Thursday, June 01, 2006

Another Milton Mill Site May Have Been Found

Historic Milton Mill Site

Two Caswellians with very deep Milton roots recently have been exploring the creek around Milton (Country Line Creek) searching for the ruins of the railroad and any mills that operated in the area. That the Thomas Mill once operated in Milton is well-documented. However, these investigators discovered on a 1940 map of Milton (copied from a 1840 map) a reference to another mill site that was located on Country Line Creek near the end of East Street in Milton.

These intrepid historians believe they may have located the site of this mill, which would be a separate mill from the better-known Thomas Mill. An archelogist from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro is interested in the discovery and plans to visit the site. Hopefully, she will be able to date the structure.

The accompanying photographs are of what was known as the Milton Roller Mill. Whether it is the same as the Thomas Mill is unknown.

Thomas Mill

One of the earliest references to the Thomas Mill is in a 1796 act of the North Carolina Legislature authorizing an inspection warehouse and the laying out of a town at the site of the warehouse. It was to be located near the mouth of the Country Line Creek at the Dan River on the property of Asa Thomas. Commissioners Thomas Jeffrey, Archibald Murphy, William Rainey, Archibald Samuel, and James Saunders were empowered to lay off thirty acres at or near the Thomas Mill into half acre lots and to establish a town to be named Milton. See When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County, North Carolina 1777-1977, William S. Powell (1977) at 100.

Powell goes on to observe that Asa Thomas had a mill at the site where the town of Milton was established before the town was formed, "but he soon was joined by others. Milton was indeed a mill town, as its name apparently was intended to suggest." Powell at 326.

It appears that the Thomas Mill had been in existence well before 1796. British General Cornwallis and his troops are believed to have "taken advantage of several mills such as Thomas's near Milton and Rainey's south of Semora." See The Tactical Rereat of General Nathanael Greene, Thomas J. Edmonds (2006) at 10.

And, it is possible that the mill that came to be known as the Thomas Mill was in operation as early as 1757. Note the following from Caswell County Historical Association Newsletter VOL. XXVI, Number 2, April 2003 at page 2:

"[Benjamin Merritt] came down from New York and secured a Granville Grant of many acres on both sides of the Dan River in two colonies. Benjamin built a mill which he sold to Mrs. Anne Smith ca.1757 with acreage over 50 in the tract, more than enough to start a flourishing frontier town."

And, the daughter of this Mrs. Anne Smith is believed to have sold this mill to William Thomas, Sr. in 1779. Asa Thomas was a son of William Thomas, Sr. For more on this go to the Will of Anne Smith, which indicates that she obtained her property in Milton by way of a Granville Land Grant in 1760.

For more background on the historic town go to Milton.

For additional photographs of the subject mill site go to Photgraph Two and Photograph Three.

The information provided here is for those interested in the history of Milton. However, please note that the structures shown reside on private property, and trespassers will not be tolerated.

Please submit any comments to the CCHA.

1 comment:

  1. Where are Asa Thomas (d 1819) and his father Capt. William Thomas, Sr. (d 1795) buried?
    Danny Ricketts