The Old Red Mill

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The following is taken and edited from an article by Donald Graves in the Weekender Pottsville Republican, August 26, 1989. He decribed the Old Red Mill.

“Just west of Route 125, on Mahantongo Creek, is a gristmill in the upper part of the valley. This si the mill that Joe Stehr operated before purchasing his own on the Little Mahantongo Creek. Margaret (Gahres) Dietrich Boyer lives in the miller’s house which replaces an earlier house. Her great-grandfather, John Gahres, and her grandfather, Harry Hahres, both ran the mill. Before it was operated by Peter Henninger in 1854, according to sign on the property. Several millstones remain as well as a large iron wheel, a sifting machine, and other mill equipment. The mill made both flour and feed. Harold Carpenter, a neighboring farmer said the millrace crossed his farm with the mill dam further up the creek. In June or July,

Carpenter said, the Gahreses would use scythes to cut the weeds in the millrace. They would also repair any breaks or washouts of the earthen race. While the gristmill stopped operation by the mid-1950s it continued as a cider mill until 1972. The press was powered by a tractor.”

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Harry operated the mill in the late 1930s and manufactured animal feed. John made flour for the earlier generations. Both men used water for power.

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The mill wheel is at the northeast corner of the mill and was fed by a water trough from the race. The water exited the mill through a pipe under the yard to the creek.

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Stiely Mills

Mr. Donald Stiely lives today adjacent to the Grist Mill location. His residence is built on the foundation stones of a log house, which was an earlier Stiely residence.

The old mill stood below Donald’s home, only a few yards distant but lower in elevation. The old roadway originally passed the log house much closer than the present highway. The original road also passed in front of the mill. Donald has a tractor shed built on top of the mill’s foundation stones. He recalls seeing the mill foundation when excavating for the tractor shed. His father Harry often spoke of the mill location.

Portions of the mill race may be seen today. The trail race, which exited water from the mill, returned water to the creek. It is well preserved below Donald’s house.

The mill dam location can be seen today, as marked by a log foundation across the Mahantongo Creek. If a person stands on the cement Mahantongo Creek bridge, and looks toward the south, the dam location is in the far distance, almost out of sight. Water entered the mill race at the dam. The race was on the west side of the creek. The race follows the base of the hill. It was built against the hill and carried water along the edge of the field. The mill race was what I consider to be quite long, at least a quarter mile or more in length.

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First Stiely Mill

Rev. Isaac Stiely

Rough and Ready, PA

South of Salem Church

Donald Stiely Residence, 2004

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The old mill house which stood next to Rev. Isaac Stiely’s mill. Rev. Stiely and his wife, Anna, resided on the opposite side of the creek form his mill, in a different house. Donald Stiely’s house is built upon this foundation which was probably built by Anna’s ancestors named Knorr.

For additional history on Rev. Isaac Stiely and his wife Anna Knorr, see:

Knorr, Lawrence Berger. The Descendants of hans Peter Knorr, Sunbury press, P.O. Box 178, New Kingstown, PA 17072-0178. Email:lbk@sunburypress.com

Klingerstown Bicentennial Album 1807-2007, available for $25 from Steve Troutman, 1442 Ridge Road, Klingerstown, PA 17941. Email:troutman425@hotmail.com

 

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Perry Stiely and his shingle Mill

Perry is the son of Jared Stiely. The wood fired steam engine seen here is powering the circular saw cutting wooden shingles. Note the log gut to proper shingle length standing upright on the mill. A belt driven by the steam engine powered the saw blade. Many cut logs are pictured ready for the mill. A belt driven planer is also in the picture as well as the wooden shavings from the saw. Donald Stiely recalls Perry had some fingers half cut off in the shingle mill. Perry is seen here standing.

Perry also used the steam engine to pull and operate a threshing machine. He went from farm to farm at harvest time to thresh the grain crop. One story recalls how the heavy steam engine had to cross a wooden plank bridge over Mahantongo Creek. The steam engine wheels broke through the bridge near Rough and Ready, PA.

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Photo courtesy of Thomas Umholtz, Valley View, PA, 2008

Covered bridge over Mahantongo Creek at Isaac Stiely’s Mill, Rough and Ready, PA.

Conversation with Donald Stiely of Vista Road, who lives at this location gives identification. Donald’s grandfather, Perry Stiely, is the man with the big hat. Perry had many daughters, Perry’s father, Jared, was the son of Rev. Isaac Stiely. Perry was over 6 feet tall. Jared and Perry operated steam powered traction engines to run sawmills and threshing machines.

Donald’s father was Harry Stiely. Harry’s first wife, Evelyn, was born a Klinger from near the Delp’s School. There were only 3 Klinger girls in the Allen Klinger family. Harry and his first wife had 18 children. She married Harry at age 20, gave birth to a child every year until she was 38 years old, when she died.

The family generations include: Isaac, Jared, Perry, Harry and Donald.

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Second Stiely Mill, Monroe and son Harvey Stiely

Along the Mahantongo. South of Rothermel’s Funeral Home, Schuylkill COunty, PA Walter Burns Residence, 2004

Monroe and Harvey Stiely Mill on Kopp Road, Upper Mahantongo Township. Note the rope hanging in front of the topen doors which pulled the grain up to the top floor. Here the bags were oulled inside to begin the milling process. Monroe Stiely stands in the open mill door with flour in bags. Harvey Stiely stands in front of the first floor windownext tot eh farmer’s wagon. Perhaps the farmer who had his grain milled is standing with the flour bag at the corner of the mill. Monroe Stiely’s wife, Emma, stands at the left mill corner wearing a dark apron. Her daughter, Katie (married an Erdman) stands in teh white dress behind the wagon. A maid, never married, Ketty Cooper stands between the ladies.

Photo courtesy of Betty Blyer, E.Main St, Hegins, PA g/d/ of Harvey Stiely

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Heavy iron gears salvaged from the Monroe and Harvey Stiely Mill. Water power must be very powerful to have turned these two gears which are only a small part of the millworks.

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Two huge wooden gears of the Monroe and Harvey Stiely Mill. These wooden Wheels are over 7 feet in diameter and totally wooden. The teeth were made to be replaceable.

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Rev. Stiely’s House

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Reverend Stiely’s home was located on what was known for many years as the Wesley Kahler farm, now owned by Lee Zimmerman of Pitman. The home was a short walk from the mill.. Reverend Stiely’s home was located 215 paces on the highway, east of the Mahantongo Creek bridge. The home was on the western lower side of the highway. he home was situated between the highway and the cultivated low land field. Flat foundation stones and 3 cellar walls remain today, along the east edge to the lowland field. The home was built against the hillside with its main entrance located along the roadway which passed on the east side. The house was located south of the barn, on the same side of the highway as the barn. Donald Stiely recalls the hand dug well located nearby. Donald reports that the present farm house, occupied by Katharine Kahler until a few years ago, is Sears Roebuck home. “There’s few of them around,” he says.

 

This description originally written May 30, 2004 by Steve E. Troutman.

 

Anna Knorr Stiely, wife of Rev. Isaac Stiley. Born October 22, 1807. Died October 24, 1893. Daughter of Peter and Maria Knorr. Grand Daughter of Chirstian and Anna Knorr. I searched for 21 years for this picture. A distant cousin, Luther Sherman of Lebanon sent this print to me; several days later he died very suddenly. I almost didn’t get it.

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Isaac Faust Stiely. Born May 13, 1800. Died September 13, 1869.

Photo and text courtesy of Marilyn Malick Herb, Great-great granddaughter of Rev.Isaac Stiely, through children Jared, Perry and Katie Valera Stiely Malick.

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Line Mountain Mills

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Clement and Pauline Masser began housekeeping in a quaint mill-house between Leck Kill and Pitman, PA. This was close by the home of Charles and Salome Maser, Clement’s parents. Not many people realize that the roadside green shingled cottage was associated with a mill. June and Mark spent their early years in this dwelling. This location is presently just east of the Neal and Ruth Masser home. Here the little Mahantongo Creek flows through the Masser farm fields today, having provided water power for many of the small mills of the past. Charles Masser’s homestead was originally known as the Line Mountain Hotel. This stopping place later became the Line Mountain Post Office. Nearby was the Maurer’s one-room schoolhouse and the Jacob’s (Howerter’s) Union church.

The mills that were built performed some tasks which are mostly unknown today. A linseed oil mill was located on this Masser farm south of Neal and Ruth Masser’s home. Linseed oil from flax seed was used for paint and was burned in lamps. The crushed seed was fed to animals. Linseed comes from the flax plant.

Flax is raised for fiber and seeds, The fiber can be spun and woven into many products. Rope, delicate linen fabrics, laces, clothes, flour bags, tablecloths, and even summer sausage casings used by the butcher to smoke meats. All of these were made of hand-sewn linen. The flax plants stand up to 4 feet high with small branching stems near the top. They usually have blue flowers. Before flax can be processed, the seeds must be removed. Processing the flax fiber is a very long process including soaking in water, drying, breaking the stems and combing the fibers to make cord and thread. Linen has a silky luster.

 

J.K. Maurer operated a Hotel and the Line Mountain Post Office at this location in 1875. The Line Mountain Hotel was established by the Maurer family. Later tis dwelling was well known as the residence of Charles and Salome Masser. This photo from the album of Salome Masser shows the home at the time of their purchase.

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Donald Graves reported in his Pottsville Republican Weekender article of August 26, 1989:

“Felix Masser’s farm near Pittman was the site of a linseed oil mill. Linseed oil, from flax seed was used for paint and burned in lamps. The crushed seeds were fed to animals. The oil mill is identified on an 1830 county map. It later became a grist mill. The mill had already ceased operation by the time Masser’s father, Charles, moved to the farm. Its timbers were used to build two wagon sheds which remain on his farm. His father removed the stone foundation with it, built a cattle wall in front of his barn, which also remains. The wooden stairs of the mill now lead to the hay loft in Masser’s barn.

The mill had two raceways, from the Little Mahantongo Creek and the other from a nearby mountain run that supplemented the creek water.  While the mill site is now farmed, the mill house remains on the north side of Route 4022. Like the mill, it is a timber frame house.

Masser knew the last miller, Adam Switzer, who told him he preferred to grind at nihgt when the water level was higher. In addition to the grist mill, the farm also had a cider press and a sawmill on the site. “We’d get wheat straw and sip the cider,” he said. The cider was stored in 50 gallon barrels.

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The mill house stood until 2008.

 

The sawmill used a vertical saw blade which went up and down rather than the circular bl;ades used today. There were more than 10 sawmills in the upper Mahantongo Valley, according to an 1875 map of the area.”

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The foundation stones from this mill were reset as the barnyard stone wall in front of the barn along the Pitman-Leck Kill highway. In the distance note the littel green shingle house called the “millhouse,” also pictured above,

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This gristmill stone rests in the barnyard of Niel Masser. Niel is the son of Felix Masser. The gristmill was established nearby along the Little Mahantongo Creek.

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From the 1875 Atlas of Schuylkill County, by F.W. Beers

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Atkins Woolen Mill

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William Atkins woolen mill was established along Little Mahantongo Creek in this lowland now farmed by the sons of Henry Reiner. Henry recalled the foundation stones from the mill were used to build the bridge over Little Mahantongo Creek. The scene is south of Jacob’s Cemetery where at least five Revolutionary War soldiers are buried. They are named Reiner, Beisel, Klock, Howerter, and Diehl.

Donald Graves, reporteer for the Pottsville Republican Weekender of August 26, 1989, wrote the following:

“Old mills are fading into the past. Tha Mahantongo Valley of western Schuylkill County has lost much of its early self-sufficiency when farmers took their grain, flax, timber and apples by wagon to nearby mills and brought flour, animal feed, linseed oil, lumber and cider home with them. The mills used the power of the Mahantongo and Little Mahantongo to turn vast machines of iron and wood.”

A wool mill originally built by John Mauer (1783-1854) was on LIttle Mahantongo Creek. Later purchased by William Atkins, it processed Sheep fleeces from valley farmers into blankets, trousers and other items. Henry Reiner owns the site where the mill was located. Reiner said the roof of the timber-frame mill had fallen in and the walls were collapsing by the time he tore it down years ago. The foundation stones were reused in the foundation of a nearby bridge. Water for the mill came from a dam in a grove of trees located behind the mill site. From the dam the water flowed to the mill in a mill race whose location is still outlined by a fence row. The mill’s water power was later replaced by a massive, one cylinder, hit-and-miss motor.”

Perhaps this woolen mill was originally built to process linen cloth. The existence of a linseed oil mill nearby indicates that flax processing as well as wool processing must have been performed. In fact, the linseed oil mill would be earlier than the woolen mill. American pioneers often planted seed flax as their first crop. Domestic animal herds would have been established by a later generation of farmers and herdsmen.

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Postcard of Jacob’s Lutheran and Reformed Church. Note the first meetinghouse/school on the left. Maurer’s Hotel and post office was nearby as well as a grist mill, an oil mill, woolen  mill, and a one-room schoolhous

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Fisher’s Foundry

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Fisher’s Foundry, Rebuck, PA. Slide photo from 1972 by Steve E. Troutman.

This photo is an example of a local foundry. I have never seen a picture of the Haas Foundry near Franklin Square. The innkeeper at the nearby Drumheller’s Hotel in Rebuck, Earl Drumheller, recalls this industrial building had rails hanging from the ceiling with rollers to move heavy castings on hooks. The widely known and popular Fisher Plough was constructed here of iron and wood. Many plough shares were made here by the iron workers, Who can provide information on this extremely interesting local industry?

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Haas Foundry

An iron industry was established east of Rough and Ready, near the Village of Hepler. It was known as the Haas Foundry. Rev. Elden Ehrhart wrote the following in the book One Hundred Fiftieth Anniversary of Salem United Church of Christ in 1980:

“Samuel Y. Haas, who died in 1876, at the age of 39, was an inventive genius. He and his brother David took over the Haas Foundry at the the line that presently separates Eldred and Upper Mahantongo Township. Everything and anything the people needed was made at this foundry: grain cradles, plowshares, steam engines, sawmills, etc. The first bicycle in the county, perhaps the state, was made in this shop by William Snyder in 1873. The first automobile in the county was made in here by one of the Haas brothers. Samuel had but three days of schooling, yet at an early age, according to the Shamokin Times of April 1876, he showed remarkable inventive genius and mechanical skill. He was a watchmaker, machinist, painter, carpenter, worked with iron and brass, and could, as people said, do anything, although he never learned a trade. He taught and composed music. At the age of 14, he made a “French piano” which played eight tunes. At 18 he made a steam engine and a small rotary engine. He felt it was foolishness to wind a watch every day, so he made a watch that ran for eight days without winding. He made a machine for finishing fence posts and boring hole to install them. He also invented a device to help start a heavily loaded wagon and get it going when it was at rest. He was credited with many other inventions.”

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A wrought iron fence surrounds a garden near the Haas foundry building. One would think this fence was made here. Photo, July 2001.

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The Haas foundry building stood along Ridge Road, approximately one mile west of Franklin Square. The white out building on this photo stands within the foundry perimeter, according to Martha Peifer.

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Samuel Knorr Gristmill

knorrgristmillAnother early established gristmill on Little Mahantongo Creek was located several miles upstream from Herb’s Mill. This mill was lately known as Stehr Brothers Mill. Presently it is the location of Titan Abrasives. This brick building has been restored and well taken care of. This mill was built by Samuel Knorr (1811-1867) and should be referred to as the Samuel Knorr gristmill for historical purposes. Samuel Knorr’s father was Heinrich Knorr, one of the three sons of Christopher Knorr, who divided Peter Knorr’s 300 acre tract near Rough and Ready. Henry, Peter, and John were the three sons of Peter Knorr. Peter’s daughter, Anna, married Isaac Faust Stiely.

Aaron H. Knorr (1833-1900) was the son of Samuel. In the 1860 census he is listed as living next to his father, farming. His father Samuel is listed as a gristmiller. This mill location is near the county line. Jenny Knorr was from this mill family and married Elmer Fetterolf. They raised a large family at this location. Elmer became a very successful produce huckster, owning five farms during his lifetime. He was also a large shareholder in the Klingerstown Bank during the Great Depression and suffered severe financial loss as a result of the bank’s failure.

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An early Fetterolf Farm in Schuylkill County just across the county line from Northumberland County, on the Little Mahantongo Creek, between Rough and Rewady and Pitman. The red brick mill to the right of the farm house was lately known as Stehr Brother’s Mill. The large farm house was a double house.

This farm could be the Peter Fetterolf pioneer homestead. Two above photos courtesy of Kenny Fetterolf, Rattlesnake Road, Leck Kill, PA. Kenny Fetterolf lived here as a child.

 

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Computer generated photo of Joe Stehr’s mill, earlier Samuel Knorr’s mill. The milldam would be in the center of the photo.

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Color painting from a photo of Samuel Knorr’s gristmill on Little Mahantongo Creek.

 

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Daniel Maurer and Stein’s Hotel, Rough and Ready

The Daniel Maurer family is descended from an American Indian grandmother, Catherine (Shade) Maurer. The Daniel Maurer homestead adjoins the David and Catherine Maurer farm where Daniel was born and raised. This is lately known as he Henry Reiner Jr. farm south of the Salem Church. The above named Maurers rest in peace at the Salem churchyard.

According the the County Atlas of Schuylkill, Penn., by F.W. Beers (published in 1875), the Daniel Maurer homestead location is marked as the residence of N. Stine.

Daniel Maurer’s son. Marlin Sr., married Lillian Geist. Marlin Sr. is nicknamed “Jess.” “Jess” and Lull lived here recently. Their daughter, Kay Maurer, married Dwight Davis. Troy Davis, their son, is the present occupant.

Kay Davis recalls legends pertaining to the house. This home has two front doors and two back doors, and was at one time occupied as a double dwelling. The house has unusually high ceilings. They are at least 15 feet high on the first floor. In earlier times this home was known to

be a stopping place or hotel at this crossroads in the Mahantongo Valley. It was known as Stine’s Hotel. The hotel public room faced the main road, now Ridge Road and occupied the western half of the first floor. Several years ago when some remodeling was done, the floors were made bare showing the location of the bar. It was  at least 8 feet long and stood in what is now occupied as a living room. At a public sale prior to the removal of a large farm building, north of the house, Kay told this story:

“A large red bank barn (now also removed), was located northwest of the intersection of Ridge Road and Valley Road, against the hill toward the Salem Church. This barn had a hidden horse stall dug out within the lower level where animals were normally stabled. Here a horse could be kept out of sight. The legends is that either a horse thief or a fugitive Molly Maguires stolen horse was disguised by coloring the horse with shoe polish and hidden in this barn. Kay suggests that perhaps Mr. Stine was the horse thief. The residence also has Molly Maguire evidence dating to the era, complete with bullet holes and a secret doorway. Troy Davis recently stated that his mother’s upstairs bedroom door had a bullet hole, which has since been repaired. Other bullet holes may be seen in the attic where rooms for rent were available. On the first floor there is a secret door in a kitchen closet which opens to the interior of a large stone fireplace chimney. This door opens to a closed space capable if holding several people who could stand on a rock ledge surrounding the inside of the chimney walls. The legend is that fugitive Molly Maguire society members were hidden in this chimney to avoid a confrontation with lawmen. The Coal and Iron Police worked for the coal mine owner-operators in Ashland, Shamokin area. The Molly’s protested the abuse of the miners. ”

Two fireplaces were originally built on the ground floor basement level of the building. Both open fireplaces remain in the basement, but have been closed, and only one chimney remains in the house against the east wall accessible by the concealed door. Kay recalls her father stating that the house was pictured and described in a book pertaining to the Molly Maguires. Both Marlin and Lillian read this book and said the story contained the names of the fugitive visitors to the hotel. The book was loaned and never returned. Kay remembers the people named were from the Cameron Valley, south of Shamokin, and suggested the book was destroyed to hide the fugitive’s names.

Kay recalls the name Brosius is inscribed in the basement cement floor naming the owner previous to Daniel Maurer, her grandfather.

 

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Conversation with Bernice N. Rothermel of 99 Valley Road, Klingerstown, PA on April 8, 2011

Raymond and Helen (Rothermel) Ramberger lived here in 1941. At that time the farm was owned by Al Rothermel, Helen’s father and Bernice’s father-in-law. Al’s son Elwood owned the farm in recent times and the house had many occupants. Bernice (Mrs. Elwood Rothermel) does not know the original owners but suggests they may have been Maurers because of the nearby Daniel Maurer farm location.

Bernice’s son David and her grandson Andy farm another neighboring farm to the east, lately known as the Valentine Farm on Valley Road. Leo Valentine and his brother were the owners. They originated from the coal regions around Shamokin. The farmhouse and barn were used during their time of ownership. The barn later burned down. David Rothermel’s residence is locate on the farm today.

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Erdman Mill Photos from the Past

On March 31, 2011, Steve E. Troutman visited Christian and Johannes Zinzendorf who lived at the  Erdman’s millhouse. Christian mocated Marie Heim’s photo album and Oscar Erdman’s mill journal. Christian recalled Oscar Erdman married Ida Knorr, and that Ida’s mother’s maiden name was Herb. The album contained pictures of the mill and the journal recorded many names familiar to me. One of these pages listed the account for Elsworth Klinger, my mother’s grandfather, documenting the various flour and feed ground.

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