|Watermills of Camden County - By William Farr - Chapter W|
WALKERS SAWMILL (near Ellisburg) (Kays Sawmill)
“John Kays Sawmill” appears to have been built by John Walker, and it was not located on the same stream as the grist mill, although there was a Kay sawmill on the South Branch as of 1778 (see EVANS MILLS). On 23 May 1709 Walker, “of Free Lodge Mill” [the early name of John Kays gristmill, (ibid.), bought from Edward Clements a slim fifteen-acre tract (OSG, Sharp’s B-18), extending from the place later called Dog Hollow at Brace Road southwest along the south bank of the North Branch of Coopers Creek down to Axfords Landing near the forks of the north and south branches in Cherry Hill. On 20 June 1716 Walker sold the fifteen acres and a sawmill, with appurtenances, to John Kay (ibid.)., p. 20).
It is interesting that a deed from Anna Salters to Clements for 250 acres (1 September 1692 [Colonial Deeds, E-244]) refers to the North Branch as “commonly called Mill Creek,” implying that it provided the power for a mill of some sort long before even Walker was involved. Or there may possibly have been a mill that early on Collins Run, a small stream emptying into the North Branch below Kings Highway (See ELLIS’ GRISTMILL).
According to information in the Rowand Collection, (HSH) Vol. 1, pp. 10-11, on 9 June 1710 Walker signed, in favor of John Kay the Elder, Joshua Kay, Simeon Ellis and John Kay Jr., to secure payment of £200, a deed [in the nature of a mortgage] covering the fifteen acres, as well as seven and a half acres and 121 acres with the gristmill. On 10 October 1713, Ellis and John Kay Jr. released their title and claim to John Kay the elder. From these documents Rowand concluded that Walker had failed to pay and had forfeited title. It is more likely, however, that he paid and therefore retained title in view of his above-mentioned 1716 deed to John Kay. Kay was assessed for a sawmill by an act passed 25 January 1716-17 (NJA, 3d SER., Vol. II, p. 216), and no further taxing of this sawmill is found in Colonial tax acts. The inference is that the sawmill was short lived.
The probable site of the sawmill dam and millpond can be found behind the Marian House, on the east side of Kings Highway where it crosses the North Branch. The millpond probably extended up to Dog Hollow.
WALKER’S SAWMILL (Old Sawmill)
Read’s title had a somewhat shaky basis. It appears from the 1752 deed that he had an inside track and resourcefulness with respect to original land titles; that he had discovered that the tract had been taken up a long time before but never entered on the record. He, on behalf of Elizabeth Hutchinson (who had a warrant from the proprietors) had the property surveyed to himself.
On 11 December 1751, Thomas Hutchinson and Elizabeth, his wife, conveyed 600 acres to Read, in consideration of which Read, on 22 January 1752, transferred the sawmill tract to Ennion Williams and William Buckley, Trustees for Elizabeth Hutchinson, with her having power of appointment (Colonial Deeds, IK-397, which recites the earlier title).Considering that the survey, as it can be plotted, included a major portion of the Borough of Lawnside, and sizable parts of Magnolia and Somerdale, it is surprising that such a large tract could be found for taking up, in a somewhat settled section, at the relatively late date of 1751. The tract as an identifiable location goes much further back. Anthony Sharp’s 1688 survey of 614 acres on Otter Branch has two courses bordered on the east by “the saw mill land.” (OSG, Sharp’s B-16) Small parts of the sawmill tract were later occupied by Snow Hill (Lawnside) and Greenland (Magnolia).
According to the 1751 survey the adjoining owners were John Hillman, John Gill, William Brittain, Uriah French, John Hinchman, Isaac Jennings, Sharp (sic), Daniel Hillman and Thomas Cheesman. The easterly boundary was the South Branch of Coopers Creek. The Old Egg Harbor Road, connecting Haddonfield with White Horse, meandered through, and the Old Salem Road branch (Warick Road) went down the west side. To the north, it extended as far as Barrington and Tavistock Country Club; to the south, it reached park Avenue in Somerdale.
There were a number of early deed rererences to “the saw mill lands.” Joseph Knight converyed to John Hillman by a deed of 6 September 1728 (Colonial Deeds, C-17) a 50-acre piece of land along the west side of Coopers Creek, immediately below the tract which became Tavistock Country Club. The north-south course (on the west) was by land “formerly said to be Walkers, commonly called the saw mill land.” (unrecorded, HSH, Mss. 476). The deed contains no back title information.
In a 29 March 1759 deed from John Hillman, the son, to his son Joseph Hillman for the 50-acre tact, the north-south course was by land “formerly said to be Walkers, commonly called the saw mill land.” (apparently unrecorded; Clement’s Warrants & Surveys, No. 107).
The 1751 survey did not mention a sawmill, nor has any reference to such a mill by anyone’s name been discovered. John Clement (p. 246) refers to William Thorners’s 1706 purchase from Mordecai Howell of three tracts along the creek (Colonial Deeds, A-84), near the head of the south branch, and the north branch of Timber Creek; and stated that on one of the tributaries of the latter creek, he erected a sawmill. It was suggested to the writer that was the sawmill in question. The writer, however, is satisfied that the mill referred to by Clement was THORNE’S SAWMILL, near Clementon.
One of the three tracts was 300 acres extending down both sides of the Coopers Creek. The deeds prior to Thorne do not mention a sawmill. It was only when Thorne sold the 300-acre tract to Richard Cheesman on 30 March 1720 (Colonial Deeds, A-173) that there is a suggestion of such a mill on that creek. The deed mentions adjoining owners; on the north and west was John Walker, which takes his connection with the tract on the north back to that year, and it conforms to Read’s survey, but how Walker was involved is now known. He may have been the same John Walker who had a sawmill on the north Branch of Coopers Creek in 1716 (see WALKER’S SAWMILL a/k/a/ Kay’s Sawmill)
The description of a 392-acre tract immediately south of the sawmill tract started at “the SW corner post of an old saw mill by the SWy side of the Sy Branch of Coopers Creek,” (mortgage, Vespasian Kemble to William Wells, 7 February 1776 [Woodbury, Mortgages C-16]), implying that the sawmill was located on, but barely, the adjacent sawmill tract. No mention is made of a millrace, and the final course in the land description in the mortgage is simply down the creek to the beginning point, that is, the corner post. The mill may have been built out over the creek but its corner post was on land. It would have been situated in the general vicinity of the end of Ashland Avenue in Somerdale. A mortgage by Benjamin T. Cheesman to John C. Wells (son of William) on part of the same property, 26 August 1801 (Woodbury Mortgages E-171) uses the words “corner post of an old saw mill.” A small triangular piece of thirteen acres, immediately above, whose title has been traced back to the eighteenth century, had a description which used the words “formerly a saw mill post.”
It is evident that the sawmill was on the present west side of the South Branch of Coopers Creek and on the old sawmill land. Whose sawmill was it?
By deed of 5 July 1759, Elizabeth Hutchinson and Ennion Williams (surviving trustee) sold the tract to Samuel Clement (Colonial Deeds, P-116). The Clement family, living in Haddonfield, was involved in many land transactions in Lawnside. Samuel Clement’s will, proved 1765 (872 H), gave the sawmill tract to his son Thomas when he became 21.
In March 1777 Thomas Clement advertised a public sale of 400 acres of woodland near Haddonfield “in small parcels or otherwise.” The locations was “about three miles from a landing either on Coopers Creek or the north branch of Great Timber Creek.” An editorial footnote seems to imply that this was the homestead tract in Haddonfield but that is obviously not the case (NJA 2nd Ser., Vol. 1, p. 311).
Thomas sold various pieces of “woodland” to members of the Clement Family and others. As most farmers needed access to a cedar swam from which they could cut fence rails, posts and the like, so there was a continuing need for cord wood for heating and cooking purposes. Town dwellers, for example in Haddonfield, ideally had “wood lots” from which their firewood could be harvested. That was the value of the sawmill tract, which by that time may have had most of its lumber trees removed.
Thomas and his wife, Elizabeth, lived at Elsinboro, Salem County, and his will was proved in that county in 1821 (3359 Q).
WARD’S FULLING & GRISTMILLS (Blackwood’s, Kay’s, Marshall’s Mill; Isaac Kay’s Sawmill)
Thomas, Richard and Sarah Bull, children of Thomas Bull, by deed 1 December 1701 (Colonial Deeds, Gl 3-395) sold to “George Brown, alias Ward” 100 acres in Deptford Township, along the southerly side of the South Branch of Timber Creek (no legal description). The deed recites a will of their father dated 20 March 1685, devising the property to them. The Calendar of Wills indicates an intestacy and inventory in the unrecorded wills as Thomas Bull, who died in Philadelphia. A 19 March 1686 intestacy of the father, lists his widow, Sarah, being appointed administratrix (75 H). The deed from Samuel Blackwood to John Heaton, hereinafter mentioned, recites the will, and also that the 100 acres had been surveyed to the father, but the writer has not been successful in finding the record of the survey. The next day, 2 December 1701, Thomas Bull, the son, sold 250 acres “at Upton” (Deptford Township) to George Brown, alias Ward (Colonial Deeds, Gl 2-29 & 30). The deed contained no legal description.
By 16 July 1715, Ward had built a gristmill and a fulling mill. On that date, for £105, he sold to John Royton of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, a one-half interest in both mills, at Upton, on the southerly side of the South Branch of Timber creek. It stood on the land joining the plantation purchased by Ward from Thomas Bull, where Ward lived. The deed included “one-half of the stream banks, race and water, all belonging to the said mill...utensils proper and necessary for the carrying on of said works of grinding, fulling, dying and pressing” (Colonial Deeds, A-19)
The writer has found no reconveyance by Royton. There is no indication that the deed was intended as a mortgage, nor is there any mention of him in the Calendar of Records (NJA XXI), nor in the Colonial Deed Index. However, the Burlington County, N. J. probate records show that Royton died intestate 21 October 1717, a fuller and dyer, resident in Bristol, Pennsylvania, and administration was granted in Burlington County on his estate 2 November 1717 (717 C).
Old Mills (p. 52) states that Ward was assessed (for a gristmill) by the Legislature in 1716 for “The Ward Mill, ” citing Journal of the Votes of the Assembly, January 9, 1716 [printed in NJA, 3d Ser., Vol II, p. 216]. In November 1721 and November 1722 George Ward’s mill was assessed. Gloucester County Freeholders’ Minutes 1701-1797, pp. 30, 32.
By a deed of 5 May 1721, Ward conveyed the 100 acres and the fulling mill (no mention made of the gristmill) to John Brown, a clothier, and Brown was assessed for it in 1721 and 1722 (Gloucester County Freeholders’ Minutes). On 4 October 1726, Brown conveyed the fulling mill back to George (Brown) Ward, except three acres of meadow at the mouth of Bulls Run (according to deed, Blackwood to Heaton [below]). George Ward, the elder, was assessed by the freeholders for one mill in 1731, 1732 and 1733; and two mills in 1736 (Gloucester County Freeholders’ Minutes, pp. 62, 69, 73, 78).
According to the 1767 deed from Blackwood to Heaton, on 29 January 1736 Charity, wife of John Brown, conveyed the three acres of meadow to George Ward Jr. John Brown died leaving a 1727 will (194 H), proved in Philadelphia 21 December 1736, leaving all real estate to wife, Charity, and authorizing her to transfer the fulling mill to George Ward [notwithstanding he had already conveyed it in 1726, before he made his will]. It is not evident why she transferred the three acres of meadow to George Ward much earlier in the year 1736 than Brown’s will was probated, unless his death had preceded her making the deed, she knew the contents of the will, and something delayed the probate.
In 1738 and 1739, George Ward, the elder, was taxed for two mills, as well as a third “Ward’s Mill” in 1738 (Gloucester County Freeholders’ Minutes, p. 30). By 1739, the mills had become a prominent landmark, as well as a place to which people needed access by a decent road. Gloucester Township authorities authorized the laying out a road from Ward’s Mill to Haddonfield by way of Richard Chew’s Lane, Widow Roe’s, Porter’s Old Mill, etc. [This is not the place to discuss the difficulties of determining the probable route of that road]. A return was made on 8 June 1739, a copy of which is lodged with Gloucester Township Minutes).
The Blackwood to Heaton deed recites that the Wards, father and son [the son joining probably because he was the putative heir], entered into an agreement with John Blackwood [no date mentioned] to convey to Blackwood the 100-acre plantation, with both mills. Before a conveyance was made, George Ward, the father, died intestate (will proved 26 March 1748 [408 H], whereby the mills descended to George Ward Jr., his eldest son and heir, who also died before making a deed, and without devising the mills to anyone (will proved 6 June 1748 [407 H]), so the two mills descended to Josiah Ward, eldest son and heir of George Ward Jr.
It would appear that, in connection with the agreement between the Wards and Blackwood, the latter was given early possession of the fulling mill. Blackwood was taxed for two mills as early as 1742. The fulling mill is mentioned in an advertisement he inserted in a newspaper dated 19-26 February 1740-41 concerning stolen cloth (NJA, XII, p. 12). A similar advertisement appeared over his name 4 December 1740 (ibid.), p. 62). Blackwood is referred to as a fuller in advertisements of 17 June 1742 and 15 September 1743 ((ibid)., pp. 132 and 192). Blackwood was taxed for two mills in 1742.
Long before he acquired legal title to the mills by the 1752 deed above-mentioned, Blackwood tried to sell or lease out the plantation and both mills, as well as a bolting mill (9 July 1746, (ibid.), p. 367). And on 31 January 1749 he advertised seeking the owner of a piece of cloth which had been left with him (ibid.), p. 512).
A third tract, in Gloucester Township, opposite the first mentioned 100 acres, became involved in the following manner: William Ward had 95 acres in that township surveyed to him 14 September 1696 [the writer has been unable to locate the record], and, dying intestate, his only child, a daughter, Sarah, with her husband, John Inskeep, by deeds 13-14 February 1731, sold this tract, with other lands, to George Ward Jr. He, with Margaret his wife, sold it, with other lands, to John Blackwood by lease and release dated 27-28 April 1741 [Blackwood to Heaton, below].
John Blackwood died intestate 3 April 1761 (741 H), whereby his real estate descended to his eldest son, Samuel. By a deed of 31 October 1767 (Colonial Deeds, AB-294), Samuel, with Abigail, his wife, sold a single tract of 313 acres to John Heaton of Philadelphia, with the fulling and grist mills, being all of the 100 acres, and part of the 170 acres, both in Deptford, and part of the 95 acres in Gloucester Township. Two days later, Heaton raised some of the purchase money by borrowing from John Gill, and mortgaging the 313 acres to him (Woodbury Mortgages, A-45).
A year and a half later, in 1769, Heaton, then of Philadelphia, tried to sell the whole establishment by an advertisement in a newspaper (NJA, XXVI, p. 413) which, with some modest puffing, gives a fair idea of the situation and the extent of the operations capable of being carried on there, including a “dwelling house and orchard, a barn...; also a grist mill with one pair of stones, and a fulling mill, with press shop, dye house, tenter bars, and all other tools and utensils, necessary for carrying on the fulling business;...within a mile of navigable water [at [Cole] Coal Landing, below Almonesson-Blenheim Road]....It is an accustomed place of business, both in the grinding and fulling way, and is well situated for a store, being in a thick inhabited part of the country, and within a small distance of several saw mills, on the same creek [probably Jonathan Williams at Grenloch and Cheesman’s above Turnersville]...; the mill, with a trifling expence may be rendered fit for merchant work, and though there may not be a sufficient quantity of wheat to be purchased in that part of the country, yet the cost of transporting it from Philadelphia will be very small...there being but one mile land carriage, and even that might be prevented by a little trouble in cleaning the creek of brush &c....”
On the Revolutionary era map reproduced at page 19 of Fight For The Delaware, John Kay’s Grist Mill is shown on the Deptford side of Big Timber Creek. This is the same John Kay [“saw mill man”] who was involved with the grist and fulling mills at Haddonfield (see EVANS MILLS). His will of 26 February 1783 (proved with a codicil 21 June 1785) (1507 H) gave to son John “the plantation, grist mill and fulling mill, which I bought of...Hannah Lacock,” also “the stone that I have bargained for, intended for...building a mill” on the lands devised to him.
Son John died intestate 22 November 1802 (2382 H) and his brother Matthias Kay, who was appointed administrator, sold part of the plantation in lots to raise cash to pay creditors. [See deed to John Tatem Jr., 14 July 1804 (Woodbury, H-255)]. The remainder, as well as the grist and fulling mills, passed by the intestacy to the decedent’s brothers, Matthias and Isaac, and John’s three sisters, and they severally quitclaimed to Isaac [who was a miller by trade], [See deeds from Matthias, 19 December 1804 (Woodbury, N-36) and sister Elizabeth West, 1 May 1805 (Woodbury, N-37)].
Either John the “sawmill man” Kay or son Isaac built a sawmill on the Gloucester Township side of the creek, which became the end point of an extension of Lower Landing Road in 1813 (Glo RR B-138). The sawmill is shown on the map accompanying an 1846 road return, relaying of the road across Floodgates Bridge (Cam RR 5). It also shows a gristmill.
Isaac Kay died leaving a will proved 2 May 1809 (2743 H) by which, after giving his daughters lots in Deptford Township, and having no sons who might carry on the business, he directed the sale of the remaining property. The executors split the estate into several tracts and sold them off separately. They sold 88 acres [partly in Gloucester Township] and the mills to Job Eldridge, 25 May 1813 (Woodbury, R-287). Eldridge sold the entire 88 acres to Garrett Newkirk 1 December 1814 (Woodbury, U-401). The fulling mill was abandoned by 1820 (Prowell, p. 684). [See GOOD INTENT MILLS.]
On 26 March 1706 Samuel Ward bought of William Sharp [who had it surveyed to him] 100 acres on the north side of the North Branch, with Isaac Sharp on the east (per Cook to Albertson, below). On 27 June 1714 (Colonial Deeds, Gl A-12) Samuel Ward, of the Town of Gloucester, bought from Jarves Stockdale [Stockdel] and Cassandra, his wife [daughter of William Albertson (Clement, p. 104)], 100 acres adjoining on the west the first 100 acres, also on the north side of the branch. The deed named the adjoining owners Samuel Ward on the north and east, and John Smallwood on the west. So that Ward then owned a 200-acre tract along the north side of the North Branch.
Samuel Ward, of Baltimore County, Maryland, died in 1731, leaving a will, proved there, but an exemplified copy [i.e., specially certified because it came from out of state) was filed in New Jersey in 1733 (146 H). Daughters Hannah and Rosanna received the residue of his estate. On 7 May 1733, by an unrecorded deed (CCHS, Albertson Collection), William Cook and Hannah, his wife, and Levi Pearce (Perce) and Rosanna, his wife, sold the 200 acres to Josiah Albertson, as a single tract, naming as adjoining owners Isaac Sharp on the east, Josiah Albertson on the north, and John Smallwood on the west. None of the deeds mentioned above contained a metes and bounds [“legal”] description of the property. The 200 acres apparently were merged into the extensive Albertson holdings and were never described separately.
The three volume WPA Transcription of Second-Quarter Documents of Old Gloucester County Minute Book, 1721-1739, (p. 44), shows that Samuel Ward served as a Justice from 1715 to 1729. On 6 January 1724 the court undertook to clarify the boundary between Newton Township and Gloucester Township, calling for surveyors to “run a line from ye head of Richard Vallentines away to the head of Saml Wards Mill Creek and away to ye head of Abraham Porter’s land....”
Thirty years later, on 21 March 1754, the court agreed to have surveyors run a line “Beginning at ye head of a tract of land formerly Richd Valentines from thence North fifty degrees thirty five minutes East to ye head of a Creek or Branch called by ye name of Sam’l Wards Mill Creek....” (ibid., p. 449)
It has not been possible to pin down the location of Valentine’s land. The present northern boundary of Gloucester Township is Clements Bridge-Evesham Road, laid out in 1808 (Glo RR B-81). Its penultimate course, ending close to Clements Bridge, is S 70 • 50’ W l40 chains. There is extant a map of the road which shows that course started at “Bendaler” [Bendler] Branch, which is the northernmost tributary of Otter Branch. This writer concludes that Samuel Ward’s Mill Creek and Otter Branch are one and the same. And, since Samuel Ward’s Saw Mill was assessed 21 November 1721 and 8 November 1722 (Gloucester County Freeholders Minutes, 1701-1797, pp. 30, 32), it seems reasonable to assume that this sawmill was on that branch. See NICHOLSONS & TROTHS MILL, erected later on the same stream, which becomes a deep gorge just above where it empties into the North Branch of Timber Creek.
A guesstimated protraction of Ward’s 200 acres extends from just east of the mouth of Signeys Run, along the north bank of the North Branch, to include a part of Otter Branch at or near its mouth at the North Branch, i.e., at Floodgates.
WARE’S GRISTMILL see SWETT’S GRISTMILL
WATSON’S (BENJAMIN) SAWMILL
The will of Thomas Evans, of Chester Township, Burlington County (proved in 1749 [4455 C]) gave to his son Jacob a tract “lying on the Great Egg Habour Road about four miles beyond the Blue Anchor adjoyning on the Society line,” which translates to being not far above Folsom on the Folsom Road. The writer has been unable to determine how the title passed from Jacob Evans to Watson. Watson transferred title to the 411 acres to Zachariah Hoffman [a druggist in Philadelphia], 21 January 1808 (Woodbury M-120), and Hoffman reconveyed 4 August 1809 (Woodbury NN-22). Watson’s lane is mentioned in Glo RR A-166 (1793) laying out the “road from the Blue Anchor to the Shore,” and the “road from Weymouth Bridge to Blue Anchor” ran through his lands (Glo RR B-49 ).
The only water in the neighborhood which could have provided the power for the sawmill was Pennypot Stream.
WEBSTER’S GRISTMILL see NEWTON GRISTMILL
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