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Here's the ABBOTT'S MILL ownership trail.

Updated: Dec 10, 2023

I’ve been researching details about as many of the previous owners of Abbotts Mill as I can find information on:


Back in the late 1700s, Levin Poynter, and his wife Unicey, inherited 113 acres and 141 square perches of land from Levin’s father, William. It was located on the west side of Bowman’s Branch (renamed Johnson’s Branch sometime between 1869 and 1919) in Cedar Creek Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware.


On June 1st, 1778, Levin enlisted in the Continental Army, commanded by George Washington. This was less than a year after the skirmish at Cooch’s Bridge and the Battle of Brandywine. He was assigned to Capt. Wilson’s 24-man Company, in the Delaware Regiment. That month, June ’78, his pay was 2 pounds, 10 shillings, plus £10 subsistence pay.


From Nov. 1778 thru March of 1779, he was paid £2.10 per month, but beginning in April 1779 they were paid in dollars. Levin was due $6.60 a month from April ’79 thru July “79. In Aug. he got $11.50, Sept, Oct & Nov. he got $50.00 total, Dec. $6.60 plus $10.00 subsistence. Jan. & Feb. 1780 he got $33.30 pay and subsistence. In March of 1780 Levin got $16.60, which is the last month I could find a record of.


All this back-pay was supposed to be collected at the end of his enlistment, but the new United States government was so broke that few soldiers actually received very much. Levin Poynter did, however, collect a pension of $5 per month, paid at the rate of $30 every six months.


I am unsure when Levin Poynter died, but on October 23, 1795, Unicey Poynter conveyed the deed to the property to Nathan Willey, and Willey went on to build the first mill on the property.


Following Nathan Willey’s death in 1812 the mill was sold to James Owens, and then to Isaac Riggs.


James Johnson, was born in 1785. In 1809 James and his wife Elizabeth (Bennum) bought half of his father’s 142-acre estate, referred to as the "Holley Swamp", just a bit south-west of Staytonville, James Johnson bought the mill and 142 acres, 64 sq. perches for $710 from Isaacs Riggs in 1826. The property passed to his son Nathaniel, and then to Nathaniel's sons, Richard M. and William J. Johnson. James Johnson died in 1839.


Richard and William Johnson operated the mill for many years, but finally sold it to William H. Richards in 1868.


Wm. Richards operated the mill for the next six years and then sold it and the property to Nelson J. Nicholson, but I was unable to determine the date.


In 1874 Nicholson sold it to a group of investors;

William H. & Elizabeth E. Miller, Charles W. & Jane S. Palmer, and Sarah E. Bunker (widow), but it was still known locally as “Johnson’s Mill”.


On April 27th, 1889, Julio H. Rae and his wife Louisa Marie bought the property from William H. Miller, et al., for $1000.


Upon Julio Rae’s death, his widow Anzolette Howland Rae, sold the mill and 175 acres to James Kibler for $1.00 on October 7th, 1897. About five months later, on March 21, 1898, Robert and Jane An Waters sold another deed to James Kibler for the same property for another dollar ($1.00). (I know this makes no sense, but that’s what the deeds say.)


James Kibler sold the property and mill six months later, on April 13, 1898, to William W. and Alfonza E. Hendricks for $1000, so even though Kebler paid for the property twice, he still made out pretty well.


Hendricks is said to have repaired the mill and it is possible that this is when the roller mills and other related equipment were added to the original structure. During this period, it was known as “Lake View Mill” and by this time Bowman’s Branch had become Johnson’s Branch, as it is today.


Abbott's Mill ca. 1900+-

On May 6th, 1919 Wm. Hendricks sold the mill to Ainsworth Abbott and Joseph J. Smith for $7,000. 

Mr. Hendricks didn't leave much of a paper-trail after 31 years of ownership, but I'm still digging. We'll see what I turn up next week...



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cnrlme
cnrlme
Apr 03

Off-topic somewhat, more in line with the general mill building process, but I am curious about the tendency of roadways to locate over the dams of a mill pond. An example of this would be Renolds Pond in Sussex County (tried to upload an excerpt to no avail). Through Sussex and Kent, there are many more examples. I believe you published previously that there were no natural mill ponds in Delaware, that all were formed by the mill owner/operator. Those dam locations must have been designed to take advantage of the contours of the land, and not highly value existing trails. Was there an attribute of the damming process that you found to lay the groundwork for future roadways? Were…

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