Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Reid's Mill Built in 1739 on Eastchester Creek Adjacent to Pelham

Generations of Pelham farmers carted their grain to a tidal mill located on Eastchester Creek. Built in 1739, it was known for many years as Reid's Mill. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting provides a brief history of the mill as well as significant photographs relating to its history contained in the collections of The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham.

In 1912, author Stephen Jenkins published a book entitled "The Story of The Bronx from the Purchase Made by the Dutch from the Indians in 1639 to the Present Day". In it he provided a brief history of Reid's Mill and even described the area around the mill as it existed at the time he published his book. His account is excerpted immediately below.

"Rattlesnake Brook crosses the Boston (Coles) Road; to the east of the road, the stream is dammed, forming Holler's Pond, from which the ice supply of the neighborhood is cut and upon whose frozen surface the people of the vicinity enjoy the sport of skating. There is also a factory for the making of artificial ice. Near this pond is located a small settlement, which is the part of the ancient village of Eastchester within the Borough. A lane leads down the neck to Reid's mill, about a mile from the Boston Road. This lane used to be very beautiful one; but in 1904 and 1905 most of the trees were cut down for firewood and the beauty of the landscape has been much decreased in consequence. There are several magnificent old trees on the Boston Road near the entrance to the lane, but these may suffer from the grading of the post-road, now being made into a State road. At the end of the lane, we come to the vast salt meadows of Eastchester Creek, which stretch away for several miles, and over which there is no way of passing on foot, unless we go to Pelham Bridge on the south or to the Prospect Hill Road [Ed. Note - Later Known as Split Rock Road] on the north. These meadows are not without their picturesqueness, and Edward Gay, N.A., has depicted them in a number of his pictures.

In the olden times, the end of the lane at Eastchester Creek was called Sandler's Landing. In 1739, there was erected here a tidal mill by Thomas Shute and Joseph Stanton. The mill passed through several hands until 1766, when it was bought by John Bartow, who, in 1790, sold it to John Reid, a Scotchman, whose son Robert was the last miller. The mill has thus been known as 'Bartow's,' but more commonly as 'Reid's mill.' It was for many years the town mill, and as such passed into the possession of the city of New York at the time of the annexation. It was a great barn-like structure of wood and was blown down in a storm about 1900, so that nothing now remains of it except the foundation stones. Near-by is a picturesque old structure, probably the home of the miller, the oldest part of which, so it is said, dates from 1668."

Source: Jenkins, Stephen, The Story of The Bronx from the Purchase Made by the Dutch from the Indians in 1639 to the Present Day, pp. 423-24 (NY, NY: The Knickerbocker Press 1912).

The photograph immediately below is contained in the collections of The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham. It depicts Reid's Mill before it was blown down in about 1900.

The photograph immediately below is also from the collections of The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham. It shows what is said to be the Reid Homestead near the location of the mill. This is the structure said to include a portion that dates from 1668. It likewise no longer stands.

Cursory research sheds a little additional light on the mill. In 1805, John Reid offered the mill for sale, apparently with the assistance of his acquaintance, Robert Bartow. A classified advertisement appeared in the August 8, 1805 issue of Commercial Advertiser. It read:



A FARM and MILLS, in East-Chester, county of West-Chester, about 16 1-2 miles from the city of New-York. The Farm contains about 40 acres of upland, and about 20 acres of salt meadow, and a tolerable good orchard. The land is in the best state of cultivation. The Mills has at present two run of stones, and the pond is large enough to carry four run, or more. The navigation is good -- a sloop can come along side of the mill that draws between 6 and 7 feet water, at common tides -- There is a comfortable Dwelling House, and other buildings, and plenty of good water on the place. Also, near the above, is a small house, and lot of land, proper for a Cooper. For terms, apply to Messrs. R. S. Bartow & Co. No. 103 William-street, New-York, Mr. David King, Inn-keeper, near the City-Hall, or of JOHN REID, on the premises, who will give a good title for the same.

aug 2 C&S6w"

Source: For Sale, A Healthy and Pleasant Situation, Commercial Advertiser, Aug. 2, 1805, p. 3, col. 4.

More than a year later, another such advertisement appeared in The People's Friend & Daily Advertiser. That advertisement provided additional detail about the mill and surrounding lands. It read:



In front of the T. C. H. [Tontine Coffee House] 390 deer skins, 200 do. dressed & 50 dozen morocco skins.


At half past 9 o'clock at his action room 144 Pearl street, an extensive assortment of dry goods.


A pleasant and healthy situated farm and mill at East-Chester, 16 and a half miles from New-York; the farm contains 40 acres of upland, and 20 acres flat meadow; and is in a good state of cultivation by the manure made from the great quantity of salt hay and sedge that is cut and drove on shore by the high tides; the house is 81 and a half feet by 26 and a half; there is a large cider-mill house, with mill and press complete; smoak house, a new stable with 4 stalls, a barn and other out buildings with plenty of good water on the place. There is a good garden and an orchard, producing apples sufficient to make from 6 to 10 hhds. [hogsheads] cider annual, the mill is situated near the house has 2 run of stones with screen boults fit for manufacturing superfine flour the pond is large enough to carry 4 or 5 run, the dam is short and easy kept up, the navigation is good, sloops drawing 7 or 8 feet water can come along side the mill at common tides, there is also a small house, and lot about half a mile from th above it would suit a cooper. As it is presumed no person will purchase without viewing the premises all further description is unnecessary -- For terms apply at the auction room, at David King Well street near the city hall, or of John Reid on the premises, who will give an indisputable title for the same."

Source: By David Dunham, The People's Friend & Daily Advertiser, Oct. 14, 1806, p. 3, col. 5.

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