Home : Quarterly Archives : Volume 34
Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
Source: April 1996 Volume 34 Number 2, Pages 53–60
The Clintonville-Tredyffrin Paper Mill 1834-1848
[Editor's note: This article is taken from a series titled "The Paper Mills of Chester County, Pennsylvania 1779-1967" written by the late Arthur E. James for The Paper Maker , a publication of Hercules, Incorporated of Wilmington, Delaware. The first in the series of sketches appeared in September of 1970. It covered the mills located in the western part of the county on streams that flow into the Chesapeake Bay. Unfortunately, because of a decision by the company to terminate its quarterly publication, the remaining articles were not printed.
Dr. James, a native of Chester County born in 1897, was a teacher of chemistry at institutions of higher education for over thirty-five years. As a hobby he became interested in several fields of Chester County history, and his vocational and professional background naturally led to research on the county's industries which used chemical processes. In 1950 he published an article on "Paper in Chester County," and he is the author of a number of books including titles on Chester County pottery, clocks, and covered bridges. For sixteen years Dr. James served as president of the Chester County Historical Society. He died in 1989.
The history of the paper mill in Tredyffrin is included in the typescript of the series of articles on the county's paper mills which can be found in the library of the Chester County Historical Society. All indications are that it has not previously appeared in print.]Top
Chester County has two streams known as Valley Creek. They are so named because each of them flows through parts of the Great Chester Valley. One of them (flows in a westerly to southwesterly direction and enters the Brandywine Creek three miles south of Downingtown. The other Valley Creek flows in an easterly to northeasterly direction and drains parts of Charlestown, East Whiteland, Tredyffrin and Schuylkill Townships. For about a mile before entering the Schuylkill River at Valley Forge it constitutes the boundary between Chester and Montgomery Counties. A small branch of this Valley Creek rises in Charlestown Township and then flows across the northeast corner of East Whiteland before entering Tredyffrin Township. One hundred fifty years ago, as it entered Tredyffrin, it passed through a narrow valley known as Cedar Hollow. A limestone outcropping there was then covered with cedar trees which gave the area its name. Painter and Bowen's 1847 "Map of Chester County, Pennsylvania" shows a dam, a short head race and "Paper M" in the northwest corner of Tredyffrin Township.
Thomas F. Gordan's 1832 "Gazetteer of the State of Pennsylvania" identifies Clintonville as follows:
Clintonville, Chester co. about 12 ms N.E. of West Chester, and 14 from Phila. contains 6 or 8 dwellings, a woollen manufactury, 1 store and 1 tavern. The vicinity is remarkable for its beautiful limestone.
Clintonville was an early name for Cedar Hollow. Changing the names of settlements in this area was infectious. About one mile northwest of Cedar Hollow in Charlestown Township was a hamlet known as Charlestown Cross Roads. Later the name was changed to Franklinton which lasted for a time and then it became Devault. This last change came in 1885 when a post office was established in a store kept by Devault Beaver.
In the mid-nineteenth century the Cedar Hollow area was served by three churches. St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Great Valley, was erected in 1744. This historic church continues to serve the area. On the Yellow Springs Road just east of Cedar Hollow the Salem Methodist Episcopal Church was established in 1833. About one-hall mile farther east was a Mennonite Meeting House and graveyard dating to 1835. Both of the latter two institutions ceased operation early in the twentieth century. In recent decades the Pennsylvania Turnpike has passed along the north valley hill overlooking Cedar Hollow and Devault.
The site of the Clintonville-Tredyffrin Paper Mill has been more completely obliterated than that of any other paper mill in Chester County. Today at the Devault plant of the Warner Company limestone has been excavated to a depth of some 200 feet over an area of several acres.
The limestone operations here are now one of the most extensive in eastern Pennsylvania. The late J. Gilmore Wilson, a geologist who was manager of the limestone plant for many years, reported the paper mill dam once stood where some of the plant buildings are now located. Many years ago his workmen found a two-inch pipe line which had carried pure water into the paper mill.Top
The Paper Mill and Its Many Problems
The period, 1834-1848, listed for this mill is somewhat misleading. Actually paper was made here for only some half-dozen years. However, the grandiose plans and extensive plant erected to make paper merit treatment in some detail. In 1826 Thomas Badaraque, a Philadelphia business man, bought a 54 acre property at Cedar Hollow for $3625. Soon he bought some additional acres and converted a grist mill on the property into a woolen factory. In 1832 he was assessed for "57 Acres @ $1995, Building @ $400, Factory @ $800." Like many successful Philadelphia businessmen, before the days of Federal income tax, Mr. Badaraque thought he could strengthen his financial situation by acquiring land and setting up a manufacturing plant in the country. However, he chose an especially inauspicious time for such a move.
The American Republican of December 17, 1833, carried the following advertisement:
Franklinton Tavern, Wheelwright, Coach-maker & Smith Shops,
Situated in Charlestown township, Chester county, at the crossing of the road leading from White Horse
to Longford on the Schuylkill with the road from Yellow Springs to Phila.
SAMUEL S. WALLEY
Franklinton, formerly Charlestown X Roads
Mr. Walley was seeking to sell Mr. Badaraque's Cedar Hollow paper mill as well as the tavern and shops at Franklinton which were owned by someone else. Mr. Badaraque died in 1834 and did not live to see his paper mill venture come to fruitition. The American Republican of October 28, 1834, carried the following:
Efforts to sell and a description of the mill are evident in the following advertisement in the Village Record of April 22, 1835:
Will be sold at PUBLIC SALE on Thursday the 23rd of April, 1835, at 7-1/2 o'clock in the evening at the Philadelphia Exchange, the following described properties of the late THOMAS BADARAQUE, decd., viz.
Tract of land, containing 67 acres, situate in Tredyffrin township, Chester county ... . The improvements are the Paper Mill, 3 stories high, 76 by 30 feet, built of Stone, the Machinery is new made of the best materials, and on the best manner, the whole of which is turned by a never failing stream of water. 31,000 dollars has been expended on the Mill by the late proprietor, who also expended 2 thousand 2 hundred dollars for a Spring of Water necessary for Manufacturing the finest Post, Bank Note, and all other kinds of fine paper.
The Water from said Spring is conveyed for a great distance through iron pipes to the mill. This Mill has been pronounced by competent judges to be the most complete and perfect in the United States ... . also three splendid dwelling houses, three small do. Barn, Stable, &c. and numerous out houses, all of stone and built in the best manner. Upon the premises is an inexhaustible and very valuable LIME-STONE QUARRY.
JOHN M. MELIZET, CHARLES NORRIS, Executors
That no buyers appeared at the above mentioned sale is not surprising in view of the financial climate of 1835. On June 16, 1836, the property was again put up at public-auction and was sold for $9100 to Robert Irwin and Joseph J. Lewis of West Chester. The new owners advertised a sale of the property in the American Republican of October 26, 1836, as follows
Will be sold at Public Sale, on the premises, on Wednesday, the 23rd day of November, next, all that valuable property known as the "CLINTONVILLE ESTATE" situate on the north side of the Great Limestone Valley, in Tredyffrin township, Chester county, 23 miles north westward from Philadelphia, 8 miles from Norristown and 12 miles from West Chester.
The property will be offered in lots as follows:
1st. A lot containing about 30 Acres of land, with extensive and valuable improvements, viz., one large STONE DWELLING HOUSE, large Stone Barn, and outbuildings, also, a STONE PAPER MILL three stories high on the south and two on the north side thereof, with a frame building over the water wheel at one end, and a frame drying house on a basement of stone under the same roof with the rest of the mill at the other end. The mill including the drying house is 76 feet long and 30 feet wide, with an overshot water wheel, 37 feet in diameter, turned by a never failing and sufficient stream of water. The machinery of the mill is entirely new, and constructed of the best and most permanent machinery, the wheels and other fixtures so far as they would admit of being, of cast iron or other metal. An ample supply of WASH WATER is conducted to the mill from the reservoir of pure spring water a distance of 250 yards, through iron pipes, & by means of leaden pipes carried to all parts of the mill if desired. The whole was constructed and arranged for the manufacture of Bank Note or other fine paper, for which every desirable convenience has been made without regard to expense.
This lot will include four small dwelling houses, for the accommodation of workmen in the mill, a ware house, shop, spring house and small tenement, all permanently and well built of stone, also, an inexhaustable body of limestone of the purest and most valuable quality.
2nd. A lot containing about 7 Acres of land, one half improved and the other, woodland. The improvements on this lot are a STONE DWELLING HOUSE, two stories high with a large stone kitchen in the rear, a stone stable, &c. This propery is well situated for a public house, has all the necessary conveniences, and was formerly occupied as such under the name of the "Fox Chase Tavern." It is on a road much traveled, leading direct from the Yellow Springs to Philadelphia.
3rd. A lot containing about 3 Acres, the greater part of which is woodland. On this lot there is a two story stone STORE & DWELLING HOUSE, with a stone kitchen in the rear, well suited for a country merchant with a family, and in a very public situation, being near the junction of several roads.
[A number of other parcels and lots were advertised.] All of the above property will be sold without reserve on terms easy to purchasers. Sale to commence at 10 o'clock, A.M.
It is noteworthy that the mill's overshot water wheel was 37 feet in diameter. No other Chester County paper mill had a wheel this large. An adjourned sale of the Clintonville Estate was announced a month later for December 24, 1836, and in this advertisement it was noted that "This mill, previous to the large addition made to it by the late owner, was in active operation as a woollen factory, and may be employed to advantage in any business to which water power is usually applied."
Again, no buyer appeared as the country was on the eve of the Panic of 1837. Robert Irwin was a contractor of West Chester, owned a number of buildings there, and served a term as county sheriff 1834-1837. Joseph J. Lewis was a prominent attorney in West Chester. The depressed economy of the next few years apparently resulted in a financial restructuring which transferred ownership to one Sharples, later an official with the West Chester railroad, for the following appeared on September 26, 1843:
Private Sale of Paper Mill,
The mill is now running and is offered for sale because the owner is entirelyunacquainted with any kind of mill business and took the property for the purpose of securing a lien he had against it.
PHILIP P. SHARPLES
The above advertisement is the first evidence that has been found to indicate that the paper mill was actually in business and producing paper. A study of township tax records indicates that Lewis Shee was at that time running the paper mill.Top
The Paper Mill Finally Owned by a Paper Maker 1846-1848
The Shee (Shea) family were paper makers in Chester and Delaware Counties during the first half of the nineteenth century. In 1845 Lewis Shee paid the taxes on the paper mill in Tredyffrin Township. The next year Philip P. Sharples and wife sold 30 acres including the paper mill to Lewis Shee and his wife, Elizabeth, for $5500. Further convincing evidence of papermaking here is the following notice carried by the January 26, 1847. issue of the Village Record:
One Cent Reward
RUNAWAY from the subscriber, residing in Tredyffrin township, Chester county, on Sunday evening, the 17th inst., John Odell, an indentured apprentice to the paper making business, aged about 18 years. Said apprentice had on when he ran away, an oil cloth cap, gray sattinet pantaloons, a dark frock coat and thick coarse boots. All persons are forbid harboring or trusting said apprentice at their peril.
That Lewis Shee had a partner in the business for a time is indicated in the June 18, 1848, issue of the Village Record as follows:
Dissolution of Partnership
Notice is hereby given that the partnership heretofore existing under the firm of SHEE & KIMES, is this day dissolved by mutual consent.
Tredyffrin, June 6, 1848.
No proof has been found to indicate that the mill made any paper after 1848. Neither Lewis Shee nor Joseph Kimes paid tax in Tredyffrin Township after 1848. Mr. Shee moved to a farm in Charlestown Township where he died in 1881. Joseph Kimes moved to Philadelphia but, in 1853, he bought the paper mill property from Lewis Shee for $6300. Soon he sold it to Chalkley C. Shee, of Philadelphia, for $10,250. In 1855 the property was owned by Joseph H. Duckett, a paper merchant of Philadelphia, believed to be related to John B. Duckett, the husband of Mary Ann Shee. However, it was the limestone in the area and not the paper mill which made Cedar Hollow and Devault important in subsequent years.
Today in the graveyard at the Church of St. Peter in the Great Valley, the previously mentioned 1744 church, are stones inscribed as follows:
LEWIS SON OF PARKE & RACHEL SHEE 1818-1881
Lewis Shee was a vestryman at St. Peter's from 1853 to 1857. He was a grandson of Gen. John Shee, who was Collector of the Port and a well known political figure in Philadelphia after the Revolution. Elizabeth Shee was a daughter of William and Elizabeth (Thomas) Richison, and a granddaughter of Richard Richison, one of the original vestry of St. Peter's in 1745. The late J. Gilmore Wilson told the writer that he had visited Catharine Shee when she was 100 years old. Her antiquity, like that of St. Peter's Church, has been equalled by few, if any, Chester Countians. How she was related to Lewis and Elizabeth Shee has not been determined.
In the Barn Museum of the Chester County Historical Society is a large brass bell, measuring 18 by 20 inches. The bell carries the inscription "CAST BY JOHN WILLBANK, PHILADA. 1828." A memorandum attached to it states that, at one time, it was mounted on the Tredyffrin Paper Mill.Top
Some Subsequent History of the Area
The Reading Railroad built a spur to the lime kilns at Cedar Hollow in 1856. Soon after the Civil War, Messrs. Buckman, English and Larry, who ran lime kilns there, organized the Cedar Hollow Lime Company. In 1904 this company was sold to the Cedar Hollow Company for $16,000 and 1530 shares in the new corporation. Alfred Warner was president and treasurer of the Cedar Hollow Lime Company at the time of the sale. His son Charles Warner, whose name was widely known in the limestone and crushed stone world, was treasurer of the Cedar Hollow Company. Both Charles and Alfred Warner were largely involved in the Cedar Hollow Company, which, in 1917, was reorganized under the title of the Warner Company. In 1965 there were 106 employees at the Warner Company's Cedar Hollow plant. This company has other extensive facilities supplying crushed limestone, gravel, lime, ready-mix and sand in eastern Pennsylvania and nearby areas.
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