Mill Monday 09 – Osceola

Happy New Year! And welcome to another edition of Mill Monday! Every Monday morning, I feature a grist mill located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. This week, we head over to Paradise township to feature the Osceola Mill.

The Osceola Mill is a three and a half story stone and frame mill seated on the Pequea Creek in Paradise Township. This should not be confused with the borough called Osceola Mills in Clearfield County. The mill is located between the Newport Road and the town of Vintage on the Lincoln Highway. The nearby miller’s house operates as the Osceola Mill House Bed and Breakfast.

In 1741, George and Agnes MacKerel secured 120 acres south of the Pequea Creek from the sons of William Penn. In 1756, the property was purchased by Samuel Patterson who secure the water rights to the Pequea Creek and built the mill.  Patterson died two years later, and the property was offered for sale. Jacob and Elizabeth Ludwig (Ludwick) purchased the mill and surrounding property from Patterson’s estate in 1758.  The Patterson’s built the mill house mansion in 1766. Patterson operated the mill until 1783 when it was sold to his son-in-law, George Eckert.  Eckert expanded the business to include a sawmill and a forge and operated it as Springwell Forge until his death in 1807. The mill passed to his son, George Eckert Jr, who operated a grist and sawmill from 1807 to 1829. Next in line was George Lewis Eckert who owned the mill from 1829 to 1868.

Israel Rohrer purchased the mill in 1868 and rebuilt the mill again. Rohrer removed the overshot wheel and installed turbines. An approximately 1000-foot headrace brought water to the mill and water was returned to the Pequea in a short, 80-foot tail race. The mill was foreclosed in 1874 and offered for public sale. David Landis bought the property and transferred it to Martin Rohrer (probably a close relative of Israel). Martin Rohrer named the mill “Osceola” after the Creek Indian who joined with the Seminole tribe in Florida and led the resistance against removal from their land. Martin owned the mill until 1879 when it was sold to Moses Snavely. Moses, in turn, transferred ownership to Jesse C. Snavely in 1903. The mill was converted to electricity in 1917.

Richard and Dolores Hackenberger purchased the mill in 1967. Dolores Hackenberger was a popular, Lancaster County artist.  The turbines were still in place at that time, but the headrace had been filled in. Richard Hackenberger was the owner until October 1981 when it was purchased by Charles Shoemaker.

In 1982, Charles Shoemaker had plans to restore the mill and reopen it as a hobby milling business while generating electric power to sell back to the grid. However, the mill race, which hadn’t been used for 21 years crossed the properties of two neighboring farms. The easement for the race expired during that time and could not be renewed. Currently the mill is in good condition and is being used as a home and a studio.

The nearby miller’s house was opened in 2007 as the Osceola Mill House Bed and Breakfast. See the website at https://www.osceolamillhouse.com for more information.

The mill is located at 315 Osceola Mill Rd, Paradise, PA.

More information about this mill including more photographs can be found on this website at Osceola Mill

See you next Monday morning for another Mill Monday.