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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Levi McCormick House

The Levi McCormick House
Back in 2012, I wrote a post about the Randolph Peters Nurseries, located on the western end of Mill Creek Hundred. I now want to revisit not Peters, but the house shown here and on that post, which at the time I very hesitantly said might have been his. Thanks to inquiries from the current owner of this beautiful home and much better information available this time, I can now unequivocally state that this was not Randolph Peters' home, although it was in his family for a short time.

This is what I've chosen to call the Levi McCormick House, although the history of the land (and almost certainly of the house) goes back much further than McCormick's arrival in 1879. The farm was originally part of a larger tract that extended all the way up to Possum Park Road, but was down to about 105 acres by the time Nivin Caldwell acquired it sometime before 1777. Caldwell died in 1787, and in 1795 his widow Agnes sold a tract of about 72 acres to another widow, Mary Black. The farm was approximately the shaded area seen below, located east of Newark and on the north bank of White Clay Creek.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Spring Grove Mills and Estate -- Part II

The Spring Grove Mills Estate today
In the last post, we followed the story of the Spring Grove Factory from its beginnings as Henry Brackin's grist mill, through its history as a cotton and woolen mill under various owners. When we left it, the factory had been converted back to woolen production under owner Aquila Derickson. And after Aquila's passing in the early 1880's, the property was sold to one of his sons, Joseph W. Derickson. Although many of the facts are clear, there is a glut of confusing information about what exactly was going on during the 30 or so years the Dericksons owned Spring Grove, especially during the 1880's.

We get some frustratingly incomplete and at times contradictory details from several sources. Of Calvin Derickson, J.M. Runk in 1899 says that he was involved in the manufacture of spokes (which we knew) and in the wool and cotton business with James Ford. I do not know who James Ford was, nor does his name show up anywhere else. Of Joseph, Runk has this to say: "For a period of ten years he operated the Spring Grove mills, manufacturing silk and woolen yarns. The mills were destroyed by fire in 'the fifties', and he sustained a loss of more than five thousand dollars." The last part is just wrong, as we know exactly when the mill was destroyed, and it wasn't in "the fifties". If there was a fire then, it was before the Dericksons were involved and it was rebuilt. But, it does give us our first mention of silk being made here. Now read what Scharf has to say about the site:

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Spring Grove Factory and Estate -- Part I

Spring Grove, taken by Charles Philips, 1895
Many of the recent posts here have been about families and their farms, but as we all know, this ain't Farm Creek Hundred, it's Mill Creek Hundred. It's been a while since we've taken a look at one of the many mills that one graced our region, and one of the main reasons for that is that I've already written about most of the major mills that operated here. There were, however, numerous smaller mills around that operated for varying lengths of time, and about which we know very little. This is the story of one such mill -- Spring Grove. This is a fascinating story, with only a few small holes remaining in the narrative.

I've known of the existence of the mill for quite a while, but I had been unsuccessful in finding very much information about it, until recently. Through my own research and through the amazing and detailed research of the site's current owner, David Deputy, we've come up with an almost complete history of the site, the mill, and the house built next to it. And what a story it is!

We begin in the days prior to the American Revolution, when Henry Brackin, Sr owned a large tract of land along what would become Stony Batter Road, as well as an old sawmill built along Mill Creek. His land actually stretched slightly across Mill Creek, and it was on or very near the southeastern portion of Henry's farm, very near that sawmill, that on September 8, 1777, British and American sharpshooters traded shots as the invading Red Coats camped along Limestone Road. This event would be known as Gen. Weedon's Foray, and was uncovered by Walt Chiquoine during his research for his paper Finding the Nichols House. When Henry died in 1779, his property went to his son Henry Brackin, Jr.