A view of the "picturesque" Chester Creek in Glen Riddle, Aston from a 1910 postcard
NOTE: This year has been declared the year of the mill in Delaware Co. I will be writing about old mills and their history during the year.
Knowlton Mills in Aston
On the 16th of January, 1789, Nicholas Fairlamb (who at that time also owned the Cobourn and Dutton Mill farther down Chester Creek) conveyed to John Sharpless the tract of land on which the Knowlton Mills are situated. No mention is made in this deed of a mill or mill seat. Indeed, in 1809, “the site of Knowlton was a perfect wilderness,” according to Smith’s History of Delaware County.
On September 30, 1802, John Sharpless conveyed the same tract to Jonathan Tyson, with the right of a certain dam thereon. On November 15th of the same year, Tyson purchased of Elizabeth Grissel (Griswold) fourteen acres in Aston Township, located on Chester Creek, opposite to the tract he had bought of Sharpless, the deed specifically mentioned the dam rights, etc.
On May 25th, 1807, Elijah Tyson, a son of Jonathan, bought of his father two hundred and fifty acres of land in Middletown, embracing the mill site, dams and water rights, and July 25th of the same year, the fourteen acres in Aston with right to abut dam against the shore of the creek. In this year (1807) for the first time, the name of Tyson appeared on the assessment roll in connection with mills, and at that time, Elijah Tyson was assessed on a saw mill. He continued to control the business until July 27, 1813, when he sold eight acres in Middletown, including the mill, mill-dam rights, etc. and fourteen and a half acres in Aston Township, opposite, with water rights, to Judah Dobson, of Philadelphia, who changed the saw mill to a rolling mill. Little information has been gained concerning this mill, but tradition asserts that it was a copper mill, and the road leading from the place to Village Green is still known as the Copper Mill Road. The venerable Hon. Edward Darlington of Media (now in his eighty-ninth year) stated the mill was known as Dobson’s copper mill, and was used for rolling copper into sheets. The mill does not appear of the assessment rolls for 1817, 1818, 1819, 1820, nor in that of 1821.
THE DOBSON TRACT – On November 6, 1822, John Vaughan and John Hart, assignees of Thomas and Judah Dobson, conveyed to Samuel Love, “all that rolling mill and four tracts of land,” one of which is described as in Middletown on Chester Creek, containing eight acres, adjoining lands of Elijah Tyson, Abram Trimble, and others. Another tract was in Aston, and was partly covered by the mill pond, and was adjoining, and below the land of Elizabeth Grissel (Griswold). Samuel Love retained title to the estate until February, 1825, when he conveyed it to John D. Carter, who had been operating the Trimble cotton mill in Concord since 1813. In the deed to Carter it is stated that the rolling mill had been changed into a cotton factory, and that the “cotton factory, mill-dams, ponds, etc., and four pieces of land” were the properties embraced in the conveyance.
In the “Report of the Manufactories of Delaware County,” made in 1826, the place is described as being “above the Dutton Mill on Chester Creek, in Middletown Township, a cotton factory forty by ninety feet, head and fall thirteen feet, owned and occupied by John D. Carter; has seven carding engines of twenty-eight and two of thirty-one inches, workers and strippers, two frames of four double heads each, two double speeders of ten bobbins each, one stretcher of forty-two spindles, eight hundred and eight throstle spindles, six hundred and sixteen male spindles; spins twelve hundred and seventy-eight pounds of cotton yarn per week, No. 20, with power to drive four thousand spindles, with all the necessary preparation. Employs about forty-six hands; tenements for thirteen families.” This property was owned by Carter until April 1829, when it was sold to Edward Darlington and Thomas Clyde, and Carter removed to the South. The mills were rented by Darlington & Clyde to Kershaw, Dean & Hill, who operated them until they were sold, March 4, 1832 to Robert Beatty and John O’Neill. At the time of the purchase there was a cotton mill and tilt mill on the estate. Beatty & O’Neill began at this place the manufacture of edge tools; but O’Neill soon withdrew from the firm and rented from Beatty, who had bought the cotton mill at Knowlton.
CROZERS BUY IT – On January 7, 1834, the factory was with contents, entirely consumed by fire. On October 26, 1835, John P. Crozer bought the property containing the four tracts of land, conveyed in 1822 to Samuel Love, a tilt mill, saw mill, news building for factory, twenty-five by thirty-five feet, one brick and seven stone houses. After the sale Mr. Beatty continued the business at the place for a year or two, when Mr. Crozer erected a stone cotton mill, thirty-two by seventy-six feet, three stories in height. This mill was washed away in the memorable flood of 1843, and the next year the present stone building, thirty-three by eighty-five feet, three stories in height was erected.
In 1846 Phineas Lownes and Abraham Blakeley commenced manufacturing at that place and continued until 1858 when it was operated by Mr. Crozer until about 1869. At the latter date the mill was leased to John B. Rhodes, who conducted it for several years. It was abandoned several years ago, and all the machinery removed.
“Near the head-gates of the mill there was formerly the marks of a grave, the occupants of which tradition named Moggey and from that circumstance the crossing of the creek was named Moggey’s Ford. As Moggey had the reputation of making her appearance occasionally, it required so little courage in the traveler in early times to cross the ford at night.” The incident on which the tradition was based was that about eighty years ago an English girl disappeared from the locality, and although suspicion pointed its finger at the wealthy resident in the neighborhood as being interested in her disappearance, no action was taken. The marks of a grave at the head gates when in subsequent years human bones were discovered near the spot, and long after the suspected man had removed to a distant country, were spoken of in confirmation of the truth of the tradition of Moggey’s ghostly appearance.