|Watermills of Camden County - By William Farr - Chapter E|
[Editors Note: While the following article abounds with many solid cited facts, it has been determined that some of the conclusions are not sound. This information, therefore, should be used with care or not at all. Perfected material is planned and will appear eventually]
An l854 lawsuit, Glover v. Powell (10 N.J. Equity 211), dealt with removing a dam at the mouth of Little Timber Creek which had been authorized by a 1760 act of the Legislature, which also permitted control of the stream by the adjoining property owners up to “a dam called William Harrison’s dam, near the head of the aforesaid creek” (NJA, 3rd Ser., Vol. IV, p. 56). This would have been the dam creating the millpond for the gristmill. The dam was about 400 feet east of where Bell Road (sometimes Mount Ephraim Road) crosses, and the mills were just below the dam. That road, not laid out until 1827, crossed the creek “below where the old mill called Harrison’s, Eldridge’s, Glover’s Mill stood” (Glo RR C-96).
Note that Harrison’s dam was already in existence in 1760. William Harrison, the son, may already have been installed on the father’s farm on the creek by that time since the son was named one of the temporary managers by the 1760 law, and may even have built the mill. The father was experienced with mills, having, on his Greenwich plantation, a sawmill (see his will) and a gristmill (see his advertisement, NJA, XXIX, p. 18).
The earliest record of a mill assessment in Gloucester Town against William Harrison, the son, is for a gristmill in 1773 (the earliest year for which township ratables are available). A gristmill assessment against Harrison was made for the years 1780, 1781, 1782, 1784, 1786, 1788.
On 6 September 1783 the Sheriff advertised the sale of several plantations of William Harrison, the son, totaling about 613 acres, located on either side of Little Timber Creek including a 287-acre plantation (on which William Eldridge was living), a 155-acre tract, and one of 70 3/4 acres with a grist mill built of stone (Notices From New Jersey Newspapers 1781-1790, p. 417). The Sheriff’s sale was probably based on the foreclosure of a mortgage given by Harrison to Joseph Fox on all the lands he inherited, 20 November 1776 (Woodbury Mortgages, C-48).
Eldridge was not assessed for a gristmill, at least for 1792 through 1797, nor for 1802 or 1805, (the years for which we have township ratables). But starting with 1791 Anthony Writer, who had not shown up in the township ratables prior to then, was assessed for a gristmill and 130 acres, and that assessment continued through 1795. He may have leased the mill from Eldridge. That could also be the case with one or more of the following, who were each assessed by the Town of Gloucester for a gristmill: Samuel Albertson, 1795-96; Samuel Leeds, 1796; Abner Dolby, 1797; Job Eldridge, 1797; Moses Burrough, 1802.
The account in Old Mills (p. 44), which indicates an unawareness of the existing Harrison Grist Mill, states that Eldridge built a “mill” (presumably meaning the fulling mill) before 1795, perhaps on the basis of a road return of that year for present Black Horse Pike, crossing “William Eldridge’s Millpond” (Glo RR A-190).
On 16 March 1805 (Woodbury, I-267) Eldridge sold to Abraham Fenimore about 115 (15?)acres on both sides of Little Timber Creek (see Maps and Drafts, Vol 6, p. 81), together with the right to flow water on Eldridge’s other lands (upstream from Black Horse Pike) as far as he had the privilege from John Glover “to raise a good head of water for the gristmill.” Although the deed makes no other reference to the gristmill, it was located, in fact, on the property transferred. The overflow privilege from Glover has not been found of record.
Prowell (p. 707) states that Eldridge built both mills, and in 1805 sold “this property” to Hezekiah Shivers, and that Shivers sold it to John T. Glover. Old Mills (p. 44) says that Shivers bought the fulling mill in 1804 and sold it to John T. Glover. Notwithstanding the variation in dates, Old Mills was probably based on Prowell. The record, however, shows that Shivers (who, in that same year of 1805, acquired the gristmill on Kings Run [see BREACH’S GRIST, BOLTING and FULLING MILLS] in the 1805 division of his father, John Shivers [Gloucester County Clerk Boundaries & Division Bk A-259]), sometime in that year (the deed fails to show the month and day), bought from Eldridge a 33-acre tract on the eastern side of Black Horse Pike (Woodbury, K-233), subject to a right previously given by Shivers to Abraham Fenimore “to overflow a part of said premises by raising his mill pond” (not found of record). This tract is shown on Maps and Drafts, Vol. 5, p. 18. Fenimore’s pond already extended upstream on Little Timber Creek beyond the road. It may be that this deed was the basis of Old Mills’ mistaken claim that Shivers bought the fulling mill. Shivers sold this tract to Isaac Budd on 25 April 1814 (Woodbury, T-370). Neither deed mentioned a mill as such, and in fact both mills were downstream, between Black Horse Pike and present Bell Road (Glo RR C-97 ). No deed has been found by which Shivers sold the fulling mill to John T. Glover.
Clement’s 1879 map in Vol. 6, p. 81 shows the gristmill and a fulling mill just below the millpond “now down,” the former on the north side of the race and the latter on the south side. William Eldridge sold 85 acres north and south of the stream to Abraham Fenimore on 16 March 1805 (Woodbury, I-267), mentioning only an existing grist mill. It is not at all clear when the fulling mill was built, nor by whom.
Fenimore sold to John T. Glover (25 March 1808 [Woodbury, Y-441]) a 46-acre tract mostly on the south side of the creek (part of the 115 acres) but including where Clement shows both mills (barely) and the entire mill pond. Fenimore sold the rest of the 115 acres to James Lippincott (of Woolwich Township) 3 December 1813 (Woodbury, Y-398), and Lippincott sold them to Glover 19 October 1815 (Woodbury, Y-400).
John T. Glover was the son of John Glover, who had owned a fulling mill on Kings Run for many years (see GLOVERS FULLING MILL). John Glover died in 1807 and his will (2644 H) gave the Kings Run fulling mill to John T., so now he owned two fulling mills, which makes sense of the statement in Old Mills that he discontinued the Little Timber Creek mill in favor of the one on Kings Run.
John T. Glover, dying intestate in 1825 (3623 H), was survived by his sons, James O. Glover and John Glover as his only heirs at law. In 1833 they made an amicable division of his lands and John received all lands in Union (Centre) Township, including the 116-acre mill plantation on both sides of Little Timber Creek (deed, James Glover to John Glover, 13 May 1833, Woodbury, Z3-421). It is not known when the gristmill ceased operations.
ELLIS GRISTMILL (Burroughs, Stevensons)
The site of this mill in Cherry Hill, not far from Haddonfield, was on a small stream called Collins Run (undated Map of Haddonfield and Vicinity, HSP, Foster-Clement Collection, Box 10, No. 2), running south from not far above Marlton Pike, west of Park Drive parallel to Kings Highway, to empty into the North Branch of Coopers Creek; see Waterways, p. 40. The confluence is not far below some small remains of the last mill’s foundations and mill dam, which, in 1997, could be reached from the end of Utah Avenue.
On 6 June 1691 Simeon Ellis bought from Francis Collins 200 acres in the vicinity of present Ellisburg (Colonial Deeds, Gl 2-127). On 6 January 1695-96 he bought from Elias Hugg an adjoining 400 acres (ibid., Gl 3-71). By the time of his death, Simeon’s estate on the north side of the North Branch of Cooper’s Creek extended north well above present Marlton Pike and totaled 800 acres, which, by his will proved 26 March 1715 (41 H), he gave to his sons: Thomas, 300 acres; Simeon, 300 acres; William, 200 acres. Many years later the sons, in conjunction with adjoining neighbors John Burroughs and Francis Kay, had their holdings resurveyed (OSG, S6-388, 19 February 1754), resulting in Thomas having 319 acres, Simeon 366 acres, and William 233 acres.
Old Mills (p. 25) states that Thomas Ellis built a sawmill (but subsequently refers correctly to a gristmill) about the time of the resurvey. The earliest recorded Gloucester County road return was Glo RR A-3 (1762) laying out a road “to and from Thomas Ellis’ mill, extending from his lane down by the mill pond and then by the mill to the King’s Road” from Haddonfield to Burlington, about 50 chains in all, that is, crossing present Kings Highway, in line with present Caldwell Road, to a segment the old road to Burlington. The upper portion of this road can be seen on the 1877 Hopkins Atlas, “Map of Delaware Township.” Five years later the predecessor of Marlton Pike was laid out “Beginning at the mansion house of Thomas Ellis at a road laid out by his grist mill....” (Glo RR A-1 ). The mill road can be seen in its entirety on Clement’s 1846 Map of Camden County (CCHS, M83.90.303).
Old Mills also states, without citation, that Thomas Ellis operated the mill until 1766, when he sold most of his property to Joseph Collins, “who apparently never operated the mill.” The general absence of supporting citations in Old Mills makes it difficult to check the accuracy of its facts.
Collins Run was within Thomas Ellis’ tract. By a deed of 10 September 1768 (Colonial Deeds, AX-340), Thomas conveyed to Isaac Ellis 120 acres extending down the east side of that stream to the North Branch, the adjoining owner on the west being Joseph Collins, from whom the stream took its name.
On 12 May 1769 Thomas Ellis sold to Samuel Burrough a six-acre tract surrounding the millpond, stream and the mill (Maps and Drafts, Vol. 2, P. 62), and Samuel sold that tract, with other land, to Joseph Burrough (recital in deed, Joseph Burrough to Stevenson, below). In Glo RR A-50 (1772) the mill is referred to as Samuel Burrough’s Gristmill. Old Mills (p. 25) is in error in asserting that Joseph Burrough inherited the mill from his father Samuel by the latter’s 1774 will (1108 H); that Samuel had to be the wrong Samuel. In fact, Samuel mortgaged the gristmill and 6 acres in 1776 (25 March 1776, Gloucester County Loan Commissioners Mortgage Book, p. 65); the mortgage record contains a notation of payment by Samuel Burrough 25 March 1777 (after he sold to Joseph), so he must have died after that date.
Joseph Burrough (with wife Lydia joining) sold the mill and six acres to Thomas Stevenson (“miller”) 25 March 1808 (Woodbury, M-215). But Stevenson had been in possession of the mill prior to that time. He was assessed for it in 1797 and 1802 (available Waterford township ratables). And the 1808 deed referred to “Stevenson’s Mill Pond.” The mill is best known as Stevensons Mill by reason of his long tenure, some 46 years.
On 6 March 1826 Thomas Stevenson bought from Isaac Lewellen 2 acres on both sides of the stream, extending up from the 6 acres north to Marlton Pike (Woodbury SS-337; Maps and Drafts, Vol. 7, p. 16). He apparently borrowed all or part of the purchase price from William Borrough (of Philadelphia), giving a mortgage on both pieces dated 11 March 1826 (Woodbury Mortgages, M-3). “Stevenson’s Mill” is shown on the 1851 Map of the Vicinity of Philadelphia (CCHS, M2001.74).
Thomas Stevenson died intestate in 1853. His surviving administrator, Joseph T. Stevenson, advertised the sale of the two tracts, and “a valuable grist mill (nearly new) with two first rate French burr stones” (West Jerseyman, 1 March 1854). The buyer was Charles S. Garrett (a dealer in real estate, to judge by the numerous land transactions recorded in his name), 15 May 1854 [Camden, W-45]). It looks like a wash sale, made necessary because of the negative appearance of Joseph T. Stevenson as administrator selling to himself. Garrett conveyed to Sarah Ellis 5 August 1854 (Camden, W-255), and she soon after married said Joseph T. Stevenson (Vol. 7, p.16). Old Mills (p. 25) says the mill was abandoned about 1870.
EVANS’ MILLS (Kendalls Mill, Lovejoys Mill, Free Lodge Mill, Kays Mills, Kays Sawmill, Haddonfield Mills)
All of those accounts state that the original corn (later grist) mill was built by Thomas Kendall. Old Mills suggests, on the basis of Sharp’s 1700 map of Newton, reproduced in Clement, that William Lovejoy may have built it, but that conclusion is based on a misreading of the map. The dictionary informs us that “corn” can refer to cereal seeds as well as, in England, to wheat.
The origin of and devolution of title to the 121-acre mill tract can be clarified. On 15 June 1691 Richard Mathews conveyed to William Lovejoy (Mathews’ apprentice blacksmith), out of Mathews’ 500-acre survey dated 1683 (OSG, Revel-38), a triangular tract of 100 acres (all within present Haddonfield, the northwest line of which became present Kings Highway, and the east line of which was the South Branch of Coopers Creek (Colonial Deeds, Gl 3, 93; OSG, Basse-237; Clement, p. 336). Thomas Sharp’s 1700 map shows the triangular 100-acre tract as “mill land,” and his 1717 maps of 100 acres and 314 acres on the opposite (Cherry Hill) side of the creek both show “mill” on the Haddonfield side (OSG, Sharp’s B-20 and B-24).
The brief abstract of the Kendall to Hollinshead and Westland deed, at NJA, XXI, p. 674, notes several pages of missing records, which may explain why a 29 March 1705 deed from Mordecai Howell to John Walker (ropemaker) and Thomas Carlisle (miller) (OSG, Sharp’s B-24) recites that Kendall sold the mill tract to Henry Treadway 19 September 1702, and on the same day Treadway sold to Howell, omitting any reference to the Hollinsheads and Westland. The description in that deed, which mentions “ye foot of a bridge called Uxbridge,” concludes “together with ye corn or grist mill upon ye sd tract of land built and erected now named and hereafter to be called Free Lodge Mill.” This is Haddonfield (p. 214) offers an explanation that farmers bringing grain from some distance could stay over free at the mill. The deed also states clearly that the mill had been built on the 71 acres on the south (Haddonfield) side of the creek. Three years later, 15 February 1708, Carlisle signed over his half interest (although in words conveying the full title) to Walker (OSG, Sharp B-16), who thereafter was the sole owner.
Indorsed on the reverse of the Carlisle to Walker deed was an assignment of the mill and mill tract, without legal description, by Walker to John Kay dated more than five years later, 3 November 1713, (OSG, Sharp’s B-17). On the same date (recorded at B-23) is a deed, again without legal description, from Walker to Kay, for the 121-acre mill tract, of which Kay already had possession, “together with ye Corn or Grist mill upon that tract of land built & erected called by ye name of Free Lodge & ...the dwelling house, mill house, bolting mill, mill dam, streams of water, water courses, tools, ponds, sluices, flood gates, materialls, gears, takles, utensills, tools & implements & appurtenances, unto ye sd corn mill appertaining and ye smiths shop & smiths tools, and all ye implements thereto belonging” [commas inserted]. A bolting mill was the apparatus (usually in the building housing the grist mill) for sifting the ground grain into flour. This deed from Walker to Kay also included a 7 acre tract (which Walker had bought from Edward Clemenz on 26 May 1709 [OSG, Sharp’s B-19]) along the east side of the creek, extending from Buckman’s Run northwest to a point about midway to where modern Kings Highway crosses. This midway point is most likely the crossing point of the Burlington-Salem Road, which was commissioned by the Colonial Legislature in 1704, referring to “Howell’s Mill on Cooper’s Creek.” (NJA, 3rd Ser. III, p. 21). The indorsement deed recites simply a “valuable consideration,” but the deed which included the 7 ½ acres shows a consideration of £300, plus an annuity of £4 to Walker and his wife, Sarah, and the survivor of them.
In Vol. 1, at pages 10-11 of the Rowand Collection at the Historical Society of Haddonfield is a memorandum of title which does not mention the 1713 deeds, but recites an unrecorded deed of 9 June 1710 “now in my [Rowand’s] possession,” from Walker to John Kay the Elder, Joshua Kay, John Kay Jr. and Simeon Ellis, with an indorsement on the back by Joshua Kay, John Kay Jr. and Simeon Ellis, dated l0 October 1713, releasing and conveying their interests to John Kay the Elder.
At page 37, Rowand elaborates: the 9 June 1710 deed covered three tracts of 121 acres (including the gristmill), 7 acres and 15 acres. The deed was apparently in the nature of a mortgage “to secure the payment of 200 pounds money, furnished by the grantees for the use of John Walker…for…payment to the grantees of 150 pounds on the 14th day of February 1711 and fifty pounds on the 9th day of June 1711 ….Upon such payment the land was to have been reconveyed to Walker…but in default…the title to said lands was to become absolute in the said grantees. This last fact must of [sic] actually taken place as we find that two years after, to wit: on the 10th day of October 1713, Ellis and John Kay the Younger release all their title and claim to the said John Kay the Elder ….” He does not explain why Joshua Kay did not join in the release, although family histories indicate he died about 1711, unmarried. Nor is it evident why, if Walker had forfeited his title, he was to receive £300 plus an annuity as consideration for the deeds of 3 November 1713. The release of 10 October 1713 could as well have been the result of Walker’s payment of the “mortgage.” He not only sold the mill to Kay on 13 November 1713, but in 1716 sold him the 15 acres. Walker had bought the 15 acres (along the south side of the North Branch) from Edward Clements in 1709, built a saw mill on it, and sold it to John Kay in 1716 (see WALKERS SAWMILL).
John Kay had a resurvey made of the Lovejoy 100-acre survey, 28 January 1717 (OSG, Sharp’s B-20), with a map showing the mill. Kay was assessed for a gristmill by an act of 25 January 1716-17 (NJA, 3rd ser..II, p. 216). John Kay’s gristmill was assessed 21 November 1721, and “John Kay’s Mill” 8 November 1722 (Gloucester County Freeholders’ Minutes 1701-1797, p. 30). The Kay family was involved with this and other mills in the vicinity for almost 100 years.
By a deed of gift dated 2 October 1727 (Colonial Deeds, DD, 175), John Kay “of the grist mill at the head of Cooper’s Creek” gave to his son Isaac several parcels of land but not including the mill. John Kay’s will dated 20 February 1740, proved 1741, (267 H) devised to his son Isaac “the house he now lives in and the mill...and all my land on that side of the creek.” Isaac then lived on the opposite [Cherry Hill] side of the creek (Clement, p. 178). The assertion in This is Haddonfield (p. 214) and Prowell (p. 609) that the 1727 deed included the mill is not supported by the evidence, nor does Clement refer to it in his mention of the deed (p. 177).
The Gloucester County freeholders assessed mills in the name of a Kay but with no clear indication as to which Kay was intended, that is, in 1731, 1732, 1733 (Kays), 1736 (I. Kay), 1738 (Kays),1742 (I. Kay), (Gloucester County Freeholders Minutes 1701-1797).
According to the Newton Township Minutes 1723-1831, the following assessments were made by the township: 1737 and 1739, Isaac Kay’s “mill;” 1741, “Kay’s” Mill; 1749, Isaac Kay’s Gristmill and Fulling Mill; 1753, 1754 and 1756, Kays Gristmill; and in 1758 Kays Gristmill. These tax records indicate that the mills were located on the Haddonfield side of the creek. In 1753, fulling mills were assessed but not by name. In 1754 and 1756, Josiah Harvey was assessed by Newton Township for a fulling mill, as was Hugh Creighton in 1758. After Creighton married Mary French in 1759 he took over the Indian King Tavern in Haddonfield (Old Inns, p. 127). When Creighton bought property in Waterford Township from John Gill in 1765, he was described as a “fuller” (Woodbury B, 224). On 22 September 1768, an advertisement appeared for a “fuller or sheerman,” with inquiry to be made of Hugh Creighton at the Indian King (NJA, XXVI, p. 289). Could the Harvey mill and/or the Creighton mill have been the Kay mill?
Could the assessment of the fulling mill against Harvey (1754 and 1756) and Creighton (1758) have been because they had leased the Kay fulling mill?
Old Mills (p. 40) states that Josiah Harvey followed John Breach in the ownership of Breachs gristmill (see BREACHS GRIST, BOLTING and FULLING MILLS), but the two above-mentioned Newton Township assessments provide no indication of that, nor is there any other evidence of it. In doing so, Old Mills may have followed Prowell (p. 637), who, based on Newton Township minutes, placed Breachs fulling mill on the middle branch of Newton Creek, and, on the same basis, wrote that Harvey’s assessment was for Breachs fulling mill. The writer does not read the minutes to that effect.
It appears that Isaac Kay also operated a fulling mill (Old Mills, p. 32), on the Haddonfield side of the creek, and in his will, proved 1757 (221 H) he gave both mills to his son John. It was not uncommon to operate a fulling mill in connection with a gristmill (Early Grist and Fulling Mills, p. 10; and see WARD’S FULLING AND GRISTMILL). Isaac Kay most likely converted the original Kendall gristmill to a fulling mill sometime in the 1730s, when he built a new gristmill upstream near the current crossing of Bortons (Evans) Mill Road. The lower mill was apparently operated by a sluice from the upper mill’s dam. These two mills account for the doubling of Kay’s business taxes between 1733 and 1736.
The location of the lower dam is shown as a large bend or blowout in the creek on John Hills’s March 1778 “A Sketch of Haddonfield, West New Jersey County” (Clement Library Collection, [copy at HSH, Mss. 1991-001-0028. Note: It appears that Hills made several different drawings, different in small details]). The dam was probably breached by natural causes around 1747, requiring the relocation of the Burlington and Salem Road’s creek crossing to the current Kings Highway location. The incident did not appear to destroy the fulling mill operation, which was taxed in 1749 and included in Isaac Kay’s 1757 will. John “Key” advertised to lease out a “well-accustomed fulling-mill near Haddonfield” in 1773 (NJA, XXIX, p. 35). How long the fulling operation continued at the original Kendall millsite is unknown; however, the fulling mill is not shown on the 1778 Hills’s map.
The location of the upper mill dam is referred to in a 1753 return for a road from Borton’s Mill (at Kresson) to Haddonfield (Glo RR A-85), which records “ …thence along the old road down to said [Isaac] Kays Mill Bridge, then over said bridge along the line by the Mill, thence along the sd lane between the orchard and the meadows so into the Kings Road ….” Borton’s Mill Road, which is noted in that return as the “old” road in 1753, and the creek crossing are still in use today. Thus there have been only two milldams associated with this mill complex: (1) the original Kendall dam at the 1704 Burlington and Salem Road crossing, that is, located between the current crossing of the Kings Highway and Bortons Mill Road, and (2) the site of the current Bortons Mill Road dam, forming Evans Pond. The reference in Prowell (p. 609), repeated in This is Haddonfield (p. 214), that a new dam was built in 1779 about 100 yards downstream of the original dam is in error.
The upper milldam, built to operate Isaac Kay’s new gristmill, was the source of power for several mills until 1897, when all milling enterprises ceased at this location. Isaac Kay’s new gristmill (ca. 1736) was located on the Haddonfield side of the creek. A fulling operation may have been conducted in a building addition to this gristmill, using the same wheel for power. Isaac Kay’s gristmill was later converted to a sawmill by Isaac’s son John, as shown on the Hills’s 1778 “Sketch of Haddonfield” (op. cit.). That map also shows the first gristmill on the Cherry Hill side of the creek, and is consistent with Prowell’s 1779 date for the new or relocated gristmill at that location.
John Kay (grandson of the first John Kay) was assessed in 1780 for 300 acres in Waterford Township, as well as for a sawmill, and a gristmill with two pairs of stones (Waterford Township ratables). The gristmill assessment was repeated for 1781 through 1785, John being referred to as “Sr.” (ibid.). His will of 26 February 1783, and a codicil dated 27 May 1785, both proved 21 June 1785 (1507 H), gave the gristmill to his son Isaac when he became twenty-one (no mention being made of the sawmill, nor of the fulling mill, which may have ceased operating by that time). There was no Waterford Township assessment for 1786 and 1787, but from 1790 through 1796 it was so assessed to Isaac Kay “miller,” and not at all in 1797 and 1802. Isaac Kay, miller (grandson of the above-mentioned Isaac Kay), of Gloucester Township (see WARDS FULLING AND GRISTMILL), conveyed to Matthias Kay, 19 December 1808 (Woodbury, H, 438) the land and gristmill near Haddonfield called Kays Mill.
To understand the location of the original and subsequent mills we must consider the Camden County Park section from King’s Highway up to Batesville. The pond at Kings Highway (Wallworth Lake [1967 Camden Quad.]) did not exist until Wallworth Park was built out of Munns Meadow in the 1920s and 1930s—it was simply a meadow up to Old Bortons Mill Road dam and bridge, split by the stream (Camden County Park System, p. 115). As stated above, the first milldam was built upstream from the site of the current Kings Highway bridge, becoming the crossing of the Burlington-Salem Road, the predecessor of the modern Kings Highway, in 1704 (NJA, 3rd Ser. II, p. 23). “The mill stood some distance below the dam, at the end of the race-way cut in the bank, which secured additional head and fall....The remains of this race-way may yet be seen, but the site of the mill is entirely obliterated.” (Clement, p. 172 ). Prowell (1886) states however (p. 609): “...the site can still be seen in the bed of the pond when the water is low.”
By a deed dated 8 April 1816 (Woodbury, AA-364) Matthias Kay, miller, for $20,000., sold to Thomas Evans, of Evesham Township, several pieces of land, on one of which (“the mill seat”) were erected a brick gristmill and brick dwelling house, as well as a one-rod strip around the mill pond. The deed also included an 86-acre farm on the east, most of which became eventually the Croft Farm, on the Cherry Hill side of the pond (see Maps and Drafts, Vol. 3, p. 1), on which was built the house called “Springwell,” and which had been devised to Matthias by his father, John Kay. Also included was the old Axfords Landing, at the fork of the North and South Branch of Cooper River on a lot down stream from Kings Highway. It seems that for many years there was a landing lot associated with the Kay mills.
Some of the activities with respect to the fulling mill during Thomas Evans’s tenure are related in Early Fulling Mills of New Jersey, p. 70. Thomas Evans’s will dated 22 September 1846, proved l849 in Camden County (122 D), devised his real estate to his only child, Josiah B. Evans (see Rowand Collection, Vol. 1, p. 13).
This road return, mentioned in Old Mills (p. 32), is a curious document. The road surveyors had long been involved, by law, in the laying out of ditches and drains necessary to create meadows out of swamps. The 1818 return mentions the act of 12 February 1817, which turns out to be an amendment to the general act of 24 November 1792 which established in detail the procedure for swamp owners to drain them, and contained a prohibition against laying “any watercourse through a mill-dam or other works, erected for the accommodation of a mill or the manufacturing of iron.” The 1817 amendment provided that the general act be extended “ to the clearing out, to their accustomed and natural depth, the tail races and natural watercourses of all grist mills….” (Paterson’s Laws, p. 119)
It would appear that Evans did not own the meadow below the mill through which the old tail race ran; rather, it was owned by Nathan Eyre. The significance of the new procedure was that the new tail race could be laid out through someone else’s property. Surely Evans was the first in Gloucester County to use the 1817 amendment. He may have been the only one; no other recorded use has been noted.
On 7 December 1833, Thomas Evans bought from Elizabeth Eyre, widow, the 200-acre farm called Kaysville (Woodbury, H3, 534), which lay northwest of Caldwell Road and Old Bortons Mill Road. On 2 July 1835, Thomas Evans transferred the farm to Hannah Evans, wife of Thomas’s son, Josiah B. Evans (Woodbury, A3, 492), and that is where Thomas probably lived until his death, and his wife until she died in 1881.
Brief histories of the gristmill appeared in West Jersey Press, 21 March 1884, and Early Grist and Flouring Mills, p. 96 (as well as a photograph on page 119). Walter W. Evans gave to the Camden County Historical Society an 1859 date stone of the grist mill inscribed “1779 R.B. [Re-Built] 1859” (see a Henry Beck story in the [Newark] Star-Ledger, 12 February 1956). See also an informative story and picture published in Haddonfield Herald Weekly of 23 February 1950. The Beck story was substantially based on data dug up by a local history sleuth, the late Howard R. Kemble.
It may surprise some Haddonfield residents to learn that the Borough line along the east side of the pond extends into what might appear to be Cherry Hill Township. First the creek, and then the pond, was the dividing line between Newton and (Waterford-Delaware) Cherry Hill Township. The Lovejoy survey involved land on both sides, and this would have been normal so that the mill owner would be in control of the pond.
The legislative act incorporating the Borough of Haddonfield (P.L. 1875, Ch. CXCIII,) fixed part of the northerly boundary as “…to Cooper’s Creek; thence along the easterly margin of said creek to a point opposite the line dividing the lands of William Mann and John Hopkins’; thence crossing said creek and following said dividing line to Hopkins Pond….” So that the Haddonfield municipal boundary was always on the Cherry Hill side of the pond.
Evans Lake dam was destroyed, with the mill buildings, in the 1913 Evans Mill fire (This is Haddonfield, p. 216). On 14 February 1916, the Haddonfield Civic Association presented a proposal to the Borough Commissioners that they purchase lands for recreation purposes along Cooper River, including part of the Hopkins estate, Hopkins Pond, and Evans Lake, and to provide for a suitable new dam at Evans Lake, for recreational purposes (Haddonfield Borough Commissioners Minutes, pp. 326-327). A series of special elections were held in the spring of that year to approve bonds to do the same.
The Borough purchased the Evans Lake tract in 1916 from Haddonfield residents Esther G. Evans and Abigail E. Willits, daughters of the last mill owner, Josiah Evans (Camden, 412-578). The Evans Lake property was operated as a municipal park from 1916 to 1928, in which latter year it was sold to the newly-created Camden County Park Commission. The county park commission also purchased the Borough’s Hopkins Pond Park and Mountwell Park tracts at the same time (ibid.).
When the Borough purchased the Evans Lake property it was within Delaware (now Cherry Hill) Township. By legislative action (P.L. 1916, Ch. 180), an additional part of then Delaware Township was annexed to Haddonfield, the area being described as follows: “Beginning at a point in the center line of a bridge over Coopers River, at Ellis street where said line intersects the easterly line of the borough of Haddonfield, thence (1) southeasterly along the northerly line of Kresson road (formerly Milford road) one hundred and fifty feet to a point; thence (2) in a northeasterly direction and at a uniform distance of one hundred and fifty feet on the easterly side of a line, one rod from the line of the established high water mark, this being the line of the mill rights of the estate of the now or late J. B. Evans; and following the various courses and distances parallel to the lines of said mill rights and thus continuing to a point in the north side of Mill Road the various courses and distances thereof to a point where the said road intersects the line of the Borough of Haddonfield; thence (4) along the said boundary line of the Borough…to the place of beginning….”
Ms. Willits sold the remaining Evans Farm property and other land downstream along the creek to Joseph F. Wallworth in 1924 (Camden, 644-481). Wallworth later sold the land to John W. Croft, who in turn sold it to the park commission in 1928 (Camden, 680, 252). Former state senator Wallworth was one of the original commissioners of the Camden County Park Commission, serving from 1929 until 1933 (Camden County Centennial, p. 56). The creation of Wallworth Lake from Munns Meadows was the first Camden County park project undertaken when it was begun in 1928 (ibid., p. 129; Camden County Park System, p. 116).
On 10 November 1938, the Camden County Park Commission sold the park along Evans Lake, on both sides of the South Branch of Coopers Creek to John W. Croft Jr. (Camden, 877, 447). The former park land on the Cherry Hill side of the lake remained privately held until 1985, when the late John W. Croft Jr.’s executors and trustees sold it and the Croft Farm to Cherry Hill Township (Camden, 4026, 264). Betty Lyons wrote an article about the old mill tract, mentioning the connection of John Haddon with the title, The Historical Society of Haddonfield published this article in its Bulletin, Vol 47, No. 1 (March 2003)
[The writer thanks Edward Fox and Paul W. Schopp, who contributed to this article]
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