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Watermills of Camden County - By William Farr - Chapter T




Clement wrote (p. 246) that in 1706 William Thorne “... purchased three tracts of land of Mordecai Howell. Part of this land was near...the north branch of Timber Creek. On one of the tributaries of the last named stream, he erected a saw mill... [This stream is still known as Thornes Mill Branch] .,.[where] he probably settled....” The deed was dated 24 December 1706 (Colonial Deeds, Gl A-84). The second tract [100 acres] was later bisected by Clements Bridge-Evesham Road, west of the South Branch of Coopers Creek. The first [300 acres] extended down both sides of that branch to about Somerdale Road. The third [250 acres] continued down the west side of the creek to about the White Horse Tavern, but several miles from any part of Thorns Mill Branch. These three tracts are mostly in Somerdale and can be seen on Clement’s Maps and Drafts, (Vol. 6, p. 87).

In 1718 Samuel Ward had surveyed a tract of 692 acres extending from Clementon to Berlin (OSG, Bull’s-71), within which lay the stream later called Thorns Mill Branch. In 1744 title became vested in William Cheesman and John Thorn, who divided it in 1748 with Thorn taking the 250 acres north of Thorns Mill Branch (1893 Map Plan of Clementon Land [CCHS, M.83.90.22]; Clement’s Maps and Drafts, Vol. 2, pp. 6 and 28). The relationship, if any, between John and William Thorne is uncertain.

A John Thorn was assessed for a mill in 1750 (Gloucester County Freeholders Minutes 1701-1797), 44 years after the Howell to Thorne deed. John Thorn [“sawyer”] died in 1751 leaving a will (574 H) which devised a sawmill and lands [location unidentifiable] to son Richard, and providing that a son John should be apprenticed to a trade. A John Thorn mortgaged a sawmill and 250 acres to the Gloucester County Loan Commissioners on 25 March 1776 (p. 73, GCHS). The quitclaim from Cheesman to Thorn, to divide the 692 acres, was not recorded. This mortgage provides the first somewhat detailed description of Thorn’s sawmill tract. It mentions the “old saw mill dam” and “the old saw mill pond,” indicating the prior existence of a sawmill.

The above-mentioned 1893 map and Warrants & Surveys No. 56 best show the lines which were drawn by division commissioners in 1811 (Glo Co Surr Div Bk 1, p. 98) to divide “John Thorn’s Saw Mill Tract” (perhaps the son of the sawyer), who had died intestate in 1803 (2482 H). The Clement maps at Vol. 2, pp. 6 and 28 cover the same tract. The sawmill tract was bounded approximately, north and south, by two streams which flow west to join at present Silver Lake, thence into Bottom Lake, and then into the main north branch of Timber Creek behind the fire hall in Clementon. The lower stream is usually known as Thorns Mill Branch.
The Gloucester Township ratables show John Thorn being assessed for a sawmill for the following years: 1773-1774, 1778-1783, 1786, 1789-1790, 1792-1794,  1796-1797.

The deceased John Thorn owned not only the sawmill tract but also a homestead tract of 282 acres, west of Kelly Drive and divided by the Blackwood-Clementon Road. Both tracts were divided among the heirs, but we are concerned only with the sawmill tract. The children and heirs were John, Isaac, Tamer [who married Anthony Jones] and Elizabeth [who married Joseph Dodd]. The lots into which the sawmill tract was divided and assigned to the children soon passed out of the family, but the sawmill and 37 acres were set aside to be held in common. The subsequent disposition of these interests is a different story.

Although she is not mentioned in the division, the decedent was in fact survived by a widow, Isabele (Cheesman) Thorn, who died in 1814 leaving a will (3016 H) They were married 9 October 1772 (Cheesman Family, p. 57).

Daughter Elizabeth Thorn Dodd died [apparently intestate and probably before Tamer] leaving as heirs her daughters, Ann Eliza Dodd and Emaline Dodd Smith. A deed from them to John Hendrickson, 5 May 1832 (Woodbury, E3-474) for a portion of the 50-acre tract laid off to Tamer in the division of the sawmill tract, recites that daughter Tamer died without “heirs of her body” whereby the lot “descended” to Ann and Emaline. In fact, Tamer died in 1813 leaving a will (2930 H), devising to Elizabeth Ann (sic) and Emaline her land “at the mill,” that is, the sawmill tract “except what belongs to the mill” that is, the 37 acres, her interest in which she directed be sold.

No specific information as to such a sale has been found. On 23 June 1835 Jno. B. Harrison and Jno. C. Smallwood advertised in Woodbury’s The Constitution the sale of “the mill seat and tract of land called Thorn’s Mill...at Clementon...between 30 and 40 acres.” No record of an actual sale has been located.

On 14 November 1867 Ann Elizbeth Dodd [of Burlington County] individually and as attorney in fact for Joseph Smith and Emma [probably Emaline], his wife, sold to Uriah Norcross Jr. all their interest in the sawmill and [then] 30 acres (Camden, 55-4).

In June 1849, son John [then of Philadelphia] sold his interest in the sawmill and 37 acres to Henry L. Thorn (Camden, G-376), including the share he acquired by the death intestate of his sister Elizabeth Dodd. Henry died intestate, leaving his widow, Beulah A., and a daughter, Demaris A. Folwell, and they sold their interest in the sawmill, house and barn and 37 acres to Uriah Norcross Jr., 2 May 1876 (Camden, 86-235). [Note how close this is chronologically to Clement’s observation in his 1877 observation that the mill site “may yet be seen”]. No information as to the ultimate disposition of Isaac’s interest has been located nor has the writer been able to trace title out of Uriah Norcross Jr.

There is confusion as to the correct names for the two streams, which are the approximate north and south borders of the 250-acre tract. [See Waterways, p. 159.] The northerly stream originates (according to West Jersey Title Company’s Map of Voorhees Twp. [CCHS, M.83.117.1]) in the parallelogram of Oakover, Stratford, Derby and Stone avenues in Lindenwold. It then flows west through Crystal Lake between Jeanette Avenue and Kennedy Place, and continues through Watson Lake at White Horse Pike to join the southerly stream at the foot of Silver Lake.

The southerly stream begins some distance east of the Old Egg Harbor Road in West Berlin and flows west through Rowand Lake, to be joined by the northerly stream as above.

The 1811 John Thorn’s sawmill tract division (op. cit.) calls the southerly branch “Thorn’s main mill branch,” and Clement on his 1846 Map of Camden County (CCHS, M.83.90.303) shows it as Thorns Branch. Clement’s (Vol. 4, p. 22), [a copy of an 1800 John Marshall map] shows a mill on the north side of what appears to be the northerly branch. His Maps and Drafts (Vol. 2 p. 6) shows a mill on the north side of the northerly branch not far above its junction with the southerly branch. That map and the 1893 Map Plan of Clementon Land (CCHS, M.83.90.22) show a 37-acre tract covering the junction, and containing a house, sawmill and barn, which were treated specially in the division. The 37-acre tract [Lot 8] was not divided but rather was to be held by the heirs in common in six shares, each share being entitled to one week of use, each son to have two [weeks] shares and each daughter to have one [week] share, and so on. Those were the intestate portions, between sons and daughters, in effect in New Jersey at the time.

It is evident from the legal descriptions that the millpond extended up the southerly branch [nd would be approximately coextensive with present Silver Lake]. It is also proable that the dam would have been placed just below the confluence so as to obtain more flow and power. The result, howver, would be to also back up the water on the northerly branch and that perhaps explains the location of the mill.

On 30 January 1815 John Thorn mortgaged to Jacob Sickler the 117-acre tract [No. 1] which had been set off to him in the 1811 division (Woodbury Mortgages, G-382). The legal description is a little more elaborate than the one used in the division itself, and gives some helpful information: (a) the head of the mill pond extended almost up to Rowand Lake, (b) the lower stream was called the “main” millbranch, and the upper stream was called the north fork of that branch, and (c) it mentions the mill road.

Clement (published 1877) wrote (p. 246) that the site of the mill “may yet be seen” but does not give an identifiable location. Boyer (who died in 1936) wrote “it is said that the site could still be seen a few years ago” (Old Mills, p. 50).

In recent years the dam has been rebuilt, and the old millpond is now a beautiful site in the Camden County Park System.

TICE’S BIG MILL (Clement’s (Samuel) Sawmill)
Abutting Andrew Newman’s plantation to the east (see CLEMENTON MILLS) was a 692-acre survey made by Samuel Ward in 1718 (OSG, Bull’s p. 71; Maps and Drafts, Vol. 2, pp 2, 28). According to the 1893 Map Plan of Clementon Land (CCHS, M.83.90.22), Ward conveyed to Thomas Cheesman, who conveyed to Andrew Ware; Ware; who sold it to William Cheesman and John Thorn 24 September 1744. The tract was divided, and William Cheesman quitclaimed to Thorn that part north of Thorns Mill Branch in 1748 (see THORNS SAWMILL). About the same time, Thorn released to William Cheesman his rights in the lower part, that is, south to a line running east and west below the Longacoming-Clementon Road, which line was the northerly line of John Hinchman’s 1759 survey of 484 acres (OSG, H-299); see MARSHALL’S SAWMILL on that survey. Neither of the quitclaim deeds was recorded.

On 14 September 1758, Cheesman sold his share to Richard Tice, whose financial difficulties led him on 1 July 1769 to make an assignment of all his property to Isaac Mickle and Thomas Redman for the benefit of Tice’s creditors [deed record not found]. Tice married Elizabeth Cheesman 4 November 1752 (Cheesman Family, p. 22) and died intestate 22 March 1777 (1248 H). On the 4th day of the 8th month, 1752 [six years before Tice acquired title from Cheesman, according to the 1893 Map Plan (op. cit. )], Gloucester Township assessed “Tise’s” mill six shillings, although others were assessed at twelve shillings (Gloucester Township Minutes). The assessment date, however, suggests the mill must have been at some other location not now known.

The assignees advertised in The Pennsylvania Gazette 12 September 1771 (NJA, XXVII, p. 560) a public sale of “about 400 acres, on which there is a...Saw-mill, commonly called Tice’s Big Mill....” The assignees held a sale on 10 December 1771 without result. They held another sale on 1 June 1774 and Samuel Clement [the father] bought a 494-acre tract with a sawmill [less a 22-acre tract disposed of by Tice, and tracts of 95 acres and 20 acres disposed of by the assignees]. Although Clement apparently took possession soon after the sale, the deed from Richard Tice’s assignees [apparently unrecorded] was dated more than six months later, 20 December 1774, and is to be found in the Quaker Collection at Haverford College. This was the tract which Tice bought from Cheesman in 1758.

Since the division line with Thorn was Thorns Sawmill Branch, Tice had equal access to that waterpower, which is undoubtedly where his big mill was located. Thorns Mill was downstream. (see THORN’S SAWMILL). The somewhat abbreviated description of the 494 acres in the deed begins at the stream and runs “up by the courses of the pond and the main run of said pond,” which seems to put the starting point at Rowands Lake. Therefore Rowands Lake may have been the pond for Tices Big Mill. The Landing [Berlin-Clementon] Road ran through the tract.

Clement was assessed for two sawmills in 1773 and 1774, the other being the one at Clementon Lake (Gloucester Township ratables). After he sold the Clementon Lake sawmill to William Lawrence in 1785 (See CLEMENTON MILLS), he was assessed for one sawmill in the township in 1779-1782, then in 1783, inexplicably, for two. He died in 1784. His widow, Beulah [who was entitled to the profits of the estate for her life], apparently took control of the Tices Big Mill sawmill and land, since she was assessed for one sawmill, 100 acres of improved land and 1,500 unimproved, for the years 1786, 1789, 1792 and 1793. The same acreage and one sawmill were assessed in 1794 to James Hopkins & Co.; in 1796 and 1797 to James Hopkins; and again in 1802, to James Hopkins with lesser acreage. (Gloucester Township ratables). It would appear that Hopkins was operating the sawmill for the benefit of Samuel Clement’s estate.

James Hopkins, born to John Estaugh Hopkins and Sarah Mickle Hopkins 25 January 1763, married Rebecca, daughter of Samuel and Beulah Clement, in May of 1784 (Nicholson, My Ancestors, p. 145). Samuel Clement’s will, proved 1784 (1385 H) made bequests of £300 to each of his three daughters: Ruth [who married James Wood], Ann [who married Joseph C. Swett], and Rebecca. It further provided that if there were insufficient cash to pay the bequests, the executors could sell his “outlands.” that is, away from Haddonfield, where he lived. Although some land was sold, the executors, in discharge of the bequests, eventually (14 November 1804, Woodbury, H-447) transferred the outlands remaining unsold to the husbands of the daughters, that is, James Hopkins, James Wood and Joseph C. Swett. Unfortunately for the researcher, in lieu of a detailed description, the scrivener of the deed simply referred to those several tracts remaining unsold by the executors, without metes and bounds descriptions. The 1893 Map Plan of Clementon (CCHS.M.83.90.22) portrays the division of part of the sawmill tract into lots on either side of the Landing Road.


A brief account of this mill appears in Old Mills, referring to a 1785 advertisement by William Todd for the sale of his farm on which was a “new long saw mill.” The writer has been unable to locate this advertisement.
On 28 September 1779, William Todd, coachmaker, of Philadelphia, bought the farm [later called Peach Blossom Farm, part of which is now Woodcrest Country Club] from Joseph Matlack (Colonial Deeds, Glo C-287). Todd owned it for many years, his heirs losing it to Richard M. Cooper by a Sheriff sale, the deed being dated 4 June 1835 (Woodbury, O3-65). He was assessed for a sawmill for the years 1785, 1786 and 1789 (Waterford township ratables).

The writer has been unable to fix an exact location for the mill. The only stream running through the farm was Holly Run, which, closer to the South Branch of Coopers Creek and across the Haddonfield Road from the farm in question, powered not only a gristmill but also a sawmill (see SWETT’S GRISTMILL). The Todd farm has become the Woodcrest Country Club. There is a tiny pond in back of the clubhouse which may be the remnant of a millpond.

Todd’s name (“Tod’s”) was perhaps the earliest name given to the nearby intersection of present Evesham, Haddonfield-Berlin, and Somerdale Roads over the years (Watson’s 1828 Map of the State of New Jersey [CCHS, M.83.90.719] [Also on Thomas Gordon’s 1828 map of NJ])

Benjamin Tomlinson owned much property in the Clementon area when he died in 1843. By his will (4706 H), he devised to his son James the farm and “mill” where James was then living. It was James, however, who had earlier been assessed for the gristmill in 184l (1841 Gloucester Township Tax Book, CCHS Mss. 505). He was probably already in possession when his father died.

It appears that this was a farm of more than 500 acres, stretching eastward from Laurel Road to Clementon, between the North Branch of Timber Creek and the Chews Landing-Clementon Road, and was part of 619 acres sold by Abraham Porter’s Executors to Ephraim Tomlinson, 8 January 1732 (Colonial Deeds, P-230). On this farm was an old brick dwelling [now known as 83 North Carver Avenue] where, according to Charles Shaylor (History of Lindenwold, p. 85) Benjamin lived, and where his son James, and James’s children, Able and Hannah (Scott), were born.

When James died intestate in 1871 (1166 D), the farm passed to Able and Hannah, who agreed on a division and executed quitclaim deeds to each other. Able took the eastern end (337 acres), the deed to him by Thomas Scott and Hannah, his wife, being dated 5 April 1872 (Camden 70-42).

It was called the Brick House Farm or “the old place,” and according to Shaylor (p. 85) Able lived in the old house. A few yards away, where Park Avenue crosses the branch, was the mill, a grist mill, located on the North Branch of Timber Creek between CLEMENTON MILLS and LAUREL MILLS. Not being situated on a main road, it was a “country” mill, probably used only by the owner and the farmers in the immediate neighborhood. Not much information has been found about the mill. Shaylor, who died in 1971, had a recollection (p. 35) of seeing a paddle wheel on the bank. Clement shows the mill pond on his 1846 Map of Camden County. (CCHS, M.83.90.303) The Lake & Beers 1860 Map of the Vicinity of Philadelphia (CCHS, M. 83.90.572) shows the “G. Mill” and the “J. Tomlinson” house. Shaylor (p. 35) refers to this mill as probably the “lost Mill” of Isaac Tomlinson, but this writer has not found any evidence that Isaac had any connection with it.

The 1872 deed from the Scotts to Able included a four-acre narrow strip along the northeast side of Timber Creek, from the Big Hollow [across the creek from the house] up to about Overbrook Lake, and referred to the stream which eventually created that lake as Gravelly Run [one of several North Branch tributaries of that name (Waterways of Camden County, p. 63)]. The deed by which Benjamin Tomlinson acquired the strip from William Rudderow (6 April 1813, Woodbury, S-301) so names it. Tomlinson bought the strip so his mill pond [which has now long been down] could extend up to Gravelly Run.


TOMLINSON’S LITTLE MILL (Mount Pleasant Gristmill, Isaac Tomlinson’s Sawmill, Little Mill)
When the Ephraim Tomlinson, who lived near Bellmawr, died in 1810 he owned a farm near Clementon, and by his will gave it to his son Benjamin, who was already living on it (2790 H). By what means Ephraim acquired it has not been discovered, but it contained part of 619 acres bought by the first Ephraim Tomlinson from Abraham Porter’s executors in 1732 (Colonial Deeds, P-230).
Benjamin’s will, proved in 1843 (4706 H), gave the farm, which he called “Mount Pleasant,” to his son Isaac, who was already in occupancy, And who, according to Old Mills (p. 48), operated the mill for many years. In Kirkbride’s 1850 New Jersey Business Directory it is called “Isaac Tomlinson’s Mill.” Isaac still owned the farm when he died in 1868, and, following a prevalent custom of well-to-do fathers, had already installed his son Benjamin on it. Isaac’s will gave it to him (988 D). The “Mt. Pleasant Grist Mill” is pictured in Old Mills (opposite p. 8).

Son Benjamin, on 3 July 1873, transferred part of his inheritance to his brother Charles W. (Camden, 79-223), and on 15 April 1896 (Camden, 213-268) another part. On this latter date Charles W. Tomlinson sold to Virginia E. Ireland parts of those tracts in two adjoining pieces of 119.25 and 25.14 acres, with frontage on both sides of Little Mill Road, including the pond and millsite of the gristmill [although not mentioned] (Camden, 213-271). Charles W. was the miller at the mill (History of Lindenwold, p. 86).

Mrs. Ireland died 11 December 1929. By a deed dated 26 February 1937 (Camden 850-376), West Jersey Trust Co., executor and trustee under her will (Camden Wills, 74-217), sold the two tracts to Robert H., LaBarre L. and Henry B. Jaggard. On 14 April 1942 (Camden, 945-490), Robert H. signed off his interest to the other two.

In Old Mills (p. 48) it is said that this mill was probably built by “Isaac Tomlinson, the elder,” who. died in 1817. That Isaac, however, was of a different generation and had inherited the tract on the west. “The elder” was the son of John Tomlinson, who died 1755 (578 H); and his 1817 will left his plantation to his son Joshua (3161 H). The confusion probably results from the gristmill being sometimes referred to in later years as “Isaac Tomlinson’s Grist Mill.”

No written reference to this gristmill has been found earlier than Isaac’s 1868 will, from which it might be inferred that he built it. Benjamin already owned a gristmill on the North Branch of Timber Creek at Park Avenue, Lindenwold (see TOMLINSONS GRISTMILL). The 1841 Gloucester Township Tax Book (CCHS, Mss. 505) shows Isaac Tomlinson assessed for a sawmill, but the location is not clear.

The Mount Pleasant Gristmill was located, within the Mount Pleasant Tract, on a tributary of the North Branch of Timber Creek called Gravelly Run or McGees Branch. It was strategically located where the branch’s three head streams (two of which are called Tices Run and Stovers Branch) come together, near Little Mill Road, which is the dividing line between Pine Hill Borough and Gloucester Township.

This road would originally have been just a by-road for Isaac to get to the mill, and in the other direction, to get to Blackwood-Clementon Road. It probably was extended informally south to reach Erial, as it does now. It was officially laid out as a public road in 1851 by Cam RR 52. It ran northerly to and crossed the mill race at Tomlinsons Millpond, and continued northwesterly, past Isaac Tomlinson’s crib house, to a point opposite the end of Laurel Road.

The road is, and always has been, essentially unimproved for most of its length except for an impressive bridge over the mill race stream built by the Camden County Freeholders in 1978. The road has been neglected by both Pine Hill Borough and Gloucester Township, as well as by the county, and is impassable by automobile. As of April, 2002, it is effectively blocked off by barricades, just west of the bridge.
The millpond has been down for some years. All that remain are slight vestiges of the mill itself, which was apparently deliberately destroyed by trespassers.








By a deed dated 30 March 1811 (Woodbury, P-210), James Troth quitclaimed to his brother Jacob Troth his interest in 113 acres, part of a larger tract which they had inherited as a result of the death of their mother, Mary Troth, intestate. Tthe only evidence found of her death and intestacy is the cited deed, and another by Jacob to James, 2 November 1809 (Woodbury, N-191). The 113 acres were located in present Glendora, and reached down to the North Branch of Timber Creek. On 19 May 1813, Jacob mortgaged to James Sterling, of Burlington for $1,500 the 113 acres “on which said Jacob Troth has lately built and erected a mill for the carding of wool and other purposes” (Woodbury Mortgages, G-119). Carding was one step in the processing of wool whereby teeth on cards were used to disentangle, straighten and interlace the fibers.

The subject mill was located on a small unnamed stream which starts about Station Avenue and runs between South Hildebrand and Ridge streets to the North Branch. It probably used the tidal flow of the North Branch for power, but the topography would not have permitted much of a pond, nor would the stream have provided sufficient flow to power a paddle wheel. Within a few years, Jacob lost his property to Abel Nicholson by a Sheriff sale on a foreclosure of the Sterling mortgage (deed, 24 December 1819, Woodbury, EE-547), the deed repeating the above-quoted language.

Jacob’s financial difficulty led to an assignment for the benefit of creditors. The assignees advertised in the Columbia Herald, 1 March 1820 for the sale of a “DOUBLE wool carding machine and picker.” However, on 14 June 1820, in the same newspaper, Troth also advertised that “he has commenced carding and picking wool, at his former stand...for the ensuing season; and as he has spent six years experience in the business...all those who may be kind enough to give him their custom, which he will thankfully receive at his dwelling or at the saw mill.” Perhaps Troth leased the mill back from Nicholson. The saw mill mentioned was probably the one at SPRING MILLS, in which Troth had an interest from 1811 to 1818, and where he would have spent much of his time.

No other mention of the carding mill is found after the transfer to Nicholson, but the building is probably that shown on the tributary stream on Map B, 1834. Edmund Brewer Division (Glo Co Surr Div Bk 2, p. 513; Map 157e, GCHS). There is an account of this establishment in Old Mills at page 44.
The following is from Discovering Watermills (p. 13):

“The principal difference between a tide mill and the conventional mill lies outside the building. A rising tide brought the water to turn the mill and it was contained in a usually large mill pond. Watergates which allowed the water to flow in an upstream direction only held the water that could escape only through the millrace. The distribution of tide mills was limited to low-lying areas around the coast which allowed large ponds with a relatively low head of water to be created.

“One of the disadvantages of a tide mill was the very irregular hours the miller had to work....the tide reaches its high point at a different time each day. Three or four hours would have to pass after high watermark before the miller could work the mill as the tide had to partly recede before a head of water was created. A mill could work for less than six hours before the head of water had been consumed and then the miller had to wait for the next flood to replenish his pond. To compensate for a usually low head of water tide mill ponds often extended for several acres.”

Tidal mills in South Jersey are discussed in Weiss’s Early Grist and Flouring Mills,( p. 31).




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