial Complex] were operating on Beaver Creek by 1832.

On the image above, you can see where the Beaver Creek was split to utilize a mill race, a regulated channel of water to power the water wheels of the mills.  The square under the P in Alpha represents the Harbine home, surrounded by a fruit orchard.  Between the mill race and Factory Road are 9 dots representing worker housing for the laborers to live in.

The worker housing has become of particular interest due to proposed highway modifications.  An archeaological firm was retained to do ground penetrating radar to locate the remnants of the homes as well as any evidence of the lifestyle the occupants led.

Recollections have been passed down referring to John Harbine Jr. walking the worker housing with a hand basket containing a pistol to collect rent.

In researching our tour, we learned a couple names that were attached to the Harbine worker housing including 'Shorty' Brown.  In May of 2015 we met with Mr. Bill Brown, a longtime resident of the Alpha area and son of Marvin 'Shorty' Brown.

Bill's parents lived in the worker housing when he was born.  He explained that there were three of the homes remaining at his earliest recollection, with one burning to the ground while he was young.  Bill described the worker housing as follows:

  • Four rooms - Kitchen, Living Room and two bedrooms
  • Wood plank flooring over a crawl space
  • Heat provided by a coal stove in the Living Room
  • Meals were prepared on a wood-fired stove in the Kitchen
  • Exterior was lap-board siding with tin roofs
  • Interior walls were plaster-on-lath
  • No interior plumbing

Bill recalled that the only water came from an outside well with a hand pump.  There was one 'privy', or outhouse, for  every two homes.  They were located east of the buildings toward the creek.  Bill's mother would heat stones on the kitchen stove, wrap them in towels and place in their beds to warm them in the winter.

In looking at the map, the Brown's lived in the second home from the north.  Kiff Karns, he said, lived in the home next door.

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Brett Williford

Re-introducing you to the Beavercreek you love... from 1803 to today!


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