The Mill at Anselma oral history interviewsCreation: 1982-2001
The Mill at Anselma is a custom grain mill in Anselma, Chester County, Pennsylvania. This collection consists of seven oral history interviews conducted in 1982 and 1986 with individuals familiar with the Mill at Anselma. Most are members of the Collins family (the last residents of the mill), as well as other Chester County citizens. The interviews mainly focus on the mill, how it operated, and its service to the county, but also include numerous personal stories recounting life in early twentieth century rural Pennsylvania.
- Creation: 1982-2001
- Turner, John James, Jr., Dr. (Interviewer, Person)
The Mill at Anselma is a custom grain mill in Anselma, Chester County, Pennsylvania. It was built by Samuel Lightfoot (1701-1777) around 1747 and was the first of eight grist mills established in the Township of Pikeland, Pennsylvania. Throughout its operation, the mill ground flour, corn, and animal feed, cut lumber, and pressed cider for Chester County residents. It remained active until 1983, when it was purchased by the French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust. The mill now functions primarily as a historical attraction and was named a National Historic Landmark in 2005.
The Pickering Valley Railroad was an eleven-mile railroad in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Established in 1871, it connected Phoenixville to Byers with thirteen total stations and was operated by the Reading Company. It primarily served as a transport for agricultural products, iron ore, and graphite, which were shipped from local farms and mines to Phoenixville, eventually making their way to Philadelphia. Passenger service was also offered until 1934. By 1948, the Pickering Valley Railroad was no longer profitable and was abandoned by Reading’s successor, Conrail.
Scope and Content
This collection consists of eight oral history interviews conducted in 1982, 1986, and 2001 with individuals familiar with the Mill at Anselma. Most are part of the Collins family (the last residents of the mill), as well as other Chester County locals. Members of the Collins family interviewed include: Horace Collins, Mary Collins Griffith, and John Collins. Ada Gordon and Elmer Matthews are also interviewed. The discussions mainly focus on the mill, how it operated, and its service to the county, but also include numerous personal stories recounting life in early twentieth century rural Pennsylvania. The Pickering Valley Railroad and its station at Anselma is discussed, as well.
The collection also contains two digital photograph albums with images of both the interior and exterior of the mill.
The interviews were primarily conducted by Dr. John James Turner, Jr., with one managed by Susan Frens.
Dr. John James Turner, Jr. was a professor of History at West Chester University and an active member of the French and Pickering Creek Conservation Trust and the Chester County Historical Society.
Susan Frens is a designer at Frens and Frens, LLC, a restoration architecture firm in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Existence and Location of Originals
Originals retained by owner, The Mill at Anselma.
Existence and Location of Copies
View this collection online in Hagley's Digital Archives.
This collection is open for research.
Language of Materials
- The Mill at Anselma (Organization)
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- The Mill at Anselma oral history interviews
- Ona Coughlan
- Description rules:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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