The first settlers in the early 1850s, in what is now known as Dutch Mills, were a number of German immigrants with names such as Hermann, Wilhelmi, Dieterich, Ganter, Schmidt, Dannenberg, Weber, Eberle and Kraft, and others whose names have passed from memory. But it is the Hermanns who gave the town and post office its first name of Hermannsburg. It is said by Walter Lemke that the title “Dutch” was most likely applied after the Civil War when the Hermanns and most other of the original settlers had fled. It was common to call Germans “Dutch” and was a derogatory term used against German Union regiments from the St. Louis area during the Battle of Pea Ridge.
Johann and Karl Hermann had migrated to the St. Louis area and married daughters of a fellow German immigrant, Rev Wilhelm Wilhelmi, in Missouri. Johann, at least of the two brothers, moved to Northwest Arkansas in 1850 and worked for a year at a mill owned by Hermann Freyschlag, which was west of Fayetteville on Clear Creek and was later known as the Pegram Mill. The Freyschlags went to California in the Gold Rush, and Johann Hermann bought an unfinished mill on Whitaker Branch near Barren Fork river near the Indian Territory border. The Hermannsburg post office was established in September 1853, and was renamed Dutch Mills after the Civil war.
Most of the early settlers were educated and skilled craftsmen. The settlement grew as more Germans moved to the area including the Rev. Wilhelmi, father-in-law of the Hermann brothers. However, the prosperity and happiness of the German settlers on the Indian border ended in 1861. They were situated on a route used by both armies and vulnerable to bushwhackers, so were in constant danger. The last group of 19 left in December 1862 after the Battle of Prairie Grove.
Karl Hermann returned to Hermannsburg in 1863 with a Union Army patrol to attempt to recover gold they had buried before their hasty removal into Missouri in 1861. His diary tells of finding at least one of the buried stashes but rumors persisted for years, and one man is said to have paid for his farm in gold after the war.
The Dutch Mills post office continued to serve the area until 1965 when the Lincoln post office assumed the duties for that area. The Weber Cemetery near the old Liberty Baptist Church at Dutch Mills contains markers with names like Wilhelmi and others of the early settler families.
Dutch Mills is located a few miles north of Evansville near the intersection of Arkansas Highways 59 and 45.
“The Romantic Story of Old Hermannsburg (now Dutch Mills),” Flashback, Vol. 9, No. 3.
Washington County Postoffices and Postmasters 1829-1976, by Deane Carter, 1965, published by Washington County Historical Society.