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Castleberry Mill

Page history last edited by Mark Chilton 14 years, 3 months ago

Upstream: None known


Castleberry Mill


Downstream: Yeargin Mill on Bolin Creek


William Castleberry


For many years, hikers along Bolin Creek have noted the remnants of a ruined mill, millrace and dam just upstream of the Spring Valley neighborhood in Carrboro. The stone foundation is still quite discernable, but just 30 years ago some of the walls of the building were also standing. The story has often been told that this mill belonged to John “Buck” Taylor, a noted slave owner and drunk who lived just west of Chapel Hill in the latter 18th century.


On November 1, 1763, the Orange County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions granted permission to William Castleberry to "erect a Water Grist Mill on Boling's Creek." Orange County deed books show that William Castlebury or Castleberry bought land on Bolin Creek from Joshua Eason on November 8, 1769. Eason's land grant was adjacent to John King's land grant according to A. B. Markham’s 1973 map of 18th century land grants in Orange County, Eason’s property line was right about where the mill near Spring Valley is. So I think it is clear that the original mill here was built by William Castleberry in the 1760's.


William Castleberry sold this same property to Jonathan Castleberry on February 22, 1771. I could not find any record of anyone named Castleberry further conveying this property, so perhaps it passed by intestacy to a son-in-law and daughter who had a different last name or perhaps the deeds to this property were simply never recorded. There were definitely no deeds recorded from the Castleberries to Buck Taylor.


Buck Taylor


John Taylor Sr. engaged in two transactions along Bolin Creek. First, he bought 227 ½ acres from John King on 16 Oct 1806 (DB 12, pg 253). The legal description is quite imprecise, but this deed does mention that the land is adjacent to Nathaniel King, Charles King and Alexander Stroud. It also says that the land is “on Boland’s Creek” and along “the University road.” William King sold 41 acres to John Taylor Sr. on 16 Sept. 1809 (DB 13, pg 393). The deed mentions that it was at a branch (ie creek) at the corner of a property that was already owned by Taylor.


A. B. Markham’s 1973 map of 18th century land grants in Orange County makes it clear that John King owned the area that is now where Spring Valley, Bolin Forest, and at least part of Carolina North is, including a very large portion of what is now Carrboro as well. In fact, John King's land stretched from Bolin Creek at one end to Morgan Creek at the other.  None of this proves that the area purchased by Buck Taylor was THAT part of John King's land, but given that this is the local legend, and given that Buck Taylor is buried nearby, I think we should assume that he did own this mill at one time, unless and until someone offers evidence to the contrary.


The Nov 19, 1828 Hillsborough Recorder carried the following advertisement: "PUBLIC SALE. THOMAS D CRANE will offer for sale, on accomodating terms, on the second day of next County Court, being the 25th instant, all his interest in the mill formerly owned by John Taylor, Esq."


As the Clerk of Court, John "Buck" Taylor would have been properly called Esquire and this ad clearly demonstrates that although no deeds now exist, he at one time owned a mill in the area.  I have yet to look at deeds involving Thomas D. Crane to determine whether I can PROVE that the mill was on Bolin Creek, I think the ad by itself fits in so neatly with the things we have been told, that it is safe to assume that Buck Taylor did indeed own the Castleberry-Taylor Mill at one time (unless the Thomas D Crane deeds somehow demonstrate otherwise).


The November 1799 Orange County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions Minutes include the following: "John Taylor Esquire appearing in open Court intoxicated with liquor and having shewn and committed great contempt to the authority of this court sitting in its judicial capacity . . .It is commanded by the said Court that the said John Taylor be fined in the sum of ten pounds and that he be committed to close custody in the Gaol of this County until the end of this present term (about a week) without bail . . ." This certainly seems to confirm the legend that Buck Taylor was quite a noted drunk.  One last thing, I did note that there were several Taylor family deeds recorded in Hillsborough for slaves including some that were the 'property' of John (Buck) Taylor, Sr. That confirms at least part of the oft-told tale involving Taylor’s slave ownership. I think it is obvious that the mill, race and dam were all built and maintained with slave labor.  The story is told that Buck Taylor was buried standing up - either to oversee his slaves or holding a whiskey jug in each hand.


Thomas D Crane 


W F Strowd?


The 1880 Manufacturing Census records for Orange County, NC  show the W F Stroud Sawmill on Bolin Creek.  This may have been the same as the Castleberry Mill, but this is difficult to verify because there are no deeds which seem to correspond to the supposed W F Stroud Sawmill on 'Borland Creek.' However the 1880 Census shows the Stroud mill as having a 12 foot head and used a four foot wide overshot waterwheel, which is consistent with the site we see today.




1. Daniel Mill

2. Merritt Mill

3. Mccauley Mill

4. Lloyd Mill

5. Pickard Mill

6. Yeargin Mill

7. Brockwell Mill

8. Castleberry Mill

9. Prestwood Mill

10. Patterson Mill 2

11. Breached Dam Mill

12. Johnston Mill

13. New Hope Mill 1

14. New Hope Mill 2

15. Morrow Mill

16. Union Mills

17. D Thompson Sawmill

18. H Thompson Mill

19. Pritchard Mill

20. Powerline Mill

21. Patterson Mill 1

22. Leigh Mill

23. Jones Saw Mill

24. Meeting of the Waters Mill


The family located on the King Farm, near Orange Methodist Church, two and one half miles north of Chapel Hill on the old Hillsboro Road. Josiah conducted the mill on Bowlin Creek, just north of the corporate limits of the University village. The mill was later known as Emerson's Mill. In 1838, he purchased the rented farm of four hundred and seventy-one acres on which he lived on Presswood Creek, for $600.00.


Before leaving Wake County several members of the family secured letters of dismissal from Holly Springs Baptist Church and joined Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in 1836. After 10 years of farming and milling combined, in the hills of Orange County, the word spread abroad that there were great opportunities offered new settlers in the hills of North Georgia near the growing town of Rome. The Indians, ten years before, had been moved by force to the West and the new lands in Floyd and adjacent counties in Northwest Georgia were drawing throngs of new settlers.


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