The Gingell - Shanks Mill
Because of its plentiful
supply of steams, the Emmitsburg area,
home to many grist or grain mills. Just
west of Emmitsburg, where Tom’s Creek crosses into
Pennsylvania, sits the old Gingell/Shank’s Mill, an
impressive three and a half story wood frame building.
This mill is unusual in
that it had its beginnings not in Adams County but in
Frederick County, Maryland. This is because the main
portion of the original mill property on which the mill
is located, except for a small portion of the headrace,
was below the temporary state line agreed upon by the
Penn Proprietors and Lord Baltimore of Maryland. After
the Mason and Dixon Line was agreed upon, about half the
land, the mill, and raceway became part of Adams County.
Between 1758 and 1764,
William Brown bought three tracts of land that were to
become the first mill property. The first tract, Known
as Black Walnut Bottom, was bought on July 2, 1758 from
William Elder. The second tract, between Back Walnut
Bottom and Carrollsburg, was also bought from William
Elder on December 14, 1762.
The third tract, part of
Carrollsburg, came from William Cochran who sold it to
William Brown on June 18, 1764. It is assumed that
William Brown built the first gristmill sometime after
1764 but no records were found to verify this
assumption. William Brown died without issue and his
brother, Thomas, became the heir.
Thomas Brown passed the
property on to his son, Robert. Robert Brown and John
Clark drew up a Sales Agreement for the mill and about
212 acres on November 30, 1797. The terms of the
agreement must have been satisfied because on July 1,
1801, John Clark took final possession of the property.
The assessed value for the
gristmill increased from $625 in 1808 to $3,600 in 1809.
There was no Countywide or township reassessment during
this period. The large increase in assessment must have
been because Clark replaced the old mill with the one
that is standing today. Clark died in the early part of
1810. He died without a will and had two children under
the age of 14. Thus the Orphans Court ordered an
inventory of his assets on March 13, 1810.
Clark's debts were greater
than his cash assets so the Court permitted the sale of
the mill property. On March 14,1811, the mill was sold
to John Martin. Shortly thereafter, Martin sold the mill
property to Peter Zimmerman. This is somewhat curious.
Peter Zimmerman and James Clark were the administrators
of John Clark's estate and one wonders why he did not
buy the mill directly from the estate.
During the time that
Zimmerman owned the mill, no one by his name paid any
takes in Liberty Township. In fact, the tax collector
listed a Peter Carpenter as the new owner of Clark's
mill property. Bates, in recording some history on
Liberty Township sheds light on this:
"On Flat Run near the
Maryland line, on what is known as the old Reed farm,
the Zimmermans, a Swiss family (who subsequently
Anglicized their name into Carpenter), settled in
Bates then further
elaborates and relates that Indians carried a
nine-year-old daughter of the Zimmerman's away. She was
returned to her family 10 years later. One of the
daughters of that abducted girl became the wife of John
Clark who owned this mill.
owned Carrols Mills for two years and sold it on April
16, 1813 to Henry and James McDivitt. For the next 66
years, Carrols Mill remained in the hands of the
McDivitt family. Henry and James expanded the business
considerably. From the tax records we see that they
increased their land holdings and added a sawmill in
1814. The next year they were also taxed for a
distillery and, in 1832, they added a second
In 1843, Henry McDivitt
died and in his will he left all his possession to his
brother James and his heirs. James continued his
ownership of Carrols Mills until he died in 1858. He
left the mill to his four single daughters' as a source
of revenue for a period of time but specified the mill
should be sold. Then, on August 2, 1866, the McDivitt
sisters bought the mill only to sell it to their brother
Joseph P. McDivitt six days later on August 8, 1866.
Within a year, Joseph
McDivitt tried to sell Carrols Mills. The Advertisement
placed in the Compiler on July 29, 1867 reads:
VALUABLE REAL ESTATE
On the Waynesboro
turnpike, two miles west of Emmitsburg, consisting of a
MILLS, WOODLAND, &C.
on Tom's Creek, partly in Adams county, Pa., and partly
in Frederick county, Md., The FARM, which is under good
cultivation and good fencing consists of 350 ACRES with
good portions of Meadow and Timber. The improvements are
a large STONE MANSION HOUSE, with Back-buildings, three
Tenant Houses, large Bank Barn, (56 by 102 feet) Wagon
Shed and Corn Crib, Carriage House, and other
out-buildings: a never-failing well of water at the
kitchen door, and a never- failing spring between the
house and barn. There are two thriving young APPLE
ORCHARDS on the premises, with a variety of other fruit:
FIRST-CLASS GRIST & MERCHANT MILL, AND SAW MILL,
consistent stream of water, with a fine run of
customers, Cooper Shop, Miller House, and other
outbuildings. There is LIMESTONE on the Farm.
Joseph McDivitt never
did sell the mills. He died on September 7, 1875 and on
March 11, 1876 Carrols Mills was sold to Adam H. Eyler
with the permission of the Orphans Court. Three years
later, Eyler sold the mills to John M. Bell. The
property then remained with the Bell family for 27
years. John Bell sold the mills to his sons John N. and
Ephraim on April 5, 1889 and they in turn sold Carrols
Mills to William H. Cover in 1906. Two years later,
Cover sold the mills to Grant E. Bell who kept them for
On March 24, 1915,
George E. Gingell bought the mills from Cover. It should
be noted that Gingell had owned Liberty Mills, less than
a half a mile upstream from Carrols Mills, from 1895 to
1913 and then sold that mill to William H. Cover.
Gingell ran Carrols
Mills until his death in 1921. According to the present
owners of the mill, the gearing on the third floor of
the mill caught up George Gingell. A large stain on the
third floor, next to the main gear, is mute testimony to
George Gingell's death. The next day, the following
story appeared in the Emmitsburg Chronicle:
WHIRLED TO HIS DEATH
Flour Maker, George Gingrell Found Dead by Customer.
Been Oiling Machinery When Shirt Sleeve Caught in Moving
Belt. Heart Artery Severed.
When the sleeve Of his
shirt was caught in 9 rapidly moving belt used to drive
a shafting he was oiling, George Gingell, 55, proprietor
of the Bell Roller Mill, near Zora, was pull ed from the
ladder on which he was standing at the-time, whirled
about the shafting and bled to death before his plight
Mr. Gingell was alone
in the mill at the time the accident occurred and no one
was within calling distance so that his cries could not
have been heard. The accident is supposed to have
happened on Tuesday morning for a short time after that
a Mr. Horner, a huckster, came to the mill on business
and not finding Mr. Gingell, went to went to
He discovered the body
of Mr. Gingell on the second floor dangling from the
shaft with his head caught between the shafting and the
ceiling Of the room and his left arm caught in the belt
of the machinery which had stopped it. Blood was flowing
profusely from the body to the floor on the mill and Mr.
Horner immediately went in search of help to extricate
Neighbors were called
in and after some effort, finally succeeded in releasing
the man from the belt and shaft. The clothing was almost
torn from his body and the head and shoulders were badly
scratched and bruised. Death had been caused, however,
by bleeding from a large artery under the left which was
almost ripped from the body by the moving belt.
Dr. B. I. Jamison, of
Emmitsburg, was called but life was extinct before
medical assistance arrived. Mr. Gingell had been
proprietor of the Bell Roller Mill for the past eight
years being formerly connected with other mills in Adams
The mill was awarded to
Gingell's widow, Annie P. Gingell by the Court and she
retained it for two years before selling it to her son
Herbert L. Gingell on Februay 26, 1923. One year later,
on April 10, 1924, Herbert sold Carrols Mills to W. 0.
Shank. From that time, to the present, Carrols Mills has
been in the Shank family.
The present owner,
B. Shank, got the mill from his father on
February 2, 1938.26 He operated Carrols Mills
continuously until 1972. To this day, Carrols Mills is
intact. The buhr stones are in their place. Roller mills
are ready to make, flour from the wheat. The gearing is
no longer greased. The wide leather belts no longer turn
the flat drive wheels. The bins on the third floor that
held wheat, oats, and corn are all empty. But, the
building with its mass of elevators, driving belts, etc.
give testimony that this was an enterprising mill.
Historical Note: The
Temporary Line between Pennsylvania and Maryland was
ordered by King George III and his Council to quiet
disputes between the States and also the settlers in the
area. The line to be drawn between the States was to be
15.25 miles below the south most point of Philadelphia
City from the 12-mile are around Newcastle to the
Susquehanna River. West of the Susquehanna, the line was
to be 14.75 miles below the south most point of
Philadelphia City. The survey was completed on May 6,
In the early 1760s, the
Commissioners of both States met to determine the final
line. In a letter, dated August 10, 1763, the Penn
Proprietors informed the Commissioners of their
agreement with Lord Baltimore to hire Mason and Dixon.
The final line was to be uniformly 15 miles below the
south most limits of the City of Philadelphia.
Mason and Dixon were
hired on December 1, 1763. They laid out the line
between the two States. On December 26, 1767, Mason and
Dixon completed their survey. One year later, the King
approved and ratified the final line. However, the line
did not become an established fact until September 15,
1774 when the Penn Proprietors set out a Proclamation.
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