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History Mills

The original source for this article is The History of Horsham by Craven. We have updated with newer information where applicable.

The numerous streams, branches of the Pennypack, Little Neshaminy, and Park Creeks, which flowed through Horsham Township, provided abundant water for the early residents of Horsham. The first settlers had to take their wheat to Huntingdon Valley for grinding. In 1719 Emmanuel Dungworth built the mill still standing at the corner of Hatboro Pike and Old York Road in Hatboro. By 1740 two grist mills were operating within the township using the waters of the Pennypack and the Park Creeks.

The Kenderdine Mill was built about 1734 on the Park Creek at Keith Valley and Davis Grove Roads (note: the Kenderdines built Davis Grove Road starting in 1735, Keith Valley Road was built much later but there may have been a path there between the mill and where Governor's Road now meets Keith Valley Rd). By 1736 more water was needed to operate the mill. Joseph Kenderdine and his brother Thomas purchased 151 1/2 acres through which ran the Little Neshaminy Creek with the idea of tapping this source of water. It was necessary to dig by hand a head race approximately three-fourths of a mile long through dense forest. (note - this race went across what is now Keith Valley Road well into what is now Commonwealth National Country Club) .In 1747, the brothers divided their land holdings, the water rights were ceded to Joseph. The mill was on his property, and at Thomas’ death in 1779, the mill went to Joseph. Joseph, the previous year, had willed the mill to his six daughters, who in turn transferred it to Joseph Kenderdine, the son of their uncle, Thomas. It was sold to James Paul, the husband of Hannah Kenderdine, one of the sisters mentioned above, in 1795.

In 1810 the mill was sold to John Shay. The mill operated until just prior to World War I. During the war all the iron parts were sold to provide metal for the war effort. The old grist mill still stands in good repair, although the wooden gears are no longer workable. (Murray Craven - the author of this article - owned the mill after Shay. A subsequent owner, Ronald Mintz, beautifully restored the mill works shown above)

In 1800 Joseph Kenderdine built a saw Mill across from his house on Limekiln Pike, just north of McKean Road. This Joseph Kenderdine was of a different generation than the first millwright of that name. In 1820 John Edwards Kenderdine added a grist mill at the same site. Today all that remains is the depression of the mill race.

About 1830 John E. Kenderdine built a combination grist mill and dwelling a short distance from the saw mill. This was known as the Ox Mill, for oxen, by walking on a wooden belt in the basement, provided the power to turn the mill stones. Success was short lived, for the oxen soon sickened, possibly from their close confinement in the damp basement. Horses were substituted for a while, but were unable to withstand the work. The Ox Mill was a failure, and the mill works were taken out and later placed in Stever’s Mill, Just over the line in Montgomery Township. The Stever’s Mill has since been demolished, but the Ox Mill remains as a dwelling.

In 1832, John E. Kenderdine built a grist mill for Moses McLean, a grandson of Archibald McLean, noted Judge of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Philadelphia County and early landowner of Horsham. In 1848 this mill was owned by a member of the Lukens family. The mill burned down about 1860. At that time it was owned by Tobias Myers, who through the help of his neighbors was able to build a new mill on the same site. Watson, the son of John E. Kenderdine, built the new mill which was run by steam power.

This mill was probably located on Limekiln Pike south of McLean Road and later known as the Dager Grist Mill. Charles Dager had owned and operated the mill prior to 1896, when he sold the mill to his brother. The mill used water from the stream for power when possible, and when the water level became too low, a steam engine was used. Members of the Dager family kept the mill running until World War I. About 1943 it was torn down, and the stone from the walls used as building material. A few of the houses along Limekiln Pike are built of this stone. A part of the mill wall was left standing and is a land-mark along the roadside.

“Sawyer Tommy” Kenderdine built a saw mill on Park Creek, on Horsham Road about one-half mile south of Babylon Road. In 1861 the mill was still intact, but today, no sign of the mill remain. The site is now part of the Hidden Springs Golf Course (now Commonwealth National Country Club), and the numerous waterways on the property attest to the fine source of power for the mill.

During the first half of the nineteenth century, George Kenderdine was the chief boss millwright in the eastern part of Montgomery County. It is said that he had twenty to twenty-five journeymen and apprentices under his personal supervision, working at the grist mills along the Perkiomen, Wissahickon, Sandy Run, Tacony, Pennypack and Neshaminy Creeks.

The Lukens family, descendants of Jan Lukens, who had purchased land in Horsham in 1709, was prominent in the southern part of the Township. William Lukens built a grist mill on his property shortly after 1740. The local grist mills were usually feed and flour mills until about 1880 when the patent process roller mill flour became popular. The small local mills found it uneconomical to grind wheat for flour and confined their business to the grinding of oats, rye and corn for livestock feed. The millers would carry a stock of bran, flour and commercial brands of feed for sale. Frank Palmer rebuilt the mill sometime about the turn of the century, and added a pork-packing department. The mill was still operating during the 1920’s, and still stands on the north side of Dresher Road, a short distance west of Horsham Road.

In l776 the same William Lukens built a saw mill on the banks of the Pennypack Creek. A small grist mill was built nearby. James Iredell rebuilt the mill in 1849. In 1871, the mill was owned by S. Yerkes. The mills have been torn down.

On a map dated 1877 is noted another saw mill, located on the north side of Dresher Road approximately half way between Welsh and Witmer Roads. In 1877 the property was owned by G. Y. Mann. No sign of the mill remains.

The Blair Mill, which stood along the north side of Blair Mill Road about one-fourth mile west of County Line Road, was built about 1800, probably by Samuel Shoemaker. Shoemaker left his land to Asa Comly in his will of 1810. In 1829 Jonathan Conrad acquired the mill, and was the miller. After his death his executors sold the mill to Samuel Walker. In 1860 it was known as the Cherry Grove Mill. The mill became known as the Blair Mill when Frank Blair was the miller, during the last years of its operation. About 1930 the Mill was demolished.

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Horsham Preservation and Historical Association (HPHA)
900 Governor Road
Horsham, PA 19044 USA
© 2000- Horsham Preservation and Historical Association
A Community Benefit Organization

Horsham Preservation and Historical Association (HPHA)
900 Governor Road
Horsham, PA 19044 USA
© 2000- Horsham Preservation and Historical Association
We are A Community Benefit Organization
Horsham Preservation and Historical Association Logo
215-343-0659 | Email