Sheriff’s sales provide some information about the nature of some of the businesses in southern Elk County in 1864. It's likely that other mills in the area, including Benezette Township, used similar technology, so the descriptions of properties described in public notices provides a hint about what to expect. Included in the sale on 3 October 1864 were mills along Toby Creek in Fox Township owned by J. L. Ellis. Ellis was an official of the Hopkinton Bank of Westerly, Rhode Island; the bank had claimed the properties and directed them to be seized by the sheriff and put up for sale. Along with the metes and bounds, the mill property was described in the sale notice as including

“one two-story grist mill, twenty-six by forty feet and containing two run of stones, one saw mill, forty by sixty feet and leanto sixteen feet by thirty feet, one one-story-and-a-half frame dwelling house, painted white and about twenty-six feet square, two two-story frame dwelling houses sixteen feet by twenty-six feet. Two-story-and-a-half frame dwelling sixteen feet by twenty feet, one frame barn twenty-six feet by fifty feet, together with outhouses and about six acres improved and known as the Hellen Mill lot.” (Elk County Advocate, September 1864)

Another saw mill in Spring Creek Township on the tract known as Warrant 2963 had also included in the sale and it too was listed as the property of J. L. Ellis. Along with the metes and bounds, the saw mill was described as

“sixty feet by eighty feet and containing a gang of saws, one upright and one circular saw and shingle machine. Four dwelling houses, two of which are about twenty-four feet by forty feet and two about 18 by twenty feet, one frame barn about twenty-four feet square and other out buildings and two acres improved.” (Elk County Advocate, September 1864)

The fact that these properties were up for sale, probably for defaulting on a loan or mortgage, suggests that the businesses were not doing well. There is no mention of a steam engine, so it is likely that these mills were waterpowered. It is possible that there was insufficient water to operate the mills, but other business problems related to management, transportation and customer base may also have figured into the failure. Did business at these mills slow during the Civil War. Perhaps the operators (and millhands) were drafted? Did these mills ever re-open? Did other more efficient operations put them out of business (for example, mills powered by steam engines or located along better roads or railroads).