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Shellpot Creek Mills, Wilmington, Del.

The best-known mill on Shellpot Creek was, undoubtedly, Henry Webster's Grist Mill, built of local field stone three stories high, plus probably a basement. It was erected sometime between 1772, when Henry Webster began buying land in the area, and 1790, when he acquired land for his headrace. The present-day location of the mill was in the woods behind the New City Church, at the south end of Hawthorn Drive. It's unlikely that much remains of it today. The millpond was upstream, just below where Turkey Run flows into Shellpot Creek, and the mill's tailrace flowed into Matson Run, which then quickly flowed into Shellpot Creek.

This 4 bedroom, stone home was built for Henry Webster and his Swedish wife, Sarah Stedham, probably in the 1770s-80s. The first-floor joists, in the basement, are round logs, only flat on the top side - Google Earth

Henry Webster sold the mill to his son, George, in 1802. A suspicious fire gutted the mill in 1858 (it seems there’s always a fire in the history of these old mills) and destroyed new machinery. It was rebuilt and the property remained in the Webster family until the 1890s, when John Webster sold it for the site of the Shellpot Amusement Park.

Old Webster Mill at Shellpot Park, 1890s - Delaware Public Archives

Upper end of Webster's Mill

The News Journal - July 17th, 1899

Shellpot Mill, 1904 - Robert Shaw Etching - Delaware Art Museum

The Shellpot Park had been built by the Wilmington City Railway Company to encourage people to take the 5¢ trolley ride out of town (seven tickets for a quarter). Once there, the admission to the park was free, a further enticement for families to take the ride. The park operated for forty-one years, between 1893 and 1934, and the mill building continued to stand, turned into a Teahouse. Other attractions were added over the years, including a huge swimming pool (top, right, below) that was added in 1924 at a cost of $200,000, and the roller coaster, added in 1925.

Shellpot Park, sometime after 1925. The old millpond is in the top left corner.
Shellpot Park location today. Lea Blvd on the left, Philadelphia Pike (Rt-13) heading off to the right. The yellow building icon is the mill location. White lines indicate Shellpot Creek, Matson Run and further up, Turtle Run.

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The following article came from a three-part series delving into the history of the various mills on Shellpot Creek. It was written by Charles M. Allmond III and was published in The News Journal on February 29th thru March 2nd, 1960. Some of my previous article on Henry Webster's Grist Mill came from the same source.

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A Saw Mill was built on Shellpot Creek previous to 1805, just downstream from present-day Carr Road, in what is now the Bringhurst Woods Park. George Robinson, who built the mill, was the son-in-law of Valentine Hollingsworth, one of the largest land owners of early Brandywine Hundred.


It was George Robinson who built the old stone house in Carrcroft known as the Carr mansion. Robinson purchased 47 acres by two deeds from George Stonemit and Elias Tussey in 1769. This tract covered an area along Shellpot Creek through which the Bringhurst Woods section of Carr Road and the B&O Railroad now run.


Bringhurst Woods Park

Robinson built the saw mill on the lower end of this trace, the races for which were conveyed by William Forman and Jacob Weldin, May 1, 1769. In 1793, George Robinson’s widow, Elizabeth, sold the mill to Jesse Weldin, grandson of George and Elizabeth Robinson and a Revolutionary War veteran who had served as a private in the “Delaware Blues Company” under Capt. Joseph Stidham.


He reportedly sold the mill in 1804 to John Vandever, Jr. but this deed was not recorded. The property was purchased at Sheriff’s Sale by William by William Glover in 1805.


Sometime during the 12 years the property was owned by Weldin or Vandever, a grist mill was erected on it. The first documented evidence of the grist mill appears in Glover’s 1805 deed. This mill, like Henry Webster’s, was built of fieldstone. It stood well into the [20th] century. It’s location [was] marked by a large hole in the ground a few feet north of the B&O Railroad, near the creek.


George Davis bought both mills in 1812 together with a two-story stone house, races, and mill dams. In reply to an inquiry by Secretary of the Treasury McLane I 1832, Joseph Phillips (writing for Davis) stated that there was a capitol investment of $1,000 in the grounds, building, water power, and machinery for the grist mill. The services of one hand were required at the cost of $12 a year. Approximately 1,000 bushels of grain were ground annually into flour which was consumed in the immediate neighborhood.


On Feb. 18, 1839. George Davis’ executor John Allmond conveyed the mills to William S. Elliott, who sold them back to Allmond the next day. John Allmond is believed to have been the last owner to operate the saw mill. On his death in 1866, he left the grist mill and four acres to his son, George.


The remainder of the tract, containing the saw mill, he bequeathed to all his children. The saw mill property was eventually purchased by George S. Allmond, who sold it to Edward Bringhurst in 1904. It is now owned by the City of Wilmington and is included in Bringhurst Woods Park. The saw mill, unused and in ruins for years, has been long forgotten.


It is rumored that treasure lay buried nearby. Edward Bringhurst reputedly discovered a nocturnal party silently digging in the ruins some years ago [written in 1960]. When surprised by Bringhurst, they immediately stopped work and fled, as the “spell” had been broken. To this day, no treasure has been found.


The gristmill inherited by George Allmond in 1866, was sold two years later to John Butler. He ran the mill for several years, selling out to Oliver H. Perry in 1884. Perry is the miller best remembered in the neighborhood. Henry Weldin, who lives on land owned by the family since the days of William Penn, now in his 90s [1960], recalls as a boy hauling grain to the mill to be ground.


Oliver Perry’s heirs conveyed the property to Cordelia M. and William Hewes. J. Edward Addicks purchased the mill tract in 1891 and kept the old mill in production, grinding feed for his dairy herd until he was foreclosed in 1907, by Charles S. Hinchman. Hinchman sold the property to Vincent A. Walker in 1915.

The Morning News - February 7th, 1907

It was Walker who finally tore down the venerable structure for the stone, during the depression.


The mill, known as the Allmond or Butler mill, was the only Shellpot mill to remain in operation into the 1900s.


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