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The Old Mills on Cedar Creek, part III

The Cedar Creek Millponds

This week we're finally going to finish our trip up Cedar Creek, and we'll visit the last two, no, make that the last three mill sites.

Clendaniel Pond

Clendaniel's Pond - June 2021 - Steve Childers

"About 1780 Bethuel Watson erected a grist-mill on the north-fork of Cedar Creek. He died of Typhoid in 1857 and his wife, Ruth Tharp Watson, married shipbuilder Manlove Carlisle. The mill was inherited by his daughter Sarah, who married Lawrence Riley. After the death of Riley, the mill came into the possession of Trustan P. McColley, by whom it was sold in 1848 to local miller Lemuel B. Shockley. Lemuel had owned Cubbage Mill from 1825 – 1833 and then in 1838 he had briefly owned Cedar Creek Mill (Swiggett’s Mill).

After Lemuel died without a will his son Elias Shockley bought the mill at Sheriff’s sale in 1880, but less than a month later a huge and devastating 5,000 acre woods fire destroyed Elias Shockley’s mill. Elias rebuilt the mill over the course of the next year and he still owned it 1888. The grinding was done by burr, and was mostly custom work."

“History of Delaware, 1609-1888, by J. Thomas Scharf”

"Lincoln Mill"- Delaware Public Archives

Apparently Mr. Mark L. Davis bought the mill, probably the early 1890s. However, it was as an investment and Mr. Davis hired Willard H. Clendaniel to operate the mill. Mark Davis was a clothier (tailor) with a store in Milford. In September 1898 he was elected as a State Representive, but in the spring of 1899 Rep. Mark L. Davis was accused in court of buying votes. He was aquitted but he was again taken to court on the same charges in 1910 and yet again in 1912, but was always aquitted. After the acquittal the key witness that had testified for the prosecution was charged with perjury. Hmmm?

Willard H. Clendaniel was born in 1869 to Jacob and Mary S. Clendaniel. He married Sarah Sockrider on Feb. 18th, 1885, but she died on March 25, 1886, perhaps in childbirth. Willard remarried to Mary Macqueen in 1888. Willard was listed in U.S. census records as a miller in 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930. Of course, this doesn't mean that he owned a mill, only that he was a miller. Maybe he bought the mill from Davis or maybe he didn't. I was never able to find out for sure but I strongly suspect that he bought the mill in the early 20th century.

Willard H. and Sarah Clendaniel - circa 1885 -

A humorous incident involving Willard Clendaniel happened in 1899 that began in Mark Davis' mill.

A "prepossessing woman" visited the mill one day. Miller Willard Clendaniel had a sore finger and as the young woman was a trained nurse, she dressed the finger and pinned the bandage with a safety pin. "When he went home he had to explain the presence of the safety pin and the explanation seemed to arouse his wife's jealousy." When the young woman returned to Philadelphia she received a number of "letters and valentines," all mailed at the Milford post office. They were turned over to the postal inspector who traced them back to Mrs. Mary Clendaniel.

At a hearing before a United States Commissioner bail was set at $500, and Mr. Clendaniel "agreed to become his wife's security; but soon afterwards he seemed to repent of his offer and then followed a scene of exposing family skeletons by husband and wife that portended a poor outcome. At this juncture their little girl began to take the part of peacemaker, going first to one and then the other of her parents she soon had both weeping and in the flow of tender feelings, their dissentions were patched up. Clendaniel became his wife's bondsman and husband, wife and child left for home together."

In August of 1904 the News Journal reported that "Willard Morgan and Co. of Milford were awarded a contract to rebuild the John Clendaniel Mill near Lincoln City." It is not known if the rebuild was because of a fire, flood damage or perhaps just an updating of the 124 year old mill, and I was unable to find out who "John" Clendaniel was.

On May 2nd in 1916 another newspaper item stated: "Willard H. Clendaniel, a mill owner from Lincoln, announces his candidacy for Sheriff of Sussex county, subject to the decision of the voters. Mr. Clendaniel has always been a strong supporter of the party." There were a number of candidates for the office and a Joseph M. Donoway was elected.

In 1914 it was mentioned on Clendaniel's 45th birthday that he had been a “former Sussex County Collector of Taxes.”

Willard H. Clendaniel died on April 2nd, 1936.

Hudson Pond

Hudson Pond from Rt 113 (Dupont Highway)

The next mill above [Clendaniel's Pond] was early owned by Benjamin Hudson and later passed to his son, Clement H. Hudson. In 1871, he sold the 460 acre property to Jehu H. Clendaniel for $4,700, the mill was rebuilt in 1878 and consisted of a corn grinding mill and a saw-mill. At the opposite end of the dam an old saw-mill had formerly stood.

The farm passed to Samuel Clendaniel in 1877 and his nephew George acquired the farm in 1906.

In 1912 Civil War veteran Jehu Clendaniel sued the Coleman duPont Road, Inc and Judge Conrad in an attempt to stop condemnation of a 200 foot swath through his property for the Dupont Highway. The road project was held up for more than two years until the Delaware Supreme Court came to a conclusion in favor of the defendants, even though Jehu had died on June 25th in 1913 at the age of 85. The highway went through as planned and cut right across the upper end of Hudson's Pond.

"The last mill on this stream, [a short distance upstream from Hudson Mill,] was a saw-mill owned in 1830 by William Deputy. After his death it was inherited by his daughter Elizabeth, who married Isaac Betts. It next came into the possession of William Betts and Samuel Clendaniel, and was last operated about 1872."

“History of Delaware, 1609-1888, by J. Thomas Scharf”


Today we introduce something new to Grist from Abbotts Mill, called:


The Chesapeake-Delaware Peninsular Divide

I think we are all aware of the Continental Divide, that high point of the Rocky Mountains that separates the water that runs to the Pacific Ocean from the water that makes it's way to the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean. Then there is what's called the Eastern Continental Divide down the Appalachian Mountains that separates the easterly Atlantic Seaboard watershed from the westerly Gulf of Mexico watershed.

Much closer to home there is the Chesapeake-Delaware Peninsular Divide, a much less obvious area that separates the creeks, branches and rivers that flow westerly into the Chesapeake Bay from the ones that flow easterly into the Delaware Bay or the Atlantic Ocean. One would think that the divide should be close to the middle of the peninsula, say somewhere near the Maryland State line, but that isn't the case at all. In Kent County the divide starts out about halfway between Hartly and Kenton, passes close to Hazlettville and just west of Woodside and then, just south of Harrington it crosses Rt. 13 and enters Sussex county near Staytonville. The divide makes it's way across Rt. 113 at it's intersection with Rt. 16 and passes through downtown Ellendale and Georgetown to finally enter Maryland a couple of miles west of Selbyville.

So, what's this got to do with mills? Well, if we were to look at a map showing where the mills were in Kent and Sussex counties we would quickly notice that there were no water-powered mills anywhere near the Chesapeake-Delaware Peninsular Divide. Mills need a good quantity of flowing water, and at any divide the waterways naturally are not very big yet. The farther one gets from the divide, the more abundant is the flowing water.

Some towns on or near the divide did have mills, but they were not powered by water. Examples are the mills that were once in the towns of Felton and Harrington, both near the divide and both powered either by diesel engines, steam engines or electricity.

Chesapeake-Delaware Peninsular divide, Chesapeake Bay watersheds in gray and Delaware Bay in tan.

Next time, in two weeks, I'll take you to visit the two mills that were on

Prime Hook Creek, about three miles north of Milton.


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