No. 21865 Neponset River mills selected locations. Map from Papermaking on the Neponset by Howard Wallingford. (Boston, 1951), with numbers added to indicate mill locations in addition to papermaking.
1. Milton, next to Neponset on lower side of bridge at Lower Mills
1728 paper Henchman, Phillips, Faneuil, Hancock, Deering
1788 or 91? chocolate James Baker & Edmund Baker
1817 new paper mill Isaac Sanderson put in a wrought-iron tub wheel was
the first iron water wheel in this vicinity
1827 machine to make Isaac Sanderson paper introduced
1830 beach grass used as a raw material for paper Isaac Sanderson
1839 new mill Dr. Jonathan Ware
sawing & turning for a short time
grist mill & chocolate run by Josiah Webb & Josiah Trombly until 1850
2. Milton, next to Neponset on lower side of bridge at Upper Falls south of the trench
1710 slitting mill Jonathan Jackson – first of its kind in the province?
1765 paper mill James Boies & Richard Clark
1828 acquired by Tileston & Hollingsworth
3. Milton, next to Neponset on lower side of bridge at Upper Falls north of the trench
1771 paper mill James Boies & Hugh McLean
1809 acquired by Tileston & Hollingworth
4. Dorchester, next to Neponset about a mile west of Upper Falls
1773 paper mill George Clark
1787 or 9 chocolate mill William Sumner and George Clark; leased by James
1799 corn mill William Summer
1827 paper making Col Nathaniel Crane
1832 cotton mill Frederick O. Taft
1836 purchased — Tileston & Hollingsworth
1837 new mill on site Tileston & Hollingsworth
4 engines and a Foudrinier machine
5. Dorchester, next to Neponset on upper side of bridge at Lower Mills
1634 corn mill Israel Stoughton
1717 ca. fulling mill Joseph Belcher
1761 snuff mill Andrew McKenzie
1790 paper mill James Babcock
1806 chocolate mill Edmund Baker installed first tub wheel in this vicinity
1813 new stone building Edmund Baker; Walter Baker manufactured
Broadcloths and satinets for a short time.
6. Dorchester, next to Neponset between Upper & Lower Falls
1794 paper, corn, chocolate Jeremiah Smith Boies; Mark Hollingsworth was foreman
of the paper mill
1811 cotton mill Dorchester Cotton and Iron Company
1829 starch mill Stephen Liversidge
7. Dorchester, next to Neponset and across from end of Cedar Street
1815 cotton mill Dorchester Cotton and Iron Company
1854 large addition but all destroyed by fire in 1855
1863 paper mill Tileston & Hollingsworth Eagle Mills
8. Dorchester, next to Neponset on lower side of bridge at Upper Falls
1709 fulling mill David Colsen
1709 corn mill Ezra Clapp
1772 snuff mill Andrew Gillespie
1782 chocolate mill James Boies
1809 paper mill
9. Milton, next to Neponset on upper side of bridge at Lower Mills
1675 powder mill Oxenbridge, Allen, Sanderson, Hull, Bendall, Davie,
1765 chocolate & saw mill Wentworth & Stone
1817 drugs, medicines, Francis Brinley
1817 sawing & veneers First veneers in America made by power than by hand
1850 new mill for chocolate Dorchester Cotton and Iron Company run by Webb & and grist mill Trombly
1855 purchased — Webb & Trombly
For chocolate, grain and India-rubber goods
10. Dorchester, next to Neponset on lower side of bridge at Lower Mills
1675 stone watch-house Oxenbridge, etc.
1757 clothing mill Edward Preston
1770 chocolate Edward Preston
1812 corn mill Edward Preston
11. Milton, opposite Sumner mill at no. 4
1780s saw mill Col Josiah Hayden
At each of these locations there were numerous owners of the real estate and numerous owners of the businesses conducted within the mills. The list above simply records the first mill of each type at each location and does not attempt to mention later owners employed in the same line of work.
Location no. 1- It is noted in the 1859 History of Dorchester p. 612 that Henchman, Phillips, Faneuil, Hancock and Deering took a lease of the mill built by Mr. Belcher and owned by his heirs. The only mill mentioned as having been erected by Belcher was a ca. 1717 fulling mill on the Dorchester side of the Neponset; therefore this statement seems to be incorrect.
Location no. 1 – The 1859 History says that James Baker leased the Vose Mill (the original paper mill at location no. 1 in 1788 (p. 614) or 1791 (p. 637)
Location no. 1 – The 1859 History mentions beach grass on p. 616. Thoreau in his book Cape Cod mentions beach grass being used to make paper: The beach-grass is “two to four feet high, of a se-green color, “ and it is said to be widely diffused over the world. In the Hebrides it is used for mats, pack-saddles, bags, hats, ect.; paper has been made of it at Dorchester in this State, and cattle eat it when tender … (New Riverside Edition, 1894; originally published 1865)
Locations 2 & 3 – Boies erected a paper-mill in 1765 and sold ½ to Richard Clark. Boies erected a slitting-mill in 1769 on the site of the one erected by Mr. Jackson, but not proving profitable, he erected a second paper-mill on the land he had not sold Clark and conveyed ½ to Hugh McLean in 1771. Richard Clark died and sold his ½ to McLean, so Boies and McLean were equal. The mill on the south side of the trench along with a small chocolate mill was consumed by fire in 1782. The paper mill was soon rebuilt a few feet below where the one was destroyed, and a new chocolate mill was erected on the Dorchester side of the river. When Boies & McLean split in 1790, McLean took his mill on the north side of the trench. The mill on the south side of the trench went to Jeremiah Smith Boies.
Location no. 4 – The 1859 History of Dorchester says that James Baker leased the Sumner Mill in 1787 (p. 629) or 1789 (p. 637)
the following is from
The gunpowder mill built in Dorchester in 1674 was the first in New England and quite possibly the first in America. Two years later an English royal agent named Edward Randolf reported on the mill, claiming the gunpowder produced in Dorchester was “as good and strong as the best English powder.” There was a constant need for gunpowder in European settlements along the Neponset for hunting and occasional skirmishes with Native Americans. A local supply became even more desirable at the outbreak of local wars, including King Phillip’s War in 1675-1676 and the pivotal Revolutionary War beginning in 1775.
The manufacturing process was simple. Ingredients consisting of charcoal, sulphur, and saltpeter were ground and mixed together while wet, then left to dry into cakes. These were then broken, sifted, and sorted in different sizes. The coarsest gunpowder was used for cannons and the finest was used for muzzle-loaded flintlock guns. Powder mills were quite dangerous operations and inevitably, in 1744, the Neponset powder mill blew up, taking a neighboring fulling mill with it.
When woolen cloth came off the loom it was similar to burlap in texture, with separating threads and little bulk. The process of fulling shrinks and compacts the cloth to make it denser. Instead of the labor-intensive method of treading on the cloth in water with bare feet, Dorchester’s first fulling mill, built in 1688, powered wooden mallets to pound the cloth in large tubs filled with soapy water that removed dirt and oil. This agitation shrinks the wool, tightening up the fibers to make a smoother material. Raw cloth might be fulled for several days, resulting in the cloth shrinking to almost half its original size. After the fulling, the cloth was stretched and dried on frames.
The operator of a fulling mill, often called a clothier, would usually dye and finish the cloth beyond the basic fulling operation. After drying and dying the wool, the clothier would raise the nap on the cloth with a brush and trim the excess fibers with long scissors. This process resulted in a smooth, finished fabric ready for use in making garments.