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Little Creek Hundred ~ Mills

On the assessment list of the taxables of Little Creek Hundred for the year 1809 are found the following mill-owners: Henry Bacon, grist and saw -mi 11 and five hundred and sixty acres of land; Lear Bivins, grist-mill; John Bennett, grist and saw-mill and eight hundred acres of land; Samuel Elliott, one-half of a grist and saw-mill and two hundred and one acres; Samuel Hearn, two-thirds of a grist-mill and seven hundred and thirteen acres; Charles Marine, one-half of a saw and grist-mill and three hundred acres; William Polk, one-half of a saw and grist-mill and eight hundred acres; Ebenezer Vinson, saw and grist-mill; Charles Walston, one-half of a grist and saw-mill and three hundred and twenty-six acres; Thomas Ward, one-third of a grist and saw-mill and three hundred and twenty-five acres; and John Ward, one-third of a grist and saw-mill and two hundred and ninety acres. In addition to these, the assessment list of 1816 contained the following names: Stephen Bennett, saw-mill and one hundred and ninety acres of land; George Bennett, saw-mill and two hundred and fifty acres; Levin Collins, saw and grist-mill and nine hundred acres; George and Joseph Hearn, saw-mill and five hundred and twenty-two acres; and Levin Thomson, grist and saw-mill and four hundred and twenty-eight acres of land. On the main stream of Broad Creek were the mills of John Mitchell, Josiah Polk, William Hitch and Ebenezer Vinson, and the ship-yard of Barkley Townsend.

Sometime previous to 1800, Hon. John Mitchell built a dam across Broad Creek, near the present site of Laurel. On the south side of the stream he built a grist-mill, and on the north side a saw-mill. After his decease the property passed to his nephew, John, who devised it to his son Theodore. In 1832, Theodore sold a half-interest in the mills to Meshack Elliott, and shortly afterwards the remaining one-half part to John Polk and Jeremiah Kinney, who in turn conveyed to Solomon Short and Elias Taylor. In 1847 Levin W. Dulaney purchased the interest of Taylor and Short, and soon sold to Meshach Elliott, thus vesting in him the entire title. David W. Moore and James Shipman purchased the mills of Elliott, and .operated them a short time, when Shipman sold his portion to Thomas Giles. In 1866 Moore and Giles sold to John B. Lewis, who operated the mills two years, when they returned to Moore and Giles. A one-third interest was purchased of them by William S. Moore. The mills remained in their possession till 1871, when they were purchased by Isaac J. W. Adams and T. H. Ridson, and have since been operated under the name of Adams & Co. The firm took possession on December 10, 1871, and soon afterwards tore down the saw-mill and built a new one, which they also fitted up with machinery for making keg staves and heads and peach and berry crates. In this department they employed from thirty to fifty hands, and manufactured about seventy-five thousand crates per season. They now manufacture but very few crates and employ the full force on staves and heads.

In 1873 E. W. Twilley became a partner. In October, of that year, they removed the grist-mill and erected a four-story frame building, thirty-six by fifty feet, which was burned March 28, 1878. The erection of the present building was immediately begun, and it was completed in August of the same year. It is a four-story frame building, thirty-six by sixty feet, to which an elevator, thirty-six by twenty feet, was added, in 1883. It was run by six turbine wheels till the latter year, when a roller-system was introduced, and three of the wheels removed and one larger one substituted. It is a first-class mill in every respect, and has a capacity of manufacturing one hundred barrels of flour and two hundred bushels of grain per twenty-four hours.

In 1807, Josiah Polk, son of Dr. John Polk, was the owner of a forge, grist-mill and saw-mill, which were built many years before. The forge was operated until Polk's death, when it was abandoned. The mills passed to John Polk, brother of Josiah, and were by him sold to Joseph Chipman, by whom they were operated some years. They next became the property of his son, Isaac Chipman, by whom they were sold to Elias Taylor, Edmund Hitchens and Elias Taylor, Jr. The half-interest of Hitchens was sold to Robert Lamden, Thomas Bacon, John M. C. Hearn, P. C. Matthews, James U. Boyce and John S. Bacon. Elias Taylor, Jr., inherited the one-fourth part which be-longed to his uncle, Elias Taylor, thus vesting in him a one-half interest. He conveyed one-half of his interest to the other owners, on account of repairs and improvements made by them. After his decease, the remainder of his portion was sold to J. P. Ward and Alfred Adams. The interest of James H. Boyce was conveyed to William Whaley, who sold to S. B. West. The grist-mill is still operated, but no sawing has been done in the past four years. Robert Lam-den's interest is now owned by his heirs.

The next mills on this stream above the forge were at an early date owned by a Mr. Warren. They consisted of a grist and saw-mill, and were next owned by William Hitch. They were operated by him till about fifteen years ago, when they were abandoned. The land on which they stood is now owned by Levin Hitch.

The Trap Mills were early owned by Ebenezer Vinson, by whom they were conveyed to Joseph Betts. He operated them for some time and then sold to William and Anderson Truitt. The saw-mill is no longer used, but the grist-mill is still operated by M. G. Truitt, the present owner.

In 1799 Barkley Townsend was the owner of a ship-yard situated near Portsville. The yard was earlier owned and operated by Caleb Baldwin. Thomas Townsend operated it until about 1825, when it was discontinued. Since then vessels have been built here occasionally, the last of which was constructed in 1850 by Thomas Bacon.

On Cod Creek, in the northwestern part of the hundred, were the grist and saw-mills of John Bennett, the saw-mill of William Knowles, the saw-mill of Stephen Bennett and the saw-mill of George Bennett.

The grist and saw-mill owned in 1809 by John Bennett became the property of John Cooper about 1840. James Elzey, the next owner, conveyed the mills to Noah Phillips, who devised them to his son, Samuel. About ten years ago the saw-mill was discontinued. At the death of Samuel Phillips, in 1883, the grist-mill passed to his grandsons, who are the children of E. M. Lowe. It is still operated.

The saw-mill of William Knowles was operated by him in the year 1840. Joseph Ellis and William Owens were the next and present owners. The mill is still operated by them.

The saw-mill owned by Stephen Bennett in 1816 afterwards came into the possession of James W. Bradley, who operated it until his decease. It then descended to his son, John C. Bradley, by whom it was sold, in 1871, to William T. Records. He conveyed the mill to Samuel S. Walker, and while in his possession, in 1874, it was burned and has never been rebuilt. The land on which it stood now belongs to W. J. Henderson.

The mills of George Bennett, on Cod Creek, later came into the possession of Aaron Owens, by whom they were operated many years. The grist-mill has been abandoned for about twenty-five years. The saw-mill is still in use, and is owned and operated by the heirs of Aaron Owens.

Tusseky Branch is a small stream emptying into Broad Creek at Portsville. On this stream were the saw and grist-mill of Levin Collins, the grist and saw-mill of Joseph Forman, the grist and saw-mill of Charles Walston, the grist and saw-mill of Charles and Jacob Marine, and the saw-mill of William Moore.

The mills owned by Levin Collins in 1816 came into the possession of James Phillips and Jacob Adams about 1825. Phillips later became sole owner, and devised the mills to his sons, Isaac G. and Thomas J. Phillips, by whom they were operated for some time. The interest of Thomas J. Phillips was sold to Hon. James Ponder, and by him sold to Thomas W. Ralph, about 1878. After the decease of Isaac G. Phillips, his interest was sold to William J. Ralph, in 1880. The saw-mill has been abandoned for the past fifteen years. In 1882 a new two-story frame grist-mill was erected by the owners. The mill is chiefly employed on custom work, and both corn and wheat are ground by burr. The mill is situated at Portsville, and is the first on the branch.

The next mills above Portsville were owned in 1776 by Joseph Forman. At a later period they became the property of Thomas Rider, and while in his possession the saw-mill was abandoned about 1830. Caleb Ross and John Phillips became the next owners of the grist-mill. Ross sold his portion to Robert Elzey, and later the entire property vested in James Ellis, by whom it was operated until twenty years ago, and then abandoned. The site is now owned by Mrs. Zedekiah Goslee.

The next mills higher up the stream were owned in 1809 by Charles Walston, and in 1816 by Thomas Rider. They then became the property of Charles Rider, by whom they were sold to Stephen Bailey. In 1830 they belonged to Levi Collins, and were inherited by his son, Jacob, who still operates the saw-mill. The grist-mill has been abandoned.

In 1816 Charles and Jacob Marine were the owners of a saw and grist-mill above the Walston Mill, which was inherited by Griffith and Solomon Marine, and while in their possession the grist-mill was abandoned. The saw-mill was sold to David H. Walston and later became the property of Jacob Marine and John B. Collins. The mill was last operated eight years ago while in the possession of John Henry.

The last mill on this stream was a saw-mill built by William Moore. In 1840 it was inherited by his sons. Perry and Isaac Moore, who sold it to William Moore. Elijah Hitch and George A. Moore were the next owners, and they conveyed to T. W. Records and Joseph Ellis, who operated it for a time and then sold to Isaac Giles. Frazer Dickerson, the next owner, operated the mill until 1884, when it was abandoned.

In the southwestern part of the hundred, on Plum Creek, were two saw-mills owned by Elijah Phillips and Joseph Hardie.

The saw-mill known as the "Bloomery Mill," was built previous to 1800 by Elijah Phillips. It was subsequently owned by Rodger Phillips and William Cooper, and next came into the possession of Samuel Phillips and William Cooper, Jr., and while in their possession was abandoned, about ten years ago. The land on which it stood is now owned by Samuel Phillips.

The mill owned by Joseph Hardie previous to 1800 was later purchased by Isaac Phillips, and after his death became the property of Joseph Phillips, Rodger Phillips, Jr., and Levin Cooper. It is now owned and operated by William W. Cooper and Rodger Phillips.

On Little Creek were the mills of Barkley Townsend, Caleb Baldwin, Henry Bacon, John Bacon and William Polk.

Big Mills were erected by Barkley Townsend on a tract of land known as ''Fishing Island." They consisted of a grist and saw-mill and were operated by Townsend until his death, when they were inherited by his son, Thomas, who sold to Caleb Ross. The mills passed to his son, Hon. William H. Ross, by whom a tannery was added in 1843. They were sold by him to John Moore and Rev. Mr. Hoskins, by whom they were conveyed to William Dulaney. On September 16, 1867, A. J. Horsey purchased the property and works of Dulaney and has since owned them. The grist-mill and tannery have not been operated for the past three years. A basket factory was connected with the saw-mill from 1881 to 1884. The saw-mill has a capacity of five thousand feet per day.

The first mills on the stream above the "Big Mills '' were at an early date owned by Caleb Baldwin, and afterwards came into the possession of Judge Bobbins, by whom they were sold to Nathaniel Horsey. Horsey sold a one-half interest to James Wootten, who conveyed it to Robert Elzey. It was purchased of him by Nathaniel Horsey, thus vesting in him again the entire title. The grist-mill was rebuilt by him about forty years ago. The mills are now owned by G. W. Horsey, a son of Nathaniel. In 1882 he built a steam saw-mill, and has connected with it a factory for manufacturing peach and berry baskets and crates.

The mills owned in 1809 by Henry Bacon were sold by him to the Kinney Bros., and by them operated until 1845, when they again came into possession of Bacon. The grist-mill has never been operated since that time. After the death of Henry Bacon the property vested in his two sons, Samuel and Thomas, by whom it is still owned. In 1870 the saw-mill was rebuilt and enlarged, is now operated ten months per year and has a capacity of fifteen hundred feet per day.

At the head of the mill-pond belonging to the Bacon Mill the stream forks, and on each of these forks was, many many years ago, a saw-mill. One was owned by John Bacon, father of Henry, and went down previous to 1820. It stood on land now owned by W. W. Dashiel. The other mill was owned by William Polk, and was abandoned about the same time. The land is now owned by John G. Game and Jonathan T. Records.

On Rossakaturn Branch were the "Little Mills" of Barkley Townsend, mentioned as the beginning of the limits of the village of Laurel. They consisted of a grist-mill, bark-mill and carding factory. At the death of Townsend they became the property of his son-in-law, John Skinner. In 1822 they belonged to Wm. B. Cooper, who also opened a tan-yard at this place. J. A. Hearn, the next owner, operated the works until 1856, when they were abandoned. A saw-mill was erected by him the same year, which later came into the possession of H. Clay Lewis, and is now the property of John W. Windsor, by whom it is still operated.

On a tributary of Broad Creek commonly called Tresham Branch were the grist and saw-mill of Levin Thompson, grist-mill of Lear Bivens, grist and saw-mill of Thomas and John Ward, grist and saw-mill of Barkley Townsend, saw-mill of Jeremiah Morris and saw-mill of Francis White.

Levin Thompson was a colored man, who, in 1816, owned the mills on this stream nearest its mouth. After his death the property vested in his heirs. Clement Thompson sold his interest to William Wootten. Charles B. Greene, a son-in-law of Thompson, and John Hosea were also part owners of the mills. The grist-mill was abandoned about forty years ago. Selby M. Lowe now owns and operates the saw-mill.

The next mill up this stream in 1809 was the property of Lear Bivens, who sold to Joseph Hearn. The grist-mill came into the possession of Joseph Ellis, who sold a one-half interest to Joshua Cannon. Can-non next became the sole owner and at his death it passed to his widow, who still owns it. The mill has not been operated in three years. Bivens sold the saw-mill to George and Joseph Hearn, who operated it until- 1845. It is now owned by Joseph Elliott, Harvey Elliott, Walter Anderson, William Baker, John Walker and John Hearn. The mill has not been operated for the past two years.

In 1809 Thomas and John Ward were the owners of a grist and saw-mill on a branch of this stream, emptying into the Bivens mill-pond. The entire title later vested in John, and at his death passed to his son Benjamin. The grist-mill was abandoned about forty years ago. The saw-mill was burned ten years ago, while in the possession of Benjamin Ward, and has never been rebuilt. The land is now principally owned by John W. Ward.

On a tract of land called "Turkey Trap," containing one hundred and seven acres, patented June 25, 1776, to George Smith, was a grist and saw-mill, which, on February 6, 1800, Barkley Townsend sold to Gilliss Smith and Samuel Elliott. The latter, on November 2, 1803, purchased of Gilliss and William Smith a fourth interest. William Wootten of I, married the widow of Gilliss Smith and purchased from the other owners their interests in the mills. He died in 1829 and devised the mills to his sons, Philip H. and Nutter G. Wootten. At the death of Philip H. Wootten, in 1841, his interest passed to his heirs who, in 1861, sold to Lewis A. Pollitt. The grist-mill was abandoned in 1845. The saw-mill is now owned by Nutter G. Wootten and Lewis A. Pollitt.

The next mill above was a saw-mill, owned in 1822 by Jeremiah Morris. After his death it passed to his son, John, who operated it until 1882, when it was abandoned.

The last mill on this stream was a saw-mill, owned at an early date by Francis White, and while in his possession was abandoned at least sixty years ago. The land is now the property of Andrew Hearn.

On the most eastern branch of Broad Creek, in Little Creek Hundred, were the saw-mills of Vinson, Joseph and Levi Cannon and George and Joseph Hearn.

The mill of Vinson was in the possession of Jacob Wootten in 1828, and was operated by him until his death; then it was devised to his daughter Kate, who married Rev. Otho Strayer. The mill next became the property of Philip Cannon and H. Clay Mathews, who ran it until about ten years ago, when it was abandoned.

In 1810 Joseph and Levi Cannon were the owners of a mill above the Vinson mill. It passed to Jeremiah Cannon, and was operated by him until his death, when it became vested in his heirs, and while in their possession was abandoned about thirty years ago.

The mill on this stream owned by George and Joseph Hearn passed to G. W. C. Hearn. While in his possession, about thirty-five years ago, it was abandoned and the dam removed.

In 1848 Ward & Hearn erected a steam saw-mill within the present limits of Whitesville. The mill changed owners very often, and finally became the property of J. G. White, by whom it was operated until 1881, when it was moved to Gumboro' Hundred.

In 1868 Sirmon & Carter erected a steam saw-mill at Delmar. In 1872 William L. Sirmon became sole owner, and operated it thus until November, 1886, when be associated with himself William Downing. In 1883 the mill was moved from the west side of the railroad to its present location. It has a capacity of five thousand feet per day, is operated eleven months per year, and gives employment to ten men.

In 1880 M. M. Ellis built a steam saw-mill in the southern part of the hundred. It has a capacity of four thousand feet per day, and is operated three months each year.

In 1882 Walston & Ellis erected a steam saw-mill in this hundred. It is operated nine months per year, and gives employment to five men. The capacity is three thousand feet per day.

In 1884 L. W. Ellis & Brother built a steam saw-mill, which is operated six months per year, and has a capacity of four thousand feet per day.

W. L. Sirmon, Elijah Freeny and M. H. Fooks operated a brick-yard near Delmar from 1864 to 1866, when it was discontinued.

M. H. Gorman and W. B. Elliott opened a brick-yard near Delmar about 1880, and have since operated it. Bricks are manufactured for seven months each year. Ten men are employed in the yard. The capacity is 1,500,000 per year.

 

Little Creek Hundred | Sussex County

Source: History of Delaware, 1609-1888, Volume I, by J. Thomas Scharf, L. J. Richards & Company, Philadelphia, 1888.

 
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