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The Mill at Lum's Pond

Samuel Clement purchased property in the southern part of Pencader Hundred from Andrew Peterson in 1724. He built a small, brick house and by 1736 he had built a dam across St. Georges Creek and had established a grist mill, and probably a saw mill, on the site. In 1775 several inhabitants of St. Georges Hundred petitioned for the construction of a road to the mill owned by the “heirs or representatives” of Samuel Clement. Even though the mills operated for close to a hundred years, very little was ever written about them.

Lum's Mill House - SE corner - unknown date

The house on the site is another story (no pun intended.) Samuel Clement and his family lived in it for close to 60 years, and it’s still there, almost three hundred years later. As a matter of fact, the State of Delaware will let you live in it for free, for the rest of your life. However, it’s a bit of a fixer-upper, as the pictures below will show, and you would be expected to do the fixing-up. See the Delaware State Parks Curatorship Program website below for more information.


Samuel Davies, a noted evangelical Presbyterian pastor and educator and one time president of what became Princeton University, is said to have once lived in the house, and may have even been born there.


During the American Revolution, British general Charles Gray took up quarters in the house on the night of September 2nd, 1777. The next day the British forces met William Maxwell's light infantry force in a skirmish at Cooch's Bridge, the only Revolutionary War battle fought in Delaware.

Front porch - 1967 - Delaware Public Archives


Front and east end - 1976 - Delaware Public Archives
Lum's Mill House as it now looks - front and east end - (Taken from the shoulder of Rt-71, - Red Lion Road)

By the conclusion of the American Revolutionary in 1783, the Lum's mill house belonged to Isaac Allman. Upon Allman’s death in 1802, the inventory made of Isaac Allman’s property on December 8, 1804 included: wheat flour stored in the mill and 145 bushels of wheat that were sold. Other quantities listed in the inventory include 15 bushels of rye, 247.5 bushels of corn, and 5.5 bushels of buckwheat, all indicating that the mill was still in use, at least up to that time.

The land then passed to his son-in-law John Lum and in turn the land became the property of Isaac Allman’s grandson, also named John Lum. The house, originally a small one-story, three-bay building, was renovated by John Lum after 1809 into a two-story, three-bay structure.


Back and west end - 1967 - Delaware Public Archives


Back and west end - 1976 - Delaware Public Archives
Lum's Mill House as it now looks- back and west end - (Rt-71, Red Lion Road, is in the background)
Lum's Mill House - Interior entry
Lum's Mill House - upstairs hallway
Lum's Mill House - upstairs bedroom with fireplace
Lum's Mill House - upstairs bedroom

In 1802 Maryland and Delaware formed a joined effort to dig a canal across the peninsula, but the initiative ultimately fell apart. Finally, starting in 1822 when the federal government decided to help, a venture was formed, also funded by the two states and private investors. Two years later, 2,600 laborers began to dig the canal along its current route using hand tools and the canal was opened for traffic in 1829. The water level in the canal was 10 feet deep and 66 feet wide. Both ends were at sea level, but the center "summit" section, almost nine miles long, was 16-20 feet higher and was reached by locks at each end. The Lum’s Millpond supplied water for the summit section.


A barge entering the 66 foot wide C&D Canal - ca. late 1800s
The "Penn" approaching Buck Bridge, DE
"Buck Bridge" swing bridge, C&D Canal
The "Penn" leaving the Chesapeake City lock - ca.1912

Isaac Allman Lum, took over the mill after John Lum’s son death and later, in 1838, sold a portion of his land to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company for $575.00.


Finally, in 1919, the federal government bought the privately held canal and began making improvements. After eight years of work, it was reopened to sea-level traffic in 1927, 98 years after the canal first opened.

Widening and deepening the canal between 1919 and 1927

Since then, it has been expanded and redesigned several times, with dangerous bends in the route straightened and the bed dredged to accommodate larger vessels. Today, the canal is 35 feet deep, 450 feet wide at the waterline and 14 miles long. The C&D Canal is now one of the busiest in the United States.


The Morning News - June 12th 1881

The Evening Journal - December 12th, 1918

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Sources

For more information about the Delaware State Parks Curatorship Program, visit: https://destateparks.com/Curator/LumsMill

The National Register of Historic Places

A Brief History of The C&D Canal - by Dick Cooper

History of the Lums Mill House at Lums Pond State Park - by Erin Tighe and Lauren Barczak

Society of Architectural Historians - SAH - Lum House (Lums Mill House, Samuel Davies House) - Author: W. Barksdale Maynard

Property History Summary - Lum (Davies) House - compiled by Edward F. Heite

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Eastcoast Trivia Question:

The King's Highway was a roughly 1,300-mile road laid out from 1650 to 1735 in the American colonies. It was built on the order of King Charles II of England, who directed his colonial governors to link Charleston, South Carolina, and Boston, Massachusetts. It passed through New Castle county, roughly following the same route as Rt-13/Rt-40.

During at least a few years of that time-span, it was known by another name. What was it known as? Leave your guesses below.

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Abbott's Mill and the millpond , early on 2/1/2023 - photo by Mike Rivera

Abbott's Millpond , early on 2/1/2023 - photo by Mike Rivera


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