|Ad for James Black's land, later the Roseville Mill|
This particular story picks up after James Black's death in 1794, when most of his property passed to his son, James R. Black. As the pictured ad shows, the property was still for sale in 1809. And although I haven't yet been able to figure out who, someone obviously bought the property soon after that with the intention of introducing a new industry to the millseat. As we'll see shortly, James Black's flour mill remained on the site, but was now joined by a substantially-sized cotton factory. This footnote from a book about the nation's early economy contains an excerpt from a letter written by the residents in the area around Roseville. The date of the letter, January 1816, tells us that the Roseville Cotton Factory was in operation by that date. The only reference I could find to the factory for the next 16 years was its mention in an 1820 tax survey, when the proprietors are listed as "Hart & Hamer". I've not yet found any more on these gentlemen.
The next place I found mention of the factory was in the McLane Report of 1832. In that year, Delaware's Louis McLane, then Secretary of the Treasury under Andrew Jackson, commissioned what amounted to a comprehensive survey of the state of manufacturing in the country. For the most part, surveys and questionnaires were sent out to business owners all over the country, with the hope that they would answer specific questions about their industries, as well as give information about their own businesses, and those around them. As luck would have it, the report contains two letters from the proprietor of the Roseville Cotton Factory, a man named Harry Connelly (more on him in a moment). His response gives us one of the two best insights into the scope of this enterprise on White Clay Creek. According to Connelly, in 1832, "There is invested in the factory at Roseville $75,000; 3,850 spindles, and consume 230,000 lbs. per annum; 90 hands employed, and 165 dependant, wages $11,700 per annum; the sales of yarn amount to $58,500 per annum." If the percentages here are the same as for the area as a whole, about 50 employees were male and 40 female. I'm not sure about this, but I think the 90 might be full-time workers, while the 165 were part-time or seasonal employees. I also think it's a safe assumption that many of those were children.
The man who ran the mill at the time, Harry Connelly, turned out to have his own story, too. He was born in Philadelphia in 1806, and came to Roseville "after his education had been completed", which probably means about 1825, give or take. He ran the mill here until about 1840, when he moved back to Philadelphia. In his role as a cotton manufacturer, it's not surprising that he had extensive dealings with Southern suppliers and clients. It seems that through these relationships, he developed a close affinity for the Southern cause. During the Civil War, Connelly was an outspoken supporter of the Confederacy, and was actually a guest of Jefferson Davis when the two learned of the attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861. While residing in Philadelphia during the conflict, Connelly was on a list of persons suspected of communicating with the rebel government, and he was in constant fear of arrest. He had, however, stated publicly that he would not be taken alive. He may well have been true to his word, because in February 1863, his body was found floating in the Delaware River. Although his death was officially ruled as an accidental drowning, many believed that his demise was far more political than accidental.
It's not clear if Connelly owned the property on which the cotton mill sat, but if he did, he sold it in about 1840 when he left. Buying it then, if he did not already own it, was Thomas Cooch of White Clay Creek Hundred. We know this because of this wonderful record of an act passed by the state legislature in February 1841. This "Act to incorporate the Roseville Manufacturing Company" gives us amazing insight into what happened to the site next, as well as what was present at the time. To summarize, a group of prominent men (including the nephew of E.I. du Pont) were forming a public company "for the purpose of carrying on the manufacture of cotton, wool, grain, plaster of Paris, and other materials..." at the Roseville site. So it seems these investors were looking to expand the scope of manufacturing at the site. The act goes on to outline the usual details of incorporation, but, at the end, includes a great treasure for us. Described in full are all of the structures present on the property in 1841. Here is what constituted Roseville at the time:
As you can see, with among other things over 30 houses, this could easily have been a "Forgotten Communities" post. As for what happened to the site after this, details get a bit sparse. I was not able to find any more about the Roseville Manufacturing Company, so I'm not sure who operated it or how long this particular venture lasted. The last mention I found of an operating mill was an 1864 tax assessment showing Hamilton Maxwell as the operator of the Roseville Factory. As Scharf alludes to, and the Depression-Era Federal Writer's Guide states, cotton manufacturing continued at Roseville until sometime soon after the Civil War, when the mill was destroyed in a fire. Since this history states that Maxwell had been running a mill in Conshohoken since 1866, it's possible he went there after Roseville burned.
It seems that after manufacturing ceased at Roseville, the property was sold to the Chillas family*, who by looking at the 1849 map seems to have lived just north of the millseat. I haven't found much about them, except that the owners were probably Scottish immigrant David Chillas, and then his son Arthur. As far as what remains now, I admit to being not quite sure. As of the 1930's, the Federal Writer's Guide states there was only a two-story stuccoed stone structure. This may be the "large stone building used as a dwelling house" in the 1841 list, or it could be another structure. There is a house on the north side of Kirkwood Highway, just west of Possum Park Road, that may very well be associated with the long history of the millseat. The county parcel search website states that the house was built in 1735, which, if true, would mean it even predates James Black's ownership. Since I know this site is notoriously unreliable (I'm sure they just list whatever someone tells them), I'm hesitant to state for sure that this is an original house to the site. However, I'll try to look into it, and if anyone knows any more about it, please feel free to share. In any case, the industrial history of the Roseville Mill is far more extensive than most realize, and is an excellent example of how even large enterprises can almost totally vanish from history in only a few generations.
* - See the post here for more information about David Chillas, and another post here for more about the Chillas family and their involvement with the Roseville property.