The Mill at Anselma oral history interviews

About this collection

    This collection contains eight oral history interviews conducted in 1982, 1986, and 2001 with individuals familiar with the Mill at Anselma. Most are part of the Collins family (the last residents of the mill), as well as other Chester County locals. Members of the Collins family interviewed include: Horace Collins, Mary Collins Griffith, and John Collins. Ada Gordon and Elmer Matthews are also interviewed. The discussions mainly focus on the mill, how it operated, and its service to the county, but also include numerous personal stories recounting life in early twentieth century rural Pennsylvania. The Pickering Valley Railroad and its station at Anselma is discussed, as well. The project was spearheaded by Dr. John James Turner, Jr. and the French and Pickering Creek Conservation Trust.
    Please click here to view the finding aid.
    For more information about the Mill at Anselma, including how to visit, become a member, view a milling demonstration, and schedule events, please visit their website.

Search Collection

Interview with Horace Collins, 1986 June 18 [transcript]
Horace Collins is shown a series of slides with photographs taken at Anselma Mill in 1972. The subjects vary widely and include the cider press, power hack saw, drill press, a dog tread power used to churn butter, and an old clock. Collins describes each slide, discusses the memories they evoke, and how they related to the running of the mill. There are 121 slides in the set.
Interview with Horace Collins 1986 February 27 and 1986 March 15 [transcript]
Horace Collins recalls his early life and how his family came to live and work at Anselma Mill. He primarily focuses on the activities of his father, Oliver Ernest Collins, how the mill operated, and general life in Chester County. Supplementary topics include the Great Depression, Prohibition, his mother and siblings, attending school, neighbors, holiday celebrations, and domestic and wild animals living around the mill. He tells several stories in detail.
Interview with Elmer Matthews, 1986 April 11 [transcript]
Elmer Matthews discusses Oliver Collins, Anselma Mill, the Pickering Valley Railroad and shipping milk, coal, feed, hay/straw to Philadelphia, John and Horace Collins and their skills at repairing equipment, and a cow that was hit by a train.
Interview with Mary Collins Griffith, 2001 January 26 [transcript]
Mary Collins Griffith discusses the local general store, ice house and creamery, night miller's house, and barn, all associated with the Mill at Anselma. Includes basic architectural sketches of the creamery and house.