Archive for December, 2010

Site of Fulling Mill 2011

December 18, 2010

Marstons Mills Fulling Mill

Fulling Mill

December 18, 2010

FULLING MILL

Marstons Mills got its name from the Marston fulling mill and its neighboring mills.

A fulling mill was lik a giant washing machine that scrubbed the oil and dirt out of the raw wool, and pounded the loose fibers into a solid mat.

A water wheel turned a horizontal shaft that rotated tippet arms to push twin beams attached to mallets that were as big as a man.

These huge mallets alternately pounded on the wool in a two foot high stock or tub. The racket caused by the pounding hammers was notorious as we know from the fictional tale of Don Quixote who mistook the hideous sound to be tromping of bearded giants.

The solvent added to water in the tub was fuller’s earth, a clay found in abundance at Gay Head on Martha’s Vineyard. The Wampanoags used it to launder their blankets and clothes.

After the mill had cleaned the wool and pounded it to an even thickness, the wet cloth was stretched between two horizontal cedar poles, fastened at top and bottom by iron tenterhooks (hence the saying “being on tenterhooks”) We can imagine long fencelike tenteryards on the field and hillside below the mill.

Close by the fulling mill was the carding mill, propelled by the same wheel, where the nap was raised, or teased by teasels, a thistle-like plant pod, and later by metal hooks. Next the cloth was smoothed on a table with razor sharp shears. Then came dye vats, located perhaps where the present pond is.

Marstons Mills fulling mill, authorized in 1687, is one of the earliest in America. It was the second on Cape Cod and in southern Massachusetts, following the Nye mill in Sandwich in 1676.

The first American fulling mill had been started in Rowley in 1643, followed by Watertown 1662, Andover 1673, Ipswich and Salem 1675, and Dedham 1681.

Barnstable town meeting of February 11, 1686/7 gave John Andreas eight or ten acres of upland next to John Goodspeed’s property on the river “to full Cloth provided he set up and keep a fulling mill and full and Dress ye Towns Cloth Upon Reasonable Terms or Prices.”

The property was located on the east side of the Herring River (then called Goodspeed’s), well above today’s Fulling Mill Lane. The river was dammed about where the public footbridge crosses the river to Willow Dell, forming a pond that extended up to where River Road crosses the stream.

A sluiceway fed a mill race below the former Loring Jones house (# 145 River Road) to the mill below the Pierce house (# 105 River Road).

The first miller, John Andreas. may have been a skilled operator from the North Shore, but construction required capital. In 1688. the town gave 8 to 10 acres to ten proprietors of Barnstable, all of them from the north side except for Joseph Crocker of Santuit, and millsite neighbor John Goodspeed. They had to build the mill and maintain it for 20 years, providing the service to any townsperson who brought his raw wool to the site.

The early history of this mill was told by our local historian Vivian Cushing in the bicentennial history, The Seven Villages. By March 1691 the mill was working under Thomas Massey (or Marcy, Macy?), to whom the town gave 5 ½ acres near the mill.

The resident owner of the mill, John Goodspeed’s niece Lydia, married in 1716 Benjamin Marston. He was a third generation carpenter from Salem, who may have rebuilt the fulling mill on the model of those already operating on the North Shore. Before his death in 1769 he had added spinning and weaving machines in buildings below the mill.

Marstons Mills was thus a major industrial village before the American Revolution.

Benjamin Marston, the first Marston in Marstons Mills, left the clothing business and tools to his son Prince Marston, born 1735, who managed the factory until his death in 1775, at the early age of 40. Prince’s son Isaiah was only 18, but he took over the wool manufacturing until 1801 when he moved to Waterville, Maine.where he built a mill.

The operation and ownership of the mill in the early nineteenth century is confused and fragmented. The actual owner operator from 1792 to after 1818 was the clothier John Gallison of Yarmouth. Then, from 1818 to 1829 it was the dyer Robert Francis. At the same time the Marstons were active clothiers, that is, wool manufacturers.

In 1829 the last owner-operator bought a share in the mills. This was Nathaniel Hinckley, the first postmaster of Marstons Mills and store keeper, owner of three grist mills in the area, sheriff and register of probate, ten times representative on Beacon Hill, and wealthy land owner.

The Marstons sold him their share in 1832 , ending more than 115 years of profitable involvement. Hinckley expanded the mill, installing some of the newly invented textile machinery. In 1852 he took on as partner Rufus Churchill who produced cotton batting. The death of Churchill’s son in 1855 ended the operation.

The abandoned factory buildings were probably reused. Derelict remains were washed away in the periodic floods of the river. Today all we see is the marker put by the tercentenary committee at the lower pond, which is today’s Mill Pond at the intersection of Routes 149 and 28, a quarter of a mile downstream from the old fulling mill.

FULLING MILL

Marstons Mills got its name from the Marston fulling mill and its neighboring mills.

A fulling mill was lik a giant washing machine that scrubbed the oil and dirt out of the raw wool, and pounded the loose fibers into a solid mat.

A water wheel turned a horizontal shaft that rotated tippet arms to push twin beams attached to mallets that were as big as a man.

These huge mallets alternately pounded on the wool in a two foot high stock or tub. The racket caused by the pounding hammers was notorious as we know from the fictional tale of Don Quixote who mistook the hideous sound to be tromping of bearded giants.

The solvent added to water in the tub was fuller’s earth, a clay found in abundance at Gay Head on Martha’s Vineyard. The Wampanoags used it to launder their blankets and clothes.

After the mill had cleaned the wool and pounded it to an even thickness, the wet cloth was stretched between two horizontal cedar poles, fastened at top and bottom by iron tenterhooks (hence the saying “being on tenterhooks”) We can imagine long fencelike tenteryards on the field and hillside below the mill.

Close by the fulling mill was the carding mill, propelled by the same wheel, where the nap was raised, or teased by teasels, a thistle-like plant pod, and later by metal hooks. Next the cloth was smoothed on a table with razor sharp shears. Then came dye vats, located perhaps where the present pond is.

Marstons Mills fulling mill, authorized in 1687, is one of the earliest in America. It was the second on Cape Cod and in southern Massachusetts, following the Nye mill in Sandwich in 1676.

The first American fulling mill had been started in Rowley in 1643, followed by Watertown 1662, Andover 1673, Ipswich and Salem 1675, and Dedham 1681.

Barnstable town meeting of February 11, 1686/7 gave John Andreas eight or ten acres of upland next to John Goodspeed’s property on the river “to full Cloth provided he set up and keep a fulling mill and full and Dress ye Towns Cloth Upon Reasonable Terms or Prices.”

The property was located on the east side of the Herring River (then called Goodspeed’s), well above today’s Fulling Mill Lane. The river was dammed about where the public footbridge crosses the river to Willow Dell, forming a pond that extended up to where River Road crosses the stream.

A sluiceway fed a mill race below the former Loring Jones house (# 145 River Road) to the mill below the Pierce house (# 105 River Road).

The first miller, John Andreas. may have been a skilled operator from the North Shore, but construction required capital. In 1688. the town gave 8 to 10 acres to ten proprietors of Barnstable, all of them from the north side except for Joseph Crocker of Santuit, and millsite neighbor John Goodspeed. They had to build the mill and maintain it for 20 years, providing the service to any townsperson who brought his raw wool to the site.

The early history of this mill was told by our local historian Vivian Cushing in the bicentennial history, The Seven Villages. By March 1691 the mill was working under Thomas Massey (or Marcy, Macy?), to whom the town gave 5 ½ acres near the mill.

The resident owner of the mill, John Goodspeed’s niece Lydia, married in 1716 Benjamin Marston. He was a third generation carpenter from Salem, who may have rebuilt the fulling mill on the model of those already operating on the North Shore. Before his death in 1769 he had added spinning and weaving machines in buildings below the mill.

Marstons Mills was thus a major industrial village before the American Revolution.

Benjamin Marston, the first Marston in Marstons Mills, left the clothing business and tools to his son Prince Marston, born 1735, who managed the factory until his death in 1775, at the early age of 40. Prince’s son Isaiah was only 18, but he took over the wool manufacturing until 1801 when he moved to Waterville, Maine.where he built a mill.

The operation and ownership of the mill in the early nineteenth century is confused and fragmented. The actual owner operator from 1792 to after 1818 was the clothier John Gallison of Yarmouth. Then, from 1818 to 1829 it was the dyer Robert Francis. At the same time the Marstons were active clothiers, that is, wool manufacturers.

In 1829 the last owner-operator bought a share in the mills. This was Nathaniel Hinckley, the first postmaster of Marstons Mills and store keeper, owner of three grist mills in the area, sheriff and register of probate, ten times representative on Beacon Hill, and wealthy land owner.

The Marstons sold him their share in 1832 , ending more than 115 years of profitable involvement. Hinckley expanded the mill, installing some of the newly invented textile machinery. In 1852 he took on as partner Rufus Churchill who produced cotton batting. The death of Churchill’s son in 1855 ended the operation.

The abandoned factory buildings were probably reused. Derelict remains were washed away in the periodic floods of the river. Today all we see is the marker put by the tercentenary committee at the lower pond, which is today’s Mill Pond at the intersection of Routes 149 and 28, a quarter of a mile downstream from the old fulling mill.

Site of Fulling Mill 2001

December 18, 2010
Fulling Mill site

Fulling Mill site

HOLIDAY FUN AT MILLS RIVER FARM

December 11, 2010

 

HOLIDAY FUN AT MILLS RIVER FARM

 

At one farm in Marstons Mills the holiday season is celebrated with fun of making Christmas wreaths.

 

Barbara Parker, owner of the Mills River Farm, which is on River Road, says the annual event is really “a family thing” to which the huge clan gathers from Nantucket and Rhode Island, and as far as New Jersey, and invite their friends.

 

Barbara’s daughter Patti Duarte-Maroney says “It kicks off the Christmas season, and brings you back to olden times.”

 

It all began about ten years ago when the Parker homestead became Mills River Farm. Barbara taught herself and her children using the traditional Cape Cod wreaths from greens of princess pine, which is now too endangered to use. One year her daughter, Patti,  needed presents for her friends and decided to make  wreaths. The wreaths were such a hit and everyone wanted one so Patti decided to teach them to make their own.

 

The season starts when the family patriarch, Bob Parker, clears out his woodworking shop, and turns it over to Patti, while he goes hunting. She and her friends string up the colored lights, and set out the old cranberry crates for the greenery. Local landscapers deliver clippings of greenery which would otherwise be discarded, and Patti gets more exotic greens from Maine.

 

Patti schedules dates after Thanksgiving when friends  can sign up to make wreaths. Space is limited  so spots fill up fast.

 

The process starts with a metal frame on which the greens are mounted. The first year Bob Parker used metal coat hangers which he rounded into shape by pressing them into buckets for concrete, but it’s easier  now to buy them.

 

The participants then pick\ out greens from the cranberry crates and trim them to fit the frame. On top one can glue pine cones, red berries from the wild roses, sea shells and crab’s claws gathered at the beach, and dried flowers, like those from hydrangeas, or seed pods and grasses. As finishing touches there’s spray paint and glitter.

 

Finally, there’s the ribbon, selected from a wide variety. There’s even a hook to hang the wreath on so one can stand back and admire it and decide if it needs another touch.

 

Patti and her nieces, Liza Duarte and Roxanna Nadim, are there in red aprons, ready to help  along with a  crew from neighboring Freedom Farm.

 

It’s cold outside, but Bob’s wood stove  keeps the workshop cozy. And Barbara brings in a pot of homemade soup: maybe mushroom-artichoke, traditional Portuguese kale, chili, or black beans. With the soup there’s pumpkin bread and cranberry squares.

 

People come to eat!” Barbara, the cook says cheerily. She sets out her homemade jellies and jams of wild raspberries, beach plums and grapes. Crackers and cream cheese can be topped with Mills River Special Relish.

Bob’s daughter Wendy  Parker Smith tends to the farm so the festivities can go on.

 

And of course there’s Christmas music, and wreath makers join in the carols. A high point of the season is when “Romeo”, their pet miniature pony pokes his head in, his neck wreathed, to lead a parade around the farm, calling on the ducks, geese and horses.

 

You’re lucky if you are a relative or a friend of  the Parker/Duarte clan, and there are many!

 

Barnstable Enterprise 10 Dec. 2010

 

LIFE AND DEATH OF THE HERRING RUN

December 11, 2010

LIFE AND DEATH OF THE HERRING RIVER

 

Marstons Mills Herring River was one of the best fishing runs on Cape Cod. From time immemorial it had been fished by Indians like Paupmunnock during the month of May when the adult herring or alewives make their way up from the sea to Middle Pond to spawn. In the twenties this was called Cotuit Pond by Congressman Gifford and state fisheries report of 1920, but the common name is Run Pond. The alewives were not only a major source of food, but as Indians had taught white farmers, it was also the best fertilizer for good corn crops.

 

In the nineteenth century mill owners claimed—and Barnstable town meeting affirmed–historic fishing rights to the area. Those rights dated back to the grant of the Barnstable Proprietors, who owned the land, to John Stacy in 1705 for the right to place a grist mill dam on the Cotuit River. Later the stream was known as Goodspeed’s River, named for the first white settler in 1653, and still later the waterway was called Marston’s River after Benjamin Marston who inherited the Goodspeed rights, or was just called the Herring River.

 

Between 1813 and 1828 the Marstons sold their rights to the mill and a quarter of the fish to Ebenezer Scudder and Chipman Hinckley. Scudder and Hinckley sold their share to Chipman’s son Nathaniel Hinckley in 1842. Every year thereafter the town meeting would assign care of the Herring River to someone, often to the Hinckleys.

 

The state passed a law in 1846 regulating all herring fisheries, leading to protests by Hinckley and other villagers like Dr. Henry McCollum. The town issued regulations requiring removal of obstacles during May, taking fish only at the usual fishing place by the fish shed, no fishing on Saturday or Sunday, and limit of five dozen for each family member, with a fee of one cent for fresh fish and 2 ½ cents “salted and stuck”. “Salted and stuck” meant that it had been cleaned, soaked in brine for a week, and strung thru the eyesocket on a stick, ready for smoking.

 

In 1867 the town paid Hinckley $100 for his fishing rights and put the whole catch up for public bidding for five years. The first auction in 1868 was won by Capt. Pardon Burlingame of Cotuit for $65 a year. The next two, in 1873 and 1878 went to the Cotuit postmaster Andrew Lovell for $55. By 1879 the price was down to $35 for five years, sold to the Boston restauranteur Russell Marston.

 

The falling price of the bids reflects the opening of Newtown cranberry bogs which diverted water from the river, to the constant complaint of mill-owner Hinckley. An official state report by

David Belding in 1920 scathingly described the bogs as a “serious menace” since “the interests of the fishery and the cranberry industry are directly opposed.” It blamed the town of Barnstable for the “ruin of the fishery” by favoring taxes from the cranberries over the value of the fishery.

 

In 1875 A. D. Makepeace, known as the Cranberry King, and his partners had bought the 45 acre Big Bog surrounding Muddy Pond and Run Bog which linked it to Run Pond, converting it into the biggest bog on the Cape. Alewives had to make their way up the Herring River, as it was called, through the maze of dams, ditches and canals to the pond.

 

In 1880 the town appropriated $350 for a new canal, which they put under the three Selectmen plus the two most prominent Cotuit leaders, Augustus Thorndyke Perkins and Charles C. Bearse. The town paid David Jones $125 for the pathway of a canal that cut across the knoll on Jones’s homestead that is now the south end of Whistleberry Drive.

 

The rapid decline of the fishery is clear from the falling auction prices, only $20 in 1885 to the A.D. Makepeace, and from the years 1890 to 1896, the price was down to $10 1890-96.

 

Finally, in 1896 the fishery was deemed “worthless”. Belding’s state report shows a dry ditch, and suggests that the over-harvesting encouraged by the short-term auctions added to the loss of the natural herring run. For the next half century the herring fishery was dead.

 

Barnstable Enterprise 3 Dec. 2010