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The John Richardson Mill on Little Mill Creek


In 1723 and 1726 John Richardson bought one-hundred-and-ninety-five acres bordering Mill Creek. On this property was a mill that had been built by

Arnoldus De Lagrange, Gysbert Walraven and Broor Sinnexsen sometime previous to 1687.

John soon built a large two-story

three bay, gable-roofed house of

Flemish bond brick

John Richardson house - ca 1727

When he died in 1755, he left "the mill lands and mill, and the house and improvements which is thereupon," to his son Richard. In 1765 Richard built a large stone house, this one a bit closer to the mill.


Richard Richardson house - 1765

Both houses still stand near the intersection of Maryland Ave. (SR-2) and Race St. (SR-100). According to The National Washington-Rochambeau-Revolutionary Route Assn., "The Richard Richardson House and the adjacent Brick Mill House are two of the most important eighteenth-century domestic structures in Delaware."


Most of the materials for Richard’s house, both wood and stone, were likely obtained on the property. When the house was completed, he married Sarah, the daughter of Edward Tatnall, a prosperous Brandywine miller. Their daughter, Jane Richardson, married Dr. John McKinly, who was elected the first Governor of Delaware in 1777.


Amos Brinton was the New Castle Court Librarian at the turn of the 20th century, with access to the counties historic records. As a boy he had worked in the Richardson mill, as he recalled to the Delaware Historical Society in 1902:

May 21, 1902 - The Evening Journal

When Richard Richardson died in 1791, he left the mill property equally to his three sons, Joseph, Ashton and John. Joseph, the eldest, left no will and the property passed to his seven children. In 1837 it was deeded to Samuel S. Richardson, Joseph’s eldest son, who lived in it until his death, when it passed to Samuel’s only son, Joseph S. Richardson.

May 2nd, 1882 - The Daily Gazette
July 6th, 1883 - The Morning News

By all appearances, Joseph had little interest in being a miller all his life. Beginning in 1883 he made numerous attempts to sell the grist mill.


In 1885 the grist mill was rebuilt, apparently adding roller mills, as there were none mentioned in the above 1883 ad and the mill later advertised their "White Lily" (roller mill) flour. Meanwhile, the sawmill continued to do a good business...

October thru December 1884 - The Wilmingtonian

In 1887 Henry C. Conrad, of Wilmington, purchased the house and fourteen acres and he soon christened the home “Glynrich”, as the area is still known to this day. I believe the fourteen acres is the area that is now south-west of present Race Street and north-west of Maryland Ave.


In 1889 Joseph Richardson attempted to sell the mill at public auction, but whatever his minimum bid was, apparently it wasn't reached.

May 7th, 1889 - The Morning News

Joseph must have really wanted to rid himself of the mill because on January 27th, 1896, he settled for $2,000 less and sold the mill to Elizabeth M. Walter for $7500, “Together with the Grist and saw mills thereon erected, with the privilege of using the water- right connected therewith as a water power as heretofore used or in any improved manner hereafter deemed advisable and to maintain the millrace as at present with the right of way along the same fifteen feet wide…”

But it appears that she quickly defaulted, and on March 10th of the same year the property was sold by Sheriff Paul Gillis.


On August 27th, 1900, an adjoining property, also mortgaged by Elizabeth M. and Edward P. Walter, including “a two and one-half story stone and frame dwelling house”, and “containing five hundred and twenty-three hundredths of an acre (500.23), more or less” had been sold by the then County Sheriff John E. Taylor.


In 1891 Richardson attempted to sell his property and the water rights to City of Wilmington's water department for $30,000, but the offer was declined.

May 20th, 1891 - The Morning News

In 1892 J. S. Richardson leased the mill to J. E. Walter and Niven

April 30th, 1892 - The Morning News

I had never heard of Graham Flour, so I looked it up. According to Wikipedia ; Graham flour is a type of coarse-ground flour of whole wheat named after Sylvester Graham. It is similar to conventional whole-wheat flour in that both are made from the whole grain, but graham flour is ground more coarsely. It is not sifted ("Bolted") with a flour dresser after milling. Graham Crackers are made from sweetened Graham flour. Who knew?


Meanwhile, in 1893 Henry Conrad started sub-dividing the portion of the property that he had bought five years before.

December 7th, 1893 - The Evening Journal

December 7th, 1893 - The Evening Journal

Unable to sell the mill, Joseph leased it to J. E. Walter.

November 12, 1889 - Daily Republican

May 9th, 1891 - The Wilmington Daily Republican

September 13th, 1902 - The Daily Republican

Henry Conrad continued to advertise his building lots...

October 18th, 1893 - The Wilmington Daily Republican

November 25th, 1905 - The Evening Journal

... And Joseph Richardson continued in his attempts to find a buyer for the mill..

May 13th, 1907 - The Evening Journal

...and it even went up for sheriff's sale...

May 14th, 1908 - The Morning News

...but it must not have sold, because fifteen months later it still belonged to Joseph Richardson.

August 30th, 1909 - The Morning News

Then, on an August afternoon in 1910, the mill caught fire. At that time it was being operated by Amos H. S. Scarborough.


But, even though the mill was over 200 years old, it was rebuilt.

March 16th, 1917 - The Evening Journal

In 1916 the mill was operated by E. P. Walters...

October 20th, 1913 - The News Journal

...or was it E. P. Walker?

August 15th, 1916 - The Evening Journal

In 1917 Irenee duPont and his brother Pierre S. duPont purchased the property that the mill was on and donated it to the City of Wilmington. This is now the site of Canby County Park, along Maryland Ave. Apparently the purchase did not include the actual mill...

October 11th, 1917 - The Evening Journal

...as the mill continued to be operated for six more years.

October 15th, 1917 - The Evening Journal

And, once again, an attempt was made to offer the mill at public auction...

November 26, 1919 - The Evening Journal

...but, once again there was not much interest.

November 29th, 1919 - The Evening Journal

The old Richardson Mill was finally razed in 1923, and one of the millstones was put on permanent display alongside of Maryland Ave. The inscription reads:


RICHARDSON MILL

THIS MILL STONE, FOR MANY YEARS, WAS USED IN THE

RICHARDSON MILL LOCATED ALONG LITTLE MILL

CREEK ABOUT 100 YARDS FROM THIS SPOT.

THIS MILL SITE WAS ONE THE FIRST USED IN

DELAWARE.

FROM BEFORE 1684 UNTIL 1923 MILLS WERE IN

OPERATION ALONG THE STREAM IN THIS VICINITY.






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