Another of Delaware's Old Red Mills
If you live or work anywhere in the Newark, Ogletown, Pike Creek area of Delaware, you know that Red Mill Road begins at Rt. 2 (Capitol Trail), opposite Polly Drummond Hill Road, and continues for about a mile and a half, ending near the intersection of Rt 273 and Rt 4. The actual Red Mill is on the old road, which of course is now called Old Red Mill Road. I'm not sure why the mill was called the Red Mill. In all the old pictures it looks to me like it has never been painted.
In 1722, a former Governor of Delaware, Sir William Keith purchased 666 acres of land located south and east of Iron Hill. He operated an iron works for a short time, but it failed and in 1726 he sold the property to John England. England, a Quaker, had been an iron forge manager in Staffordshire, England, and he came to America in 1723 to oversee construction of the Principio Furnace Iron Works in Cecil County, Maryland's. John England had frequent dealings with an investor from Virginia named Augustine Washington, whose son George would go on to become rather famous in this country. (Thank you to Scott Palmer's The Mill Creek Hundred History Blog.)
England bought property in Christiana and Mill Creek Hundreds, as well as in Pencader Hundred. Another Englishman, a miller named William Cooch, purchased John England’s Pencader land in 1746, but England still owned at least 600 acres on White Clay Creek. Following John England’s death in 1734, the property with a small mill was left to his brother Joseph, who built the older, larger section of the brick house that is still standing today. It was completed in 1747 and the smaller section was added later for the miller. The larger section measures about 33 feet by 32 feet and the smaller is a bout 29 feet by 19 feet.
Joseph died the year after moving into the new home and his son Joseph, Jr. took over operation of the mill and lived in the house until his own death in 1791. It was then inherited by his son, Joseph England III, who lived there until his own death in 1828. Joseph III was elected to the New Castle House of Representatives in 1800 and served in the State Legislature for the rest of his life. Joseph III’s sister, Sarah, married Robert Kirkwood, who had served as a captain in the Revolutionary War. (In 1941 part of Delaware Route 2 was named the Robert Kirkwood Highway in his honor.).
Joseph III was elected to the New Castle House of Representatives in 1800 and served in the State Legislature for the rest of his life. In 1804 there was a merchant mill and a saw mill on the site. The house stayed in the England family a few more years, until it was sold in 1839 to David Eastburn. Eastburn sold the mill and 17 acres to Oliver and Charles Allen in 1872, but retained the house.
In 1874 the mill was bought by Edward Wilson. In 1876 Rathnell Wilson built the smaller, gray house across the street. About 1887 Thomas W. Jones enlarged the mill building by adding the taller section over the millrace. He then replaced the waterwheel, which reportedly was an 18 hp overshot type, with a turbine and he replaced the millstones with roller mills, giving it a capacity of forty barrels per day. If that figure is correct that would have been pretty good for a small mill and would have kept two men busy all day. Jones then sold the mill in 1888, but I’m not sure who that buyer was. Frank Buckingham bought the mill in 1925 and the family operated the mill for the next 40 years. It closed in 1965.
In 1989 Frank Buckingham's son Samuel still lived on the property and sold the mill to Joseph DeFilippis, who had plans to restore it.
More old pictures of the mill can be found at:
Sources: History of Delaware, 1609-1888, Volume I, by J. Thomas Scharf
The Mill Creek Hundred History Blog, by Scott Palmer
SAH – The Society of Architectural Historians Archipedia
HABS - The Historic American Buildings Survey