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Howellville Mill & Jeans Factory


1847 map

Map of Tredyffrin, 1847
(Howellville Mill marked as Woollen Fac. south of Howellville)

Note: Jeans was a type of cloth, not the pants.

The Mill on Crabby Creek is first mentioned in a road document from 1762. It seems that the miller was Joseph Mitchell. It next appears as a Grist Mill in a mortgage document of Jonathan Gilbert in 1763. See the 1847 map above for its location. The Grist Mill had various owners over the years. Casper Steinmetz owned it from 1777 to 1786. His advertisement for sale in the Pennsylvania Gazette reads as follows:

Tredyffrin township, Chester County, March 17, 1786

To be SOLD, by public vendue

On Friday, 7th April next, at 10 o'clock in the forenoon,
on the premises, for a term of six years or for ever.

A stone messuage, grist mill, and plantation or tract of land situated in Tredyffrin township, Chester County, situated in the Valley, near Howell’s Tavern, where the road leading to Sweed’s Ford and the Yellow Springs road intersect with each other, about one mile from the Lancaster Road, and 20 miles form the city of Philadelphia. The plantation contains about 30 acres of land, 16 whereof are good arable land, under high lime and dung manure, and yielded for 7 or 8 years past from 200 to 250 bushels of grain per annum, with an orchard of about 80 apple trees thereon, and some peach trees; about 3 acres and a half are good watered meadow, and are generally mowed three times per annum, the remainder is fine woodland. The messuage or dwelling-house and mill are all of stone, and in good order, the mill hath two sets of stones, one for merchant and one set for country work custom, of which the last particularly there is a very good run; the whole of the mill gears are in the best order. The water is a never-failing stream, with about 22 feet fall, consisting of several fine springs, one whereof in particular falls directly on the wheel, and is clear of ice the whole winter through; there is also a large stone barn about 4 years old, well built and very convenient, with good stone stables on both sides; there are further on the premises, a log distillery, with two distills and all other utensils for carrying on the distillery; the water, by means of a small canal, runs out of the mill into the distills, which makes it convenient; also a lime kiln, in good order, and a rich lime stone quarry; wood in great plenty may be found close to the kiln, very cheap, or on halves for lime. The title is indisputable. The terms of sale and payment, which will be easy, will be known at time and place of sale, and attendance with be given, by CASPER STEINMETZ
N.B. Possession with be given on the first day of May next.

In 1798 the buildings are described as a stone grist mill 39’ x 36’; stone barn 40’ x 25’ on 44 acres. The following advertisement by Peter Conway appeared in 1813:

A Mill …It has a never failing stream of water – two runs of stones and the inside work is entirely new and in complete repair. It has an overshot wheel 25 feet in diameter, has everything complete for Merchant work, and is in an excellent neighborhood for Country work.

There may be attached to it at a small expense a building to contain machines for carding wool or cotton or nay other machinery requiring a small power. The dwelling is comfortable for a small family, with a good stone barn, containing stables, cow-house etc. The land attached to the said mill consists of between 38 and 39 acres, all of good quality, being 28 acres of valley land and the remainder in upland timber, consisting of chestnut and oak. For terms other particulars enquire of John Suckley or P. Conway (on the premises).

The stone barn was used as a store in the 1820s as mentioned in the following advertisement for sale in 1824:

The improvements are a good three story stone mill house with two runs of stones, and all the modern machinery in good order for the making of flour. The whole has sometime since undergone a complete repairing, and now enjoys a large part of country custom. A part of the building is fitted up and occupied as a dwelling. There is also on the premises a large frame building, occupied as a store and dwelling house, situated a few yards from the mill, in which, at this time, a considerable business is done. There is likewise a good stone barn, a new stone spring house over an excellent spring near the dwellings.

In 1827 John Jones purchased the property, sold the mill machinery, and converted the premises to woolen product manufacturing. Robert Webster ran the business for a number of years and in 1847 advertised the products as: blankets, satinets, cloths, cassimers, flannels, lindsey, stocking and carpet yarn.

In the 1850 manufacturing census the business is described as manufacturing Kentucky Geans with 216 spindles, 10 looms, water powered, 9 people employed. The mill was burned down in 1851 but was rebuilt. The decline in the business started around 1870 when it closed down for the first time with 39 people becoming unemployed. Various attempts were made to keep the business going including changing products and converting from water to steam power but the business met its final demise when it burnt down in 1882. Further details are contained in Myrtle Wandless’ article Weavers and Weaving in Tredyffrin-Easttown.

A detailed timeline for the Mill(s)

  • 1762 Jonathan Gilbert tax. No Jonathan Gilbert purchase deed found. Road document mentions mill race and Joseph Mitchell (presumably the miller).
  • 1763 Jonathan Gilbert mortgage, Grist Mill

    Deed N-201: On 12 Nov 1763 Jonathan Gilbert of Tredyffrin, yeoman, to Trustees of the College, Academy and charitable schools of Philadelphia. Jonathan Gilbert stands bound to the Trustees for £1600 conditioned on payment of £800 plus interest on 12 Nov 1764. Jonathan Gilbert to better secure said debt granted to the Trustees a grist mill & 100 acres of land in Tredyffrin bounded by land of Thomas Hubbert, Thomas James, land late of Llewelyn David, land of John David & Jenkin David & another tract of land in Tredyffrin bounded by land of William Evans, Thomas James & the first described tract containing 194¾ acres. Signed Jonathan Gilbert. Delivered in the presence of Charles Pettit & William Ball.
    Recorded 7 Dec 1763.
  • 1764 Sheriff to Joshua Medinhall Grist Mill; deed poll not found
  • 1765 Joshua Medinhall to Samuel Weaver and David Howell; deed not found
  • 1765 Samuel Weaver to David Howell release O-190 (mentions mill dam)
  • 1765 David Howell to Samuel Weaver grist mill and 4 tracts (deed H2-106; no useful boundary information)
  • 1765 Samuel Weaver grist mill on 40 acres (county tax)
  • 1767 Samuel Weaver mill on 70 acres (county tax)
  • 1767 Grist Mill Samuel Weaver to Jacob Giradin (deed Q-456; no useful boundary information)
  • 1771 Grist Mill Jacob Giradin to Michael Cypher (deed W2-111; multiple plots, mentions Adam Gider & David Howell)
  • 1775 Jacob Cypher mill Provincial Tax
  • 1776 Jacob Cypher mill Provincial Tax
  • 1777 Grist Mill Michael Cypher to Casper Steinmetz (deed W2-115; mentions Christian Workizer)
  • 1778 Casper Steinmetz mill State Tax
  • 1779 Casper Steinmetz Tax
  • 1781 Casper Steinmetz Grist Mill (& still), £95 & £100; (tax)
  • 1783 Casper Steinmetz Grist Mill (& 1 distillery), £150 & £50; Tax: 2.75%
  • 1785 Casper Steinmetz Saw Mill (State Tax)
  • 1786 Casper Steinmetz Grist Mill (Tax) Casper Steinmetz to Thomas Brown (deed H2-120)
  • 1787 Thomas Brown Grist Mill on 30 acres (Tax)
  • 1788 Joseph Eake Grist Mill on 30 acres (tax)
  • 1789 Joseph Eake Grist Mill on 30 acres (State tax)
  • 1791 Joseph Eake Grist Mill on 33 acres (tax) Thomas Brown to Rees Price; mill & 4 lots (deed H2-123)
  • 1795 Jacob Keyser Grist Mill on 43 acres (tax)
  • 1796 Rees Price: (tenant Jacob Keyser) Grist Mill, $300 (tax)
  • 1796 Rees Price to Adam Guider; mill & 5 lots (deed O2-29)
  • 1797 Miller & mill – Abraham Guider (tax)
  • 1798 Grist Mill – Abraham Guider (tax)
  • 1798 Adam Guider to Jacob Benner; mill & 5 lots (deed Q2-311)
  • 1798 Jacob Benner – Stone grist mill 39’ x 36’; stone barn 40’ x 25’ on 44 acres (glass tax)
  • 1799 Grist Mill – Jacob Banner (county tax)
  • 1800 Jacob Benner – Grist Mill
  • 1801 Jacob Benner – Grist Mill
  • 1802 Jacob Benner to Matthias Kolb (deed X2-528)
  • 1805 Matthias Kolb to John Workizer (deed Y2-276)
  • 1810 John Workizer mill on 33 acres (county tax) John Workizer to Peter Conway (deed E3-246)
  • 1811 Peter Conway to George Suckley (deed F3-315)
  • 1813 P. Conway Mill with 2 run of stones on 38+ acres, near Howell’s tavern (sale ad Chester & Delaware Federalist 11/3/1813). No Peter Conway probate Peter Conway may have sold the property to George Suckley of NYC (deed F3-315)
  • 1814 Phillip Snyder miller (Pennsylvania Septennial Census)
  • 1818 Sheriff’s Deed to Elizabeth Markley 8/13/1818, vol. 2 p 120 – 121.. 2 tracts with improvements and mills, 12 acres & 21 acres. Previous owners William & Sarah Baker. Phillip Snyder purchase deed not found.
  • 1819 Grist Mill. Sheriff to James Hunt (deed #2, p 157), previous owner Phillip Snyder
  • 1819 Grist Mill. James Hunt to Elizabeth Markley, deed P3-443
  • 1824 Stone Mill, 3 stories, on 40 acres, 2 pairs of stones, near Howell’s tavern, will of Elizabeth Markley (sale ad, Village Record 10/20/1824)
  • 1825 Mill on 40 acres, 2 pairs of stones, near Howell’s tavern, on road from Lancaster turnpike to Swedesford Road (sale ad) Edward & Augustine Bartholomew – grist mill & store (county tax)
  • 1825 Grist Mill. Executors of Elizabeth Markley to Edward Bartholomew, deed Y3-376
  • 1825 Advertisement for tailoring by John M’Keever at E. Bartholomew’s Store (Village Record 4/20/1825)
  • 1826 Farm (sale ad American Republican 11/7/1826)
    A valuable farm containing 40 acres … near Howell’s tavern, bounded by lands of William Hall, John Howell deceased, and others … The improvements are a dwelling and a fine mill, with two pairs of stones, with an overshot wheel … There is also on the premises a large and convenient stone barn, a strong spring of water, … also a store house and dwelling house adjoining, and an excellent stand for business, where a store is kept at present.
    Edward and Augustine Bartholomew

    1826 Farm (sale ad Village Record 11/15/1826) Public Sale 16th Dec. next 2 o’clock in the afternoon, a Valley farm, 40 acres of Valley land .. cultivated .. fences .. meadow and woodland, Tredyffrin Township, Chester Co., near Howell’s Tavern, bounded by lands of Wm. Hall, John Howell, late deceased .. about 18 miles from Philadelphia and 1 from the Lancaster Turnpike, excellent neighborhood, convenient .. improvements include dwelling and fine mill, 2 pair stone, overshot wheel, situate on the public road leading from Lancaster Turnpike to Swedesford .. stone barn, strong spring, orchard, garden, storehouse and dwelling house. Store kept at present.
    Edward Bartholomew, Augustine Bartholomew.
  • 1827 Grist Mill. Edward Bartholomew to John Jones, deed Z3-525
  • 1827 John Jones, Grist Mill machinery (sale ad, Village Record 4/18/1827)
  • 1827 John Jones, Grist Mill (sale ad)
  • 1828 John Jones, manufacturer (Pennsylvania Septennial Census)
  • 1830 John Jones, factory (county tax)
  • 1835 John Jones, manufacturer (Pennsylvania Septennial Census) John Jones, factory (county tax)
  • 1838 John Jones Fulling Mill (tax)
  • 1839 John Jones Fulling Mill on 37 acres (tax)
  • 1842 Robert Webster, manufacturer of woolen goods at Howellville, carding (ad) Robert Webster, woolen manufacturer (Pennsylvania Septennial Census)
  • 1844 Robert Webster, manufacturer of woolen goods at Howellville, carding (ad)
  • 1845 Robert Webster, manufacturer of woolen goods at Howellville, carding (ad)
  • 1847 Robert Webster, manufacturer of woolen goods at Howellville, carding (ad) Blankets, satinets, cloths, cassimers, flannels, lindsey, stocking and carpet yarn. 1847 Woollen factory on 1847 map
  • 1848 Robert Webster, manufacturer of woolen goods at Howellville (newspaper clipping)
  • 1848 John E. Webster, manufacturer of woolen goods at Howellville, carding (ad)
  • 1850 Robert Webster Kentucky Geans 216 spindles, 10 looms, water powered, 9 people employed (manufacturing census)
  • 1851 Robert Webster’s mill, owned by John Jones, destroyed by fire (newspaper clipping)
  • 1856 Woolen Factory at Howellville (Kennedy map of Chester County)
  • 1860 Mill or factory John Jones to Samuel Wood jr., deed N6-444
  • 1870 Cotton and wool factory idled, 35 unemployed (newspaper clipping L. 5/7/1870)
  • 1873 Woolen factory at Walkerville (Witmer’s Atlas)
  • 1879 Samuel Wood, idle for 2½ years (newspaper clipping L. 4/18/1879, 5/23/1879, 5/30/1879)
  • 1879 Samuel Wood, closed for new boiler (newspaper clipping L./ 9/17/1879)
  • 1879 Isaac W. Smith idle for 2½ years, opened, then closed (newspaper clipping)
  • 1880 Mill or factory. Sheriff to Isaac W. Smith (deed #8, p350)
  • 1880 Samuel Wood, Woolen mills in operation again, making woolen yarn, rather than shoddy as previous, 1 dozen employees (newspaper clipping L. 2/18/1880)
  • 1880 Samuel Wood, adding 400 new spindles (newspaper clipping L. 6/1/1880)
  • 1881 Samuel Wood, mill going back into operation (newspaper clipping)
  • 1882 Mrs. Samuel Wood owner, Samuel Wood jr., nephew, operator, mill destroyed by fire, 3 stories (newspaper clipping L. 9/20/1882)
  • 1883 No mill or factory shown (Breou’s Atlas)

Acknowledgement: Marianne Hooper contributed to the creation of this mill history.