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Mount Healy

History

Town site photo

The Mount Healy Cemetery

©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko

English born John Donaldson was an entrepreneur with foresight and vision. Impressed by the benefits of having both nearby water power and a adjacent shipping route, John purchased a parcel of land alongside the newly opened Grand River Canal and promptly built a saw and grist mill. The mills were badly needed and were an instant success. John quickly developed a reputation as a shrewd and respected businessman.

The Grand River Navigation Company was first established in 1832. The canal was constructed between 1834 and 1836 with five locks and dams. In addition to charging tariffs for shipping, the company also made money by selling water power from the dams. The dam at Mount Healy (also spelled Mount Healey) offered a reliable source of power which was sold to mill owners along the west side of the river. By 1843, the company was selling power to David Thompson at Indiana along with John Donaldson and the firm of Fisk & Aikens, both located at Mount Healy.

As John Donaldson expanded his operations, Mount Healy expanded along with him. In 1838 Donaldson built a plaster mill that manufactured plaster from the rich gypsum deposits found along the banks of the Grand River.

In January of 1844, municipal organization arrived in Oneida Township. Following a meeting that took place in the schoolhouse, at Anderson's Creek, John Donaldson was elected Township Councillor. A new law came into effect in 1850, requiring each municipality to elect five officers to manage the township's affairs. John Donaldson was among those elected.

Although Donaldson died in 1866, his sons, Andrew and William, and son–in–law, Alexander Thompson, continued running the mills and post office with remarkable efficiency. By 1865 Mount Healy's population had grown to around 150 people. In addition to the mills, there was a blacksmith, a store and the Mount Healy Hotel, an expansive inn run, by the Dochstaders. By 1869, James Kirkfield had moved his distillery operation from Indiana to Mount Healy.

Despite the closure of the Grand River Canal in 1871, the mills in Mount Healy kept buzzing along for years. By the mid 1880s, the village had acquired a public school and a Presbyterian Church. There was little else in the way of commerce beside the mills and the store.

Mount Healy didn't survive much beyond the dawn of the 20th century. The sawmill closed in 1908. The only buildings still remaining are a worker's home and the inn, both of which have been renovated and are used as private residences. The cemetery, located on Mudd Road, contains the tombstones of many Donaldson offspring.