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Watermills of Camden County - By William Farr - Chapter L



LAUREL MILLS (Porter’s Mills, Atkinson-Southwick-Webster Sawmill, Hillman’s Mills; Smith’s Gristmill, Cooper’s, Bolton’s, Massey & Bolton’s; Tice's, Page’s, Tomlinson’s, Tomlinson’s Sawmill)
These mills were in operation for many years at the foot of Laurel Lake, on the North Branch of Timber Creek, just below the bridge on Laurel Road, and probably originated with a sawmill built by Abraham Porter. Clement relates (pp. 259-260) that Abraham Porter acquired lands in that vicinity in 1714, 1715, and 1716, totaling 1,200 acres, and was assessed for a sawmill and gristmill. He was assessed for “sawmills” and a gristmill by an act passed 25 January 1716-1717 (NJA, 3rd Ser., Vol II, p. 216). The compilers reprinted this act in an addendum in the final volume on the basis of a “more legible manuscript copy” but managed to misspell Porter’s name and showed simply “mill” (ibid., Vol V, p. 391). The only other sawmill in Gloucester County assessed by that law was John Kay’s (see WALKERS SAWMILL). “Abraham Porter’s Mill” was again assessed 8 November 1722 (Gloucester County Freeholders’ Minutes 1701-1797, p. 32). It appears from a recital in a deed made by Porter’s executors to Daniel Hingston, 27 July 1734 (Colonial Deeds, EF-192), that he also had bought land in 1709 from Peter Stretch, and in 1722 from John Roe.

Between 1721 and his death (will proved 24 March 1729-30 [117 H]), Porter sold off considerable real estate to James Parrock, of Philadelphia - about 2,600 acres. By a deed dated 7 March 1732 (Colonial Deeds, DD-236), his executors bought them back (a quite unusual maneuver), and eventually resold them. Included in the cited deed was a tract of 585 acres, containing “the sawmill & plantation,” which stretched along the north side of the North branch of Timber Creek and present Laurel Lake, from Signeys Run east about a mile. Porter did not live on this tract, but rather on a smaller tract on the south side of Coopers Creek, just above present Kirkwood Lake (see Clement, p. 259 and map in History of Lindenwold, p. 23).

It is not easily understandable why, in the meantime, Porter (and later his executors) would treat the sawmill as if he still owned it. On 4 December 1729, shortly before his death, he advertised in the American Weekly, (NJA, Vol. 40XL p. 198) for sale about 3,000 acres with a “good Saw Mill upon it with the ruins of a Corn Mill....” A prospective purchaser could contact James “Parrot,” who was undoubtedly Parrock, the then record owner of the sawmill. Then on 21 August 1730, long before the reconveyance to the executors, they advertised in the Pennsylvania Gazette (ibid.), p. 217) the sale of 3,000 acres and a sawmill.

At any rate, a the sawmill was located on the 518 acres, and probably at the same location as the subsequent mills, that is, where present Laurel Road (then a continuation of the old Salem Road) crosses the North Branch, and on the north side of the stream, where the old Tomlinson house still stands.

It has been suggested that Porter had a sawmill at Chews Landing, more than two miles down stream, rather than at Laurel Road, or had an additional sawmill at Chews Landing. Boyer inclines toward the Laurel Road location (Old Mills, p. 45). Clement (p. 259) states that this sawmill “probably stood upon the site of the grainmill now the property of Ephraim Tomlinson,” that is, at Laurel Road. In 1739, road surveyors laid out a road in Gloucester Township, from Blackwood to Haddonfield, to run by “the Widow Roe’s, and so by Porter’s Old Mill, thence following the said [old] road by Segentus [Signeys] Run...” (Gloucester Township Minutes), which seems to point to Porters Mill as being in the Chews Landing area, but actually refers to the Laurel Road branch. But it could as well refer to the Laurel Road location. More information as to the possible location at Chews Landing can be found at PORTER’S MILL and WARD’S SAWMILL.

On 8 January 1732, Ephraim Tomlinson (1695-1780) bought from Porter’s executors 619 acres, extending from the North Branch down to Masons Run, and from half a mile west of Laurel Road southeast about two miles (Colonial Deeds, P-230). No part of this tract was on the north side of the North Branch. Clement states (p. 198) that this tract was on both sides of the branch, as does Shaylor’s History of Lindenwold (p. 80), but that is not borne out by the deed; it extended only along the south side. No Tomlinson was involved with the mills until Benjamin acquired title in the nineteenth century. On 1 May 1734, Porter’s executors advertised for sale the remaining portion of his homestead plantation, which he called Portersfield, of some 1,800 acres, with no mention of a mill (NJA XL, p. 344), from which Shaylor (p. 81) assumes that the sawmill was included in Tomlinson’s 619 acres.

“Webster’s Mill” was assessed (12 shillings) by the Freeholders in 1742, as was Samuel Atkinson’s (3 shillings) (Gloucester County Freeholders Minutes 1701-1797). A tract of 291 acres, including a sawmill, on the north side of the branch, was bought by John Hillman from Thomas Atkinson 8 April 1745 (Colonial Deeds, H-85).That this tract had been Porter’s land is shown on a survey of a number of Jonathan Wright’s tracts between the South Branch of Coopers Creek and the North Branch of Timber Creek (CCHS, M.83.90.163). Hillman’s tract stretched east along the creek some 3,000 feet from Quaker Run, and would have encompassed Laurel Road, indicating that this early sawmill was on the north side of the creek. Inserted at the end of the deed was a note: “Ye saw mill on the premises here mentioned, two-thirds of her is accepted [sic] as a right properly belonging to Thomas Webster and Meam Southwick, it being omitted in the deed.” In other words, the deed conveyed the land to Hillman, but, since the sawmill was owned in common by Atkinson, Webster and Southwick (by what means has not been discovered), the deed transferred only Atkinson’s one-third interest in the sawmill. Southwick and Webster also owned adjacent tracts on the north and east respectively. Shaylor’s History of Lindenwold (p. 81) records wrote that in 1740 Thomas Atkinson Sr. bought one-third of a sawmill from Ephraim Tomlinson. Although Atkinson did own one-third of the subject sawmill, the writer has been unable to find any evidence that he got it from Tomlinson, and Shaylor’s text did not customarily cite sources for his statements.

On 20 March 1755, road surveyors laid out a road: Beginning in the line of the lands between Gabriel Davies & Richard Arrell, at the Irish Road, in Gloucester Township, and from thence down the said line strait, two rods on each side of the said line, to said Gabriel Davies Dam over the North Branch of Great Timber Creek, from thence along said dam to the sluice and from said sluice the most convenient and direct course to the Landing Road leading to Cheeseman’s Landing, thence up said Landing Road and along the line between Jno. Bryant and Jno. Hider to Ephraim Tomlinson’s Bridge and from thence the nearest, & most direct and best way to John Williams Gristmill. (WPA Transcriptions of First Quarter Century Documents of Old Gloucester County. Vol. 1-2 , 1686 -1713, p. 349). This was apparently the forerunner of the road from Chews Landing to Clementon.

A small portion of this road can be traced along the south side of several tracts sold by Samuel Cooper to Daniel Smith, 20 February 1782 (Woodbury A-202). Glo RR A-13 (1762), relaying the road from Longacoming toward Chews Landing (Laurel Road), picks up, at Ephraim’s Hill the road formerly laid out from John Hillman’s Mill to the [tavern] house to Gabriel Davies (probably the 1755 road), and runs “down the same road” to the hill opposite said Davis’s house. Reversing the direction, the 1755 road would presumably, at Ephraim’s Hill, have bent north onto the Old Salem Road which went by John Hillman’s Gristmill [Laurel Mill].

Thomas Webster’s will (proved 1748, 409 H) gave to his widow, Sarah, during widowhood, “the one-third part of the saw mill,” but made no provision for it then passing to someone else, and there was no residuary clause in the will by which it would pass. Sarah died in 1754 (563 H). Meam (variously spelled) Southwick’s will (proved 1765, 894 H) mentions neither an interest in a sawmill nor any real estate.
John Hillman must have acquired the Webster and Southwick interests in the sawmill (as distinguished from the land), perhaps by documents not required to be recorded. John Hillman gave to his son Joseph, among other things, a one-third interest in the sawmill by an unrecorded deed dated 19 March 1759 (HSH, Mss. 476), notwithstanding which John Hillman’s 1764 will (858 H) gave one-third of a sawmill to his widow, Elizabeth; one-third to son Joab; one-third to son Josiah. The language of the will is confusing as to the homestead, giving it to Elizabeth, and later in the will to Josiah. Josiah Hillman mortgaged it to William Fox in 1772 (Woodbury Mortgages, B-32). There was also a 1773-74 assessment on 294 acres and a gristmill (Gloucester Township Ratables). It would appear that John Hillman built the gristmill, sometime between 1745 and 1750, since for the latter year he was assessed for a mill of each type (Gloucester County Freeholders Minutes 1701-1797) The writer has learned little about Col. Hillman, a Revolutionary War veteran, not even the date of his death. Mickle wrote that he was “esteemed a good officer and saw much hard service,” including at the Battle of Monmouth (Reminiscences, pp. 126-7).

The writer has not been able to discover how Daniel Smith became involved with the owner of the property, but he was assessed for the gristmill and 300 acres for the years 1778 through 1782 (Gloucester Township Ratables). Smith apparently then sold to Samuel Cooper, son of Benjmin and Elizabeth Cooper (Prowell, p. 409), and husband of Prudence (no deed has been found), who was assessed in 1783. The assessor apparently was not aware that by 1 January 1783 Cooper had sold to Joseph Bolton, since on that date, Bolton gave to Cooper a purchase money mortgage (Woodbury Mortgages, D-251).

A short “bridle road” was laid out at the request of Samuel Warrick by a return dated 22 May 1781 (to be found with Gloucester Township Minutes) which became, by Glo RR A-205, above-mentioned, a part of Warrick Road. It extended from the “old crossing at Signey’s Run” southeast to the road “from the Egg-Harbour Road to Smiths Mill,” that is, Laurel Road. The 1796 Glo RR A-205, laying out Warrick Road as a private road, began at “the road that leads from Eggharbour Road to Joseph Bolton’s Mills,” that is, also, Laurel Road.

By 1786 Bolton took in a partner, for in that year the mill was assessed to Massey & Bolton, and in 1787 to Bolton & Massey. But Bolton apparently retained title to the 300 acres since he alone was assessed for the land for 1793 through 1797, and for the mill for the years 1793 through 1795. The 1784 will of Joseph Bolton (a man of means from Philadelphia), not proved until 4 February 1800 (2281 H), devised to his children “ ½ part of mill and plantation, purchased of Samuel Cooper on Timber Creek.” But immediately the property was sold to Joseph P. Hillman at Sheriff sale on a judgment by Cooper against Bolton (deed dated 31 March 1800, Woodbury D-496, mentioning the 291 acres, the gristmill, and the sawmill).

Joseph P. Hillman died soon after this purchase. His will (proved 18 July 1801, 2377 H) gave all real estate to sons Joseph P. Jr. and Theophilus when they came of age. The road to the mill from the White Horse Tavern (Laurel Road), eventually laid out in 1805 (Glo RR B-22), ended at the “foot of the hill at Hillman’s Grist Mill,” that is, at the North Branch). “Hillman’s Mill” is mentioned in the Gloucester Township Minutes of 10 May 1806. Joseph P.’s executors sold off two small tracts at the north end of the tract. Joseph P. Hillman Jr. sold his half interest in the remainder (which included the gristmill and the sawmill), to John Brick 10 April 1810 (Woodbury N-453). By a deed 13 March 1813 (Woodbury, S-72), Brick and Theophilus sold the whole establishment to Sea Captain Richard Tice, Brick taking back a mortgage dated 18 March 1813 (Woodbury Mortgages, G-60), in which the place was referred to as Hillmansville. [This is not to be confused with Hillmanton, now Glendora.] Before the year was out, on 3 December 1813, Tice sold to Benjamin Page of Philadelphia (Woodbury T-114), presumably subject to the last-mentioned mortgage. In a deed for an unrelated tract (Samuel Chambers to Henry Bostwick, 7 October 1813 [Woodbury, S-260]), Laurel Road was called “The new road from Levi Ellis to Tice’s Mill.”

An advertisement for the sale of “Laurel Mills” (the first use of that name noted by the writer), probably to stave off a foreclosure of Brick’s mortgage, which appeared in the Herald & Gloucester Farmer on 28 March 1821, provides interesting details: The size was 260 acres, including a gristmill with two run of stones and a sawmill, a mansion house, and houses for the miller and the sawyer. Richard Harding was living on the premises.

On 5 July 1821, Benjamin Tomlinson bought Laurel Mills from Benjamin Page for $7,500 (Woodbury, JJ-178), no mention being made in the deed of the Brick mortgage. But Brick proceeded with a foreclosure and the plantation was sold by the Sheriff to Tomlinson on a high bid of $4,000 (deed dated 13 October 1821 [Woodbury, II-667]). This was the first involvement of the Tomlinson family. The amount paid for these two deeds seem reversed and suggest some sort of a financial prearrangement.

As to the intervening owners, it is to be doubted that Sea Captain Tice (of Philadelphia) operated either mill (although there were other Tices who were in the sawmill business, for example TICE'S BIG MILL), but in an 1814 resurvey of his lands by Benjamin Tomlinson the mill pond is called Page’s Mill Pond (OSG, DD-220; Warrants & Surveys, No. 363).

During the next few years, Tomlinson tried to get the creek opened to navigation from his Upper Mill at Park Avenue (TOMLINSON'S GRISTMILL) down to the forks of the north and south branches of Timber Creek below Chews Landing.. He advertised a number of times (e.g. Gloucester Farmer, 23 September 1823, and Village Herald, 1 September 1824) his intention to apply to the Legislature for permission to remove the floodgates at Chews Landing and erect a lock at the forks of the North and South Branches. Charles Shaylor thought the reason to be that Tomlinson had to haul lumber overland 2 ½ miles, destined for Philadelphia, to get past Floodgates, where it could then be floated to the city (History of Lindenwold, p. 81).

There are on file with the Secretary of State (now at the New Jersey Archives), among the Papers on Roads, Dams, Bridges & Ferries, supporting affidavits of John and Josiah Dill, dated 6 November 1824, asserting that floodgates were not needed to keep the tide out of the meadows upstream and were in fact contributing to the silting up of the stream below them.

Tomlinson was influential enough to get the Legislature to pass the requested law on 17 December 1824, but, as permitted by its terms, a caveat to obtain a jury trial on objections was filed by a number of property owners near the stream: Christopher Sickler, Joshua Tomlinson, Anthony Warrick, Jazer Sickler, Samuel B. Hunt, Jacob Sickler, John Albertson, John Hider, Josiah B. Sickler and Ralph Hunt. The writer has been unable to find out what then ensued, but apparently nothing came of all this effort. In Benjamin Tomlinson’s 1841 will (Gloucester County Wills 1836-1846, p. 137), proved 1843 (4706 H), he gave to his sons Isaac and James lots on the creek for landings at Laurel Road “if the creek should be ever cleared out or made navigable.”

Tomlinson had the gristmill, which he called the Lower Mill, since he owned TOMLINSONS GRISTMILL upstream at Park Avenue) rebuilt by an English millwright (Village Herald, 29 September 1824). He then advertised his “Lower Farm, Grist Mill, Saw Mill, and Carding Machines” for lease (ibid.), 19 January 1825). Although there is no other evidence of his branching out into a fulling mill, Howard R. Kemble was of the opinion that he may “have done some wool carding to prepare fleece for spinning at home.” (GCHS, Kemble’s Gristmill, p. 152) The gristmill at Laurel Road remained in the Tomlinson name for many years, and did not cease operations until 1956 (History of Lindenwold, p. 84). In 1841 Ephraim Tomlinson was assessed for a three-run gristmill and a one-saw sawmill (CCHS, 1841 Gloucester Township Tax Book).
The History of Lindenwold provides an account of the mills and other information concerning the well known Tomlinson Family. Old Mills contains much additional information, including a picture of the gristmill facing page 8.






The waters of Tindalls Run in Cherry Hill (although now reduced to a trickle) were used to power a turning mill, but it is uncertain when the mill was in operation, by whom operated, and where exactly it was located. [This mill’s pond should not be confused with Abbotts Pond. See Waterways, p. 1.] The information so far discovered is sketchy. A turning mill is used to drive a lathe to form cylindrical articles.

The mill is first noticed in a deed from William Bates to James Wood, 1 February 1816 (Woodbury, Y-145) for 28 acres in which is now located the intersection of Caldwell Road with Haddonfield-Berlin Road. This small tract was identified in that deed as a plantation and turning mill, late the property of Arthur Linville, who had lost it by Sheriff’s sale in 1815.

Linville bought the 28-acre tract from Philip Mintle, 4 June 1808 (Woodbury, M-12), which deed makes no mention of a mill; Mintle bought of Joseph and Ann Bate, 7 January 1796 (Woodbury, F-252). Neither of these deeds mentions the turning mill, but Linville is described as a “turner,” so it might be inferred that it was built during Linville’s eight year tenure. Since Linville paid £155 more than Mintle did, Mintle may have hired Linville to operate the mill and later sold it to him.

John Roberts Jr. bought from John Sims, 28 March 1816 (Woodbury, Z-576), 41 acres adjoining on the east, and a short time later sold them to James Wood, who lived nearby. Wood’s property was divided 13 March 1819 (Glo Co Surr Div Bk No. 1, p. 307), and both tracts, as a single tract (Tract No. 3), were assigned to daughter Hannah Ann Tyson (who was married to Isaac Tyson), containing 68 acres “called the turning mill property.” Ruth Wood (widow of James) and the Tysons sold the 68-acre tract to Joseph Peacock, 18 November 1837 (Woodbury, T3-74). Clement provides a map in Maps and Drafts, Vol. 2, p. 49. Tindall’s Run traversed both properties.

In Maps and Drafts, Vol. 2, p. 20, is a map of the combined tract, tracing the title of the larger portion back to a deed given by Benjamin Tyndall (Tindall) in 1743 (Woodbury, Z-l56), and showing “Old Turning Mill Pond” on the 28 acres. See also the 1816 Elizabeth Ross Division of Lands (Glo Co Surr Div Bk No. 1, p. 243).







Thomas Loring, superintendent of William H. Carr’s Tetamakon Foundry at SPRING MILLS, was born 2 May 1806 and died 85 years later, on 7 October 1891. He and both of his wives are buried in the Chew-Powell-Wallins Burial Ground (1927 compilation by Alice Doughten for Jane Clement Bee—CCHS, typescript).

He was also interested in the water power at Clementon used for THORN'S SAWMILL. He bought the “Bozorth Mill Tract” of 15 acres (see BOZORTH'S TURNING MILL) from Catharine Engle, 17 October 1845 (Camden, B-524). Loring owned it for many years, until 5 May 1881, when he sold it to John R. Rowand (Camden, 101-95) (see ROWAND'S CHARCOAL WORKS). We do not know what use Loring made of this tract, which was referred to as “Lorings Mill Seat” when he bought some nearby land in
1846 from Francis P. Lee. (Camden, L-623).
He bought and lived on a farm at Spring Mills (Grenloch), giving it to his son, Thomas, by his will (proved in Camden County, 1891 [997 D]).


LOWER MILL see BURNT MILL (below Atco)




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