Mount Upton, NY
The Old Mill
Old Mill Restaurant.
Former site of cotton mill that produced uniforms for Union
Sullivan Reynolds and his family had been traveling from New Hampshire
for several months in the early spring of 1791. He stopped his ox team
in the beautiful Unadilla Valley, along modern day New York State Rt 8.
While Reynold's family unloaded their cart, Sullivan took a walk to the
American Indian encampment. There he introduced himself to the community
and they welcomed him. They sent Reynolds off with meat and corn for his
hungry family. Sullivan built his cabin near the site of today's Old
Mill Restaurant. It soon became evident that a mill would be needed to
grind the grain for food. Reynolds and his family ran the stone mill for
50 years, and then Chester Rockwell of East Hartwick came along.
Rockwell was a cotton man and wanted a mill for his business. The
community where the Old Mill Restaurant stands is now known as Rockwell
When news of the Civil War increased, the government sought expert help
to furnish uniforms for the Union Army of the Potomac. Rockwell was
approached and given a big
contract. He was soon milling blue wool uniforms.
At one point, more than 200 men and women were employed at the mill.
Rockwell uniforms clothed the Union soldiers at Manassas (Bull Run),
Sharpsburg (Antietam), Harper's Ferry, Gettysburg and many other
battles. General Ulysses S. Grant wore a uniform that had it's origin in
the Unadilla Valley..
After the war ended and Chester Rockwell died, his son Allan took over
operations at the mill. On June 25-26, 1876 General George Armstrong
Custer and his 175 men died at the hands of the Lakota-Northern Cheyenne
coalition at the Battle of Little Bighorn. The uniforms worn by Custer
and his men were fashioned at Rockwells.
When not supplying military uniforms the mill made striped prison
uniforms. This work would have continued if not for the onset of the
Spanish-American War in 1898. When uniforms were needed the government
remembered the excellent work done by Rockwell's and awarded them with
another contract to make uniforms. Teddy Roosevelt visited the mill to
inspect the work being done. Later, Roosevelt and his men the famous
Rough Riders, stormed San Juan Hill, wearing the tough uniforms made in
For 40 years after the turn of the 20th century the mill was idle.. The
machinery was removed. There was even talk of tearing the mill down.
Sometime around the mid 1950's Rockwell McPherson, a grandson of Chester
Rockwell, took the property over. He envisioned a roadside hotel for his
famous friend to visit. The Old Mill Restaurant was born.
The register at the desk contains familiar names, all friends of the
owner. Comedians Jack Benny and Fred Allen; Jack Haley, who portrayed
the Tin man in The Wizard of Oz. and many others. The Old Mill
Restaurant is still fully operational as a restaurant. If the walls
could talk, they would have many amazing stories to tell.
(April 2009) Enlarge
The Old Mill Restaurant
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