Welcome to another edition of Mill Monday! Every Monday morning, I feature a grist mill located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Today’s featured mill is Flory’s Mill in Manheim Township.
Jacob and Magdalena Kaufman built a stone mill along the Little Conestoga Creek on a lot purchased from the Penn family in about 1760. The early mill was replaced by a slightly larger one in 1800, only four years after the formation of the United States. This is the structure that remains today. Jacob operated the mill until his death in 1822 and then it passed to his son Jacob. Jacob Kaufman was the owner from 1822 to 1835, and Anna Kaufman from 1837 until 1885. In 1885, the Kaufman family sold the mill to John S. Gingrich.
The Conestoga Milling Company purchased the mill and continued the milling operations in 1916. The Conestoga Milling Company went bankrupt in October 1922. Jacob Flory purchased the mill at auction in 1929. (Jacob Flory was the son of Benjamin Flory who owned the Rothsville Mill in Warwick Township.) Flory moved an old barn to the site and reconstructed it next to the mill. The barn provided storage for the mill products and served as a loading station for an adjacent rail line. Jacob and his brother Paul operated the mill as a partnership called Flory Brothers. Jacob died in 1962 and his son, Daniel Flory replaced him in the partnership. Daniel resigned from the partnership in 1972 and Paul’s son, Tom Flory, entered the partnership. Tom Flory became the sole proprietor when his father retired in 1973. Harvey Nixdorf was the miller from 1930 to 1970.
Tom Flory wrote an article in the Lancaster New Era that printed on February 19, 1980, where he requested help from his neighbors and local legislators to control runoff in the Little Conestoga. He said that in 1979, five floods entered the basement of the mill averaging about three feet. The floods were caused by excessive runoff from hard surfaced areas and poorly managed farms. Tom wrote: “Unless township, borough, and county laws are passed immediately to control excessive runoff water not only the Little Conestoga Creek, but all small streams in Lancaster County will be turned into storm sewers. Desert like flash flooding will result. The beauty and life in the streams as we know it will be destroyed.”
Operations continued until, ironically, the mill was severely damaged by a fire on October 9, 1984, when a pulley-driven belt started slipping, heated up and started a fire in the attic. The fire destroyed the roof and the rest of the structure received water damage. The milling machines on the first floor were spared but the damage was too great to recover from and milling operations came to an end. The mill was restored in 1985 and reinvented as a commercial shopping area. The milling machines were too bulky and heavy to remove after the fire, so they remain, hidden inside the walls.
The first annual Flory Mill Day was held on July 13, 1986. The festivities included a German Band, a pig roast and various hand crafts on display. Flory Mill days were held every year until 1989. Flory Mill Center, as it was called was offered for sale in November of 1990. Scheffey Advertising opened their offices in the mill in 1999. In 2021, the mill was serving as commercial office space.
The water source for this mill was a six-foot dam on the Little Conestoga Creek. The headrace was nearly a mile long and fed into a three-acre lake that would fill at night to provide water to operate the mill during the day. The mill was powered by an overshot wheel and could process fifty barrels per day. Water returned to the creek via a 100-foot tailrace.
The mill is located at 841 Flory Mill Road, Lancaster, PA.
More information about this mill including more photographs can be found on this site at Flory’s Mill.
Note: I will not be posting a Monday Mill article next week (December 27). I will be taking a break to spend time with family for the Christmas holiday. Have a relaxing holiday season. See you with a new post on January 3.