Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reynolds-Lindell House and Property, Part II

Milk Bottle from Locust Grove Farm
 In the last post, we traced the history of the house and property located in what is now the Village of Lindell on Milltown Road, from Andrew Reynolds' building of the house in 1790 and the mill in 1799, through the ownerships of Samuel Anthony and Abraham Cannon, and finally to its purchase by Robert T. Lynam. I don't have the exact date of Lynam's purchase of the property, but we can narrow it down to sometime between 1877 (when the mill was still owned by Cannon) and 1881 (when a map shows Lynam as the owner). Lynam had acquired the property across the road (which would eventually be sold to the state by his grandson for the building of Dickinson High School) in 1848, and may have purchased Cannon's farm with his son Robinson in mind.

Unlike the other owners of the tract, the Lynams had no interest in milling, and as Scharf states, Robert Thomas Lynam tore down the old Reynolds mill in 1887. Very interestingly, according to an interview with later owner Raymond Lindell, the frame addition to the house (later used as a store for the dairy) was also built in 1887. Although I have no evidence for it, it's very tempting to speculate that some of the lumber from the mill might have been reused in the construction of the rear addition. No sources even state whether the mill was frame or stone, but if it was frame, it would not be unusual for the time for building materials to have been recycled from an older structure to a newer one. I think it is very possible that some of the wood used in the frame section of the house was actually part of Andrew Reynolds' 1799 mill.

At some point, ownership of the farm passed from father to son, with Robinson Lynam then owning the property. The younger Lynam (and possibly his father before him) operated the farm as a small, wholesale dairy farm. He sold the 65-acre farm in 1915 to Andrew Lindell, who previously had been leasing a farm near Limestone Road and North Star Road. Lindell took over the dairy, which Lynam had named "Locust Grove Farm", and continued to run it as a wholesale operation. He would load the milk onto a horse-drawn wagon, take it to Marshallton, and then load it onto a trolley car (likely a People's Trolley car) to be taken to Wilmington for sale. That all changed in 1933, though, when Andrew's son Raymond Lindell, just two years out of high school, took over another farmer's neglected route and began delivering 60 quarts of milk a day, thereby moving Locust Grove Farm into the retail market.

As a retail dairy, Raymond Lindell and Locust Grove Farm thrived. At its zenith, Lindell was delivering 400 quarts a day, on a 35 mile route to the east of the farm. He delivered from Marshallton, up Newport-Gap Pike to the Cedars, and all the way to the junction of Lancaster Pike. Additionally, he sold several hundred quarts a week out of the store he ran in the 1887 rear addition to the house. And it wasn't just milk, either. To compliment the 25 milking cows the farm kept, Locust Grove also boasted between five and six hundred laying chickens, whose eggs Lindell sold on his route along with the milk. The surrounding farm provided all the hay, barley, and corn needed to feed the livestock.

For 44 years, Lindell ran the dairy farm, and I'm sure there are many residents in the area that remember well drinking Locust Grove Farm milk. By the mid 1970's, Mr. Lindell was in his early 60's and looking towards retirement. He had no children of his own to take over the farm, so in 1977 he ceased dairy operations. He sold the cows that were still good for milking to other dairies, and the rest went for beef. For another three years he bought and fattened cattle for beef, but in 1980, he sold the majority of the farm. 60 acres went to developers, with Mr. Lindell keeping the two central acres surrounding the house. A few years later, he turned the house over to his nephew, ensuring that at least a small part of this historic property, as well as the house, would remain in the hands of the family that had lovingly tended to it for almost a century.


  1. Scott-

    My wife grew up in Limestone Acres, directly behind the Lindell farm. She tells stories of Mr. Lindell chasing after cattle that had strayed across Mill Creek into the development. I suppose they were looking for greener pastures!

    Right before Mr. Lindell died, we had him do some woodwork on a kitchen table we had bought. At the time, my wife was pregnant with our first child and, when we came to pick up the table, Mr. Lindell presented us with a hand-made cradle for our daughter. As she grew, the cradle became a receptacle for her dolls and still has a place of honor in her bed room.

    My wife always had fond memories of Mr. Lindell and cherishes his gift.

  2. Thanks for the funny and heart-warming stories, Bill. Reading this reminds me that a few years ago I remember seeing Mr. Lindell's obit (he died in 2003), and I think it mentioned that he did woodworking. It seems he was always a very handy person. And from what I've gathered about him personally, I'd guess that the success of his business had much to do with his personality and kindness.

  3. How funny I am reading this now, as I Knew Mr. Lindell as one of my neighbors since we moved into the Village of Lindell in 1995. I had a home day care and Mr. Lindell used to stop by and talk with us all of the time and tell us stories about how the land used to be used for dairy and strawberries. He gave me a dairy bottle that I keep with pennies in. He was such a sweet man. He would tell us how the road used to go from St James Church Rd through the neighborhood. I came across this site looking for history for a nursing class on a community assessment. Bill is an old friend from boy scouts! Small world. We still take care of the neighborhood! With Mr. Lindell in memory!
    Kim Woodward

    1. That's awesome, Kim! Thanks for sharing!! Seems like everyone has good memories of him. Mr. Lindell, I mean. But Bill's a good guy, too.