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Grist Mill at Clarkstown dismantled

By Staff | May 6, 2015

PHOTO BY CAROL SHETLER/The Luminary The third mill on the Clarkstown site is razed after 75 years.

CLARKSTOWN – As another grist mill disappears from the landscape, it seems natural to inquire about its age and persons involved thoughout the years.

Due to information and photos provided by June Grube of Montoursville, outsiders are able to look through portions of a window in time when owned by members of her Bieber family. Bieber brothers, Charles W. and William S., purchased the mill sometime after 1858 owning it until William’s death in 1916.

The Bieber family first became residents of Lycoming County shortly after the Revolutionary War when Nicholas Bieber and brothers, Adam and John, located here. It was also noted there exists several spellings of the name including Beeber and Beiber.

The Nicholas Bieber Farm was on Beeber Road off Clarkstown Road where son John was followed by the next generation of John’s 10 children . Hannah or “Annie” as she was known, plus Charles and William were the youngest (born 1840, 1842, and 1844). All remained single and moved as a group after building the ‘Mill house’ on the mill site at Clarkstown. William continued as land owner renting out the Wolf Township farm. (Ruth Fraley is the current resident).

Meanwhile about 1862 and due to the death of the threesome’s sisters, her two-year-old Schaeffer Opp was taken in by his aunt and uncles. This son of George and Elizabeth (Bieber) Opp was destined to also become a miller until his untimely death in 1888 at age 28. “Possibly from appendicitis,” Grube said.

PHOTO PROVIDED Schaeffer Opp, raised by an aunt and two uncles lived and worked at the Bieber mill at Clarkstown. The young man who died in 1888 at age 28, stands by a display of flour bags identifying the miller as W. S. Bieber. Note that the bag logo depicts beavers and the words 'Beaver Mill Flour', perhaps a play on words chosen by the Bieber brothers.

Grube also said that, “By this time Charles and William were becoming elderly and needed a younger worker to replace their deceased nephew. They sought out and hired another nephew, Howard Bieber, my grandfather. Things went along famously until grandfather decided to take a wife which the bachelor uncles were not in favor. He did marry and eventually purchased Clinton Mills in Montgomery. What granddad missed most about his pre-marital days was the daily fare of pie that occurred less frequently after marriage,”

Following William Bieber’s death in 1917, the mill was sold to C. R. Michael and Harry Turner. The following year the latter withdrew and Turner took son Harold as partner. The elder Turner died and in 1938 the mill was again sold, this time to Walter Michael and Theodore Thomas. The mill’s name was changed to the Monsey Milling Company. A year later and for at least the second time, the mill burned in September 1939 and was reconstructed in 1940.

Originally built of logs by Thomas McCarty about the year 1800, the Clarkstown mill was destroyed by fire and rebuilt of brick in 1840 by Charles Shoemaker. Fire occurred again in September 1939 and was rebuilt in 1940 by Theodore Thomas, who continued the business and was the last miller there.

A recollection of the mill from Harvey “Bud” Moyer occurred when he was a young student before bus routes were expanded. “Students from up the hills walked to the mill which served both as a shelter and bus stop. I remember Harold Rupert worked for Mr. Thomas at that time.”

The property is owned by Tim Smith whose garage service business joins the mill. Bricks from the demolition are being placed on skids for reuse.