The Mill at Anselma Oral History Project is a collection of oral histories conducted by Morgana Olbrich, a history major at Ursinus College. The project features volunteers from the Mill at Anselma, past and current Chairmen from the Board of Trustees at the Mill, the current miller in 2019, a neighbor to the Mill, and an archeologist who worked at the Mill. The project not only explores the history of the Mill at Anselma, milling, West Pikeland, Chester County, and Pennsylvania, but also the personal connections that volunteers, Board members, and members of the community have with the Mill at Anselma. The collection not only aims to capture the history of the Mill, which dates back to 1747, or it’s millers, who stretch from the Revolutionary War period and through the Civil War to the late 1900s, but also the history of the West Pikeland and Chester County community and the people who are currently working to preserve this historic Mill.
This interview features archaeologist Juliette Gerhardt who supervised an archaeological dig at the Mill at Anselma in 2003. Ms. Gerhardt goes into detail about what her team found during the dig, the archaeological process, and how their findings have impacted the history of the Mill at Anselma. She also takes time to discuss a personal tour she had with the son of the last miller, Oliver Collins, and how the Mill has changed since then. The interview ends with her discussing her future hopes for the Mill at Anselma and the importance of archaeology and history in today’s world. To see photos of the maps and pictures Ms. Gerhardt is discussing in the interview, please download the transcript. Since the transcript includes several images, it may take a few minutes to download.
This interview features volunteer Paul Hammill, who has been with the Mill at Anselma since its first public opening around 2000. Mr. Hammill not only volunteers at the Mill, but he also works maintenance and is one of the members on the Mill at Anselma Board of Trustees. In the interview, he discusses the changes that have occurred at the Mill, like the building of the chicken coop and the barn, as well as some special events that have occurred at the Mill, like archaeological digs and war reenactments. Mr. Hammill also takes time to talk about his favorite miller, Oliver Collins, and why he thinks that the Mill and its history should be remembered today. Mr. Hammill concludes his interview by stating the changes he would like to see made at the Mill and his future hopes for both the Mill and its surrounding community.
This interview features a volunteer named Carla Herkner who has been researching the family trees of each of the Mill at Anselma millers. Her work not only aims to understand each miller by identifying their family ties, but also to find connections between the millers’ families and the Chester/West Pikeland County areas. In the interview, she also discusses connections to Historic Yellow Springs, the Underground Railroad, the Revolutionary War, and the Conestoga Turnpike. In addition, Ms. Herkner takes time to explain her involvement at the Mill with activities like school field trips and her future hopes for the Mill itself.
This interview features Ernie Holling, who was the Chairman of the Mill at Anselma Board of Trustees in 2019. In the interview, Mr. Holling talks about his experiences with start-up companies like Compu/Net and as the West Pikeland Township Supervisor, which have provided him with the needed information and background to run the Mill at Anselma. The bulk of the interview focuses on the changes that Mr. Holling has been making to the Mill at Anselma since he began as Chairman, like initiating an Explorer Scouts Program, as well as, the difficulties involved with getting the public involved at the Mill. Mr. Holling also takes time to describe historical facts about the mill, like the origins of the French buhr stones, why the Mill is still relevant to society today, and how the Chester Springs community has changed over the years.
This interview focuses on volunteer George Irwin who has been with the Mill at Anselma since 1997. In that time, Mr. Irwin served as the Chairman of the West Pikeland Board of Supervisors, one of the founders of the Mill at Anselma Board of Trustees, an original board member, and a volunteer/tour guide at the Mill. Throughout the interview, Mr. Irwin walks through the process of creating the original Board of Trustees, what the original goals for the Mill were, and the restoration process. He also goes into detail about several of the millers that worked the mill from 1747 to the 1930s, as well as, what his tour guiding process is like. Mr. Irwin ends the interview by stating his future hopes and goals for the Mill at Anselma.
This interview captures the life of former Mill at Anselma Chairman Charlie Jordan. Mr. Jordan not only describes his father’s involvement at the Mill in the late 1970s into the early 2000s, but also his own experiences on the Mill at Anselma Board of Trustees. He goes into detail about what it was like to be Chairman for two years and the biggest issues both he and the Mill have faced since he began his involvement in the late 1990s. The bulk of the interview centers around the second restoration of the Mill from the 1990s into the early 2000s and the decisions that were made and executed during that time. Near the end of the interview, Mr. Jordan provides insight into the importance of the Mill at Anselma and what his future hopes are for the historic site.
This interview features former Mill at Anselma Board of Trustees Chairman Mauri (Maurice) Kring. Mr. Kring was the first Chairman on the Board and takes time to describe how he ended up on the Board, the restoration process, his biggest accomplishments while on the Board, and the events he wishes he could have changed. Mr. Kring also has a very strong connection to the Chester Springs, West Pikeland County, and Chester County areas and explains how his family came to the United States, as well as, how they effected and influenced the area. Since he was born during the 1930s, Mr. Kring is able to describe Tenant Housing, subsistence farming, and the community’s transition to electric power. In addition, he talks a lot about the history of the area and showcases particular events, like the Battle of the Clouds, and places, like Ker-Feal, throughout the interview. He concludes his interview by talking about his future hopes for the Mill at Anselma and what the community can gain from seeing the Mill and the surrounding area.
This interview features the latest miller at the Mill at Anselma, Dave Rollenhagen. Not only is Mr. Rollenhagen the Mill at Anselma miller, but he is also a volunteer, former Mill at Anselma Board of Trustees member, and local historian. In his interview, he discusses the ins and outs of learning to be a miller, his experiences as both a member of the Board and a volunteer, the process of production grinds, his historical research process, and the evolution of tour guiding at the Mill. He also discusses how the Mill at Anselma has impacted other Mills both in the area and around the country, like George Washington’s Gristmill. Mr. Rollenhagen concludes his interview by describing what sets the Mill apart from other historical sites, why the site should be remembered today, and what his future hopes are for both the Mill and its surrounding community.
This interview features Barbara Seiple, who has been living next to the Mill at Anselma since 1965. Ms. Seiple discusses the various changes that she has seen at the Mill, as well as, the changes that she has encountered in Chester Springs, Pughtown, and East Nantmeal. In addition, she describes what it was like to learn in a one-room school building and how the community shifted from rural farming to urban living.
Amy Shaw and Will Shaw
This interview features a volunteer couple named Amy and Will Shaw who have each been involved with the Mill at Anselma since 2003. Together, they discuss the ins and outs of volunteering and working at the Mill, as well as, the changes that have been made since they arrived. In addition, the Shaw’s discuss what it is like to interact with the Board of Trustees in a non-profit community and the changes they hope to be made in the future. Mr. Shaw goes into detail about all of the millers who lived at Anselma, as well as, the Mill’s most well-known poet, Sara Louise Vickers. The Shaws also take time to discuss their favorite memories at the Mill and why it should be remembered and visited by the community. Mr. Shaw also completed a walking tour of the Mill at Anselma entitled the Mill at Anselma Walking Tour.
As opposed to an interview, this recording features a walking tour of the Mill at Anselma, which is conducted by volunteer Will Shaw. Mr. Shaw starts the tour at the Spring House before working his way to the Night Miller’s House, Post Office, headrace, second floor of the mill, water wheel, tailrace, and then the first floor of the mill. Throughout the tour, Mr. Shaw provides tidbits about the various millers who worked from the mid-1700s to the late 1900s as well as the technological changes that have been made along the way. To see pictures of what Mr. Shaw is discussing throughout the interview, please download the transcript located under the audio. The document is large and may take a few minutes to download. For more information about Mr. Shaw, please check out An Interview with Amy and Will Shaw.