The Olde Mills of St. Georges Hundred, part I
Updated: Jul 27, 2022
The Brick Mill - On May 13, 1769, Jonas Preston petitions the court for a condemnation of mill land. He says in his petition that he has a tract of land on the north side of the main branch of Drawyer's Creek and adjoining the same, whereon he doth intend to erect and build a ''water grist-mill" and cannot secure sufficient water-rights without condemnation. A condemnation of six acres on the stream, at the place desired, was granted. The mill was erected by him, and at his death devised to his wife, Ann, who afterwards married Isaac Eyre. By them it was conveyed to Robert McMurphy, August 1, 1776. On August 29, 1811, Samuel Thomas became the owner, and, after his death, it descended to his son, Samuel, and afterwards to David W. Thomas, who sold the mill to Israel Townsend. In 1844 it was operated by Cyrus Tatnam, who also conducted it for some time afterwards. On May 26, 1868, it was sold by Sheriff Herbert as the property of Jno. B. Lewis, and purchased by James A. Barton. Barton, in October, 1873, sold the property to J. B. Deakyne, who conveyed it to J. Fletcher Deakyne, the present owner , in February, 1882. It is a two-story brick building, with basement and attic. The capacity is twenty-five barrels of flour and two hundred bushels of feed per day of twenty-four hours. A twenty-five horse-power engine is attached with which to run the mill when the water is low. The grinding is done by burr, and the products are mostly consumed in the vicinity.
Biddles Corner The quarter acre, also on Scott's run was sold March 12, 1716, by Quin Anderson to John Stewart with liberty "to build or cause to be erected or built a Fulling mill and to dig a race for the use of the saw mill, and to drown as much Land as shall be need full and required," which liberty he took. This also came to McAlpine, who became involved financially and was closed out by the sheriff. This mill was near Fiddlers Bridge, and descended to David W. Thomas, by whom it was sold to Jacob Vandegrift, on the 3rd of April, 1817. On March 15, 1813, Curtis Bowman became the owner. The land on which the mill stood is now owned  by George W. Townsend. It was last successfully operated during the ownership of McDowell.
David Thomas in 1761, owned a mill seat in St. Georges, which was owned by the family until the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal was constructed when the property was bought by the Company.
Source: History of Delaware, 1609-1888, Volume I, by J. Thomas Scharf - 1888
The southern boundary of St. Georges Hundred is the Appoquinimink River, on which is Silver Lake. (Sometime I’ll have to do a post on all the “Silver Lakes” in Delaware. It seems as if every community has one of their own and it can get very confusing.) This Silver Lake's dam is now crossed by Silver Lake Road, less than a mile from the Noxon pond dam and st outside of the Middletown town limits..
On Beers’ 1868 map of the Delaware hundred’s, the mill is labeled “Drummond’s Mill,” owned by Mr. J. Drummond, but by 1888, and for many years thereafter, it was known as the "Willow Grove Mill." In an interesting real estate transaction reported in “The Morning Herald” on 15 Nov. 1875, J. B. Fenimore sold his lumber yard and factory in MIddletown for $8,500 and bought John Drummond’s Mill for $15,000. John Drummond, in turn, purchased the farm of the late Victor Green for $28,406. J. B. Fenimore owned the mill until his death on June 2, 1886 and in the early 1900s the mill was owned by David R. Reese.
In 1928 the People's National Bank of Middletown closed, due to a misappropriation of funds just before the onset of the Great Depression. At the time, the bank held the title for the Willow Grove mill, formerly owned by Mr. Reese.
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"The Brick Mill, one Sheriff's sale after another"
Augustine Herman, of Bohemia Manor, in 1671, made claim to all the land in St. Georges Hundred; he called it St. Augustine Manor: his title however was found invalid, and in 1686 it was resurveyed to his son, Casparus or Jasper Herman. Edmund Cantwell, Samuel Vance, Peter Alrich and Edward Green.
Special mention is made of two hundred acres on both sides of Drawyers Creek, deeded to Cantwell and Herman “for the use of a water mill which said Cantwell and Herman intended to erect for the good of ye inhabitants.” Where Voshell’s mill now stands is where they built the first mill, and there has been one there ever since.
Source: Mrs. W. B. Watkins of Odessa,
“ St. Georges and Appoquinimink, History of these Old Hundreds…” The News Journal – July 25, 1916
On May 13, 1769, Jonas Preston petitioned the court for a condemnation of land for a millpond. He says he has a tract of land adjoining the north side of the main branch of Drawyer’s Creek where he intends to erect a “water grist-mill”. This location is about 2.3 miles up-stream from the present Rt-13 and Rt-1 bridges over Drawyer’s Creek. Mr. Preston tells the court that he can’t secure sufficient water- rights without condemnation of six acres, and the court grants the request.
Jonas Preston builds the mill and upon his death it falls to his wife, Ann, who later marries Isaac Eyre. They eventually, on August 1st, 1776, sell the mill to Robert McMurphy.
Samuel Thomas became the owner on August 29, 1811 and after his death it descended to his son, also named Samuel.
The next owner was David W. Thomas, who sold the mill to Israel Townsend. In 1844, and for some time afterwards, it was being operated by Cyrus Tatnam.
The 1st Sheriff's Sale was to settle a disagreement between Israel Townsend and David W. Thomas. The Brick Mill and over 121 acres of land were sold at Public Venue on December 16th, 1864 by Trustee George B. Rodney, apparently to Mr. John B. Lewis.
The 2nd Sheriff's Sale of the property took place three and a half years later, on May 26, 1868, when the Brick Mill was sold by Sheriff Herbert as the property of John B. Lewis and Elizabeth Lewis, and was then purchased by James A. Barton.
On October 13th, 1873 Barton sold the Brick Mill and the 23 acre property to Joseph B. Deakyne for $9,750, Nine years later, on Valentines Day, February 14th, 1882, J. B. Deakyne sold it to his son, Joseph Fletcher Deakyne for $2,000.
Sheriff's Sale #3 took place on January 25, 1894, when the Brick Mill, the property of Joseph F. Deakyne, was sold by Sheriff Gould to Thomas Williams for $5,000 to settle a $5,500 debt. The sale included "the mill, a brick dwelling, other structures and 23 acres of land."
On September the 8th, 1911 William H. Voshell and his wife Sallie sold the Brick Mill to their daughter-in-law, Myrtle Brodbeck Voshell, wife of their son Roy D. Voshell, for $4,000.
Then two years later, on June 7th, 1913 Roy and Myrtle sold the Brick Mill to James A. Hastings for $5,000.
James A. Hastings then sold it to John Heldmyer Jr. in February of 1916 and rented the mill of H. E. Moore, just south of Dover.
On October 23, 1917 the area was hit with severe rainfall that damaged crops and washed out the dam at the Brick Mill, which had just recently been purchased by a Mr. Philips.
Five months after the dam washed out Sheriff's Sale #4 took place, on March 2nd, 1918, when Sheriff Theodore W. Francis sold the Brick Mill and 23 acres of land belonging Sallie C. Voshell and William H. Voshell to Lester L. Carlisle for $2,100.
(I know this doesn't add up, the Voshells had sold the mill to their son and Daughter-in-law in 1911, but here's evidence:
Sheriff's Sale #5 was on Halloween, October 31st, 1931 when the Brick Mill was once again sold, this time by Sheriff Irvin J. Hollingsworth.
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Except for being constructed of brick, the layout in Brick Mill was typical for small, early mills. As Thomas Scharf described in 1888, it had two stories, plus a basement and an attic. The millstones would have been on the first floor.
In 1888 it had a capacity of about a barrel of flour an hour, or about eight busheld of live- stock feed an hour. It was equipped with a 25 hp engine (probably diesel) for use when the water level in the millpond got low. In 1888 grinding was done by burr, meaning grinding stones, as opposed to roller mills, and the finished products were consumed locally, rather than being shipped to other cities.
The above newspaper article dated October 25, 1917 states that Mr. Philips had added much new machinery, so it is quite possible that roller mills were put in about then to keep up with competition from other nearby mills that were producing "pure, white flour."
On March 7th, 1925, William Taylor sold the mill to George B. Schreppler. Five years later, on March 21, 1930, the Sunny Bank Poultry Farms, Inc. bought the Brick Mill property from Schreppler.
As is often the case, the paper trail suddenly ends and we're left wondering what became of the "Brick Mill." It must have been a very well known local landmark, as there are now quite a number of places named for it. As you leave Odessa on Rt 299, toward Middletown, the first intersection past the Wawa is Brick Mill Road. Turn right and you will soon pass the Brick Mill Early Childhood Center and the Brick Mill Elementary School, both on the right. Continue, and on the left is "Brick Mill Farm", a large residential developement, in the center of which is Brick Mill Circle. The actual "Old Brick Mill" was once on the east side of the road about half-way between the school and East Manheim Drive, leading into Brick Mill Farm
Many thanks to Tamra Pearson at the Corbit-Calloway Memorial Library in Odessa for finding the picture of the Brick Mill in a 1975 slide presentation called: "Odessa, Yesterday and Today" by the Corbit-Calloway Memorial Library.
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Next time I'll finish up with St. Georges Hundred as we learn more about the mill and millers on nearby Shallcross Pond.