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The Gingell - Shanks Mill

Because of its plentiful supply of steams, the Emmitsburg area, was home to many grist or grain millsJust west of Emmitsburg, where Tom’s Creek crosses into Pennsylvania, sits the old Gingell/Shank’s Mill, an impressive three and a half story wood frame building.

This mill is unusual in that it had its beginnings not in Adams County but in Frederick County, Maryland. This is because the main portion of the original mill property on which the mill is located, except for a small portion of the headrace, was below the temporary state line agreed upon by the Penn Proprietors and Lord Baltimore of Maryland. After the Mason and Dixon Line was agreed upon, about half the land, the mill, and raceway became part of Adams County.

Between 1758 and 1764, William Brown bought three tracts of land that were to become the first mill property. The first tract, Known as Black Walnut Bottom, was bought on July 2, 1758 from William Elder. The second tract, between Back Walnut Bottom and Carrollsburg, was also bought from William Elder on December 14, 1762.

The third tract, part of Carrollsburg, came from William Cochran who sold it to William Brown on June 18, 1764. It is assumed that William Brown built the first gristmill sometime after 1764 but no records were found to verify this assumption. William Brown died without issue and his brother, Thomas, became the heir.

Thomas Brown passed the property on to his son, Robert. Robert Brown and John Clark drew up a Sales Agreement for the mill and about 212 acres on November 30, 1797. The terms of the agreement must have been satisfied because on July 1, 1801, John Clark took final possession of the property.

The assessed value for the gristmill increased from $625 in 1808 to $3,600 in 1809. There was no Countywide or township reassessment during this period. The large increase in assessment must have been because Clark replaced the old mill with the one that is standing today. Clark died in the early part of 1810. He died without a will and had two children under the age of 14. Thus the Orphans Court ordered an inventory of his assets on March 13, 1810.

Clark's debts were greater than his cash assets so the Court permitted the sale of the mill property. On March 14,1811, the mill was sold to John Martin. Shortly thereafter, Martin sold the mill property to Peter Zimmerman. This is somewhat curious. Peter Zimmerman and James Clark were the administrators of John Clark's estate and one wonders why he did not buy the mill directly from the estate.

During the time that Zimmerman owned the mill, no one by his name paid any takes in Liberty Township. In fact, the tax collector listed a Peter Carpenter as the new owner of Clark's mill property. Bates, in recording some history on Liberty Township sheds light on this:

"On Flat Run near the Maryland line, on what is known as the old Reed farm, the Zimmermans, a Swiss family (who subsequently Anglicized their name into Carpenter), settled in 1765."

Bates then further elaborates and relates that Indians carried a nine-year-old daughter of the Zimmerman's away. She was returned to her family 10 years later. One of the daughters of that abducted girl became the wife of John Clark who owned this mill.

Peter Zimnaerrnan/Carpenter owned Carrols Mills for two years and sold it on April 16, 1813 to Henry and James McDivitt. For the next 66 years, Carrols Mill remained in the hands of the McDivitt family. Henry and James expanded the business considerably. From the tax records we see that they increased their land holdings and added a sawmill in 1814. The next year they were also taxed for a distillery and, in 1832, they added a second sawmill. 

In 1843, Henry McDivitt died and in his will he left all his possession to his brother James and his heirs. James continued his ownership of Carrols Mills until he died in 1858. He left the mill to his four single daughters' as a source of revenue for a period of time but specified the mill should be sold. Then, on August 2, 1866, the McDivitt sisters bought the mill only to sell it to their brother Joseph P. McDivitt six days later on August 8, 1866.

Within a year, Joseph McDivitt tried to sell Carrols Mills. The Advertisement placed in the Compiler on July 29, 1867 reads:


On the Waynesboro turnpike, two miles west of Emmitsburg, consisting of a first-rate


situate on Tom's Creek, partly in Adams county, Pa., and partly in Frederick county, Md., The FARM, which is under good cultivation and good fencing consists of 350 ACRES with good portions of Meadow and Timber. The improvements are a large STONE MANSION HOUSE, with Back-buildings, three Tenant Houses, large Bank Barn, (56 by 102 feet) Wagon Shed and Corn Crib, Carriage House, and other out-buildings: a never-failing well of water at the kitchen door, and a never- failing spring between the house and barn. There are two thriving young APPLE ORCHARDS on the premises, with a variety of other fruit: Also,


on a consistent stream of water, with a fine run of customers, Cooper Shop, Miller House, and other outbuildings. There is LIMESTONE on the Farm.

Joseph McDivitt never did sell the mills. He died on September 7, 1875 and on March 11, 1876 Carrols Mills was sold to Adam H. Eyler with the permission of the Orphans Court. Three years later, Eyler sold the mills to John M. Bell. The property then remained with the Bell family for 27 years. John Bell sold the mills to his sons John N. and Ephraim on April 5, 1889 and they in turn sold Carrols Mills to William H. Cover in 1906. Two years later, Cover sold the mills to Grant E. Bell who kept them for seven years.

On March 24, 1915, George E. Gingell bought the mills from Cover. It should be noted that Gingell had owned Liberty Mills, less than a half a mile upstream from Carrols Mills, from 1895 to 1913 and then sold that mill to William H. Cover.

Gingell ran Carrols Mills until his death in 1921. According to the present owners of the mill, the gearing on the third floor of the mill caught up George Gingell. A large stain on the third floor, next to the main gear, is mute testimony to George Gingell's death.  The next day, the following story appeared in the Emmitsburg Chronicle:


Zora Flour Maker, George Gingrell Found Dead by Customer.


Had Been Oiling Machinery When Shirt Sleeve Caught in Moving Belt. Heart Artery Severed.

When the sleeve Of his shirt was caught in 9 rapidly moving belt used to drive a shafting he was oiling, George Gingell, 55, proprietor of the Bell Roller Mill, near Zora, was pull ed from the ladder on which he was standing at the-time, whirled about the shafting and bled to death before his plight was discovered.

Mr. Gingell was alone in the mill at the time the accident occurred and no one was within calling distance so that his cries could not have been heard. The accident is supposed to have happened on Tuesday morning for a short time after that a Mr. Horner, a huckster, came to the mill on business and not finding Mr. Gingell, went to went to investigate.

He discovered the body of Mr. Gingell on the second floor dangling from the shaft with his head caught between the shafting and the ceiling Of the room and his left arm caught in the belt of the machinery which had stopped it. Blood was flowing profusely from the body to the floor on the mill and Mr. Horner immediately went in search of help to extricate the man.

Neighbors were called in and after some effort, finally succeeded in releasing the man from the belt and shaft. The clothing was almost torn from his body and the head and shoulders were badly scratched and bruised. Death had been caused, however, by bleeding from a large artery under the left which was almost ripped from the body by the moving belt.

Dr. B. I. Jamison, of Emmitsburg, was called but life was extinct before medical assistance arrived. Mr. Gingell had been proprietor of the Bell Roller Mill for the past eight years being formerly connected with other mills in Adams County.

The mill was awarded to Gingell's widow, Annie P. Gingell by the Court and she retained it for two years before selling it to her son Herbert L. Gingell on Februay 26, 1923. One year later, on April 10, 1924, Herbert sold Carrols Mills to W. 0. Shank. From that time, to the present, Carrols Mills has been in the Shank family.

The present owner, Weldon B. Shank, got the mill from his father on February 2, 1938.26 He operated Carrols Mills continuously until 1972. To this day, Carrols Mills is intact. The buhr stones are in their place. Roller mills are ready to make, flour from the wheat. The gearing is no longer greased. The wide leather belts no longer turn the flat drive wheels. The bins on the third floor that held wheat, oats, and corn are all empty. But, the building with its mass of elevators, driving belts, etc. give testimony that this was an enterprising mill.

Historical Note: The Temporary Line between Pennsylvania and Maryland was ordered by King George III and his Council to quiet disputes between the States and also the settlers in the area. The line to be drawn between the States was to be 15.25 miles below the south most point of Philadelphia City from the 12-mile are around Newcastle to the Susquehanna River. West of the Susquehanna, the line was to be 14.75 miles below the south most point of Philadelphia City. The survey was completed on May 6, 1739.

In the early 1760s, the Commissioners of both States met to determine the final line. In a letter, dated August 10, 1763, the Penn Proprietors informed the Commissioners of their agreement with Lord Baltimore to hire Mason and Dixon. The final line was to be uniformly 15 miles below the south most limits of the City of Philadelphia. 

Mason and Dixon were hired on December 1, 1763. They laid out the line between the two States. On December 26, 1767, Mason and Dixon completed their survey. One year later, the King approved and ratified the final line. However, the line did not become an established fact until September 15, 1774 when the Penn Proprietors set out a Proclamation.

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