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The Double Run & Tidbury Branch Mills

Updated: Mar 6

Voshell's Mill

Voshell's Pond is on private property. The mill is a private residence at the intersection of Voshells Mill-Star Hill Road and Lochmeath Way.


In 1733 Ezekiel, Daniel and Thomas Nock owned 465 acres of land in the area west of Rising Sun. About 1760 Ezekiel Nock built a gristmill there, and when he passed, the property went to his sons.


His son Thomas remained and the tract was owned by the Nocks as late as 1783. About that time, it passed into the possession of Daniel Mifflin, who eventually left it to his two sons, Daniel and Samuel.


In 1851 the property passed into the possession of James W. Green. At that time, it consisted of a 26 ½’ by 32‘ gristmill of two stories plus a basement, valued at $1500.00. That would be about $54,000 in today’s dollars.


Also on site was a two-story frame house measuring 27’ x 32’ with a single story 16’ x 18’ kitchen in the back. Behind the house was a 14’ x 14’ smoke house with an earthen floor, and another building housing the stables, a carriage house and a corn crip. Total value of everything was estimated at $3,000.


1861 (at the beginning of the Civil War) the estimated total value of the mill, the out-buildings and the house, with contents, was $4430.00.


In early 1864 James Green built a new, larger two-story house measuring 18’ x 40’, with a “front portico”, plus a single story 16’ x 16’ kitchen in the back.


In 1882 he built a new 30’ x 46’ barn with a 36’ x 16’ foot attachment for grain storage and stables. James Green died in late 1889 and, as he had no will, his property was sold by order of the orphan’s court.

March 6, 1890 - Delaware Gazette and State Journal

J. C. Voshell bought eight acres of the property that included the grist mill, for $2,250, and his wife (James Green's daughter-in-law) Annie bought the house and out-buildings and one and a half acres for $30.

It appears that Mr. Voshell sometimes needed an auxiliary power source for his mill. In 1900 he installed a steam-engine, but apparently it didn't come with operating instructions...

July 11, 1900 - The Evening Journal

J. C. Voshell owned and operated the mill for 32 years, but when he retired in 1922 at the age of 65 the mill was still known locally as "Green's Mill." His son, H. Reedy Voshell then took over mill operations.

March 4, 1922 - The Morning News

Voshell's Mill Headrace 1926

(Margaret V. Lingo)
Voshell's Mill - "A Tricentennial View of North Murderkill" (Margaret V. Lingo)

April 23, 1929 - The News Journal

On December 4th, 1929, the old mill caught fire and burned to the ground.

December 4, 1929 - the Morning News

On December 4th, 1929, the old mill caught fire and burned to the ground, but a new mill was finished by the next year. Mr. Voshell installed two turbines in the new mill in-place of the waterwheel in the old mill.



Voshell's Pond was a popular local swimming hole for many, many years.

May 31, 1944 - The Morning News

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DERBY POND


Derby Pond is located on Upper King Road between Camden and Woodside. The mill is a private residence.


"Today's Derby Pond was the source of power for Woodside Mills, a grain and feed mill, owned by Marshell Derby from 1905 to 1946. It was once owned by Dr. Ezekiel Dawson, M.D. of Camden. Evan Lewis and his son, Robert, operated the mill in the 1800's. Begun as a sawmill it was also called Calwell's Mill and owned by Joseph and Mary Caldwell prior to 1838." Source: A tricentennial View of North Murderkill, 1984


June 2, 1879 - The Daily Republican

This was the beginning of the grist mill at what is now Derby Pond. Thomas Coursey had other business ventures, besides his "Spring Mills" on the Murderkill River. (see my Jan. 7th post: Thomas B. Coursey and his "Spring Mills".) By April of 1880 he had finished work on the new "Woodside Mills" and insured it for $2400.


It consisted of a two-story front building measuring 25 x 30 feet and a rear attached two story building measuring 18 x 28 feet. It also had another attachment measuring 25 x 50 feet, "without floor." The contents consisted of "Flour Bolts, Elevators, Smut Machine, corn crusher & such other machinery as in a first-class Grist Mill, all New and in good order."

When Coursey died in 1899, Samuel H. Derby bought his Woodside Mill for $910. Derby had owned the 200-acre farm and orchards bordering the pond for some years and in 1902 he reportedly had 5000 apple trees, 2200 pear trees, 2200 peach trees, 600 plum trees and 15 acres of asparagus. He also had his own cannery and used the label: "Lilly Lake Farm." Source - Delaware Public Archives

Daily Republican, 08 May 1902

Gathering Lilies on Derby Pond, about 1905 - Delaware Public Archives


January 18, 1900 - The Morning News

The Woodside Mill burned down sometime very shortly after Samuel Derby purchased it at the Coursey estate sale, but he quickly rebuilt it.

June 5, 1901 - The Morning News

Like so many other mill owners, it appears that S. H. Derby employed a miller to actually operate his "Woodside Mills." (see Ed. Note below)


After Samuel Derby retired in 1905, his brother Marshall took control of the mill.


In 1904 Samuel H. Derby ran for Lt. Governor on the ticket with Dr. Joseph H. Chandler, in an attempt to un-seat the incumbent, John Hunn. They were not successful.

September14, 1904 - The Evening Journal

Samuel Derby talked the Levy Court into spending $25 for a public drinking fountain "for man and beast" to be installed along the roadway near his home and mill. He agreed to provide the water.

July 7, 1909 - The Evening Journal

I suppose when Mr. Derby got involved in politics, he figured he had better "get with the times", so he bought a new Hudson auto-mobile.

August 9, 1911 - The Evening Journal
https://libwww.freelibrary.org/digital/item/54468
(File photo) 1912 Hudson torpedo - https://libwww.freelibrary.org/digital/item/54468

Mill dams and bridges were constantly in peril of being washed out during periods of heavy rain.

December 3, 1913 - The News Journal

November 26, 1917 - The Morning News

December 4, 1928 - The Morning News

Once again, the mill burned down and was rebuilt and operated as late as 1946.

February 26. 1935 - The Morning News

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Double Run Mill

A.D.Byles, 1859 - Library of Congress

Double Run is a stream that flows southward in-between Magnolia and Canterbury. Irish Hill Road crosses Double Run about a mile and a half west of the crossroads in the center of Magnolia. At that crossing there was once a dam and a millpond that supplied water to power a sawmill, long known as the "Montague Mill" and owned by Samuel Chambers.

Double Run Sawmill location on Irish Hill Road

I am aware of no pictures of the Double Run mill, but it’s likely that it was a reciprocating saw-mill, that is it had a long, straight saw blade that moved up and down. You can visit a sawmill of that type in the mill at the Delaware Agricultural Museum, along Rt 13 just south of Delaware State University.


When Samuel Chambers passed, the property was sold in 1863 to John J. Connor, and in 1884 it was bought by Zadoc J. Calloway, who erected a grist-mill on the site. (Scharf, 1888)


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Ed. Note: Why is a mill like Derby's referred to as Woodside Mills, rather than Woodside Mill? Because the "mill" is actually the machine inside that grinds the grain, and there was usually more than one of them. In the picture below there are actually six roller mills. Each machine houses two sets of rollers.

Roller Mills at Abbott's Mill, near Milford.

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By my next post I'll try to come up with information on the mill at McGinnis Pond but so far, I've come up empty. I even made a special trip to the University of Delaware Library, to no avail. I'll keep digging. - S.C.


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