Millport Mill

Aka Fertility Mill/Bonholtzer’s Mill

In 1719, Felix Landis obtained a grant for 400 acres along the Mill Creek from William Penn. Two years later, in 1721, Landis transferred part of that grant to John Binkley who in turn gave 113 acres to his son Felix Binkley. In 1767, Felix built a Georgian-style sandstone home and a stone flour mill on the east side of the road from Strasburg to Lancaster. The mill remained in the Binkley family for nearly sixty years, passing to John Binkley in 1781, and John Binkley, Jr in 1803.

Jacob Charles became the owner sometime around 1813. Across the road from the grist mill was a sawmill. In 1833, the Charles estate included a grist mill, sawmill and 50 acres of land. In 1838, the property was purchased by Daniel Potts who was a widely known citizen at the time. Daniel Potts was the owner for nearly twenty years.

Samuel Curtis became the next owner of the mill in 1857. Sometime during the middle of the nineteenth century a post office opened in the mill. The post office was called Fertility and the area around the mill assumed that name as well. The 1875 atlas shows the Fertility and Greenland Post Offices and the grist mill on the east side of the road owned by S. Curtis and a sawmill on the west side of the road. Curtis owned the mill for twenty years followed by D. B. Landis in 1877.

Built1882
Structure2.5 Story Brick
Water SourceMill Creek
TownshipEast Lampeter
TypeRoller
Headrace80 feet
Tailrace50 feet
Dam Height6 feet
Power2 Turbines
Capacity8 bbls / day

The next person to assume ownership was Mr. H. B. Groff. Groff was a member of the firm, Groff & Westaefer, which operated a grain elevator at Lemon and Water streets. In approximately 1883, he traded his interest in the firm to D. B. Landis in exchange for the mansion and mill at Millport. Groff tore down the old sawmill that was across the road from the old mill and built a new mill on the west side of the road in 1883. The new mill was a large brick structure, 54 by 40 feet, four stories high with an attic above. Groff installed the latest roller mill machinery and added a steam engine to augment the waterpower. The new mill had a capacity of 75 barrels of flour per day.

Then, on June 29, 1889, disaster struck. Sometime during the night, a fire started on the second floor. By the time the Groffs became aware of the fire, the building was already fully involved. The 1000-gallon water tank was useless because the flames were so hot that no one could approach the building. The mill was completely destroyed. The mill was insured, enabling the Groffs to rebuild the mill by November of the same year albeit with one less story. This is the structure that is still standing today. H. B. Groff died in 1893. Following his death, ownership was transferred to Isaac B. Groff.

The mill remained a very successful business. Isaac B. Groff operated it into the 1920s when he sold it to the Mowrer brothers. The Mowrer Brothers kept the mill until about 1950 when they sold it to John Bonholtzer. From that time the mill assumed the name “Bonholtzer’s Mill”. Bonholtzer ran the mill until the late 1960s. John’s son Richard Bonholtzer was the owner in 1977.

Arthur L. Reist, the teacher at Conestoga Valley noted for his collection of Conestoga Wagons owned the mill in 1978. Then the mill was offered for sale in January of 1984. The next people to become the owners of this historic site were Jerry and Mary Ann Landis who already owned the old mansion across the street where they have been operating The Olde Millhouse Shoppes since 1976. (See https://oldemillhouse.com/) In 2001, the Landises transferred the ownership of the mill property to their daughter Lisa and son-in-law John Blowers. In 2022, the Blowers’ are beginning the process of converting the mill into apartments.

This mill is located at 102 Strasburg Pike, Lancaster, PA.