Wright – Mills Lake

In the late 1800s, Jake Mills formed a lake that was originally divided into four sections, each with a different kind of fish raised in it. Fed by Sparrow Creek, a small stream that flows into White River, Mills Lake borders the south side of a camp ground today, that is located in a grove of maple trees. A quiet spot today, it once housed a famous dance hall that for half a century was one of the best known night spots in East Central Indiana. People from Anderson to Union City flocked to the lake on the traction cars and in autos to hear name bands and to dance to the latest crazes of the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s.

Muskrats burrowed through the levies and the lake drained and stood empty for several years, but it has now been filled again and the spot once again hosts visitors, this time to a camp ground.

Older residents of the area can remember cutting ice in the winter to be stored and used in the summer. Omer Rinard, nephew of Jake Mills told of his love for fishing and said that he remembers Jake going on fishing trips to get fish to stock his lakes. He would load several tanks on his horse drawn wagon, pack up his food and drive over to Celina, OH were he would stay several days stocking up on fish. He would keep fresh water in the tanks and bring back channel catfish, and dump them in one section of the lake. He would buy day-old bread to feed them. Logs were placed in the water to provide places for the fish to lay their eggs.

One section contained bass, and it took years to get a good crop of fish. About every three years to get a good crop of fish. About every three years Jake would net them and sell them to the crowds at the dances. Sometimes they were given as door prizes Following the sale, the lake would be stocked again, and after another three years, Jake would make a good amount of money, again.

The lake’s career as a fishery was ended one winter day when muskrats broke through one of the levies into the river, washing away most of the fish and draining the lake. It is said fishermen were catching large catfish for years afterward around Maxville.

(Muncie (IN) Star, circa 1950-1960)

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