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The Olde Mills of St. Georges Hundred - Part II

Shallcross Lake

St. Georges Hundred Industries (1888)

In 1733 John Vance purchased a tract of land, which he conveyed to his father, Samuel, September 21, 1759, and on which, at the latter date, was erected a grist-mill. On May 19, 1766, John Jones purchased the mill of Samuel Vance. On May 1, 1799, it was purchased by Ebenezer Rothwell of Sheriff Bines, who sold it as the property of John Burgess. On March 25, 1800, it was sold by Rothwell to William Vandegrift, who erected a new mill. It was next owned by John Cannon, who sold to Vandergrift and Eccles about 1845. They operated the mill until 1860, when they conveyed it to Charles F. Smith, by whom it was sold to William H. Voshall & Brother, in December, 1886. It was enlarged by them and fitted up with a complete set of rollers. It is now a three and a half-story building [1888], thirty by forty feet. It has a capacity of forty barrels in twenty-four hours. They are now prepared to do both merchant and custom work.

Source: History of Delaware, 1609-1888, Volume I, by J. Thomas Scharf – 1888

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The grist roller mill, now operated by James T. Shallcross, was first built in 1759 by Samuel Vance. William Vandegrift erected a new mill in 1800. It is a three and one-half story building 30x40 feet, and has a daily capacity of about forty barrels.

Source: History of the State of Delaware, vol. II, by Henry C. Conrad -- 1908

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Shallcross Lake - Google Earth

Shallcross Dam, looking East
Shallcross Dam, looking West - Google Earth

Shallcross Lake is located in the north branch of Drawyers Creek, only a mile and a half upstream from where Rt-13 and Rt-1 cross the creek. It can be easily accessed from Rt-1 at Exit-142 by taking Rt-896 west-bound for .6 miles and turning left on Shallcross Lake Road. You will cross the dam in less than a mile. If you visit, remember that all of Shallcross Lake is private property.

The property where Shallcross lake is now located was purchased in 1733 by John Vance, which he conveyed to his father, Samuel on September 21, 1759. Samuel Vance eventually built a dam across Drawyers Creek and erected a grist mill, which he sold it to Mr. John Jones on May 19th, 1766.

On May 1st, 1799, it was sold by Sheriff Bines as the property of John Burgess to Ebenezer Rothwell. Less than a year later, on March 25, 1800, Rothwell sold the property to William Vandegrift, who built a new mill.

It was next owned by John Cannon, who sold it to Vandergrift and Eccles about 1845.

They operated the mill until 1860, when they conveyed it to Charles F. Smith. In April of 1877 the Levy court appropriated $300 to repair the Smith’s Mill dam.

In November of 1884 the mill was being rented by William H. Voshell & Brother, but they soon took over ownership of the Shakespeare Mill in Dover and the Chas. Smith Mill was then rented by Henry B. Rhodes.

In August, 1888, a tornado touched down near Chas. Smith’s Mill and destroyed the barn of James T. Shallcross, just north of the mill. Shallcross was a large-scale farmer that owned hundreds of acres of cropland all around the lake.

William Voshell’s large home was destroyed by a fire in Oct of 1896.

A Note of Clarification: Wm. Voshell rented Chas. Smith's mill and later took over ownership of the mill in Dover, but apparently he still lived in his house near Shallcross Lake. It also appears that he owned the nearby Brick Mill at about the same time, so records can be confusing.

It also appears as though James T. Shallcross must have purchased the "Shallcross Lake" property sometime in the late 1880s or early 1890s, but I have searched through literally scores of Shallcross deeds and have been unable to find out when, or even IF, he actually did buy the mill and/or the lake.

Beginning about October of 1901 the New Castle County Levy Court spent a good deal of time trying to decide if the Levy Court should make repairs to the privately owned Voshell (Brick Mill) and Shallcross dams, realizing that whatever decision they made would set a precedence for many other privately owned dams county and even state wide.

2 October 1901 - The Morning News
9 October 1901 - The Morning News

21 March 1903 - The Morning News

15 September 1903 - The Morning News

21 July 1891 - The Evening Journal

"Belleview" The home of Sereck Fox Shallcross, and later James T. Shallcross

James T. Shallcross died of pneumonia at his home on January 26th, 1911. At the time of his death, he owned 1100 acres of farmland and had served two terms in the State Legislature, in 1898 and 1900.

The Delaware Angler’s Association was formed in March of 1904 to give better protection to game fish. In April of 1921 it became the Delaware Anglers and Gunners Club and they purchased the Shallcross Pond and ten acres associated with it.

By September the association came to an agreement with the Levy Court to split the cost of repairs to the Shallcross Lake dam.

25 May 1918 - The Morning News

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Next time, in two weeks, we will leave St. Georges Hundred and move our research to discover the mills that were, or in at least in one case, still are in Pencader Hundred.

Cooch-Dayett Mills - Delaware Public Archives

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