Sunday, October 4, 2009

Along the Elk

According to a land record from Cecil County, Maryland, dated September 22, 1780, William and Rebecca Miller sold a 20-acre tract of land to his brother, Benjamin Miller and someone named Richard Ford.

The land was east of the Elk River and according to the record, a "branch of water" called Perch Creek ran through the property. Somewhere on this parcel of land a "water mill" was situated.

Did William Miller build this mill? We don't know. Also unknown is whether grain or lumber was milled here.

A history of Cecil Co, Maryland notes that "after 1720 agriculture in the county was divided into two different types of farms. In the tidewater area holdings still ran to large plantations usually run by tenants or managers. These required many workers and had large slave populations in the early times. These early plantations became nearly self -sufficient. They grew most of their food and also had a few cattle and other livestock to supply their needs. Some had small mills to grind the grain they used. The proximity to navigable water allowed the import of necessities and luxuries, and the easy export of grain and other crops,"( Though the Miller property, at 20 acres, didn't qualify as a large holding such as this, perhaps its mill served other smaller landowners.

On the other hand, if the legend that William was a boat-builder is true, perhaps he milled his own timbers here. And even if William himself wasn't a boat-builder, the Elk's navigable waters emptied into Chesapeake Bay, where boat builders abounded and lumber was a much sought-after resource.

A study of colonial American history also indicates that water mills that were used to process both grains and wood.

Hopefully future research will uncover the nature of this mill, shedding further light on the life of our Miller ancestors. In the meantime, our imaginations run as unending as the waters of the Elk.

[Note: We're in the middle of a move, so please forgive the lack of posts lately. I promise to be better about writing as soon as the packing and unpacking are done! - Donna]

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