My ancestor, Pilgrim John Jenney, built a grist mill in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1636. It remained in continuous operation until it was destroyed by fire in 1847.
The need for a grist mill was common in any new community. In the 1620′s, the Indians taught the Pilgrims how to plant and harvest a native grain, Indian Yellow corn. The wooden mortar and pestle grinding methods of the Indians couldn’t produce enough corn meal for the colony, so in 1636, Plymouth’s court granted "Master Jenney" permission to build a mill which could produce enough meal and flour for all.
Settlers on the waterfront could follow the Town Brook path to the Mill to have their corn ground, leaving Master Jenney a pottle (2 quarts)-per-bushel, or perhaps some fish or squash in trade.Thus the Jenney Grist Mill became the very center or "hub" of commerce in the Old Colony of Plymouth.
Corn was planted with herring (called "Alewives") as fertilizer in the native American manner. These alewives spawn in the mill stream of Town Brook, and in the mid-spring can be seen struggling upstream to their spawning ground. The underground corn was also used as the "coin of the realm". Debts were paid by the bushel.
Master Jenney ran the mill from 1636 until his death in 1644, when his sons took over as millers. For 360 years, the mill has been privately owned and run.
My wife and I have visited the mill a number of times over the years. A few years ago, she utilized her extraordinary art talent to create an oil painting of the mill as my birthday gift. It is beautiful and reminds me daily of our pleasant visits to Plymouth.
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