Asa Robinson’s Mill at Neponset

No. 8066 Aerial view of Neponset Circle, looking south toward the Neponset River, ca. 1940. The red square shows the former location of the Asa Robinson’s tidal pond.

Tide mills make use of the action of the tides to provide water for power.  A dam is built is built across a narrow inlet with gates to allow the rising tide waters to flow in.  When the tide is at its full height, the gates closed automatically as the tide reverses direction.  When the water outside the gate has fallen sufficiently to allow the mill wheel to rotate, milling work may begin.  The miller has an odd work day, because the mill operates only for a few hours after each tide.  There are two work periods in each 24-hour day, and the work periods change a few minutes each day since the tide is not on an exact 12-hour cycle. 

Asa Robinson operated a mill at the southern border of Dorchester in the 19th century.  The evidence comes from maps and deed references and a newspaper clipping.

From a newspaper clipping about Jane Pillsbury Robinson, wife to Asa:

Mrs. Robinson’s husband was Asa Robinson, who died about 15 years ago.  He was one of the substantial men of Dorchester and as a contractor and buildger, built many of the house in Neponset. He owned a great deal of land along the river front and for years owned and run the old tide mill just west of the briege where the Quincy railroad waiting room now stands.

Asa Robsinson granted to William Pierce, tallow chandler, half interest in salt marsh (Norfolk Deeds Book 154 page 172) land at Neponset Turnpike and rt to cut ditch and draw water from Davenport’s creek for the use of a mill which Pierce and Robinson propose to erect near Neponset Bridge.  1845 Apr. 30

1848 Feb. 17 grantee Asa Robinson et al from John H. Pierce Guardian, (Book 178, p. 181)

Asa Robinson paid $603.72 for the deceased William Pierce’s share of the land they held in common.

1855 Aug. 23 Grantee Asa Robinson from George W. Billings & ux Book 220  p. 36

Asa Robinson, housewright,  paid $600 for real estate held in common between George W. Billiings and his wife Hannah and Asa Robinson consisting of mill privilege, mill with its machines and fixtures attached, houses, shop and all the buildings thereon with about ten acres of land consisting of marsh and upland more or less … near Neponset Bridge & bounded northeasterly by Neponset turnpike, southeasterly by Neponset River, southwesterly then westerly then southwesterly and then again southeaserly by salt marsh of James Lewis, then southwesterly by march of the late Wm Pierce and which has been set off to Mary A. Wood as one of the heirs of said Pierce  …

1855 Nov. 16 grantee Asa Robinson from Hannah Pierce releasing dower  Book 222 p. 96 and same page mortgage given to Thomas B. Richardson

Deed dated October 11, 1884, from Asa Robinson to John Donovan for a plot of land between the Neponset Turnpike and the canal.

Asa Robinson specified in the deed that the lot whose westerly line (i.e. the line along the canal passageway) was 45 feet distant from the Neponset Turnpike would be conveyed with restrictions.  The lot “is a portion of the Canal leading to Robinson’s Tide Mill and is conveyed subject to the restriction that so long as said Tide Mill is maintained, no structure shall be erected upon the premises hereby conveyed, except on piles or posts and in such manner as not to interrupt and obstruct free passage and flow of the water to said Mill.”

No. 18690 Detail from 1850 Whiting map showing location of Robinson’s mill. The circle with lines through it is a symbol for a factory.
No. 18691 Detail from Dorchester atlas 1874, Hopkins Atlas, showing Robinson’s mill pond at Neponset.

Posted on

May 18, 2020