Adapted from:

A Brief Look at North River Mills, West Virginia

by Stephanie L. Bailes and Charles C. Hall

North River Mills today seems a forgotten point on a winding back road. Once it was a bustling village along the Great Wagon Road running west out of Winchester toward the frontier whose limits were then unknown.

Originally in Frederick County, Virginia, North River Mills is located on Parker's Gap Run nrm-airw.jpg(now Hiett's Run) where it enters the North River. This is where the old Great Wagon Road from Winchester continuing through Fort Edwards (Capon Bridge) to Romney came down from Sandy Ridge and Grape Ridge. To the north is the famous Ice Mountain, known for its cool environment supporting flora usually found hundreds of miles further north. Today the mountain is owned by the Nature Conservancy.

In the early colonial days when this was the frontier, there was a strong-house across the North River on Thomas Parker's 237 acre landgrant. During the French and Indian War the area of the North River Valley was attacked on at least two separate occasions. In the first documented attack, Sarah Gibbons, daughter of James Gibbons whose home was on the other side of the Parker grant, was carried off by the Indians. Eight or nine years later Sarah escaped and returned to her family.

After peace returned to the valley, the system of land grants by Lord Fairfax encouraged settlement in the area. Some of the land was bought by people like Evan Hiett, Christopher Hieskell, and Rees Pritchard, a Revolutionary War hero. Descendants of these men can still be found in Hampshire County today.

However, much of the land was bought by people like Dr. James Craik, George Washington's personal physician, who held it for speculative purposes. Washington himself had surveyed many tracts in the North River and Cacapon River valleys in the early 1750s and, knowing their beauty and fertility, encouraged settlement of the area.

When the settlers came, many small industries were developed. As the community grew, North River Mills (first known as Parker's Gap) took its name from the mills that were built on Hiett's Run and on the River itself. Although the creek seems small today, it once carried enough water to supply the large water wheel of a busy mill. Eventually there were three grinding mills here, the last one a gasoline-powered mill built in the early part of this century.

In the time of the War of the Rebellion, North River Mills was the scene of several small incidents. The proximity of Ice Mountain, which served as a lookout point, nrm1.jpgbrought several skirmishes to the village. Although the area was predominately sympathetic to the Southern cause, the village's blacksmith, Frederick Kump, lost one son, William, who fought for the Union.

Today there are many reminders of those earlier days. The Church, which is built on land given by William Miller in 1893, is still in regular use today. To the east starting up the road to Grape Ridge, Craik Spring, named for the original grantee, still supplies water for local residents. Further up the road just to the west across Hiett's Run lie the remains of the lime kiln once run by Perry Gess.

The Miller house, at the intersection of the Great Wagon Road and the North River Wagon Road, was once an inn and later home of several generations of the descendants of William Miller. Behind it and a little to the west against the hill is the foundation of one of the early mills. Just to the west of town at the intersection of the dirt road crossing the river to the Parker land grant is what remains of the foundation of the Snapp mill.

On the hill to the southwest of the village is a restored log house believed to have been built about 1802 by the Morelands. Near it is the Kump cemetery, final resting place of several early residents including Shorts, Wills, and Chilcott. In the surrounding area are family cemeteries of the Mendenhalls, Hendersons, crostonr.jpgMcDonalds, Smaltzs, Hietts, and Loys.

Today much has changed in North River Mills and it is no longer a bustling community. Two mills are entirelhy gone and only the stone foundation and a mill stone remains of the Miller mill. However, the community is a peaceful, hospitable village waiting for you to discover its charm and interesting history. Each year in June the village celebrates North River Mills Day and invites everyone to come enjoy the hospitality of this peaceful community.

For further information see:
History of Hampshire County by Maxwell and Swisher
A History of the Valley of Virginia by Samuel Kersheval
"Charles Miller, Keeper of the Keys", The West Virginia Advocate, April 5, 1982
"War and Heartbreak in the North River and Cacapon Valleys", The West Virginia Advocate, Feb 15, 1990
Historic Hampshire by Seldon Brannon
Frontier Forts Along the Potomac and Its Tributaries by William Ansel


Visit our Links to:

North River Mills Day special reprint: "Growing up at the Store"

North River Mills Day 2018 Photos

North River Mills Day 2016 Photos - and dedication of Kump Bridge

North River Mills Day 2015 Photos - High Definition Pictures!

North River Mills Day 2014 Photos - High Definition Pictures!

North River Mills Day 2013 Photos

North River Mills Day 2012 Photos

North River Mills Day 2011 Photos

North River Mills Day 2007 Photos

Next North River Mills Day is Saturday, May ????, 2017 - check back!

N.R.M. Christmas Sing:

Christmas Sing 2012
Christmas Sing 2014
Christmas Sing 2015
Christmas Sing 2016

Special Local Memorials
   North River Mills Historic Trace
   Pvt. William Kump Bridge
   Amos Chilcott, C.S.A.


Aerial Photo with locations marked

New Aerial Photos

Old Topo Maps

General Photo Tour

Recent Photos of Events or Changes

Ice Mountain is now a National Natural Landmark
   Ice Mountain tour
   Our Landmark celebration

Docent Training 2012 - - We found it!


The New Bridge on the North River

The Old Bridge on the North River

StringJam 2012 was a great success
  check out the photos of the 2012 event
  check out photos of the 2011 event
  check out photos of the 2010 event

Hiett House tour

Kump House tour

Census 1850

Deed Book Refs.

Family Heads 1784


Map of Early Deeds around N.R.M.

Great Wagon Road route through N.R.M. - Very large file!

Methodist Church Records
Often when viewing old records there is confusion about dates, names and places since the creator often assumed people knew the particulars. Now a hundred years later it leaves us mystified.

Methodist Church Members 1898 - 1907

Methodist Church Members 1920s - this set of records follows the above with a new index number starting with #1 through #67. Dates may be 1897-1926.


Research Bibliography

National Register application

History Articles by Stephanie Bailes

Dedicating the Croston Memorial

Envelope mailed to N.R.M. from Bloomery compliments David Mein


Old Photographs

     Old Photos of the Village

     Miller Family Pictures

     Phil Harmison family photos



Memories of N.R.M. by Maude Pugh

Storm damage June 2008

Dismantling and studying the Baker's barn

Old time standing seam roof

A Wedding Day

Projected Activities             none available at the present time

Our Illustrious Members             none available at the present time

Etta Kimble remembers   Etta Fultz Kimble Remembers North River Mills

         Historic Hampshire Home page    Our parent site

         For information on Tours of Ice Mountain click here.

Installing the new interpretative sign
Installing new interpretative sign at the Society headquarters
May 8, 2010. photo by Andy Herbaugh

2001-2013 Charles C. Hall.
All rights reserved.
A cooperative venture with
updated: 9/17/23