- Standard View
This photo was taken in 1999 of an exhibit at the Mennonite Heritage Center, Harleysville, Pa., an historical research and museum facility built and maintained by contributions and membership of The Mennonite Historians of Eastern Pennsylvania. The first grist mill and cider (whiskey distillery) mill on this site was commissioned to be built in 1726 of brothers John & Jacob Souder for Gerhart Clemens. The cost was 33 pounds; half to be paid upon completion and half after six months. Before the millhere, grain had to be hauled by team and wagon to a mill near Whitemarsh to be ground. The mill was built two years before the Goshenhoppen Road was built across the stream leading to Salfordville, Bergey, and Hendricks Station.
Some stoework of the 1823 mill foundations along the garden patch. The mill was built up against the side of a hill, to enable farmers to drive behind the mill, unload corn, wheat, or other grains for grinding, then collect the bagged, finished product in front from the lower level. The mill, residence, and 151 acres of land were transferred to Gerhart's son, Johannes Reiff Clemens or better known as Hans Clemens, in 1738. His brother Jacob received 321 acres of land in two parcels, but not the mill.
The mill was bought in 1764 by Frederick Alderfer, a newly arrived immigrant. Frederick's grandson actually built the new 3.5 story brown sandstone/fieldstone mill a few hundred feet downstream from the first mill in 1823.
A photo of Groff's/Alderfer's Mill in 1957, shortly before demolition/removal.
Jacob S. Groff, born in 1836, learned the milling trade through an apprenticeship to a miller, William Godshalk, of New Britain, Bucks County. After two years, he accepted employment with Benjamin Alderfer at Alderfer's Mill. He married the boss's daughter, Anna Alderfer, in 1856 and purchased the mill in 1878.
The mill was converted to steam power while in the Groff family ownership, notice the chimney stack to burn wood or coal to produce steam to run the machinery. The mill continued to produce until 1926, in which year, it closed operations. The mill was soon torn down, impressive structure that it was, and some of the stones were used in the construction of/or rebuilding of one or several of the Mennonite churches in the local area.