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New Book on York County, Pennsylvania Mills

Biesecker’s Mill on the Little Conewago
York County Heritage Trust will launch its latest publication, Millers’ Tales: The Mills of York County, this Saturday, November 27 with a public program. The event will be held a 1 p.m. at the Trust’s Agricultural and Industrial Museum, 217 W. Princess St., York. Ray Kinard will speak on milling and agriculture in York County and there will be a demonstration of the Bradley mill, the interior of a full-size working mill installed inside the museum. The author will also be available. The quality paperback book can be obtained at AIM as well as at YCHT’s 250 E. Market St. shop. It can be purchased alone or as part of a special package of books on York County history at the shops, online or by phone.
York County Heritage Trust’s Director of Library and Archives, Lila Fourhman-Shaull composed Millers’ Tales, using the extensive files and photographs compiled over 40 years by the late Grant H. Voaden, S. Morgan Smith Co. engineer. Voaden donated his work to the Historical Society of York County (now part of York County Heritage Trust) in the late 1980s. Voaden’s goal, as outlined in a 1997 letter, was to gather information on “each of the approximately 360 mills which are shown on the township maps in Pomeroy’s Atlas of York County published in 1876.” He did find enough information to compile separate files on 270 of those mills, even though some had been gone for over a century. His data base has information for each mill in ten different categories, including mill owners, township, stream and nearby mills. It can be accessed on the YCHT website by clicking this link. The data base also contains information from Voaden’s research on Adams County mills.
Fourhman-Shaull chose a good representation of York County mills in this lavishly illustrated volume. The photographs are from Voaden’s own collection, supplemented by some taken by another mill researcher, the late G. Ross Bond. The photo above is one of the many included Millers’ Tales. It shows Biesecker’s Mill on the Little Conewago Creek in Jackson Twp. Biesecker’s produced White Lily and White Swan flour, Yorkco dog food and Golden brand corn meal.
What was the first known mill in York County?

According to Fourhman-Shaull’s introduction to Millers’ Tales, “a petition was filed in Lancaster County court [York County was a part of Lancaster County until 1749] in November 1741 for a road from the new town on the Great Codorus [York] to William Smith’s Maryland-patented land some 10 miles south. The report, filed the following February, described the road’s location: extending ‘due south by way of Woolrich [Ulrich] Whisler’s mill.’ References found within several York County deed books report that ‘the Proprietaries of Pennsylvania by license of Samuel Blunston dated December 9, 1734, granted to Woolrich Weesler 250 acres on Little Codorus Creek about a mile above Thomas Perrens to be taken on both sides of said creek for the convenience of building a mill.’ Grant H. Voaden’s research identifies this as the Plank Road Mill.”
The Whisler/Wisler mill is probably the one classified in the Voaden database as GV-140 under the Dosch Lefever name. The Little Codorus is now called Mill Creek and the site today probably in Springettsbury Twp. The mill that stood there could have been constructed as early as 1735. This is one example of the further research opened up by Miller’s Tales and the Voaden database, files and photographs. It is hoped that researchers will utilize these collections and share whatever additional information they uncover on York County’s first industry.

Cover of Miller’s Tales showing York County Parks’ Wallace-Cross Milla
The photo on the cover above was taken by York Daily Record/York Sunday News photographer Paul Kuehnel. Cover design by Samantha Dellinger of the York Daily Record/York Sunday News. York County Parks offers seasonal tours of the Wallace-Cross Mill in East Hopewell Twp.
Click the links below for some of my previous posts on York County mills.
What’s a fulling mill?
The Small family owned numerous mills.
Small’s Codorus mills valuable source of flour to occupying Confederate soldiers.
Many mills in York County and surrounding area.