Water powered mill at Kennels Mills, PA

The undated photo below shows the old old water powered mill at Kennells Mills, Southampton Township, Somerset County, PA. The photo came from the home of my grandfather Allen Lester Korns, and what is shown here is a scan of a 35mm photo of the original print; I would really like to eventually get a better copy. The photo shows that the building was a timber frame building, see where siding is missing. The steep hillside area above the mill is cleared, perhaps for pasture. White fence posts apparently outline the route of the mill race down the hillside, evidently to protect the race from being muckered up by livestock, and vice-a-versa. The siding behind the over-shot water wheel is boarded over, apparently for protection from water splash. For an enlarged photo of the water wheel portion of the photo, click here. This mill was also known as "Kendalls Mill" (Kennell & Kendall being interchangeable); click here to see an 1872 county map that identifies it as such. Additional relevant images are included below.

Old mill at Kennels Mills, PA

The map below is from the 1876 Beers atlas of Somerset county. It shows the location of Kennell's mill (formerly Leydig's mill), and also shows the location of the nearby fulling mill (e.g. woolen mill), which was formerly a grist mill. In regards to those two mills, page 158 of the 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties Pennsylvania", states "Kennell's gristmill, four miles northeast of Wellersburg, was built by George Leydig, about 1818. It was rebuilt in 1853, by Jonathan Kennel, who still owns it. The old gristmill on the Dennis Comp farm, was converted into a woolenmill in 1873, and is the only one in the township.". Page 683 of the 1906 book "History of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania" states "The Kennell gristmill was built by George Leydig about 1818, and rebuilt in 1853, by Jonathan Kennell. This is where the Gladdens postoffice is. An old gristmill on the Comp farm, a short distance below the Kennell mill, was converted into a woolen factory in 1873. This was operated by M.L. Tauber until about 1894. when he removed from the township. Since that time it has not been operated.".

Map showing the mill site at Kennels Mills, PA

The annotated 1939 USDA photo below shows the location of the Kennell's mill. The photo, and the following information, were provided by Mike McKenzie.

Mike’s brother Jason used to rent a very old house in Kennells mills (see photo), just past the ball field and right at the intersection across the bridge. It is said to be Lester Bittner’s home place. Below the house were some stone wall remains. They didn't appear to be for a house, but more for a mill or some such commercial building. There was a trench shape near by, and at the time, Mike and his brother figured out that the building was probably a mill. As soon as Mike saw the mill photo shown above, he said “I know where that was" because it and the old stone wall remains are setting against the same hillside.

In the mill photo above, the water flume (wooden chute) is up against the hillside. Mike reports that the water wheel couldn’t have used water from a stream, but there is a good spring above the house that runs constantly that could have been the water source. After seeing the above photo, Mike believes that the trench that he saw years ago was the location for the run-off from the water wheel.

Mike reports that there were curved, wedge-shaped stones there at the mill remains that had a porous quality that was different from local stones. When put together, these stones formed a circle about four feet in diameter. They were not fragments; rather they were individual formed pieces. Mike has recently researched mill stones, and learned that the curved stones are what is known as French “Burr” stones. Such stones were pieced together and then held together with an iron band. Click here for a website that covers this topic. Mike tracked the burr stones down in 2009 and took photos of the little that remains of them; click here to see the photos.

Old mill site at Kennels Mills, PA

L. Dietle, with most information provided by Mike McKenzie
September 2009

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