|Watermills of Camden County - By William Farr - Chapter P|
PAGE’S MILL see LAUREL MILLS
Phifer, with wife Barbara, sold the 131 acres to Joseph Hillman, 5 May 1794 (Woodbury, U-574). This tract was bisected by the Old Eggharbor Road. Hillman’s will, proved 1815 (3045 H), gave the part north of the road to grandsons Jacob and Hillman Ellis, and the part south of the road to grandsons Henry and James Crawford. These tracts can best be seen in Maps and Drafts, Vol. 1, p. 85; Vol. 2, p. 4; and on Warrants & Surveys Nos. 345 and 355. Phifer died intestate in 1795 (1969 H).
Although several streams (e.g., Bortons Branch) apparently start within these tracts, it is improbable that they could, at that location, provide sufficient power for a sawmill. But since, for several years, Phifer’s lands assessed in Waterford Township exceeded the total acreage of the two tracts, he may have had his sawmill elsewhere.
PIERCE’S GRISTMILL see CHEESMAN’S (PETER) GRISTMILL
PORTER’S MILL (Floodgate’s Sawmill, Kinsey’s (Job) Turning Mill)
The late Helen Merkle, with whom this writer was acquainted, wrote a series of interesting articles about old Chews Landing and its people, and the one published in The Civic Press/Black Horse Suburban of 30 May 1968 was about Porters Mill, which she placed in the vicinity of Floodgates near Chews Landing. She did not customarily cite authorities for her statements and conclusions, other than “records” and “anecdotes.” It is not easy to deal with these accounts, most parts of which probably have a factual basis.
Porter died in 1729, at which time there was no Chews Landing, nor any other landing at that location. In fact, the land there was only then being “taken up” or surveyed. The earliest surveys found by the writer for the area we call Chews Landing were two adjoining ones, of 300 acres each, made in 1726, by Thomas Wetherill and Isaac Decow (OSG, M-72). The writer has searched for and studied a number of deeds and surveys for Porter lands, and has found none for land at or near Chews Landing, particularly not at or near Floodgates.
It might be argued that Floodgates was at the “head” of the creek, but that word had no fixed meaning. And one would not go from Floodgates to Beaver Branch by way of Sheeyanees [Signey’s] Run. Nor is it to be inferred that the floodgates were in place as early a 1712.
A 1739 return (Gloucester Township Minutes) for a road from Wards Mill at Blackwood to Haddonfield goes by “Porter’s Old Mill...thence by Segentus Run...,” which would seemingly place Porters Mill at Chews Landing.
For what it is worth, English & Sparks’s “A History of Chews Landing” states [as usual, without supporting evidence] that Porter built first a sawmill and later a gristmill near Floodgates Bridge, and the old mill was torn down in 1790.
Floodgates were sometimes used on streams to control the tide and provide better meadows above. They were contrived so as to let in some tide and let it and the stream’s natural flow out. Someone [we know not who] constructed floodgates across the North Branch of Timber Creek just below where Somerdale Road [a recent name for an old road] now crosses. These floodgates became a frequent point of reference and gave their name to that portion of the Irish Road running north from there, that is, Floodgates Road.
George Payne lost the Gabriel Davis tavern property, on he north side of the North Branch, to Joshua Lippincott by Sheriff’s sale: deed, 19 August 1783, Woodbury, I-337. Joshua, by deed 27 September 1805, transferred title to his son Nathan, who was already in possession (Woodbury, I-332). On 10 March 1814, Nathan sold the property to John Keen and George Breck (Woodbury, T-272). None of these deeds mentioned a mill.
There was a dam on Otter Branch at Buttonball, a swimming hole close to Floodgates. There had long been a bridge (“Little Bridge” in distinction from the 1768 Chews Bridge over the North Branch) over Otter Branch to carry the Irish Road as it skirted the North Branch of Timber Creek to join the Salem Road, and at some point a dam was built near Little Bridge. It is referred to as “the dam near Nathan Lippincotts house” (1789 Glo RR A-127), and “the dam near the bridge opposite Nathan Lippincotts house” (1803 Glo RR A-271). Did this dam create the water power for the Porter-Floodgates Mill? Or was the dam on the creek located just below the mouth of Otter Branch in order to have the benefit of the latter’s flow? The existence of a dam does not necessary imply a mill, no more than the absence of a dam precludes the existence of one.
PORTER’S MILLS see LAUREL MILLS
PROSSER’S GRISTMILL see PROSSER’S SAWMILL
PROSSER’S SAWMILL (Collin’s Sawmill, Joseph H. Cheesman’s; Richard Cheesman’s Sawmill, Prosser’s Gristmill)
Although not without its uncertainties, the back title is given fairly accurately in a deed from Ephraim Cheesman’s executors to David B. Morgan, 4 August 1808 (Woodbury M-229, below): In 1722,John Engle devised 40 acres out of a large tract to his son Samuel, who died intestate without issue and it passed to Robert Engle; he by deed, 7 February 1756, Roe conveyed to Abraham Roe; several days later, on 25 February 1756, conveyed to Edward Hollinshead; who, with Susanna, his wife, sold it to Richard Cheesman, 5 September 1757. The setting off of the 40-acre tract suggests that either John or Samuel Engle built the mill.
This writer’s research shows that the will of John Engle (Ingle) of Evesham Township, proved 1721-22 (937 C), made provision for a possible posthumous son: “I give...unto the child my wife is bigg with...my land...in Gloucester County bounded on Timber Creek as may appear by the return of survey....” Samuel was probably that son. The only other sons mentioned in the will were Robert and John. The above deed’s recital of Samuel’s intestacy and title passing to Robert would require the prior death of John. It is also complicated by the fact that Samuel had a common boundary by virtue of an 860-acre tract on the creek surveyed to him in 1737/8 (OSG, M2-252), when he would still have been a minor. The conveyance to Abraham Roe in 1756 was probably by Robert’s son of the same name. The first Robert’s will, proved 20 August 1744 (9645 C), recites an expectation of deeding real estate to his three sons. On 18 October 1744, Robert (presumably the son) advertised for sale 1,400 acres “at the head of timber creek” near Henry Roe’s, “well timber’d and a good stream runs thro’ it, fit for a sawmill.” (NJA, XII, p. 288) It is not evident who eventually set off the 40-acre sawmill site.
This mill was apparently the one mentioned in a 10 April 1764 deed (Woodbury, I-397) from Samuel Mifflin’s Executors to Richard Smallwood for 400 acres in Gloucester Township, the west line of which was “Richard Cheesman’s land whereon his mill stands.” See VALENTINES SAWMILL for a mill on the Smallwood Tract.
Ephraim’s will, proved 1807 (2633 H) appears to give his one-half of the sawmill to his sons, Ephraim S., Richard S. and Joseph, but the executors had a power of sale, and in fact sold it to David Morgan, as above stated, and he sold it to Edmund Brewer three days later, on 11 August 1808 (Woodbury, M-228), suggestive that Morgan was a straw party for Brewer, who also soon sold it to Isaac S. Collins (2 September 1809, Woodbury, BB-213).
As to the other one-half interest, that of Richard the son, he, by his will, proved 1796 (2008 H), gave it to his six daughters: Jemima Warrick, Tamer Morgan, and Martha, Drucilla, Diadema and Deborah Cheesman. Diadema (who married Edmund Brewer) and Martha and Deborah Cheesman all dying intestate, without issue, their interests passed to their surviving sisters and brothers.
Jemima, and her husband, William Warrick, conveyed their interest to Edmund Brewer, l9 February 1800 (Woodbury, ZZ-52). The executors of Richard Cheesman [a surviving brother of the deceased sisters] sold a 1/20 interest to Josiah Clark 4 December 1812 (Woodbury, R-421). Tamer [who was married to Randall Morgan] conveyed her interest in the sawmill “formerly called Cheesman’s Old Mill” to her brother Joseph H. Cheesman, 20 January 1813 (Woodbury, R-109); as did also, apparently, the other two surviving brothers, Hedger and Ephraim. Randall Morgan’s curtest interest, as husband of Tamer, was released to Isaac S. Collins by the 1817 deed hereinafter mentioned.
The Cheesman Story (p. 108) says Joseph H. Cheesman died in 1813, leaving a widow, Mary, and a number of children, all young. This probably accounts for the delay in dividing his real estate, which did not take place until 1833. Division Map E shows the pond and the sawmill (Glo Co Surr Div Bk 2, p. 357). The interest in the mill which decedent had acquired, as above, was allotted to decedent’s daughter, Rebecca Dotterer, wife of James Dotterer (ibid., p. 348). There was a concurrent proceeding to set off the dower of the widow, Mary, who had remarried to one Woodman. GCHS Map A-230(a) shows the sawmill and pond; the legend states that decedent had a right to the sawmill for 70 days [why that number, is not clear], and one-third of that right was assigned to the widow as part of her dower, which right, of course, lasted only for her lifetime. She died in 1845.
William Brewer and others, devisees of Isaac S. Collins, sold a 3/4 interest in the mill to Benjamin Prosser by a 1 January 1842 deed (Woodbury A4-38). Other devisees, for whom the grantors acted, gave a deed of confirmation, 25 December 1846 (Camden F-299), which recited three deeds to Collins: (a) from Randall Morgan, 24 March 1817 (Woodbury BB-212); (b) from Edmund Brewer (by the Sheriff), 4 August 1826 (Woodbury SS-68); and (c) from Joseph Clark’s executors, 17 August 1835 (Woodbury O3-344). Benjamin Prosser bought the other ¼ from James D. Dotterer, 19 September 1846 (Camden E-54). Mary Dotterer and Joseph Dotterer, children of James, quitclaimed to Prosser 1 May 1853 (Camden X-182). “Prosser’s Mill” was listed under sawmills in Kirkbride’s 1850 New Jersey Business Directory.
Benjamin Prosser [whom that directory lists as a house carpenter] died, and commissioners appointed to divide his real estate, finding division not feasible, sold the mill and millseat (then 35 acres) to Joseph S. Prosser, 20 March 1876 (Woodbury, X5-154). The dam [like many others] was breached by heavy rains in September of 1868 (Stewart’s Notes IV, p. 256). It is said that “the pioneer sawmill (that is, at Turnersville) was built by Isaac Collins in 1800 and stood on the site now occupied by the saw-mill of Joseph Prosser.” (Cushing & Sheppard, p. 284b). If this writer has the history correct, the mill was built long before Collins was involved.
Although the mill was on the Deptford Township side, there was a road to it from the County House - Brooklyn Road. The Cheesman Story, (p. 141) asserts that the mill was converted to a gristmill [perhaps based on Old Mills, p. 57] but no confirming evidence has been found.
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