Ketner’s Mill has been a site that not only shaped not only the lives of one family, but also the lives of all those who settled in the Sequatchie Valley of Southeast Tennessee. The story is one of beginnings, growth, progress, and community all told at once through Ketner’s Mill.
1824 - Orphan David Ketner arrived in the Sequatchie Valley with his two siblings. He operated a mill near the base of Suck Creek Mountain, in what is now known as Ketner’s Cove. Along with the grist (corn meal) mill, a blacksmith shop operated on that first site. Meanwhile, early settlers built a dam and mill at the current site.
1840 - A wool carding machine, also powered by water from the dam, was purchased and set up for operation near the mill.
1868 - David Ketner’s son, Alexander (affectionately called “Pappy” by his family), bought the “new” or current mill site on the Old Sequatchie River. The family began construction on a brick structure and completed the project by 1882. A water-powered sawmill also operated on the site during this period.
Early 1880s - The Ketners moved a wool carding mill from the original site in Ketner’s Cove to the current site, where it was restored to working order. It is one of only three of its kind still running in the United States today.
1955 - The last year of operation for the sawmill.
1974 - A family reunion brought family members to the mill, where they agreed to embark on a three-year restoration project.
1977 - The first Ketner’s Mill Country Fair celebrated the completion of the restoration project. Ketner’s Mill was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
1992 - The last year of full-time operation for Ketner’s Mill. Until his death in 1992, Clyde Ketner, grandson of original owner David Ketner, continued the daily production of quality, old-fashioned corn meal. The family has continued the time-honored tradition by bringing the mill into production each year for the annual Country Arts Fair. The proceeds of the fair are used to preserve the historic site.
2010 - Ketner descendant and current owner Frank McDonald restored the old family house to its original design.
Today, Pappy Ketner's great, great grandson Frank McDonald and his two sons, Clay and Miles, continue the family tradition by organizing the Fair each year and ensuring that the old mill structures and ground are preserved for future generations to enjoy.