About Mary Newlin (Mendenhall)
Mary Mendenhall was the daughter of Thomas Mendenhall and wife Joane Strode. She came to America in 1683 the same year that her husband arrived from Ireland. Both settled in Concord, PA and were married two years later, on April 17, 1685. This marriage occurred in Concordville, Chester Co., PA (then known as Deleware Co.)
William Penn had patented to Nicholas Newlin 500 acres of land situated in Chester Co., PA, and in 1703, this land was resurveyed to his son, Nathaniel. In 1704, Nathaniel and Mary built a grist mill and a dam on their land which contained the headwaters of the west branch of Chester Creek in Concord Township. The mill was operational through several changes of owners and under various name until, as the Concord Flour Mill, it ground commercially for the last time in 1941.
In 1957, after stints as a book shop and an antique store, the Newlin Grist Mill was purchased by E. Mortimer Newlin, ninth generation descendant of Nicholas Newlin. He created the Nicholas Newlin Foundation for the purpose of restoring and maintaining the mill as a museum. The mill's great wooden cogs, gears and pinions were all in place but had rotted into disuse. During 1992, the trustees and staff of the Foundation undertook reconstruction of the grist mill. The task was to dismantle the old inner structure for purposes of rebuilding it, and to gain some knowledge of the original building so that a model maker could reproduce the first mill to scale. An eighteenth-century mill typically consists of two parts: the waterworks and the building. The building can be envisioned as three fundamental entities, each of which may be referred to properly as a "mill." First, the building itself, in this case a freestanding heavy timber frame and stone structure, banked into a natural east-west ridge,houses the industrialparts. Second, the inner structure is also heavy timber framed and is also virtually freestanding within the proective walls of the building. Third, there is the cleaning, grinding and sifting machinery which is housed in, and supported by, the inner structure. Aside from the mill itself, the mill race, pond, and dam constitute the most visible remains. Like the mill, they are visible clues to time past, but they present mysteries as well.The incomplete historical record provides no clue as to whether these shortages represent a recurring problem in the Chester Creek watershed, whether this is a phenomenon of our time, or whether there might be another explanation altogether.
It seemed reasonable to attempt to solve the immediate problem using the most direct approach possible; assume for the time that nothing has changed since 1704; how could the water system be made to work? Four projects provided the answer: 1. making level and patching the dam; 2. dredging portions of the millpond; 3. dredging the millrace; 4. rebuilding the locks and spillways along the race. The millrace now provides an ample supply of water, and in fact, provides enough to power the much more extensive machinery of the mill of the late nineteenth century even at the worst of the most severe drought we have experienced to date. Our tempory assumption that nothing had changed since 1704 was simply a convenience. The dam and millpond area that exist now differ radically from the situation of 1704. Silting of the old millpond has claimed several acres; construction of the Octorara Railroad line and of South Cheyney Road through the property have certainly altered the course of the millrace. The heavy timber inner structure rests on the ground or on stone foundations separate from the walls of the outer building. Thus, vibration and other stresses caused by the operation of the mill machinery is transferred to the inner structure, it's foundations, and ultimately to the ground, rather than to the outer shell of the mill building. Contact between the inner structure and the building is almost incidental; therefore, operation of the mill caused almost no damage to the mill building, but wear and tear to the supporting inner portions is continuous and cumulative.
Reconstruction of the inner frame involved: 1. fixing several tons of milling machinery in place by means of jacks, scaffolding and other temporary devices; 2. removing and replacing most of the existing structure, mainly materials from the ca. 1960 restoration project. This work uncovered some previously hidden and unexpected details of the original building which would alter the historical interpretation of the building. Removal of the timber frame exposed the inner surface of the north wall (which was in 1704 an original outer wall), revealing two previously unnoticed (or un-noted) features: First, a six feet plus high archway on the wall, only inches from the corner at the banked end; Second, a rectangular recess in the same wall, aligned with a stone pier on the south wall opposite it. Discovery of these features compounded questions about other unexplained formations in that original room of the mill, and lead to considerable rethinking about plans for the model. Archaeologists and persons familiar with other early mills viewed and discussed the sometimes elusive possibilities contained in the remaining structures before restoration was undertaken.
After much study, work and time the mill has, for thirty years, with occasional predicable repair and maintenance, served as intended. (Source: Bulletin of the Delaware County Historical Society, Vol 44, No 2, May 1993, H. Dabbs Woofin).