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White Clay Creek Hundred Mills - part IV

Harmony Mills

A lot of the following text is straight out of Thomas Scharf's 1888 "History of Delaware".

I modified and added to some passages to better fit this posting.

In 1739, Joseph Rotheram purchased at sheriff’s sale, a tract of land on which was situated a saw-mill and grist-mill. In 1775, this tract by descent and purchase vested in his son Joseph, who operated the mills until his death. Joseph Rotheram 's daughter, Abigail, married Joseph England II, proprietor of the next mill upstream on White Clay Creek, now known as the Red Mill (on Red Mill Road, of course.)

The Rotheram Mill was sold by Joseph Rotheram, Jr’s executors in 1795 to Thomas Latimer, Joseph Israel and Henry Geddis. The mills in 1802 were sold by Israel to James Price and his wife Margaret Tatnall. James Price was the great-great grandson of Colonel John Hyland of "Harmony Hall," Cecil County, Maryland. It is said that Price changed the name of the old Rotheram Mill to "Harmony Mills for that reason, but as the following ad indicates, it was already known by that name when he acquired it in 1802.

January 31st, 1802 - Lancaster Intelligencer

The mill was put up for sale by Price in 1829, but apparently it didn't sell.

March 17th, 1829 - Delaware Journal

After James Price’s death in April of 1840, the mill passed to his daughter, Mary Canby, and her husband, Edmund L. Canby.

December 30th, 1874 - Wilmington Daily Commercial

December 21, 1875 - The News Journal

The old saw-mill fell into disuse, and on September 29th, 1876 the old, stone grist-mill burned, and was never rebuilt.

October 2nd, 1876 - The Morning Herald

October 23rd, 1882 - The Daily Republican

Mary T. Canby died on December 26, 1886 in Wilmington. She was 78 years old.

The land was bought for $10,000 in December of 1886 by William F. Smalley, who reportedly had a warehouse on it. After his death, his son Walter F. Smalley, sold the property to Frank A. Gifford for $11,500.


Independence Mill

About 1800 a mill was erected near Stanton station by Wm. T. Smith and Samuel Richards. In 1835 it was purchased by George Platt, and was managed by him until July 16, 1843, when it was purchased by Andrew C. Gray. While owned by Mr. Gray, the mill was burned. Shortly afterwards the site and land connected with it were sold to the Farmer’s Bank of the State of Delaware. Jesse Sharp purchased the tract from the directors of the bank, July 2, 1861, and conveyed it to William Dean on June 16, 1864. On July 18th, 1866 William Dean sold the land to Ashton Butterworth and John Pilling, trustees. A cotton-factory was erected and conducted for several years under the name of A. Butterworth & Company. The building was then refitted with machinery for the manufacture of woolen goods, and in 1873 was made a part of the Kiamensi Woolen Mill. The main building was one hundred by sixty feet, two and a half stories high, and was built of brick. The picker-house was thirty-five feet square and one story high. In the late 1880s it was the last water power mill on the White Clay Creek, and was used solely for carding and spinning. Thirty-five operators were then employed.

Christiana Mills, (aka Buford Mills, Smalleys Mills)

On November 26, 1705, Col. John French, then sheriff of New Castle County, purchased a tract of land containing four acres, and the same year dug a mill-race and erected a grist and a bolting-mill. That land, with some other afterwards purchased, he conveyed to Captain William Battell, June, 1723. For seven years Captain Battell conducted the mills, then known as Battell’s Mills, and November 25, 1725, desired "WB" to be recorded as his brand-mark.

On August 1st, 1730, Arthur Clayton and Robert Chapman purchased from Battell five hundred acres of land, together with the grist and bolting-mills and other improvements. That land was situated on Christiana Creek, between Rum Branch and the east side of Latham’s Run, now Leatherman’s Run. On March 19, 1731, Chapman sold his one-half interest to Arthur Clayton, thus vesting in him the whole title. That tract was sold by Henry Newton Sheriff, and purchased by Joseph Peace, a miller, of Trenton, N.J., the deed bearing the date of May 24, 1738. On July 4, 1741, Joseph Peace received a new warrant and resurvey for five hundred acres. On September 1, 1742, Joseph Peace conveyed that estate to Francis Bowers. At that time a distillery had also been erected.

In 1745, William Patterson purchased from Bowers all the land, mills, bolting-mills, stills, still-houses and other buildings. William Patterson owned the entire estate until July 28, 1780, when he sold two hundred and ninety-two acres, containing the mills, etc., to Samuel Patterson, his son, who conveyed the same to Joseph Israel, of Philadelphia, on January 31, 1784. In 1795, Mr. Israel built the gristmill which was still in use one hundred years later. The mill was a three-story building, with a basement and attic, and was fifty feet by seventy-five feet.

The 77 acre property and the mill were sold to William Inskip on April 2nd, 1841. Inskip sold it to James H. Smalley, who in turn conveyed it to Wm. F. Smalley on May 5th, 1860.

In 1872 Thomas Brown started manufacturing wheel spokes at Smalley's Mill, a business that lasted for at least five years.

William Smalley sold "the land, houses, barn, mill, messuages and the hereditaments and premises..." to Emily Florence Platt, wife of John E. V. Platt, for $25,000 on October 25th, 1883. In that same year it was leased by Platt & Elkinton, and called the Buford Mills. In 1886 John Pyle purchased the mill and operated it for about one year.

It was refitted with modern machinery and converted into a full roller-mill, with a steam-engine for use when the water was deficient. The grist mill had a capacity of fifty barrels per day and was run full time, requiring four men to operate it per shift. The flour was manufactured chiefly for local consumption and in the late 1880s the sawmill was seldom being used, and then only for custom work.

The property and the mill were sold on May 4th, 1896 by Sheriff Paul Gillis

December 2nd, 1905 - The Evening Journal

In the system mentioned above, water was pumped three miles from the millpond into a very long, narrow trough that was between the rails. When a specially equipped steam train came by at speed, a scoop would drop down into the trough and scoop water into the tender.

Train scooping up water from trough - wikipedia

The old Buford Mill was still being used, at least occasionally, as late as 1924.

January 31st, 1924 - The Evening Journal

By 1946 the old brick mill building had become a hazard and it was finally demolished.

August 27th, 1946 - The Morning News

Armstrong Bark-Mill

A bark-mill was located near Ogletown and run by the Armstrongs, in connection with the tannery at Newark. It was sold by Thomas B. Armstrong in 1833 to the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad Company, and by them it was removed.

Thomas Ogle Mills

Thomas Ogle made his will January 26, 1768, and died in 1773, and was buried in a private burying-ground, near Ogletown. Several children survived him, of whom a daughter, Mary, married Dr. William McMechen. Dr. McMechen resided at Christiana Bridge, on the Dr. Reese Jones lot, which was inherited by his wife from her father’s estate. The grist-mill, saw-mill and associated out-buildings, and all land lying on the fork of the road leading from Ogletown to Elk River and Newark, was devised to his sons, Robert, Joseph, James Howard and Benjamin, and was divided among them by an Act of partition.


This ends our tour of the mills in White Clay Creek Hundred. Next week we will take a step to the east and begin our tour of the old mills in the aptly-named Mill Creek Hundred, between White Clay Creek and Red Clay Creek.

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