New Garden was, and is, primarily an agricultural community. Following the War of 1812, there was a great inflation in the costs of farm production. This, plus a crop shortage in the cold Summer of 1816 caused by little grain maturing, caused wheat to advance to $3.00 per bushel. When prices dropped a few years later, many farmers in the area failed and were forced to sell their properties. Farming remained the main industry, however, and when the following ad appeared in 1824, it was great news for those who tilled the land.

To Farmers and Corn Planters

"The subscriber hereby gives notice that he continues to make and vend his Cultivator or Corn Harrow, so much approved in Chester County and the adjacent districts of Pennsylvania, and will deliver them to order, at any place requested. The abovementioned Harrow obtained a premium at the exhibition of the Pennsylvania Agricultural Society held at the Paoli in October last.

Notice is also given, that he has obtained a patent for his improvement on the Cuttwater or Corn Harrow, and likewise on the apparatus for constructing the teeth, rights of which will be sold to blacksmiths or others, disposed to purchase, for constructing the same. Applications by letter or otherwise directed to the subscriber, in Newgarden township, Chestercounty, Pa. will be promptly attended to."

McConaughey was a blacksmith. His attention soon turned to the corn cultivator as a specialty, for until then farmers had only the plow and spike-toothed harrow for such use. He met with great success, and soon purchased additional land and built a shop for completing the wooden parts of the cultivators. His two mechanics, George Barr and James McDole, lived in a house on the property; his blacksmiths, John and Benjamin "Camel", lived nearby. The smiths worked late at night, and sparks from the old building were said to have been "a thing of beauty in the darkness, while the music of the hammer on the anvil enlivened the evening hours."

After ten years or so passed, McConaughey added axe manufacturing to his other enterprises, along with a grinding house whose stones were operated by horse power. It was written,

"Who has not heard of and sympathized with the bark mill horse? The grindstone horse fared but little better as round and round he plodded his weary way, and, if perchance he hesitated or stopped in his monotonous course, was sure to be prodded by a sharp pointed stick fixed behind him for that purpose."

The finished products were "peddled around" from wagons driven through Chester and adjoining counties, for there were yet no railroads for shipping goods to city markets. The demand for wares soon increased beyond the facilities.

McConaughey had been very impressed with the output from a water-powered mill that he had visited "Down East," and purchased a large tract of land with a good water supply near Newark, Delaware, to which he moved.

The horse power used in the grinding mill was purchased by Joseph Newlin who used it for two or three years to run a threshing machine, and then sold it to Joel Thompson. Ellwood Michener said, "I believe it to have been the first cylinder thresher used in the neighborhood, and was no better than a thresher should be."