Random adventures in the field

Posted on August 20, 2011 by


It’s often the way I roll…

I know the general geographic area where I’ll venture to, but where I end up is about as predictable as the roll of a twelve-sided die. I drive, and then, when something catches my attention, I stop, and try to get a sense of the story of that place. So it was with a ride recently. While heading back to I-81 from Clear Spring, noting the Conococheague Creek from one of the bridges, I wanted to take a picture. With no pull-off available, I took the next exit, and found myself on a road leading to Williamsport. I knew that the creek was further to the right of the road, and took one of the offshoot roads, looking for another point where the road might intersect with the creek. Ultimately, I ended up at a place called Kemp’s Mill.

The site offered a nice opportunity for a photo of the creek, but for the life of me, I don’t know why I didn’t bother to take a photo of the building that was THE mill (though, it has been greatly altered from its original appearance). Oh well…

Now, being who I am, as a part of my post-action activities, I had to invest a little time into the history of the place. While the mill has roots back to the late 1700s (when the Swingley family owned it), during the Civil War, it was owned by Abraham Leiter, a Pennsylvanian (born ca. 1800, and residing in Maryland since, at least, ca. 1835) who ran the place from 1855-1878. If you’re actually curious, actual ownership, over the years, was as follows:

Nicholas and Benjamin Swingley (ca. 1790s – ca. 1810)
Peter and Mathias Miller (and eventually, John Miller (1810 – 1838)
Henry Ankeney (1838 – 1855)
Abraham Leiter (1855 – 1878)
William H.C. Kemp (and descendants) 1878 – 1937

The mill was so extensively damaged by the flood of 1936, that, after almost 150 years (or more), it ceased operations.

Of course, my curiosity usually being centered on the Civil War, I wondered… how was the mill impacted during the Civil War, if at all?

As far as I can tell, none of the Leiter family left the mill for service on either side. Abraham had two sons listed in his household in 1860, George and Edward. George was a journeyman miller, and Edward, an apprentice miller. The David McNaine family also worked with the mill, David being a journeyman miller, and his son, George, being an apprentice. Additionally, many of the families on the same census page, as well as the one before and after, seem to have been working in harmony with mill operations, either as carpenters (which may also mean that they were millwrights) and farmers. None that I could found went to war.

Nothing significant to note about people in war… but that they continued to live their lives in the midst of it.