The St. Elisabeth’s Mill

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in Haelen

The St. Elisabeth’s mill lay in the Leudal, formerly a charming, currently a well-known wildlife area in Middle Limburg. The Leudal consists of a deeply cut stream valley with broadleaf trees along the banks and conifers on the higher parts. The Leubeek, in the past also called Heythuyserbeek, is part of the Tungelroy brook. The brook is largely canalised and has only kept its original course in the Leudal between the former St. Elisabeth’s mill and the Leu mill.

The watermill stood alongside the Haelen-Roggel road.

For centuries the mill was owned by the St. Elisabethsdal monastery, whose origin is be- lieved to go back to 1240 and obtained many goods due to donations. It was founded by Dirk II, Lord of Altena.

Willem van Horne, son of a cousin of Dirk van Altena, gave the monastery prior permission in 1278 to move the watermill, which stood in the parish of Roggel near the "Wiere" by the Zelster brook, to a place opposite the monastery on what was later Tungeroy brook. It was a move over a short distance. The old spot with the bridge was later called "Wiere". At the time, the mill wasn’t far from the Zelsterhof, in the past a charming white farmstead surrounded by trees. The mill and the Zelsterhof presumably belonged together like the Leu mill that also had a courtyard.

The relocated mill, which was also a lord’s mill, was probably leased out. From 1778 to just before the next turn of the century the St. Elisabeth’s mill, the Leu mill and the Leuhof were leased by the Clephas family, a well-known miller family in Mid Limburg in the 18th and first half of the 19th century. In 1796 the St. Elisabethsdal monastery and its goods, including the St. Elisabeth’s and the Leu mill was confiscated by the French. An inventory was drawn up of the possessions as well as an estimate of the value. This indicates that both mills were in a poor condition. The monastery with the farming fields and land was sold publically in Maastricht in 1801. They were assigned to Maastricht notary Jean Theodore van Gulpen whose principal was Guillaume Claes, prefect of the Department of the Lower Meuse and former justice of the peace in Hasselt. Claes then sold St. Elisabethsdal to Andre or Andreas van Mulbracht, justice of the peace in Germany and an expert in the national domains in the districts of Venlo, Roermond and Nederkruchten. Van Mulbracht also came into possession of the St. Elisabeth’s mill. In the correspondence, which was car- ried out in 1840 by the solicitors A v. Mulbracht and C. Waegemans, owner of the Leu mill, mentioned below, the mills were transferred to them by the land domain as operational factories. It is more likely that Laurent Henry Franken from Weert became the owner of St. Elisa- beth’s mill, which was leased at the time by J. Jacobs on 8 December 1802.

Van Mulbracht had meanwhile moved to Roermond, where he died in 1854. He was a wealthy man and, among others, an associate of Burghoff and Magnee, founders of the large paper mill on the Steel in Roermond.

In the early 19th century the building of the St. Elisabeth’s mill was made of wood. In those days it was a grain, oil and sawmill. The mill’s condition was apparently so poor in and after the French era that renovation was necessary. This is why Van Mulbracht asked permission from the county council in 1839 to replace the wooden mill by a stone one. The reno- vation was carried out in 1840. The mill was then leased by J.M. Heckers from Herten, who originated from the Clephas miller family on his mother’s side. The stone mill be- came a lot larger than the stone Leu mill. In the "Tarief der zuivere begrotingen van ieder soort en klasse van vaste eigendommen in de gemeente Nunhem" [Tariff of the budgets of any type and class of fixed assets in the municipality of Nunhem] of 1843 the St. Elisa- beth’s mill was estimated at 250 guilders; the Leu mill at 130 guilders. The new grain, oil and sawmill had a brief existence, as it burned down on 12 June 1844. It was rebuilt shortly afterwards. After the passing of André van Mulbracht his two daughters divided his large estate in 1854. The watermill with the St. Elisabeth estate was assigned to Sophie or Jeanette Francisca Sophia, wife of Louis or Lodewijk Frans Hubert Beerenbroek, to whose name the goods were assigned. At the time Beerenbroek was a person of private means and a member of the Senate. Before this he had been the mayor of Weert and pos- sessed, among others, two windmills there. He became the mayor of Roermond in 1:857. The building by the mill was extended in 1875. The construction consisted of a watermill, a residential house and a farm. After the passing of Louis Beerenbroek in 1884 his son Mr Peter Marie Oscar Hubert became his heir. He was a judge in Roermond and later president of the District Court in the town.

At the end of the 19th century the watermill was powered by a mid-sized wheel, which had been provided with a head at the base in order to bring the water onto the blades better. The wheel had a diameter of 6.60 m and a width of 0.70 m.

The Leu brook separated in two sections before the mill, which stood on the left bank. There was a discharge sluice in the continuing or turning stretch; in the mill section there were four discharge sluices in the truss alongside the grinding sluice. Behind the mill the sections met again.

In the years 1908 and 1909 the complex with agricultural sheds was further developed and the mill got the look of a farm mill. In 1908 the wooden waterwheel and wooden axle were replaced by iron constructions. The new mid-stroke wheel was given a diameter of 6.68 m and a width of 0.90 m. The wooden vanes had a height of 0.56 m.

The aforementioned P.M.0.H. Beerenbroek passed away unmarried in 1916 at the St. Elisabeth estate, where he had lived since 1910. In the year of his death the heirs had the estate sold by auction. The buyer was Mathias Charles Joseph Geenen from 's-Gravenhage. He was Limburger by birth and came from Heythuysen. 15·16 After his death in 1938 Marie Helene Seraphine Geenen, widow of Hyppolite Houtappel, from Maastricht inherited 8/9th of the bare ownership; the remaining part went to Hyppolite Emile Clement Maria Houtappel from Laren (North Holland).

The mill was then leased by Wijnand Jeuken. The next leaseholder was P. Scheres. During the grinding he got stuck between the waterwheel and the wall of the ark on 27 February 1942 and died of the consequences. He was 47 and father of ten children. After the division of the estate in 1951 the farm and the watermill’s ruin came into the possession of Maria Antonia Idalia Houtappel, married to the industrial Joannes Franciscus Alphonsus Maria Meu- wissen from Echt. In 1961 the Dutch State became the owner and handed the estate to the Dutch Forestry Commission.

Just before the liberation the mill fell prey to war negotiations.

On the night of 15 November 1944 the bridge over the brook in the Roggelseweg was blown up by the Germans with a heavy charge on the land abutment on the side of the mill. The consequence was that the watermill was also destroyed. Being an expert, Chr. van Bussel from Weert was asked to draw up a damage report. The whole wooden driving gear and the grinder had been severely damaged and would be renewed; the steel axis of the waterwheel had been bent. The iron waterwheel and the truss with the five sluices were also destroyed. In this era, the grinder consisted of a couple of blue German stones for grinding buckwheat and two cou- ples of cast stones that lay in the crown wheel randomly. The runners were driven by the crown wheel at the top through pinions on stake irons.

The oil mill was also severely damaged. It was still complete at the time and con- sisted of a stroke bench with two drop hammers and a releasing ram, a camshaft provided with three cogwheels, an edge mill, a stove tray with stirring device and a grate. The revolving axis was provided with a crown wheel drive by the mean piece via an intermediate shaft. The sawmill is no longer present.

The mill was no longer repaired. The barrage right was bought by the district water board "Midden Limburg" in 1958.

© P.W.E.A. van Bussel “De Molens van Limburg”. Publication rights obtained from the author’s son.

Opening times: The ruin is freely accessible.

Adress: Roggelseweg 56 (next to the restaurant Elisabethshof), 6081 NP Horn