Kirby's Mill - Medford, NJ
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 55.006 W 074° 48.349
18S E 516595 N 4418537
Quick Description: The Medford Historical Society has done a fantastic job posting these markers around the NRHP sites and the local historic sites as well. This sign marks the last working mill in the state of New Jersey.
Location: New Jersey, United States
Date Posted: 11/21/2010 8:11:17 PM
Waymark Code: WMA5ZZ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member LowellHouseGuy
Views: 3

Long Description:

This is a local historic marker, blue, marked number 13 in a series of 63. In 2004, the Medford Historic Advisory Board had interpretive markers placed at 63 historic sites and structures and also published a guide book to those places. The website listed below will take you to a guidebook reproduced with the permission of the Township of Medford. The sign is roadside and a little dangerous to walk in front of as you will be inches from the asphalt if not standing in the street. The sign reads:

KIRBY'S MILL

Started by John Haines in 1778,
As a Grist Mill, the Settlement
Grew to Include a Saw Mill, A
Smithy, a Wheelwright Shop, And
A Cider Mill.

1847-1997


From my previous waymark:

Kirby's Mill is an historic grist mill, originally known as Haines Mill. The mill was built in 1778 by Isaac Haines and partners along the Southwest Branch of Rancocas Creek. It was the last commercial operating mill in New Jersey.

Today the mill is partially restored and is the headquarters of the Medford Historical Society. The Mill has been one of their ongoing pet projects for years so this is a natural place for them to make their home. The place is spacious and beautiful and is an ideal place to take photos or take the family for a local history lesson. We often come here for the annual Apple Festival which occurs in October and pretty much shuts off this part of town because of the sheer numbers of visitors.

The water wheel is intact and located to the rear of the mill, in the open and in the water. Both water containment gates are intact but not working. I believe their restoration is also in the works. There is a shack for the saw mill or what remains of it. This is more of a curiosity than a functional aspect of the mill. In the wooded area, down the creek a bit is a small, multi arched stone bridge which the kids got a kick out of walking over, back and forth.

Across the road are two other structures, painted red just like the main barn/house. On one side is a large advertisement for the mill reminiscent of the old turn of the century adds which used to be painted on the sides of buildings. This one is obviously new as it is in pristine shape. There are also three historical markers on the site as well. The original miler's house still stands as well as a house across the road which was the home of one of the owners of the mill.

Wiki told me the sawmill built along the creek, the adjacent brick house, called the Miller's House, were all built about 1785. The grist mill was enlarged to three stories about 1830. A blacksmith shop and barn were also built during this period. William S. Kirby purchased the mill complex in 1877 and added a fourth floor to the grist mill. The original water wheel was replaced with water turbines, which provided more power and were submerged, permitting year-round operation. The mill produced wheat, buckwheat and rye flour, cornmeal and chicken feed. The sawmill produced lumber for the mid-Atlantic region into the 20th century.

The following comes form the Medford Historical Society webpage (cited below in appropriate field):

In 1773, Isaac Haines and others petitioned the General Assembly to permit the building of a dam to power a gristmill and sawmill. It is said that the workmen building the mill could hear the roar of the cannons during the battles at Redbank, now a National Park, near Gloucester. The gristmill was completed and in operation by the spring of 1778.The brick house, referred to as the "Miller's House," located across the millrace, was built by Nehemiah Haines about 1785. His son Charles inherited the mill and enlarged it from its original single story structure to a three story structure in about 1830. The blacksmith shop and a small barn were built at about this same time.

William S. Kirby bought the mill complex in 1877 and again changes were made. In the next few years the roof was lifted adding a fourth floor. Another major change was the removal of the water wheel to be replaced by several more efficient water turbines. It was in this era that the complex was at the height of productivity. The sawmill was, kept busy sawing logs for shipment not only' to local lumber yards but also to Philadelphia and Baltimore buyers. The gristmill was producing wheat flour, buckwheat and rye flour, along with cornmeal and chicken feed. The flour which was produced here was of very good quality and was much in demand by bakeries along the east coast.

By World War I more modern machinery had replaced the millstones and the mill stopped producing flour in the 1920's and concentrated more on livestock feed. The sawmill finally shut down because of the lack of local timber. The blacksmith and wheelwright shop closed down with the coming' of the automobile. The gristmill stayed in operation under water power until 1961 when, because of low water and mechanical problems, it was converted. to electricity. It was still in partial operation in 1969 when the Medford Historical Society purchased it from the Kirby Brothers. This mill was the last operating commercial mill in New Jersey.

The mill was declared a State Historical Site in July of 1971, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites in September of 1972. It is the hope of the Medford Historical Society to restore the complex to working order so that our generation and future generations can wander back into the past and see part of early Americana.

To date, restoration efforts have included the replacement of a working Waterwheel, along with the necessary foundation, shafts and gearing etc. to once again operate a pair of millstones. The Mill Complex has an extensive collection of antiques and an interesting museum that includes a Country Store, a Milliner's Shop, Print Shop and a Carpenter Shop. There is also a working Blacksmith Shop and Sawmill.

The Mill complex also includes a storage barn, sawyer's house and a carriage barn. We plan to convert the storage barn into farming museum, the Sawyer’s house will become a historic library and research center and the carriage barn will store our historic wagon collection.

Marker Name: Kirby's Mill

Marker Type: Local? Unofficial

Marker text:
KIRBY"S MILL

Started by John Haines in 1778,
As a Grist Mill, the Settlement
Grew to Include a Saw Mill, A
Smithy, a Wheelwright Shop, And
A Cider Mill.

1847-1997



Dedication Date: 1/1/2004

City: Medford

County: Burlington

Group responsible for placement: Medford Historic Advisory Board

Web Link: [Web Link]

Visit Instructions:
A photo of the 'Marker' or 'Plaque' is required to identify the location, plus a picture of the 'Historic Site', please ALSO provide a detailed description of your visit so we can form a 'mental image'
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