Theodore W. Bean’s
History of Montgomery County, “Manufacturing Industries,” (1884); pp. 612-619
LOWER MERION TOWNSHIP
THE OLD DAVE MILLS.–This once famous old mill is now in ruins. Its origin dates back nearly to Revolutionary times; it has passed through many hands and seen many changes. It was run as a paper mill for many years, then as a cotton mill by C. McNamara, who failed. It was run by Mr. Patrick Scanlon, on jeans, from 1850 to 1870, and was also operated by Mr. Charles Shaw. It was finally destroyed by fire and never rebuilt. While on this subject it may be recorded that the Buggy Mill, on Gulf Creek, formerly operated by Denning & Anderson on cassimeres and balmoral skirts, was burned about eight years since, and Seth Humphrys’ mill, on the Hagey property, was burned down in the month of June, 1884.
ASHLAND’S PAPER MILLS–These well known mills are situated on Rockhill Creek, close to the River road, and are better known by the name of Rudolph’s Mills. In old times they were used for the making of dye-woods, and were known as Ashland Dye-Wood Mills. In 1860 they came into the hands of the present proprietor, A. S. Rudolph, who gradually increased the capacity of the mills until they have assumed their present proportions. Their specialty is newspaper material, of which they manufacture one hundred and eighty-five tons a month. Seventy-five hands are employed, and the pay-roll is two thousand seven hundred dollars a month. The store-rooms and pulp mill front on the Rockhill Creek road two hundred and fifty feet, forty-five feet wide and three stories in height. Along the Schuylkill the building extends one hundred and fifty feet by sixty feet wide, three stories in height. The motive power is obtained from one one hundred and fifty horse-power engine, one eighty horse-power, one fifty horse-power, one twenty-five horse-power and six boilers. The machinery used is all of the best quality and most modern improvements known to the trade.
ROCKHILL MILLS, JOHN DOBSON, PROPRIETOR.– This is the oldest mill on Rockhill Creek, dating from about the year 1798. It was known for many years as the Old Sheetz Paper-Mill, and its antiquity in that branch of manufacture may be judged from the fact that for many years the paper was manufactured “by hand.” The building remained empty for a series of years, but is now a scene of active industry. Mr. Dobson has occupied it since 1869, and is making an excellent quality of woolen cassimeres, of which eight thousand yards (yard and a half wide) are made per month. The monthly pay-roll is two thousand five hundred dollars. Seventy hands are employed, and when in full operation there are twenty-two broad looms and eighty-four narrow looms at work. There are two thousand two hundred spindles, four selfactors, a seventy-five horse-power engine and a one hundred horse-power boiler. The main building is ninety by fifty feet, four stories in height; the picker-house is fifty by thirty feet; engine-house, fifty by thirty feet, two stories in height; boiler-house fifty by forty feet, two stories in height; stock-house, sixty by forty-five feet, one story in height. The property is worth fifty-three thousand dollars.
ROBINSON’S MILL.–This mill is located on Mill Creek, in Lower Merion, and was rebuilt in 1882 by Joseph M. and George R. Baltz. Their specialty is carpet-yarn, of which they make about seven thousand five hundred pounds a week. Fifteen hands are employed, with a pay-roll of four hundred and fifty dollars a month. There are three sets of cards, self-acting mules, with corresponding machinery. The building is one hundred and five feet front by forty-two feet in depth, two stories high; one picker-house, thirty-two by twenty-eight feet, one story high. The motive-power is one thirty horse-power engine and one sixty-eight horse-power overshot water-wheel.
THE HENRY MILLS.–They are located on Rockhill Creek, but are now a pile of blackened ruins. They were first built as machine shops, early in the present century by the Henry family, of Philadelphia, and since then have passed through many hands, has seen many changes, and experienced many vicissitudes. They were used as machine shops by the firm of Schofield & Howgate, were used as a yarn spinning factory by Reiff, Woolfenden, Leach & Lee, and Thomas Barker. They were finally improved and enlarged in 1860, but were burned down February 4, 1868. They were rebuilt, but again burned down on August 2, 1872. They were then, as now, owned by Thomas Schofield, but have been a complete ruin since the date of their destruction. The last time the mills were in operation the proprietor employed about forty hands in the manufacture of woolen yarns.
ROCKHILL CHEMICAL-WORKS.– Mr. Benjamin Lees, of Yorkshire, England, during the month of May, 1884, fitted up the old dye-house of the Henry Mills (burned twelve years ago) as chemical works, and is now doing a thriving business in the manufacture of ammonia, oil of vitriol, muriatic acid, nitric acid, nitrate of iron, muriate of tin, pyrolignate of iron and other chemicals used by manufacturers. Mr. Thomas Schofield, proprietor of the Henry Mills, made the necessary alterations in the buildings, and as Mr. Lees is a skilled chemist, his enterprise is likely to be a success.
NEW UNION MILLS, JOHN DOBSON, PROPRIETOR.–This establishment is on the River road at West Manayunk, and was purchased by Mr. Dobson in 1870. It has a frontage on the River road of one hundred feet, with a depth of forty feet, and is five stories in height. The motive-power is steam. There is a two-story boiler-house, fifty by thirty feet; dye and stock-house, sixty by forty feet; and a one-story picker-house, fifty-five by thirty feet. The mill has been idle for two years, but when in operation it was used for spinning woolen yarn, of which about forty thousand pounds a month were produced. Sixty hands were employed when the mill was running full time.
WEST MANAYUNK WOOLEN MILLS, B. SCHOFIELD & Co.–These mills are close to the River road in West Manayunk. The main building is two hundred and fifty by sixty feet, four stories in height. About ninety-two hands are employed upon worsted and woolen yarns when in full operation, producing two thousand four hundred pounds of filling per day and sixteen thousand pounds of worsted yarn per month. There is an eighty horse-power engine and three boilers in the mill. The pay roll is two thousand four hundred dollars a month, and the plant is valued at forty thousand dollars.
THE PENCOYD IRON-WORKS.–These extensive works are located in Lower Merion township, Montgomery Co., on the western shore of the Schuylkill River, opposite to Manayunk. The line of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad passes through the premises, over which all supplies and products have hitherto been shipped. The Pennsylvania Schuylkill Valley Railroad passes near the works, and will soon be connected with its system of tracks. The name “Pencoyd” is of Welsh origin, and signifies “Tree-tops,” the Roberts homestead, founded 1683 by grant from William Penn, being so called.
The erection of these iron-works was commenced in the year 1852, by Algernon Roberts and Percival Roberts, with a view to entering into the manufacture of heavy hardware; but this intention was never thoroughly carried out, being limited to the forging of a few solid wrought-iron anvils, in moulds, under a trip-hammer. During the progress of their examination of machinery necessary for the business it occurred to them to add to their line of manufacture hammered car and locomotive axles, as the railroad interest at that time was increasing very rapidly. Their first order (for twelve axles) was received from the well-known car-wheel manufacturers, Messrs. A. Whitney & Sons. The growth of this branch of business was rapid, and in the year 1855 they added to it the manufacture of rolled-scrap axles. The product increased annually until the year 1872, in which forty-five thousand three hundred and ninety rolled and hammered axles were made. At the close of the year 1880 a total number of four hundred and sixty-seven thousand and twenty-six axles of both kinds had been reached.
In the year 1859, under the title of the “Bridge Company,” they commenced the manufacture and erection of wrought and cast-iron bridges, having secured the services of Mr. John W. Murphy as engineer. It was the only firm at that time engaged in the manufacture of iron bridges. ‘Squire Whipple, of New York, who preceded them in designing and erecting a number of patent bridges, known as the “Whipple Truss,” subsequently sold the exclusive right to use his patent to the above association. A large number of bridges were erected on Beal’s wagon road for the United States government; also, in 1859, an iron span was built across the Delaware River at Easton for the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company, one for the Illinois Central Railroad Company and a number for the city of Philadelphia. This pioneer “Bridge Company” demonstrated new utilities for iron, and successfully filled the demand resulting from the novel departure.
The finishing-mills contain at present the following: One twenty-three inch three-high roll-train, driven by a forty by sixty inch vertical engine, with a twenty-five foot fly-wheel weighing seventy thousand pounds. Upon this train rounds up to seven inches diameter and large shapes are rolled. Among the latter, fifteen-inch channels, fifteen-inch beams and six by six-inch angles may be mentioned as worthy of note. These mills are supplied by three heating furnaces of ordinary type. One eighteen-inch two-high roll-train, for bar-iron, axles and shapes of medium size, driven by a nineteen by forty-eight inch horizontal engine. Three heating furnaces are attached to this roll-train. One twelve-inch three-high roll-train, for guide-iron, small bars and shapes, driven by an eighteen by twenty-two inch horizontal engine and supplied by two heating furnaces.
The forge, designed especially for the manufacture of car and locomotive axles, contains: One steam-hammer, built by Merrick & Sons, of the following dimensions: weight of ram, three thousand pounds; diameter of cylinder, sixteen inches; length of stroke, thirty-six inches. One steam-hammer, built by Bement & Dougherty: weight of ram, three thousand pounds; diameter of cylinder, fourteen and a half inches; length of stroke, thirty inches. Also one two thousand five hundred pound steam-hammer and one one thousand pound hammer. One twenty-inch three-high roll-train, for shapes and bars, driven by a thirty-two by forty-eight inch vertical engine and supplied by two Siemens gas furnaces; and there is a blacksmith-shop, thirty by sixty feet, containing seventeen fires.
The puddle-mill contains sixteen double furnaces, two sets of twenty and a half inch three-high rolls, driven by a twenty-four by thirty-six inch vertical Corliss engine, and one rotary squeezer, driven by a sixteen by twenty-four inch vertical engine.
The scrap-house contains one shears, driven by a twenty by twenty inch engine (capable of shearing, at one stroke, a plate ten feet six inches long by two inches thick), two rumblers for cleaning scrap, and two shears for cutting scrap.
The machine shop is equipped for handling axles and the general repairs of the works. Besides the special axle tools it contains three roll-lathes, one thirty-six inch screw-cutting lathe, several engine lathes, one fifty by fifty inch planer, one twenty-five by twenty-five inch planer, a shaping-machine, drill-presses, etc., and one seventy-two inch horizontal boring mill.
The pump-house contains two Worthington duplex pumps; also one duplex pump built by Philadelphia Hydraulic Works. The total pumping capacity is fifteen hundred gallons per minute.
Steam is furnished by twenty-six boilers, placed over heating and puddling furnaces, and also by two eighty horse-power Babcock & Wilcox boilers.
The works are lighted by electric lamps of the Thomson-Houston patent.
The products of the works are hammered and rolled axles, shaftings from a half-inch to seven inches diameter, squares from a half-inch to four inches, flats from one inch to twelve inches, channels from two inches to fifteen inches, angles from one inch to six inches, tees from one inch to four inches, beams from three inches to fifteen inches. The total annual capacity is about thirty-three thousand gross tons of finished iron.
Particular attention is given to the manufacture of iron of high quality, for special purposes; such as bridge, tension members, boiler-stays and all other work for which guaranteed material is required.
The first mill erected was about seventy-five by seventy-five feet, and contained one heating furnace and a trip-hammer. The fuel consumed daily was about two tons, and the product eight car-axles. The number of hands employed was twelve. The demand for this product increased, making additions necessary, until the available space for building was all occupied. In 1865 six acres were purchased of A. L. Anderson’s estate, being a part of the original tract first purchased. Upon this was erected, in 1872, a stone structure, two-hundred and twenty-five by one hundred and thirty feet, containing two trains of rolls, two steam hammers, which enabled the firm to turn out altogether about twenty thousand tons of finished iron per year. The demand for their line of product soon exceeded their means of supply, and in order to extend the works, and control a pure water supply, additional purchases of land were made from time to time. The firm now owned about fifty acres. The capacity of the entire works is about thirty-five thousand tons of various kinds of manufacture, such as car axles, beams, channel and angle iron, etc., consuming about one hundred and thirty tons per day. The last addition, erected in 1883, is two hundred by one hundred feet in size, and contains two furnaces heated by gas., one train of rolls, and is capable of turning out about fifteen thousand tons per year. It requires about two miles of different kinds of railroad tracks in order to have material handled to advantage. The works give employment to seven hundred hands when in full blast. The employees are paid every two weeks, and the pay-roll amounts to about thirty thousand dollars per month.
The firm owns between fifty and sixty dwellings, occupied by their employees, all of which are substantial and comfortable. They have also provided their workmen with a free reading-room and a library, conveniently situated and open to all well disposed persons.
STILLWAGON’S MILLS.–These mills have been rebuilt on the site of an old mill on Mill Creek, which was erected in the last century, and belonged to the firm of C. H. Gordon, of New York. It has passed through many hands, and was burnt down in 1882. It has been idle for nearly a year, and the grass is growing in the courtyards and by-ways of the mill. When in operation the motive-power was obtained from a forty horse-power overshot waterwheel, one twenty horse-power and one sixty horse-power engine. About twenty hands were employed in the manufacture of Manilla paper.
MERION MILLS, ROBERT CHADWICK, PROPRIETOR.–These mills, located in Roseglen, were built in 1836 by William Chadwick, father of the present proprietor. The manufacture is that of cotton yarns, yarn and warp-bleaching, miners’ lamp-wick, chandlers’ wick, etc., of which about two thousand five hundred pounds are produced weekly, by twenty-three hands, with a pay-roll of four hundred dollars a month. The building is fifty-six by thirty-two feet, three stories high, with an annex forty by thirty-two feet. The motive-power is obtained by means of a twenty-five horse-power turbine water-wheel and a twenty-five horse-power engine. There are five cards, four hundred and ninety-six spindles, two drawing-frames, with all the necessary machinery required for the work. The property is valued at forty thousand dollars.
ROBERT CHADWICK, owner and operator of the Merion Cotton-Mill, at Roseglen, on Mill Creek, is a native of Delaware County, Pa., but of English descent. His father, William Chadwick, was born at Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, England, in 1796. In his youth he conceived the project of emigrating to America, an undertaking which he found difficult to execute, as he was by trade a cotton-spinner, and the British government had at that time prohibited the emigration of any skilled workman from the kingdom. But he was resolved on the attempt, and in the year 1817, having associated himself with another young man of about the same age (twenty-two), they concealed themselves in the hold of a ship which soon after sailed from Liverpool, and after a four months’ voyage landed them at Long Wharf, Boston. For two or three years after his arrival Mr. Chadwick worked in the cotton-mills of Massachusetts ant Rhode Island, and during that time was married to Lucy Thompson, daughter of a Revolutionary soldier of Lancaster, Mass. Soon after his marriage he removed to Pennsylvania and settled in Delaware County. He worked in the Bancroft mill, at Bancroft’s Banks; also at Kelly’s mill, and later (about 1826) at the Laurel Mill, of which he was the manager. Afterwards he was the manager of the Valley Forge Cotton-Mill. In 1829 he leased from Samuel Gorgas a cotton-mill on the Wissahickon, which he operated for one year. In 1830 he leased the McClenegan mill, on Mill Creek, about two miles above the mouth of that stream. He purchased the machinery of this mill. and continued to run it until the expiration of his lease, April 1, 1837.
In the mean time (in 1835), while operating the McClenegan mill, William Chadwick purchased from Jamb Hagy the water privilege and land on which the Roseglen Mill now stands. The property then consisted of thirty acres of timbered land and a log house. In 1836 he commenced the erection of the present stone mill and two or three dwellings, which are still standing. At the expiration of his lease of the McClenegan mill April 1, 1837 he moved into the new mill, that is now called Roseglen, and continued there more than twenty-five years, engaged in the manufacture of chandlers’ wicking. He died there in 1862 and was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery. His wife, with whom he had lived nearly forty years, and who was born in Massachusetts in 1800 survived him about twenty years, and died in 1882. Her mother, who was of the old New England stock died in Massachusetts at the great age of one hundred and two years.
The only education which William Chadwick received was obtained by him in the Unitarian Sunday-school (at which were taught the branches usual in secular schools) at Duckinfield Chapel, in Lancashire, England. In religion he was a Unitarian of the most liberal kind, being a believer in the doctrines of the celebrated Thomas Paine. He was never known to be engaged in a lawsuit or quarrel of any kind, and through all his life he enjoyed the entire confidence and universal respect of the community in which he lived. He was always free-handed and generous in giving aid to the poor, and the exercise of his well-known charity gave him more pleasure and content than he could have gained from the mere acquisition of wealth. He had accumulated a property valued at a little more than thirty-five thousand dollars, free and clear of all debt and encumbrance and with this, and the independence which it gave him, he was abundantly satisfied.
Robert Chadwick, son of William and Lucy (Thompson) Chadwick, was born at Bancroft’s Banks, near Media, Delaware Co., Pa., May 20, 1823, he being the eldest of a family of eleven children, whom four besides himself are now living, viz.: Edward, residing at Roseglen; Sarah (who married Christian Sharpe, inventor of the famed Sharpe’s rifle), now living at Vineland, N. J.; Mary Ann, wife of William Ring, manufacturer, of Philadelphia; and George, who is now a merchant at Roseglen.
The early education of Robert Chadwick was obtained in the common schools of his time, after which he attended for one year (1833) the school of Amos Gilbert, of Lancaster, Pa., and several years later (after reaching manhood) he took a course of one year in the somewhat famous school of Joshua Hoopes, at West Chester, Pa., paying the tuition and other charges out of his own earnings. In 1834 he commenced work in his father’s mill; in 1836 he took charge of it as manager. In May, 1845, in company with his sister Sarah, whose health was much impaired, he made a trip to England, and returned in October of the same year, his sister’s health being fully restored. Being then young and inexperienced, they did not travel much in England, but remained at Ashton-under-Lyne, the home of their relatives. Since that time he has traveled over a considerable portion of the United States, the last trip being to the Rocky Mountains, in 1879.
Mr. Chadwick remained as manager of his father’s mill (except for the time spent in his European trip and the one year at Hoopes’ school at West Chester) until 1851, when he went to Wheeling, Va., to take charge of a cotton-mill there, but disliking the mill and the business outlook, remained only six weeks. He then went to Hartford, Conn., to take charge of the cartridge-factory of Sharpe’s rifle-works. At the end of two years he bought out the cartridge-works and continued to operate them for ten years. During the last year and a half of his proprietorship of those works he turned out eighty thousand cartridges per day, employing twenty-five men and one hundred girls. In the month of November, 1868; the Virginia State Fair was held in Richmond, Henry A. Wise being then Governor of the State. The Sharpe Rifle Company, of Hartford, desiring to have an exhibit at the fair, sent Mr. Chadwick to manage the matter. An incident occurred in connection that is worth mention. After the fair closed Mr. Chadwick had an interview with the Governor for the purpose of showing the rifles. After looking at them the Governor said, if he was going into battle he would rather have the old musket, and, furthermore, would have his men pour out part of their powder, and not fire until they were within winking distance. Mr. Chadwick’s reply was, “Well, Governor, if you were to meet a regiment armed in a like manner perhaps you would be right, but I would take a regiment armed with Sharpe’s rifles and have all of your men killed before they reached winking distance.” The answer startled the Governor, and must have made a favorable impression, for several days before John Brown was hanged there came a telegram to the rifle company to express at once to Richmond one hundred Sharpe’s rifles and ten thousand cartridges.
In 1863, Mr. Chadwick sold the cartridge-works to the rifle company, and returned to Lower Merion township, Montgomery Co., where he purchased the Mill Creek property of his father’s, who was then recently deceased. He enlarged and improved the mill buildings, put in new machinery throughout and added several new dwellings for the workmen. In taking possession of the Merion Mills property he assumed his father’s place with the family, and kept the homestead in the old way of his father’s hospitality,– “the latch-string out to all comers.” He has continued to operate the mill from that time to the present. During that period, in consequence of some unfortunate investments by Mr. Chadwick, the mill property was sold at sheriff’s sale to H. P. Sloan & Sons, but continued to be operated by Mr. Chadwick, who, at the death of Mr. Sloan, again became its purchaser.
Robert Chadwick was married, in 1855, to Ellen M. Watson, of Hartford, Conn., who is still living. Their children have been William Jefferson, now married and living in Philadelphia; Robert Whitaker, who died in infancy; a daughter not named, who died in infancy; and Carrie 0., unmarried and living at Roseglen. In May, 1884, Mr. Chadwick was appointed postmaster of Roseglen, and now holds the office. He was always a Democrat until the Presidential election of 1864, when he voted for Abraham Lincoln, and has since been a strong Republican. He has never been a member of any church, but holds the most liberal religious views. At Hartford, Conn., in 1852, he commenced investigating the philosophy of spiritualism, and soon became a convert to that belief of which he is still a steadfast adherent.
At the time of this writing (1885) the subject of this biography, at the age of sixty-two years, has enjoyed above the average good health, notwithstanding the many vicissitudes of life, he being of a regular and temperate habit of living and of a cheerful and hopeful disposition, disposed to look on the bright side of the circumstances of life and trust for a better future.
FAIRVIEW MILLS, SETH HUMPHRYS, PROPRIETOR.–The old mill on Mill Creek was built in 1825; it was for years used as a gun-factory, and was burned down three times. It was rebuilt in 1877 by Mr. Seth Humphrys, but was totally destroyed by fire on the 25th of July, 1884, from a spark in the picker-room igniting the inflammable material. When in full operation there were eighteen broad looms making blankets, and about fifty-five hands employed. There were nine hundred spindles, thirteen rough pickers, two finishing pickers, one patent burr-machine, a duster, a wringing-machine, two gig-machines and a weaving-frame. The product was about eighteen hundred and fifty pounds a day of blanket cloth and nine hundred pounds a day of woolen yarn. The pay roll was about seventeen hundred dollars a month. The motive-power was one thirty-five horse-power overshot wheel and a forty-five horse-power engine, with three boilers. The whole is now but a mass of blackened ruins.
SETH HUMPHRYS, who has been long and successfully engaged in woolen manufacture in Lower Merion township, was a son of Enos and Charlotte Humphrys; born in Somersetshire, England, December 25, 1827. In 1834 he came with his mother to America, and on his seventh birthday landed at New York, whence they proceeded to join his father, who had emigrated about one year earlier, and who, being by trade a wool-dyer, had found employment as the head of that department in the Wetheredsville Woolen-Mills, in Baltimore County, Md. In 1849 he left that place and went to Staunton, Va., where he died soon afterwards, his family still remaining in Maryland. In 1851 the son, Seth Humphrys, left Wetheredsville, and obtained a situation in the employ of Alfred Jenks, of Bridesburg, Pa., a manufacturer of all kinds of machinery used in woolen manufacture. Under this engagement he continued a little more than two years, traveling through various parts of the Southern States, setting up and putting in operation the machinery made in Jenks’ shops. During this time (in 1853) his mother died, in Maryland. After leaving Mr. Jenks he worked at carding and spinning, first in the establishment of Joseph Hughes & Co., Philadelphia, then in the Wyomensing Woolen-Factory, at Reading, Pa., and afterwards in the mills of Thomas Kent, on Darby Creek, in Delaware County, where he remained five years, and saved a sum of money sufficient to enable him, in 1862, to put in operation a woolen-mill on a tract of thirty acres of land, which he then bought and to which he has added fifteen acres by a later purchase. The factory site is on Mill Creek, within a few rods of his residence, in Lower Merion township.
The business being commenced in the early part of the war of the Rebellion, it immediately became prosperous, and continued so through the protracted depression that succeeded the financial panic of 1873. During that period of stagnation, which wrought ruin to hundreds of manufacturers throughout the country, the mill of Mr. Humphrys was running constantly and profitably. In 1882 he enlarged and improved the establishment, adding the manufacture of blankets to that of carpet-yarns (which had previously been its only product), and giving work to seventy hands, where only thirty-five had been employed before. The main building was one hundred and two feet in length, three stories high, with an addition forty by sixty feet in size. The mills then continued in full operation until July, 1884, when they were totally destroyed by fire, thus closing the business which its proprietor had prosecuted with uninterrupted success for twenty-two years.
Mr. Humphrys was married, September 11, 1853, to Martha, daughter of David Wagonsellers, of Chester County, Pa., whose mother was a sister of John Schrack. The children of Seth and Martha Humphrys have been seven in number–Seth, born October 17, 1854, deceased; Mary Ellen, died at the age of thirteen years; Annie, married Alfred Heft, of Roxborough; Clara M., married Dr. A. H. Mellersh, of Roxborough; Enos, now twenty-one years of age, living with his parents; Seth, second of that name, died when seven years old; and Mary B., born in 1872. Mr. and Mrs. Humphrys are members of the Lower Merion Baptist Church, at Bryn Mawr of which he is also a deacon.
RIGHTER’S MILL.–Hardly a vestige of the mill remains; a ragged pinnacle of ancient rude masonry protrudes from the rank weeds of Mill Creek, low down, and flooded by every slight freshet. It is a desolate looking spot, the haunt of the rat and the water snake. We would not mention the place only that tradition tells a dark story of a most atrocious deed located here. It is said that in this mill the Tory murderers ground the glass to be mixed with the flour furnished to the patriotic army at Valley Forge. We do not vouch for the truth of the story, but if there be a spot in this region which seems to have had the hand of desolation laid upon it, it is just there, among these old ruins, built in Revolutionary times.
TODD’S MILL.–Such is the name by which this mill is popularly known, but the title is the Glencairn Factory, and is owned by G. R. Fox, of Norristown. It is situated on Mill Creek, Lower Merion adjoining Booth & Brothers on the north and Seth Humphrys on the south. The factory is built on the site of the ancient works at which Henry Derringer for a long series of years manufactured arms for the United States. It is situated in a beautiful valley abounding in springs of the purest water in the county. The factory building, of stone, is three stories and attic, one hundred and ten by fifty-five feet, with picker-house adjoining, forty-five by twenty feet, and boiler-house, thirty by fifteen feet. The water-power is thirty-five horse; steam-power eighty to one hundred horse. There are two first class boilers and engine, and best modern machinery for making cotton yarns, running three thousand spindles. One hundred acres are in the tract, on which are a large mansion-house, a farmer’s house, nine other dwellings, etc. The State road from Conshohocken to Philadelphia, three miles distant, passes through it, also the Mill Creek road, leading to Rose Glen Station, on the Reading Railroad, about three quarters of a mile distant.
ROSE GLEN MILL.–This mill is also popularly known as the Nippes Mill, and is situated on Mill Creek, in Lower Merion township. It is operated by William Booth and Thomas H. Barker, under the firm name of Booth & Brother, for the manufacture of carpet-yarn. The building was erected about the year 1814, and was for a considerable time used as a manufactory for guns for the United States government, by Samuel Nippes. It was used as a carpet yarn factory by James Ledward in 1861, and was operated for the same purpose by Thomas Schofield. In 1872 it came into the possession of the present firm. At that time they employed but ten hands, and made about three thousand pounds of yarn a week. Today they employ forty hands, and make twenty thousand four hundred pounds a week, paying one thousand dollars a month in wages. There are three sets of machines, nine hundred spindles, which are driven by water-power and steam. The building is fifty by sixty-five feet, three and a half stories high, and the property is valued at fifty thousand dollars.
MERION FLOUR-MILLS, EVAN G. JONES, PROPRIETOR.–This famous old mill, located on Mill Creek, lays claim to remote antiquity, having been having been one of the first paper-mills in the State of Pennsylvania, being used as such about the year 1798. Peter Walever operated it for several years, but the property was seized by Sheriff Scheetz, of Montgomery County, and sold to Evan Jones, father of the present proprietor. It was a paper-mill up to the year 1848, when it was changed to a cotton and woolen-mill, and was run by John Shaw, and subsequently by his son, Joseph Shaw, for some years.
The present proprietor changed it again, and fitted it up as a grist-mill, which it has remained up to the present date. It is beautifully located in the midst of a farm of seventy acres of fertile soil, belonging to the proprietor of the mill. The building is in excellent condition, notwithstanding its great age. It is sixty-five by forty-five feet, three stories in height; has an engine of forty-five horse-power and a capacity of fifty barrels a day.
MORRIS MILL.–This mill is located on the Gulf road, and is now occupied by Mr. Pyle. The property belongs to Mrs. Levi Morris. The building is about forty-five by sixty feet, three stories in height, is operated by water-power and has a capacity of about fifty barrels of flour per day.