Nether Providence Township.
about 1800, and in 1811 there was at Avondale, in addition to the snuff-mills, a spinning-house, in which tobacco was spun, at a later date called the tobacco-factory. These mills were conducted by Thomas Leiper until his death, in 1825. By his will, April 21, 1824, he devised his real estate to his sons, George G., William J., and Samuel M. Leiper. The estate remained undivided until 1843, when the property on which the snuff-mills were located was conveyed by his co-heirs to William J. Leiper. Shortly after the death of Thomas Leiper a two-vat paper-mill was erected, which was supplied with water from the same race which gave power to the snuff-mills. In 1826, and for several years thereafter, the paper-mill was operated by John Holmes. In 1829, George G. Leiper conducted the business at this mill, which was destroyed by fire in 1836.
In 1826 there were, as before stated, two snuff-mills on this property, with eight mulls and two cutting-machines. They were operated until 1845, when they were changed into tenant-houses for the employés in the cotton-mills. Subsequent to the destruction of the paper-mill the estate was rented by James Riddle, who erected a cotton-factory on the east side of the creek, in Springfield township, and below the old paper-mill, the walls of which were utilized and changed into tenement-houses. On June 8, 1844, a fire occurred at Avondale, by which two tenement-houses were burned to the ground. Hardly anything was saved in these dwellings. In one of the upper rooms a man was lying dangerously ill and helpless, who would have perished had not James Honan, a stone-cutter, at great personal risk, forced his way through the flames and bore the sick man down the stairs to a place of safety. James Riddle, at a later date, rented the mills at Strath Haven, and conducted those, together with the mills at Avondale, until 1846, when they were rented to Simeon Lord. At that time there were eighteen tenant-houses at Avondale. On Dec. 29, 1849, the dye-house was destroyed by fire. In 1851, Simeon Lord was manufacturing fine cassimeres.
On the afternoon of July 2, 1851, Simeon Lord's dwelling, at Avondale, was struck by lightning. The fluid entered the chimney at the eastern end of the house, and, dividing, passed into all the rooms, being attracted in every direction by the heads of nails and other metallic substances. Large masses of stones were detached and thrown from the chimney into the yard below. Passing from the chimney to the room over the kitchen, the fluid shattered that portion of the house almost to pieces. Entering the room below, it tore off the plaster and demolished a clock, and descending near to a window where Mrs. Lord was seated, it threw her from the chair in which she sat into the middle of the room. Her son, a child of six years, who stood behind her, was thrown to the floor. The lightning struck the boy on the back of the head and ran down his back, coming out at his shoes, leaving a ragged hole in the latter about two inches in diameter. The skin was burned on the boy's back. He was restored to sensibility by dashing cold water on him. An old gentleman named Cooper, who was in the room, was also knocked down and rendered entirely unconscious. A little girl and a child in the same apartment were much stunned. The house was filled with smoke and dust, bedsteads were broken in several rooms, the fluid entering the small wire at the top of the posts and splintering them in three pieces, chairs were demolished, looking-glasses broken. In Mrs. Lord's bedroom were three guns. The stocks were shattered and broken to pieces, and the point of a bayonet, fixed to a musket, was melted. The walls and floors were perforated in many places and a portion of the door and window-frames knocked to pieces. In a closet, which was penetrated by the lightning, there were two canisters of powder and a bag of shot. The fluid entered the latter and passed the canisters. In the floor a large post, which supported the floor, was riven in twain.
In 1861, Simeon Lord purchased the Darby Mills of Thomas Steel and removed to that place. The Avondale property passed from William J. Leiper, by sheriff's sale, to Mrs. Helen H. Patterson, Aug. 24, 1858. At that time the mill property consisted of nine acres, a cotton-mill, and twenty-two stone tenements. On May 1, 1865, the large stone factory was burned, the machinery being at the time owned by Charles M. Gilberson, the lessee. The factory was rebuilt. Callender J. Leiper purchased the property of Helen H. Patterson, Nov. 1, 1870, and in 1872 he sold to William J. Leiper, who now owns it. William J. Leiper leased the property to Messrs. Callahan & Sharkey. `The mill was destroyed by fire Aug. 23, 1873, involving a loss to the lessees of about thirteen thousand dollars and a heavy loss to Mr. Leiper. The factory was rebuilt and operated by John Greer & Co. until 1878, then by David Brown, of Haddington, until May 1, 1881, when it was dismantled. The building was subsequently used by the Franklin Artificial Stone Company from the fall of 1882 to the spring of 1884.
Strath Haven Mills. - In the summer of 1776, Dr. Robert Harris, at this locality, had established a powder-mill, under a contract with the Committee of Safety, which required him to deliver one ton of powder to the State authorities every week.1 The mill, which was of frame and hastily constructed, disappeared with the occasion which called it into being. About 1824, Thomas Leiper, who then owned the estate, erected on the site of this mill, on Crum Creek, a tilt- or blade-mill, which was operated by Nahum Keys. In 1826 he was reported as then making about two hundred dozens of scythes and straw-knives per annum. For several years after that date, until 1830, the mill was operated by George G. Leiper, when it was changed to a paper-mill and leased to Park
|1 See description of powder-mill, ante, p. 46.|