by Jonathan M. Hoppock
Democrat-Advertiser, 13 September 1906

This was the last article published under Mr. Hoppock’s name. He died on October 29, 1906, at the age of 68. The article was first published on this website ten years ago (2011). In reviewing it I have found many things of interest to add. I have also added headings to make reviewing easier and brought the footnotes into the text.

Located about one mile southwest of Locktown, on the east bank of the Wickecheoche Creek, stands this well-known old-time mill. It is nicely located and the creek makes an attractive view as it foams and dashes down the gorge to the mill. It has been known for years past as “The Elisha Rittenhouse Mill,” but is at present owned by Mrs. Mathias Pegg.

The Rittenhouse Mill on Old Mill Road, 1906

The exact date of its erection is not known, but Opdyke’s History (from which some of these facts have been taken) fixes it at more than one hundred years ago.

(It still stands, although it was converted to a residence many years ago, and now looks nothing like it did in the photograph above. The first mill on the property was probably built in the 1730s, making it as old as the Opdycke Mill at Headquarters. For more on this mill, see “Some Delaware Township Sawmills” and “Holcombe’s Mill And Thereabout.”)

The old mill above shown had many owners. Perhaps Thomas Opdyke was the first, as well as the builder. Others say Elijah Rittenhouse, after whom it was named. Among the owners were Tunis Myres, who carried on the milling business here for a long number of years; William Cobb, ex-Freeholder Robert Holcombe and others.

The first miller here was either William Rittenhouse or his son Peter Rittenhouse. In his will of 1761, William Rittenhouse left to his son Peter, along with lands already conveyed, a sawmill and 100 acres along the Wickecheoke near Locktown, for a total of 240 acres. In Peter’s will of 1791, he left all his “lands and tenements” to his son Elisha Rittenhouse. Elisha and his father Peter were taxed on 206 acres and a gristmill in 1790. In 1801, Elisha Rittenhouse sold the mill and 112 acres to Thomas Opdycke, who died intestate in 1805. The estate was in limbo until 1818 when the 112 acres and sawmill were sold to the grandson of Elisha Rittenhouse, Andrew Bray (1789-1849) who then sold it back to Elisha Rittenhouse, who held it until his death in 1846. His executor John Risler sold the mill and seven acres to Tunis Myers in 1847. Myers was married to Keturah Rittenhouse, granddaughter of Elisha Rittenhouse. He and his wife sold the mill in 1871 to W. S. Cobb and Anderson Bray and moved to Nebraska around 1890. Times were hard in the early 1870s, so Myers was lucky to find a buyer. Bray was the son of Andrew Bray, previously mentioned, and Cobb was the actual miller. Cobb sold out to Bray in 1873, and on the same day Bray conveyed the undivided interest in the mill to Cobb’s wife Adelia. Was it estate planning or were the Cobb’s separating? Probably during Adelia Cobb’s ownership, Robert Holcombe took over running the mill, which he did for many years, so long, in fact, that the mill took on his name. Holcombe died in 1892 and may have been the last miller here.

Probably other mills were standing near the place previous to the erection of the one here shown, as according to the authority above quoted, “Thomas Opdyke bought the dower of the wife of Benjamin Tyson in a mill and meadow land, near this place, at Sheriff’s sale in 1790.

Benjamin Tyson’s mill was at Headquarters. Some might not consider that very “near” to the Rittenhouse Mill. (See “Benjamin Tyson’s Mill.”)

The old mill is still in running order, and could still be used for grinding purposes, but as old-time methods have given way to the new, it is at present standing idle. This and the old Sergeant mill standing about one mile farther south, are the only two of the many grist, saw, oil and fulling mills left standing, the wheels of which were once rotated by the rapidly flowing waters of the ugly named Wichkecheoche.

Since the first settlement of this part of the country, four grist, six saw, one oil and one fulling mill have been erected along the banks of the above-named stream, and its branches.

Mills on the Wickecheoke

The old Sergeant mill—with a saw, clover and fulling mill—were operated by a rivulet known as Cold Brook, which flows into the main stream at Sergeant’s mills.1

One hundred yards farther down once stood a saw and fulling mill, built by the Sergeants about one hundred years ago. Two miles farther down the stream stood a mill known as the Weir mill. This was built and operated by James and Joseph Weir during the Civil War but was afterwards burned down.

At Prallsville, where the creek joins the Delaware, the mills at this place were built by John Prall in 1793. They consisted of grist, saw and oil mills. The original grist mill at this place, now owned by John Smith, has been thoroughly remodeled. (See “Milling Industry at Prallsville Back of Year 1792.”)

Farther northeast from the old mill here shown, and on the same stream, at Croton, a sawmill was operated more than one hundred years ago, and on a branch known as Plum Brook, which flows into the main stream a few hundred yards south of the mill here shown, at a point known as “The Ferry,” two saw mills were standing about sixty years ago. The one was operated by Daniel Carrell and the other by Benjamin Horn. The last-named mill was purchased by Jacob and Robert (Sheriff) Thatcher nearly sixty years ago and moved by them to the well-known Thatcher place on the Trenton road [Route 579] and rebuilt on a stream running through their (at that time) farm.

The Carrell sawmill was originally built and run by John Besson sometime before the Revolution. Benjamin Horn was a chairmaker who used water-power to turn his lathes. He was also the moderator of Delaware Township’s first town meeting in 1838.

Besides these mills, along this stream at different times six apple distilleries have been operated.

Six is a large number of distilleries, which I cannot name. However, I suspect one or two were operated on the northern stretch of the Wickecheoke and explain the road name “Whiskey Lane.”


  1. A search on the term Sergeant’s Mills will provide a list of articles on this website, including one written by Hoppock himself, “The Old Sergeant Mill.”