Today all but one of Medford's mills is part of the past. This old mill is still in existence today and is called Kirby's Mill. Kirby's Mill was originally mostly "drowned lands" (lands which flooded at high water). Portions of the drowned areas reached almost into the village of Medford at the Branch Street bridge. In 1877 Kirby's Mill was purchased by William Kirby at which time it was said to be in poor condition. Kirby's Mill was owned entirely by the Kirby family after dissolving a partnership.
Kirby's Mill was putting a lot of effort into producing livestock feeds, fertilizer and other general feed store items. The old mill itself gets a lot of attention; and is in beautiful restorable condition. The old machinery is also in restorable condition. Maybe some day the mill will be restored so it can be viewed in operation.
The Medford Historical Society purchased the mill property, and the township bought the "drowned" lands for park use. Kirby's Mill was the last commercial water powered mill in New Jersey.
OLIPHANTS MILL aka Goslin Mill Run
Established in 1763 and located at Hartford and Taunton Blvd the sawmill and gristmill provided early settlers with food and lumber. Sometimes when visiting the mill settlers may have played a crude game of foxes and geese, a board game played with black and yellow dried corn kernels.
A large amount of the lumber cut at the sawmill was floated down the Rancocas Creek to Burlington. Some of the lumber was then sent on to Philadelphia. This practice was discontinued in 1777 when the creek was dammed and became what is today's Kirby's Mill. The producing of grain and sawing lumber were major industries in early Medford. An abundance of water power was the main reason for the large number of mills in such a small area. These mills played an important part in Medford's fast growing economy. The mill finally closed in 1906.
Sometime during the late 1700's Braddocks Mill was built. Originally the property consisted of several thousand acres of wood. A large portion of the original parcel was purchased by Charles Read for the Etna and Taunton Furnace. In 1860 William Braddock purchased the sawmill. He redesigned and reconstructed the existing dam forcing it to flood to a higher level. Originally this pond backed up to Kettle Run.
When the dam was rebuilt the result was a large reservoir. The mill was sold at auction in 1850. William Braddock Jr. bought the mill and mill lot in 1950 and operated the mill for 20 years. In 1870 the mill was resold after which was referred to as "Pricketts Old Mill". In 1957 the Braddocks Mill Corporation was formed and the lake community we enjoy today began to develop. Today none of the former mill buildings remain.
Today the YMCA camp is located south of Medford Lakes which was formerly called Buzby's Mill. During the eighteen hundreds Lake Stockwell, (or Ockanickon) was a small stream which is now called Squaw Lake.
The road which was called Upper Sawmill Road is called McKendimen Road today. Sometime in the mid 1800's the mill was closed down. After the mill closed down the cranberry bogs took over. The cranberry bogs were not very successful and after the crash of the bogs in 1926 the YMCA camp took over. The cranberry sorting and packing house was remodeled and still remains part of the YMCA camp.
Christophers Mill was built and operated in 1741 on Tuckerton Road at Barton's Run. The Hewling family were the operators of the mill and were among the first settlers of Medford. In 1743 fire claimed the first residence and the house was rebuilt of brick and still stands today.
Christopher's Mill remained deeded to the same family until recently. In 1870 the mill went out of business and in 1930 it was reported that the remainder of the mill was nothing but rotted timbers. After the mill went out of business cranberries was the major crop at Christopher's Mill as was the same with several of the other mill ponds.
Peacocks Mill was located in what was long ago and sometimes today called Chairville. The mill located in Chairville was officially known as "The Steam Turning Mill". Chairville was named for the chair factory which was located there, even though the sawmill outlasted the chair factory. The sawmill was in operation until sometime in the 1890's.
READ'S MILL, ETNA, OR BALLINGER'S MILL
In 1766 the first step of construction of the Etna furnace was to build a sawmill to supply lumber for the community surrounding the furnace. (Also spelled Aetna). The Etna furnace property was previously called the "Sawmill Tract".
The sawmill was located south of Tabernacle Rd. at the north end of Lower Etna Lake on the spot of todays bathing beach. In 1773 the Etna Furnace was not in use and became known as Etna Mills. At the time when Etna was shut down it was in poor condition and in need of many repairs. Etna Mills was then sold and repairs made and renamed by the new owner Read's Mill. Somewhere about 1926 portions of this property became what is today called Medford Lakes.
SNYDER'S MILL OR BRANIN'S MILL
In 1784, over 3,000 acres of land was purchased, part of which included the Aetna Gristmill. Today this area is known as Birchwood Lakes. In 1818 a new gristmill was built at the location of what is known today as Jackson Road and East Lake Drive. Current residents of Medford cannot even recall the mill buildings.
The residents of Medford are supplied with beautiful swimming ponds and lakes which were part of the old mills. Boating is a relaxing pastime in present Medford due to the lakes formed by the old mill dams. There are several lake communities in Medford today many of which are used in some form of recreation. Mr Joseph Hinchman in 1857 purchased the property of the old mill and began growing cranberries at which he was very successful.
Unlike several others who had tried growing these red round berries in mill ponds. Mr. Hinchman originally from Haddonfield, also invented several machines for sorting and cleaning cranberries.