Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Beauchamp millers and Leonard Mill Pond

Levin Greensbury Beauchamp (1836-1911) was a miller in the Salisbury area and in 1870 he married Julia E. Phillips (1845-1901).  Levin Beauchamp would work in a number of mills in the area.  He seems to specialize in water powered mills.

Levin Beauchamp on the left with his son in law john McNelia,  Photo from John McNelia

Levin and Julia had as children; Clarence Wesley Beauchamp (1871-1941), Mary Lane “Mollie” Beauchamp (1873-1958), Annie Elizabeth Beauchamp (1875-1955), John Levin Beauchamp (1881-1938), and Barbara Ellen Beauchamp (1883-1976).

His two sons Clarence and John would work with him at the mill so they were trained to be millers.  They however would work for the railroad; Clarence worked in the machine shop in Delmar and John as a conductor who would work for a while in Norfolk, Va.  
above Clarence and Delia photo from John McNelia

Clarence would marry Delia Hammond(1869-1955) who was the daughter of William Edward and Rebecca F. Hoiser Hammond.  John would marry in 1902 Minnie Carolina Hearn(1883-1964) daughter of Harvey Hearn and Mary Elizabeth Lecates Hearn.  John Beauchamp with his brother-in-law John McNelia put up the two hundred dollar marriage bond that was required in Delaware.

Above photo from John McNelia
The brothers would work for the railroad until 1922.  In the summer of 1922 the employees of the railroad who were the shop crafts (machinist, sheet metal workers, carpenters, boiler makers, etc) went on strike.  Nationwide over 400,000 craft workers were on strike.  The labor board in the spring of 1922 had decided since the cost of living was going down they could cut wages to the maintenance of way men, the shop craft workers and the freight handlers.  There were 29 men working in the shop at the Delmar yard.  All 29 walked out on strike.  The railroad responded by replacing all 29 with new hires or workers from out of the area.    

1922 ad

To say it was a hostile attitude in Delmar toward the replacement workers would be an understatement.  Mobs of 300 plus people surrounded the station, Air hoses were cut on the rail cars, the new replacement workers were refused housing and meals in restaurants, the Sussex County sheriff office sent law enforcement over, state police were called in, added railroad guards were hired, the Maryland State police by mistake had crossed over the state line into Delaware to protect the railroad property and a mob of 500 surrounded them and the Delmar Delaware mayor (a railroad worker) told them they could go back to Maryland or he would have them arrested. 

The strike went on all summer and due to the disruption of the railroad service the people who were also affected were the farmers.  At peak harvest season for cantaloupes, watermelons and cucumbers they had to deal with strikers and railroad service to load the produce and ship it out.

The end result was the workers were replaced and Clarence Beauchamp was no longer a railroad worker.  It unclear why his brother John stopped working for the railroad at this time perhaps it was just a sympathetic move on his part.   John would come back and start a mill in Delmar.  In 1929 the Leonard Pond Mill came up for public auction.
The mill in 1962
The mill at Leonards Pond had been around since the 1700s.  A number of people had owned it and operated it.  The mill had a grist mill and up until about 1900 a saw mill, plus storage barns.  Early in the 1700s the state of Maryland had passed a law that anyone damming a pond or stream would have to provide a road across the dam.  This got the state of Maryland out of the expense of building bridges across these streams.  The road was narrow across the dam (on a larger scale think of the road across the Conowingo dam) but it was part of the stagecoach route from Salisbury to Wilmington.  Today, outside of Delmar, are two roads called Stage Road and Old Stage Road that are a carryover from this time period.  All traffic heading south to Salisbury or north from Salisbury on Route 13 crossed over this narrow road at Leonard Mill Pond.  

The mill had been sold to William T. Cannon in 1928.  It went up for public auction in 1929 and John L. Beachamp bought it.  At this time he was already running a mill in Delmar but announced he had plans to run both mills.  His brother Clarence worked with him at the mill. 

In August of 1933 a big storm hit the area.  Six inches of rain over three days with winds of 50 miles plus an hour wiped out the area.  Several people were killed, the road across the dam was washed out and Salisbury was isolated for several days while repairs were made.  The outcome was the state of Maryland relocated the road (took eight years) and built a bridge across Leonard mill pond for the RT13 traffic.  

In 1938 John Beauchamp lived on a farm two miles north of Delmar.  On November 5th Saturday he went hunting on his farm.  He slipped on a log and fell onto his gun, it discharged hitting him in the left side.  Friends helped him to the hospital in Salisbury and he died at age 57 on November 6th.  He left his wife, Minnie, and children; Joshua, Virginious, Mary and Leona.  Later Minnie remarried to Ernest B. Raughley. John and Minnie are buried at St Stephen’s cemetery.

The mill was willed to his brother Clarence.  Clarence lived on East Street in Delmar Maryland.  At the time he owned the mill he was already in 60s but he would walk the two miles from his home to the mill each day.  In July of 1940 Delmar had a severe electrical storm.  A lightning bolt hit the chimney of George Hartmann house on East Street and knocked it off the house.  Clarence happened to have been outside at the time and next to the house.  He was stunned and knocked to the ground, but he recovered. 

In February of 1941 while working at the mill he had a dizzy spell and fell into nine foot of water.  Virgil Adkins, who lived near the mill, saw it happen and rushed over to drag the unconscious Clarence from the water and up a six foot bank.  He was carried back to Delmar where he received emergence treatment. He had suffered a paralytic stroke and on February 16th at age 69 he died.  Perhaps being stunned by the lightning bolt seven months earlier was a contributing factor to his stroke.

His wife Delia sold the mill in 1943 to Cecil and Lulu Cline. 

1 comment:

  1. I found this article very interesting. As a Beauchamp who grew up in the area its was nice to learn some history about Leonard's Mill Pond. I have driven by/over the Pond numerous times. Used to be a favorite swinning hole.

    Alan Beauchamp