Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of being invited to a special open house at Drumore Mill. Located at 1658 Harmony Ridge Rd, Drumore, PA 17518 in Drumore Township along the banks of the Fishing Creek, the Drumore Mill is a beautiful 30-acre property nestled among the hills of southern Lancaster County.
The pre-Civil War era estate contains a grist mill, cooper shop, farmhouse, and bank barn. Not to mention, it was allegedly a stop on the underground railroad and a former Civil War lookout.
Unraveling the history of old properties, like the Drumore Mill, can be a real challenge. It’s a blend of an oversized onion and a choose your own adventure novel. There are so many layers to peel back with some turning into dead ends. Nevertheless, here’s what I discovered.
A Brief History of the Drumore Mill
According to the LancasterHistory archives, a mill has existed at what is today known as the Drumore Mill on Harmony since 1743. Records indicate that George McCullough built that first mill, eventually becoming known as the Cowgill’s Mill by 1748. It would become the center of an industrial complex that included a sawmill, fulling mill, hemp mill, and a distillery in the intervening decades.
In 1752, Benjamin Johnson acquired the mill, operating it as a water corn mill. The property then changed hands several times over the next 25 years. Caleb Johnson bought it in 1759. Matt McCally, Joseph Morrison, and Samuel Morrison owned it from 1767 to 1769, running it as a grist and fulling mill. Next, John Nelson purchased it in 1769 until he sold it to Henry Bausman (Bowman) in 1773.
Historical records show that Henry Bausman built a 2.5 story 35′ x 40′ frame mill in 1789 near the mouth of Fishing Creek. It is unclear if this is the same mill, and he just rebuilt the Cowgill’s Mill or built a new mill on the same site. It could also be a different mill altogether.
Bausman eventually sold the mill to Jacob Gryder in 1796. Gryder operated the property as a grist and sawmill until 1816. Then from 1817 to 1821, Simon Pennock owned the mill. It would stay in the Pennock family through 1875.
Interestingly, the following map of Lancaster County, published in 1821, shows a mill in the approximate location of the future Drumore Mill labeled as Roger Mill. I could not find any mention of a Roger Mill or someone with the last (or first) name of Roger as a mill owner in the area.
According to R. Harold Barton, who did extensive research on the early mills and bridges of Lancaster County during the first half of the 20th century, Israel Penrose built the mill pictured immediately below in 1842 on the site of George McCullough’s mill from 1743. This would seem to indicate that the mill was either again rebuilt or further enlarged.
Shown below is Barton’s photo from the early 1900s that matches the building that stands today.
William Pennock took ownership in 1864 and L. & G. T. Pennock in 1875. The Pennocks sold the property to J. Edgar Brown in 1899.
The 2013 Coldwell Banker real estate listing says the mill was once owned and operated by civil war veteran James Cramer. Cramer’s findagrave.com listing confirmed this with the inclusion of a public sale notice for the mill property on June 6, 1936, after his wife’s death (see the notice below). In addition, Cramer’s Pennsylvania PA Death Certificate listed his occupation as a miller.
Cramer served in the 148th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry as a private between July 1, 1863, and January 15, 1864. Cramer died on July 20, 1922, at the age of 75.
It would appear that Cramer took ownership of the mill sometime after J. Edgar Brown’s 1899 purchase but before 1922 when he died. The mill likely passed to new owners at the June 1936 sale.
Here is Cramer’s July 21, 1922 obituary from the Lancaster Daily Intelligencer.
James A.(sic) Cramer, died at his home near Fishing Creek, yesterday evening at 6:30 o’clock aged 75 years. Mr. Cramer had been in failing health for some time and had eaten supper with his family as usual. He was seated in his chair when he was stricken. Besides his wife, who was Miss Theresa (sic) Hart, he is survived by 5 sons and 5 daughters as follows: E.A. Cramer, Oxford; Oscar, Limeborom, Md.; Enos, McCalls Ferry; Albert and William, of Fishing Creek; also one stepson, Louis Cramer, Lancaster; Mrs. Herbert Murr, —moy City; Mrs. Orella Beck, Moores, Pa.; Mrs. Lottie Neff, Maryland; Mrs. Miley, Marietta; and Mrs. Louisa Erb, East Strasburg (sic). The funeral arrangements have not been completed.
Speaking of the Civil War, the guided tour I received of the estate on August 1, 2021, mentioned that one of the outbuildings, the former Cooper Shop, was allegedly a stop along the Underground Railroad. If this is true, it likely took place when the Pennock family owned the mill.
Both the guided tour and the 2013 Coldwell Banker video mentioned the mill was also a former lookout during the Civil War. Supposedly the lookout was somewhere above the Peach Bottom Slate waterfall at the mill.
Drumore Mill Today
After several years of hard work, the historic mill is now ready to entertain guests as an inclusive destination wedding venue and corporate retreat facility. The setting provides for a truly magical experience, especially with multiple viewing locations of the beautiful Peach Bottom Slate waterfall.
You can learn more about renting the Drumore Mill on Facebook or Instagram. Please note that ours are by appointment for prospective customers. The venue and property are not open to the general public outside of an invited event.
Here is some flyby footage by The Drone Geek of the mill along the banks of Fishing Creek.