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Ode to Abbotts Mill

In celebration of the Delaware Nature Society's 40 year

commitment in Sussex County at Abbott"s Mill Nature Center


Nathan Willey hewed post and beam,

To build a mill on Bowman’s Stream.

For seven long years, he toiled true,

And finished his mill in eighteen and two.


There were new owners and more than a few.

Willey was first but the list grew and grew.

Owens and Riggs, Johnson, Nickerson and Miller,

And Palmer, Dr. Rae, Hendricks, don’t forget Kibler.


Abbott and Smith in nineteen and nineteen,

Took over this elaborate milling machine.

Then Ainsworth bought out Joseph Smith,

Just one year later, that’s not a myth.


Mary Williams of Greenwood he wed soon after,

And she learned that mill ‘twixt joist and rafter.

As partners for life, they worked many late hour,

For your pure white “Lakeview Roller Mill” flour.


For forty years they ground your grist,

Cornmeal and flour and buckwheat, the best.

Sought for bread and biscuits the peninsula over,

From Harrington to Georgetown and up to Dover.



T’was Milford’s darkest day, when the mill expired,

Nearly sixty years ago, Ainsworth Abbott retired.

Bakers wept when the water grew still,

And machines grew silent in Abbotts Mill


But that’s not the end of this long mill story,

The Delaware Nature Society took the glory,

And now the Abbotts Mill Nature Center,

Welcomes K thru 12, as their nature mentor.


They’ve had their turn for forty long years,

With a busy staff and volunteers.

Uplands and wetlands, woods and swamp,

Students follow T/Ns, stomp, stomp, stomp.


Canoeing and Hiking and Seining for Macros,

Young Native Americans making their tools,

Rocks and Soils, Trees and Bushes,

Reptiles and Amphibians, Birds and Fishes.


Weighing in the Mill and Discovering Habitats,

Simple Machines and Knee-High Naturalists.

Ainsworth Abbott would beam with pride,

To see your children, in school, outside.


Steve Childers - 2021




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