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Cowley's Mill

By Karen Cuccinello

I suspect this mill was on River Street and William A. Cowley was probably the owner during the time of the photo but I can not be absolutely sure because there were a couple of Crowley Mills in Stamford. What I do know for sure is the Cowley family was very involved in the milling industry.

In 1792 St. Ledger Cowley, who came from Ireland before the American Revolution, erected a grist mill on the stream about half mile below Stamford and he also bought a saw mill about the same distance below Lake Utsayantha. He died in 1797 about age 62. His will was supposedly the first one to be recorded in Delaware County. I believe this was William A.'s great grandfather and Jonathan was his grandfather.

In 1824 a dwelling-house and grist-mill belonging to William Cowley, of Stamford, was burned to the ground. There was not the least doubt but that it was the act of an incendiary as neither building had kept a fire (had a fireplace going). Loss estimated at 2,000 dollars. This would probably be William A's great uncle.

In the 1850 census Harpersfield/Stamford Village- Marshall Cowley age 50 farmer, Harriett (Strong) 46 wife, Wm A. 26 laborer, Mary 24, Caroline 19, Chas 16 and Hector 11. - next door was Asabel Cowley 47 farmer (I believe this is Marshall's brother who were sons of Jonathan) and Mary Ann 33. Interestingly only in this census were Marshal, William, and Asabel listed as mulatto, the rest of the census' listed them as white. Quite a few people on the same page were listed as mulatto, so maybe the enumerator had some issues.

William A. Cowley (1823-1903) was married three times: Sarah A./Sally Ann Ruliffson (1830-1865) married about 1851, Miss Hannah/Annie B. Smith, of Coventry on August 16, 1866 and Mrs. Jemima Ann (Belden) Carpenter (1834-1907) on December 22, 1872. He had at least six children but I believe only two lived to adulthood: John R. (1860-1916) and Mary E./Mrs. William Corbin (1876-1942).

William listed his occupation as machinist in the census reports until 1880 when he listed foundry & machine shop owner. In 1892 and 1900 he listed as miller.

In 1858 W.A. Cowley was selling his 100 acre farm situated at the Head of the Delaware one mile from the village.

February 20th, 1871 - All persons indebted to the Stamford Planing Mill are invited to pay up their accounts. W. A. Cowley, Stamford.

1874 Stamford Mirror (SM)- Mrs. W. A. Cowley/Jemima will continue the business of Photography, near her residence.

November 1878 (SM)- The well-known Mill Property lately owned by Marshall Cowley, deceased, (he had died in June) situated about a quarter of a mile north of the village of Stamford is for sale.

Said property consists of about one acre or land, Grist Mill, Saw Mill, and new dwelling house, together with water privileges, including the control of Lake Utsayantho as a reservoir. The Grist Mill has three run of Burr stones, and has lately been extensively repaired and furnished with new gearing and three of Gibbs' new iron Turbine water wheels. For further information apply to the subscribers. - W. A. Cowley, and Mary D. Stanley. Stamford, November 16,1878.

May 1883 Delaware Gazette (DG)- W.A. Cowley publishes a notice in the Mirror by which the water company of that village is warned not to obstruct the natural flow of water in the Delaware River.

January 1886 (DG)- The Commissioners appointed for the purpose of appraising the damages sustained by Wm. A. Cowley, Nancy W. Chamberlain and Ira D. Wardell, by reason of the construction of the Stamford Water Works have made the following awards of damages: William A Cowley $462.50...

In the 1898 Stamford Village enumeration William and family are on South St. and in 1902 they are on Main St.

December 3, 1903 Windham Journal- William A. Cowley, age 80, of Stamford was found dead in bed at his residence November 24 his death was sudden. He was in his usual health the day before and was about the village.

I believe his only son John took over the mill until his death in 1916 so someone else was making cider at the “Cowley Mill” listed in a 1927 article. Perhaps John only operated the families mill on South St.

1944 Stamford Mirror-Recorder (SMR)- The gristmill located at the head of River Street in Stamford built by St. Leger Cowley, more than 100 years ago, and which has remained in the family for six generations, was sold recently by Mrs. Orline Rossman to Maynard Menhennett of Harpersfield who has demolished the building and will use the lumber in construction of a barn on his property. The equipment which had not been in operation for the past 35 years, was sold last year for junk. (If this article is correct the mill on River St. stopped operating about 1910)

March 21, 1962 (SMR)- Two buildings on the former Arthur Bush property, just off South street, were leveled and burned this week to make way for the new Audiosears plant. The house which was located there is one of the older village homes formerly owned by Mr. and Mrs. William Corbin (daughter Mary). Prior to that, John and William Cowley operated a grist mill and iron works there.

The mill on River St., which they say was the only one that made flour, was also called the Tanner and Stanley Mill. If the article above is correct the mill on River St. stopped operating about 1910.

If anyone knows exactly where the mill pictured stood, please let me know at

More articles by Karen Cuccinello

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