The History of Jerusalem Mill Village
In 1768 Zacheas Onion engaged Quaker millwright Isaiah Linton, of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to repair and improve the existing ironworks and mills. Linton brought his family and friends into the venture, including miller David Lee.
In September 1769, millwright Isaiah Linton and miller David Lee entered into a partnership to build and operate a grist mill. They purchased the Jerusalem land tract which was advantageously located on the fall line of the Little Gunpowder River. In August of 1772, the project was completed, and David Lee began milling operations.
Linton began purchasing water and milling rights, and property. He eventually built eight water-powered mills along the Little Gunpowder River. The site of his fourth mill, which he completed in 1772, endured to become the centerpiece of Jerusalem Mill Village, a Quaker village that thrived into the very early 20th century. David Lee agreed to operate Lee's Merchant Mill and divide the profits equally with Linton. By this time there were several other buildings located around the mill. A sawmill had been in operation on site for a number of years. A succession of owners operated the gristmill until 1961, when the last miller died.
The gunshop, located behind the mill, is believed to have been used by David Lee to produce muskets for the Maryland militia during the early part of the Revolutionary War. This building has also been used as a coopers shop and a dwelling. The blacksmith shop and homes for the Lee family and workers were also built during this period. The burgeoning village also contained a number of outbuildings usually associated with the support of families and a mill.
According to Lee and Linton family tradition, in the early years of the Revolutionary War, David Lee and several other Quakers made black walnut stocks and assembled muskets for the patriot cause in two-story stone building behind the gristmill. Although the building was used for a variety of purposes throughout its history, it is commonly known as the Gunshop.
David Lee's son and heir, Ralph Sackett Lee, successfully expanded the village's operations. By the early 19th century there were several major additions to the village including the Lee mansion, several tenant dwellings and a large bank barn.By mid 19th century, most of the village was in place. This era also produced one of the more colorful events in the village when, in 1864, Confederate Major Harry Gilmor raided the general store located at the east end of the village. After the Civil War, all of the village's operations were gradually leased out then eventually sold. In the 1870s the gristmill became known as Jerusalem Merchant Mill.
20th Century and beyond:
Jerusalem Mill Village continued to thrive through the first part of the 1900's. This time also produced changes in the ownership of the properties with the Mill having been sold out of the Lee family, dwellings becoming private residences and the general store having a succession of owners.
After the Great Depression the village as a unit started into a slow but steady economic decline.The general store closed in 1940 and the mill ceased operations in 1961. Soon after the mill closed the State of Maryland purchased the property as part of the Gunpowder Falls State Park. The mill building, the gunshop and blacksmith shop all fell into severe disrepair.
In 1985 a group of local residents formed the Friends of Jerusalem Mill (FOJM). A succession of purchases by the State and preservation efforts by FOJM has resulted in Jerusalem Mill Village returning as a largely intact historic area.
Though the village is now again intact and many of the buildings preserved there is much work to be done. Continuing preservation, restoration and maintainance will take many years and millions of dollars. Please consider supporting this worthy cause.
Copyright 2010-13 by Friends of Jerusalem Mill
Maintained by Sinak