CROOP MILL is located in the Eden Valley. This historic mill is the site of the first lumber mill in Eden built by Elisha Welch in 1811 and the first grist mill also built by him in 1812. In 1859, the mill was purchased by Asa Richardson, an Eden farmer. He operated the mill for 56 years. The Richardsons' family then sold the mill to Leo Schumer, who operated it briefly. After World War I, Clement Croop bought the mill.
Clement Croop was born Nov. 5, 1879 in Clarence, N.Y. He and his wife, Mabel Cole, born June 4, 1884 at Royalton, N.Y. were both school teachers. After their marriage August 30, 1906, they lived in Bowmanville, N.Y. where he was employed in a creamery. In 1906 he attended a course offered by Cornell University on creamery management.
In 1910, a group of Eden Valley Farmers who collectively owned "The Park Side Creamery Company" at Bley and Mill Roads in Eden were looking for someone to act as Manager. They offered Clement Croop the job which he accepted. Upon their arrival in Eden, the Croops, along with their daughter Genevieve, moved to the large Belknap house on the northwest corner of Bley and Belnap Roads. The creamery received milk from the farmers in the area. From it Mr. Croop made cheeses and butter. The creamery business, its adjacent ice house as well as the real property were sold to the Croops. In 1918 the Croops moved closer to the residence near the creamery and mills when Leo Schumer sold the grist mill business and surrounding property to Croop.
Croop Mill is located on the East side of the South branch of the eighteen Mile Creek. The present three-story building, still upright and sturdy with its hand-hewn beams and wide timbers rests on thick slabs of shale. Inside the grist mill the working mechanism consisted of huge gears, rotating shafts, belts and chutes. There were two large mill stones, one rubbing in a circular motion over the stationary one below. The mill stones were imported from France. The power for the grist mill was originally derived from water, fed through a sluiceway from a dam in the nearby creek. The dam, made of heavy timbers and planks, was in constant need of inspection, maintenance and repair following any high water period and especially after the spring ice flows. Local farmers brought grains raised on their farms to be ground, mixed and bagged. It was then picked up by the farmers to be used as animal feed. Wheat, oats, rye and buckwheat went through the mill.
After the dam "went out" in the early 30"s and was deemed beyond repair, Croop was forced to look for alternate power. To operate the machinery, he modified an old Buick automobile engine to use natural gas. He succeeded in getting the engine to function but was not entirely satisfied that it was achieving peak efficiency. He wrote to General Motors asking how he might further modify the engine. The response, slow in coming, was that it could not be done at all. As he knew he had already accomplished the feat he did not consult them further.
Operation of the mill and all the machinery called for innovative mechanical ability on the part of the owner's operator. After studying a problem, Croop usually came up with a solution.
Another vexing problem, encountered with his ale of coal, was a recurring one. Coal dust filtered into bearings in the coal loading equipment. Croop used lignum vitae to take the place of steel bearings. The composition of the new bearings was such that it resisted the wear and tear which had shortened the life of the metal ones.
In the yearbooks of Eden Central School from the 40s' his ads list the following: "Complete line of Wayne Feeds, Custom Grinding and Mixing Feed, Cleaning and Separating Grains, Feed, Flour, Seed, Salt, Fertilizer, Lime, Cement, Poultry and Barn Equipment, Irrigating Pumps and Motors Installed. Lehigh Valley Coal, Donner-Hanna Semet-Solvey Coke - Prompt Delivery. Phone Eden 78F3." He often learned of a specific need for equipment during deliveries to the farms. He then made a point of locating a supplier to fill the need.
In addition to the grist mill and creamery, the cider mill was an outlet for local apples. They were pressed through large fabric covered screens which sieved out the pulp, seeds and peels from the sparkling sweet juice. The cider was sold in glass gallon jugs and eagerly awaited each fall.
Mr. Croop's interest in education was continued by serving as one of the Trustees for Eden Valley School District No. 1. He served as such as late as 1940 when the Eden Districts were centralized.
Genevieve Croop Carr recalls a happy childhood as the creek side as a favorite gathering spot for neighborhood children in all seasons. One winter sleigh ride taken by Amelia Schumer, who lived on Belnap Road ended with Amelia's sled veering through the side rails of the old highway bridge, falling through the thin ice on the creek below. Fortunately she bobbed up exactly where she entered. Mr. Croop was called to rescue her. Grabbing a rail from the wood fence beside the road, he edged onto the ice, hooked a nail on the rail onto her coat and pulled her to safety. "Shinny", a game played on the ice was recalled albeit vaguely. In summer the cool water was a favored swimming spot.
As late as the 30's and 40's the triangular area enclosed by the two driveways leading to the residence and mill area was like a park. There were lawns, flowers, rock gardens and a fountain, all cared for by Mr. and Mrs. Croop.
Grateful appreciation for the information above from Genevieve Croop Carr, her husband Bill Carr, and Ruth and Richard Szalasny.
For more information on the Croop Mill please contact the Eden Chamber of Commerce at (716) 992-4799.