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Watermills of Camden County - By William Farr - Chapter N






NEWTON MILL (Goldsmith’s Gristmill, Webster’s, Stratton’s, Lippincott’s & Stratton’s, Ridgway’s, Laval’s, Wolcott’s, Conard’s, Jone’s, Taylor’s, Hopkin’s, Smith’s, Schnitzius')
In 1687 George Goldsmith, one of the six founders of Newton Colony, acquired 100 acres on the main branch of Newton Creek “about as high as the tyde flowes” (Colonial Deeds, Gl 1-28 and 31; Clement, p. 68; see, for its location: Clement’s Notes, Maps & Memoranda, p. 12; Maps and Drafts, Vol. 5, p. 30). Water powered mills are usually placed above the head of the tide in order to avoid its interference with the wheel’s operation. Prowell (p. 644) wrote that Goldsmith “built a grist-mill at the place where the present mill of J. J. Schnitzius is located. The land is known as the James Dobbs Farm.” That farm was downstream from Cuthbert Road, near the location of the old Atmores Dam (see Hopkins 1877 Atlas, Map of Haddon Township; Maps and Drafts, Vol. 6, pp. 18-19). Contrary to Prowell, the Schnitzius mill was at the same location as the Webster Mill, which was upstream from Cuthbert Road. Although Goldsmiths Mill is not mentioned by Clement (nor by anyone other than Prowell), his 100 acres were situated at approximately the same site as Websters Mill. Cuthbert Road, originally the means of access from the Haddonfield-Ferries Road (Haddon Avenue) to the mill, appears to have officially originated with an unrecorded “private” road return dated 11 April 1803 (HSP - Clement Collection). In 1816 it was rerouted a little and extended from John Stratton’s house at present Haddon Avenue to White Horse Pike, with Moses Lippincott’s house on the west side, about 2,900 feet down. (Glo RR B-197).

Goldsmith removed from the locality to parts unknown (Clement, p. 70). He was involved in a number of real estate transactions in the area, but no deed mentioned a mill. His latest dated transaction was a deed to John Ireson, 13 January 1695-6 (Colonial Deeds, Gl 3-67). We find nothing about a mill during the entire eighteenth century. The absence of Prowell’s source is frustrating.

On 8 November 1802 Samuel Eastlack and Samuel Webster entered into an agreement establishing the line between their properties, mentioning the mill race “dug by Samuel Webster” (Gloucester County Clerk, Boundaries & Division Book A, p. 122), which implies that a mill had been built by Webster or was about to be. Dated not long afterward, Hills’s 1809 map (CCHS, M.53.90.670) shows “Webster’s Newton Mills,” which provides the earliest reference found for that name. It is not known why Hills pluralized the word “mill.” Maps and Drafts, Vol 7, p. 71, locates a “mill” on what was Henry Stacy’s 490-acre 1683 survey (OSG, Revel-37), but with no indication when it was built.

It is likely that Samuel Webster built the mill and operated it. On 6 August 1760 Samuel Webster bought from Jacob Burrough 114 acres on the north side of the main branch of Newton Creek (unrecorded deed, HSH, Mss. 1913-001-302), and in 1763 bought land on the south side of the main branch from John Buzby by an unrecorded deed (Maps and Drafts, Vol. 7, p. 2). By his 1809 will, proved 1813, (2967 H) Webster gave his gristmill and part of his plantation to his son Josiah, plus all lands flowed by his millpond when a full head of water was raised, with the proviso that Josiah pay the “mill debts.” The millpond extended up to about where Park Avenue crosses the creek.

On 3 March 1814, Josiah Webster bought a 55-acre tract upstream and lying along the south side of present Haddon Avenue (Woodbury, T-478). When he sold off the middle 27 acres to Samuel Kay, he protected the mill by reserving drowning rights in favor of the “owner and possessor of the gristmill known by the name of Webster’s Mill.” “…sufficient to raise a full head of water” (20 May 1817, Woodbury, CC-4). This was probably in anticipation of a sale of the mill.

Samuel Webster apparently operated the mill until he died, but Josiah presumably did not wish to carry on. Josiah made a short-lived sale of the gristmill on a two-acre tract plus a 53-acre farm [the greater part of which was on the west side of Cuthbert Road], to Isaac Adcock, of Cumberland County, 25 March 1814 (Woodbury, T-374), but Adcock reconveyed 18 July 1814. Webster then sold the 55-acre farm and the gristmill to Moses Lippincott (of Evesham Township) and John Stratton (then of Newton), 13 August 1814 (Woodbury, T-541), with a separate agreement (recorded at T-543) whereby Webster granted to Stratton & Lippincott the right to raise a head of water two feet higher than “usual” (presumably overflowing other Webster land). On 25 November 1815 Stratton sold his half interest in the farm to Lippincott (Woodbury, CC-442), reserving, however, his interest in the gristmill. By a deed dated 19 November 1818 (Woodbury, DD-76), Lippincott sold his half interest in the gristmill to Stratton, who thus became the sole owner of the mill and water works, “together with...a small lot of ground for the accommodation of the gristmill,” and including the dam, pond and mill race.

Stratton had acquired much other land in the vicinity. On 30 April 1824 he sold to Jacob Ridgway, of Philadelphia, the gristmill, with its appurtenances, as well as a tract of six acres, which became (with a later ½ acre tract) the accepted millsite from then on (Woodbury B3-471). It was comprised of part of a three-acre lot which William Duncan (also of Philadelphia) sold to Stratton, 18 March 1822 (Woodbury, T-287), and part of the tract sold by Webster to Stratton & Lippincott (Woodbury, I-541). Webster sold the ½ acre to Ridgway 14 August 1824 (Woodbury, B3-473).

On 12 January 1830 Ridgway sold the gristmill and 6 ½ acres (Woodbury, B3-473), to John Laval (a bookseller of Philadelphia). On 21 May 1831 Laval sold it to Oliver Wolcott, his wife Jane, and son Oliver S. Wolcott as joint tenants, so that title would pass to the survivor (Woodbury, F3-4). Laval took back a mortgage from Oliver Wolcott dated 30 June 1831 (Woodbury Mortgages, O-62), which was assigned to Jacob Ridgway, who foreclosed it, resulting in a deed by the Sheriff to Daniel W. Conard and Thomas M. Bittle, 19 September 1840 (Woodbury, D4-270). On 8 October 1845, Daniel Conard & Sarah his wife conveyed a half interest in the gristmill to Oliver S. Wolcott (Woodbury, B-475).

On 8 January 1835, Wolcott (the son) had leased the mill for three years to Nathan Conard, who was already in occupancy (CCHS files), which was followed by an agreement of sale by Wolcott to Amos Taylor (of Chesterfield Township, Burlington County), dated 31 December 1846, subject to the lease to Conard, which Conard had assigned to Joseph Jones (CCHS files). Clement shows Conards Mill on his 1846 county map (CCHS, M.83.90.303). Clement’s map dated 3l May 1847, annexed to Cam RR10 laying out the Haddonfield-Camden Road (Haddon Avenue) as a turnpike, shows the mill road as Conard’s Road. Pursuant to the agreement of sale, Wolcott conveyed the mill to Taylor by a deed dated 4 January 1847 (Camden D-215) taking back a purchase money mortgage of even date. The deed recited that both Wolcott parents had died.

The millpond (later called Cuthbert Lake and now the site of the Haddon Township High School property), mill and millrace are portrayed on an 1847 Saunders survey of Amos Taylor’s property (GCHS, Map B-9), which shows the old stream heading southwest to the bridge at Cuthbert Road and parallel to the millrace, which was between the stream and the road, running down to the mill and rejoining the stream before it went under Cuthbert Road. On 17 June 1848, Taylor and Blakey Sharpless entered into an unrecorded agreement whereby, for twenty years, Taylor could increase the amount of water in his mill pond by damming a small stream running through Sharpless’ adjoining land and siphoning water to the mill pond (CCHS files.

The map annexed to Cam RR 59 (1853) shows the mill road as “Road to Taylor’s Mill.” His milldam is mentioned in a deed, Blakey Sharpless to Samuel V. Merrick, 8 June 1853 (Camden, S-223), for land adjoining the mill property. This deed does not mention the 1848 Taylor-Sharpless agreement.
Taylor died intestate (622 D) and in 1861 his administratrix, Rebecca H. Taylor, sold the mill to John C. Hopkins (Camden, 35-558). Clement provides an 1861 map of the Hopkins millpond and property (Maps and Drafts, Vol. 4, p. 63) and notes that Hopkins sold to Hiram Smith in 1864. The deed was actually dated 25 March 1865 (Camden 45-550).

Smith apparently added steam power; an article concerning his mill mentions both it and water power (West Jersey Press, 10 January 1872). Later that year Smiths Mill suffered a minor fire, (West Jersey Press, 27 November 1872). He continued in ownership until at least 1874 (Camden Democrat, 6 June 1874).
Prowell, as of 1889 (p. 653), wrote that Newton Mill was then owned by J. J. Schnitzius. The 1894 Report of the State Geologist, Vol. III (appendix) indicates that a flouring mill was still in operation at the “Cuthbert’s” locality, under J. J. Schnitzius ownership. The 1907 Hopkins’s Atlas shows Joseph Schnitzius owning the mill property but it also shows “Ruins of Newton Mills.” The late Clare Leap, of the Schnitzius family, stated that Joseph was the last operator of the mill and he closed it down in 1891. Howard R. Kemble mentions a recollection by one David K. Bennett that the mill burned down in the spring of 1906 (South Jersey Grist Mill, typescript, p. 68). A photograph of the mill is reproduced at page 134 of Down A Country Lane.



This is a story of an apparently unsuccessful effort to create some kind of a milling operation on Otter Branch, where it empties into the North Branch of Timber Creek at Floodgates near Chews Landing. The two participants were Abel Nicholson (1761-1829) and Jacob Troth. Ivy Chew wrote in “A Forgotten Road” in Gloucester Township” that Jacob Troth was married to Nathan Lippincott’s daughter, Rebecca, but it is more likely that his wife was Rebecca, the daughter of Abel Nicholson (My Ancestors, p. 141).

On 6 December 1782 Benjamin Pitfield sold the former Gabriel Davis [Davies] tavern at Chews Landing (on the north side of the creek and now owned by the Township of Gloucester) to Major George Payne, who lost it on mortgage foreclosure in 1783 to Joshua Lippincott (Woodbury, I-337). The property, totaling about 275 acres, extended north along the east side of Floodgates Road from the North Branch of Timber Creek and east to include the lower section of Otter Branch, as well as east along the north side of the White Horse Road (Somerdale Road).

Joshua Lippincott installed his son Nathan on the place and in 1805 transferred title to him (Woodbury, I-332). In 1814 Nathan Lippincott sold the tract to Keen & Breck (Woodbury, T-272) but within two months Dr. John C. Warner owned it (Woodbury, T-400). Warner sold 70 acres along the White Horse (Somerdale) Road on 1 October 1815 (Woodbury, W-447), and 30 acres encompassing the lower end of Otter Branch on 16 July 1816 (Woodbury, AA-289), to Abel Nicholson and Jacob Troth. For several years these tracts were known as their (Nicholson & Troth’s) mill seat (deeds: John C. Warner to Jacob Troth, 4 November 1816 (Woodbury, Z-404), by which Troth bought 59 acres, being the lower part of the plantation, including the house, which he conveyed to Nicholson within two weeks, that is, 30 December 1816 [Woodbury, Z-405]; and same to same, 31 December 1818 [Woodbury, DD-556, in which Otter Branch is called the Millseat Stream]).

For no apparent reason, the deed for the 70 acres provided that Nicholson and Troth agreed to convey back to Warner at $17.50 per acre “if any part of said land shall be drowned by raising a dam for a water machinery.”
The 30-acre piece encompassed the point where Otter Branch empties into the North Branch, and near where the partners must have intended to dam Otter Branch. The deed (Woodbury, AA-289) gave them the privilege of “drowning” Warner’s remaining land, if necessary to raise a head of 25 feet, which is an unusually high wall of water. The same parties entered into an agreement, bearing the same date and recorded immediately following, which reserved to Warner a clear view toward Timber Creek between parallel lines 12 feet from either side of the house (that is, the former tavern), and not to be obstructed by any building or trees; further, reserving all standing timber on the east side, to be removed “at such times as not obstruct the erection of water machinery.”

The agreement was recorded as a deed on 26 August 1816. On 4 November 1816 Warner signed a notation on the side of the record of the agreement acknowledging satisfaction of the reservation of the timber but presumably not that of the unobstructed view.

Whether a dam, a mill or other machinery was built or even started is unclear. No direct mention of a mill or millpond has been found. Two years after the second purchase, Troth sold his interest in both properties to Nicholson by a deed of 31 December 1818 (Woobury, DD-556), in which deed Otter Branch is again called “the mill seat stream.”

Nicholson sold the two pieces, as well as the remaining house property, to Joshua Tomlinson on 11 February 1823 (Woodbury, LL-56), who owned it until his death intestate in 1829 (3917 H). See the 1830 division of Tomlinson’s lands (Glo Co Surr Div Bk 2, p. 251).

There was probably an earlier mill on Otter Branch (see WARDS SAWMILL).


NORCROSS’ MILL (near Kirkwood)
On page 5 of Yesteryear two “Old Maps of Gibbsboro” are reproduced (not otherwise identified). On one is shown a “Norcross’ Mill,” which would have been located on the same stream as and upstream from HILLIARD’S SAWMILL. That would place it at Linden Lake. No other evidence has been found for the existence of this mill.

Isaiah Norcross became the owner of a 112-acre farm fronting on present White Horse Pike, and extending northeast to include the above-mentioned stream. He bought it 20 June 1848 (according to purchase money mortgage to Rebecca Swain, widow of John Swain [Camden Mortgages, B-364], who had bought it in 1830 from William Kain [Woodbury, A3-56]). The first railroad station (a platform) in Lindenwold was built at Isaac Norcross’s gate in 1854 (History of Lindenwold, pp. 56, 75). That history does not mention a mill. Norcross died in 1880 (ibid, p. 75), probably intestate.

NORCROSS & SEEDS SAWMILL (Richard’s (Samuel) Sawmill, Seeds’ & Norcross’ Sawmill)
Pillings Lake, the first lake upstream from Clementon Lake, was a swimming and recreation resort some years ago, named for Ralph Pillings, who owned it, but it earlier provided the power for a sawmill.

The account of the mills in the Clementon area in Old Mills (p. 49) is confusing in some respects. It incorrectly refers to the “South” Branch of Timber Creek instead of the North Branch, and the “next mill... below Clementon” which meant upstream from Clementon. It also states Also, that the sawmill was operated by Isaac Norcross in 1841, but the 1841 Gloucester Township Tax Book (CCHS, Mss. 505) shows Isaiah Norcross and is probably a reference to the NORCROSS’ SAWMILL on Albertson’s Branch rather than to the mill at Clementon.

In 1814 Michael C. Fisher & James B. Caldwell acquired sizable tracts at and near Clementon from Samuel Clement’s executors (Woodbury, H-447). By deed 24 September 1822 (Woodbury, JJ-340), Fisher & Caldwell sold 350 acres (which would have included the pond for the sawmill which is the subject of this article) to Thomas Dugdale, but they must have reacquired the tract since they lost it by Sheriff’s sale to James and Thomas Jaggard, 8 March 1830 (Woodbury, QQ-223 [tract 2]). The Jaggards in turn (now inexplicably including Robert Jaggard) lost it to Samuel Richards by Sheriff’s deeds 13 November 1830 (Woodbury, B3-194, B-197 and B-200). Richards sold 253 acres to James & Daniel Stoy and Joshua B. Lippincott, 28 December 1836 (Woodbury, R3-388), but retained a 30-acre millpond tract. The Stoys also had a sawmill at Westmont (see STOY’S SAWMILL).

There is uncertainty as to who built this sawmill. Fisher (Clementon, p. 53) implies that Jeremiah Seeds built the mill. But a deed from James W. Lamb, 5 March 1845 (Camden, B-143) for a portion of the 253 acres, referred to the adjacent sawmill tract as “Sam’l Richards sawmill property,” suggesting that the mill was in operation during his ownership.

Richards died in Philadelphia in 1842, and his executors, by deed dated 31 August 1849 (Camden, J-290), sold the millpond tract to Uriah Norcross and Jeremiah Seeds. “SEEDS & NORCROSS SAWMILL” is shown on the 1851 Map of the Vicinity of Philadelphia (CCHS, M.2001.74). Norcross and Seeds conveyed fifteen acres to Isaac Tomlinson, 8 December 1855 (Camden, Z-507), with the right to overflow Seeds & Norcross’ lands below the sawmill pond in order to raise an adequate head of water in Clementon Lake for Tomlinson’s Gristmill at Berlin-Clementon Road. And Tomlinson’s heirs sold the fifteen acres (along with the gristmill pond [Clementon Lake]) to Theodore P. Gibbs, 2 April 1872 (Camden, 70-308). See CLEMENTON MILLS. Ralph Pillings bought the dam, the water and the surrounding land from Sarah T. Van Sant, 13 September 1907 (Camden, 319-581).

It is probable that the use of the water power for the sawmill had been discontinued by 1855 since “Norcross & Seed’s sawmill” is shown on the 1850 Nunan Map of the Township of Gloucester (CCHS, M.83.90.449). Barnes & Vanderveer 1856 Map of Camden County (CCHS, M.83.90.646); makes making no reference to a sawmill, notes only Jeremiah Seeds’s name.

As of November of 1994 the dam was breached and the pond was drained.

The information which has been discovered about this mill is not as satisfying as might be wished. The mill pond occupied part of Lot 13, Block 5007, Winslow Tax Map, on Albertsons Branch, upstream from BATES SAWMILL. The late Harry Marvin, who spent his youth in the neighborhood of Cedarbrook, just upstream, remembered the pond, which was sometimes referred to as Beebetown Pond, for the small settlement of that name along Beebetown Road, originally a “swamp road,” which ran down the north side of the stream.

The original survey was 58 acres, made to William Hollinshead in 1799 (OSG, R-119; Maps and Drafts,). And see Maps and Drafts, Vol. 2, p. 60), extending from the area later to comprise the pond down about a mile to the Bates Mill tract. In 1831 and 1832 Isaiah Norcross acquired by two deeds, one from Hollinshead’s executors, the other from Wallace Lippincott (Woodbury, E3-446 and K3-296). Three small swamp lots were flooded for the pond and are shown on Clement’s Warrants & Surveys, No. 404. Norcross Millpond is shown on Maps and Drafts, Vol. 2, p. 78 and Vol. 5, p. 34; and shown and identified on Vol. 2, p. 71. “Norcross Saw Mill Pond,” and the mill at its foot, are shown on Warrants & Surveys No. 141. In 1841 Isaiah Norcross was assessed for a sawmill (CCHS, 1841 Gloucester Township Tax Book [CCHS, Mss. 505]). Marvin gave the writer a map he drew of the Cedarbrook area on which he noted that the mill was gone by 1900.

It may be the same as Josiah Norcross’s Sawmill “near Waterford,” listed in Kirkbride’s 1850 New Jersey Business Directory. The Lake & Beers 1860 Map of...Philadelphia and Camden (CCHS, M.83.90.572) shows “Z. Norcross S. Mill,” presumably a reference to a sawmill.



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