THE OLD MILL ON NAAMAN’S CREEK
It appears that the first owner of the property where the town of Claymont now stands was a Mr. Jasper Yeates. In the book; The Descendants of Joran Kyn of New Sweden, By Gregory B. Keen, it states that: “In 1697 Mr. Jasper Yeates purchased the mills and property at the mouth of Naaman's Creek, in New Castle County, and the following year bought lands in Chester, erected extensive granaries on the creek, and established a large bakery
Mr. Yeates was rated one of the wealthier inhabitants of Philadelphia in the Tax List of 1693, and resided at that time in a house on the east side of Front Street, between Walnut and Spruce, afterwards sold by him to Governor Markham, who occupied it until his death. Before the close of this year  he removed to Chester County, as appears from a deed for land below New Castle, called "Markham's Hope," purchased by him, at that date, from Governor Markham.”
Ed. note: In my own research of the deeds, it appears to me that seven hundred acres in that area was granted to Jasper Yeates on August 15th, 1701 by none other than William Penn. One way or another, Jasper Yeates acquired the property about 1700.
When the survey of the circle line was done in 1701, forming the boundary between Delaware and Pennsylvania (and a bit of New Jersey,) the grist mill and house of Jasper Yeates was shown at that location on Naaman’s Creek. After Mr. Yeates death, his daughter Mary King had to sell part of the property ( …all that Water, Corn or Grist Mill, situate on Naamans Creek, commonly called or known by the name of Naamans Creek Mill) to Thomas Robinson on April 17th 1750 “for the consideration of six hundred and twenty pounds, grant, bargain and sell the said seventeen two and thirtieth parts of the said mill land and premises…” (Ed. Note: I’ve read that deed over and over and it keeps repeating, seventeen two and thirtieth parts. Not being a real estate lawyer, I don’t understand that part of it. If you know, leave a comment below.)
When the survey of the circle line was done in 1701, forming the boundary between Delaware and Pennsylvania (and a bit of New Jersey,) the grist mill and house of Jasper Yeates was shown at that location on Naaman’s Creek. After Mr. Yeates death, his daughter Mary King sold the property ( …all that Water, Corn or Grist Mill, situate on Naamans Creek, commonly called or known by the name of Naamans Creek Mill) to Thomas Robinson on April 17th 1750 for five pounds.
In the mid 1700s a new single-story stone mill was built on the site by Samuel Hendrickson. Later, over a period of time, two stories of brick were added. Early waterflow in Naaman’s Creek was much stronger than now, and the mill was used extensively.
The location of the mill on Naaman’s Creek was only about 600 yards upstream from where it flows into the Delaware river, close to present day Rt-13 (which then was known as the Queens Road). In the mid-1700s a new single-story stone mill was built by Samuel Hendrickson. Later, over a period of time, two stories of brick were added. Early waterflow in Naaman’s Creek was much stronger than now, and the mill was used extensively.
On May 13th, 1835 Robert and George W. Churchman, of Darby, Pa., purchased from Caleb Churchman, five acres and 70 perches, together with… “the water, Grist Mills, Saw Mills, buildings, improvements, ways, dams, waters, water courses, rights,” etc. on Naaman’s Creek and George moved to Delaware to manage them. He added a large lumber mill on the property and the entire setup prospered. He soon enlarged and improved the entire operation, such that it was said to be the most complete industry of the kind in the state. Large quantities of grain were brought long distances to the mill, were ground into flour and then loaded directly onto sloops that transported it to the Philadelphia market, only about 20 miles up the Delaware River. To facilitate this commerce a brick warehouse was built along the creek. He built quite a number of the first homes in the area and soon decided that the town was large enough to have a name of its own. Claymont was so-named in 1856 upon the efforts of the wife of Reverend Clemson, pastor of the Episcopal church, after they had relocated from their family plantation, Claymont Court, in Charles Town, West Virginia. Claymont Historical Society
Churchman became interested in the development of the lumber interests of Central Pennsylvania. He purchased large tracts of timber-land in Cameron and Clearfield Counties and at once began operations. He spent much time in the lumber region, superintending the work of felling the trees, hewing the logs into square timber and forming the rafts which were conveyed down the Susquehanna. He was very successful in this business and soon made a fortune, all of which was lost by a freshet [flood] on the Susquehanna, the entire production of one year having floated down the river. Much of his valuable timber lands were yet uncleared and his credit was good. He went diligently to work, and within a very few years recovered from his disaster. He continued with great success in the business and, at the time of his death, owned pine and hemlock timber lands in Central Pennsylvania to the value of two hundred thousand dollars.
The preparation of this timber for the market was an exceedingly interesting and profitable business, and in the early years of George W. Churchman's career was one of the chief industries of the great State of Pennsylvania. The timber came out of the mountain districts down the small streams in rafts to Lock Haven, then the greatest lumber market in the United States. From this point they were floated in charge of pilots, with the current down the Susquehanna to Marietta, where new pilots took charge and safely steered them through the dangerous rapids of the river to Peach Bottom. From thence other men piloted them to Port Deposit, the place of delivery, and the head of tide-water on the Susquehanna. From this point the rafts were towed down the Chesapeake Bay, up Elk River into Back Creek, where they were made into "dockings'' of sufficient size and length to readily pass through the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal and its locks, to Delaware City and thence up the river. Nearly all rafts were sold by their owners at Lock Haven or Marietta, both of which were lively business towns, during the rafting season of the early spring months of each year. George W. Churchman prepared thousands of rafts on his lands in Pennsylvania, and sold them to the trade in New York, Philadelphia, Wilmington and elsewhere. The rafts sold in New York were towed up the Delaware to Bordentown, and from thence taken through the Delaware and Raritan Canal to their place of destination. A large amount of his own timber he conveyed in rafts to his saw-mill on Naaman's Creek, and there manufactured them into lumber on orders from nearly all of the leading ship-builders and manufacturing establishments in Wilmington and the surrounding country. He also sold square timber and lumber to the Philadelphia and Chester market.
In politics George W. Churchman had originally been a stanch Whig, and later was the founder of the "American Party" in Brandywine Hundred, also known as the “Know-Nothing Party.” When the Republican Party was organized, he became an earnest advocate of its policy and principles, and continued a member of that party through the remainder of his life.
He was a member of the Society of Friends, and inherited the strong traits and marked characteristics of that religious people. With all his neighbors and associates, of all political parties or religious sects, he was universally popular and very highly esteemed. Especially was this the case in Brandywine Hundred, where he spent most of his useful life. He was instrumental in securing the establishment of a post-office and railway station at Naaman's Creek (now Claymont) and erected nearly all of the first houses in the village.
His extensive business operations brought him into close relation and intimacy with a great many prominent business men of Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, in all of which states he was known as an upright man of the highest honor and most sterling integrity. His indomitable energy, rare tact and comprehensive knowledge of the lumber trade made him one of the most prominent business men of his day in Delaware. In 1867 he moved to Wilmington, and retired two years later. He died in 1871.
His sons, Caleb and William continued the business for a year, when William purchased Caleb’s share, but they soon renewed their partnership.
By 1876 F. A. & G. Churchman was bankrupt.
By 1888 the Naaman’s Creek lumber mill had been abandoned, but the grist-mill, supplied with improved machinery, was still in operation.