Timeline of the Great Works Mills

“. . . Cometh Down to ye Great mill workes” (Patience Spencer deed, 1682)

    1621 Attempts to build saw mills in Virginia on James River
    1624 Twentieth century sign at Great Works claims first sawmills in America built here on this date

1631 Model of a saw-mill sent to Newichawannock on ship Pied Cow (from original letter from Thomas Eyre of the Company of Laconia to Ambrose Gibbons, London, the last of May 1631)

   1634 Capt. John Mason’s three carpenters begin building a saw mill and a grist mill at Newichawannock, but where in Newichawannock -- “smalle falls” or “steepe falls?”
    1638 Mason has died; mills fall into disrepair; materials pilfered, mill eventually burns
    1651 Town of Kittery grants Richard Leader mill privilege at the “steepe” falls; Town also grants Thomas Spencer and Humphrey Chadbourne tree allotments and the right of free passage for the bringing of timber down the little River unto their mill
    1651-1652 Leader brings with him from Saugus Ironworks a number of Scottish “servants” captured at the Battle of Dunbar and exiled

    1652 Depositions of James Wall, one of the carpenters, and James Johnson, early settler, about the location of John Mason’s 1634 mills; law suit
    1653 Richard Leader sells _ of the mill privilege to John Beex, Richard Hutchinson, Colonel William Beale and Captain John Alderne. Edward Rishworth, Court Recorder of Maine, was their agent at the Mills. (Water Powered Sawmills of the Piscataqua, Richard Candee)
    1655 Edward Rishworth rents the mill privilege to Richard Tucker
    1667 King James confirms claim of Mason’s grandson, Robert Tufton
    Mason, to Mason’s lands in Newe England
    1669 Inventory of land and property questions ultimate success of the proposed multi-saw operation – “broaken mill”
    1675 Robert Tufton Mason and Eliakim Hutchinson, brother of Richard Hutchinson, have been partners for a period of time
    1687 Mason sells his share to Hutchinson (York Deeds VI, Fol. 103)
    1690 King William’s War – settlements and mills of Salmon Falls and Old Fields badly damaged
    1697 Because of devastation of attacks on settlements and mills of Salmon Falls and Barwick, residents cannot pay their taxes
    1699 January 10, Eliakim Hutchinson sells mill to John Plaisted
    1699 February 7, John Plaisted sells mill to John Hill of Saco
    1712 John Hill dies, mill remain in the hands of the Hill family (Mary
    Frost Hill) and then their sons, John and Elisha Hill, until 1770s
    1761 Great forest fire rages across New Hampshire and Maine, burning for one month in the “new township at the Head of Berwick (Lebanon, Maine).
    1777 David Moore, merchant and shipbuilder, dies, his personal inventory including the saw mill & privilege at Great Works worth 90 pounds
    1791 Judge Benjamin Chadbourne writes that lumbering and saw milling as major industries exist no more at Berwick (today’s South Berwick)
    1816 James Hill sells partial mill privilege at Great Works to Andrew
    Goodwin for $20
    1827 James Hill sells partial mill privilege to Theodore Jewett, Benjamin Nason and Timothy Ferguson for $75
    1833 Capt. William L. Foote buys land and a mill privilege at Great
    Works -- Great Works Manufacturing Co – produces custom cloth and cassimere (cashmere)
    1835 Theodore Jewett, Benjamin Nason and Timothy Ferguson sell partial mill privilege (10 2/3 twenty-fourths) to William L. Foote for $1,500
    1836 Foote sells part of mill privilege to Andrew Goodwin
    1839 Great Works Manufacturing Company conveyed to James Tatterson by deed dated March 20th 1839
    1843 Capt. Foote still operating a woolen mill; there seem to at least two woolen mills operating simultaneously at Great Works
    1845 Numerous transfers of mill privileges transfers from several to Robert D. Nesmith to others of Lowell; eventually ends up in hands of Isaac Farrington who sells to John Burleigh in 1855; there were several different mills there
    1854 John Burleigh and others form corporation and organize the Newichawannock Company Corporation at the falls. Woolen
    mill and saw mill operate into the 20th century. Woolen blankets a specialty.
    1859 - Five story brick mill, 40 x 80 feet, built at lower dam (Source: The South Berwick Register, 1904.)
    1914-1918 Wool blankets manufactured for the U.S. Army WWI
    1920s Blankets for American Express Co.; Burleigh blankets, car robes
    1932-33 Mill closed for a year during the Great Depression
    1939 Labor unrest -- walkout reported in John L. Knight's newspaper "The Reporter"
    1941-1945 Woolen blankets for the U.S. Army WWII
    1949 Rocky Gorge Mill closed permanently; equipment auctioned off
    1957 Committee formed of Board of Trade and Town Selectmen, to clean up and repair building to attract new industry and businesses; Proto-Type Inc. and Great Works Co. become tenants
    1950s Chicken farm in Great Works mill (wooden building)
    1975 Brattle Street Gallery makes its home in small brick building on Brattle Street
    1989 Archeological testing at Great Works mill sites; with so many disturbances over the century, find little remaining of archeological value
    1993 Three buildings demolished in June 1993 ca 2000 Last brick building visible on 236 demolished
    2004 Rocky Gorge Corporation owns and operates the site for hydro-electric power

    By Rick Coughlin and Norma Keim, Old Berwick Historical Society, November 18, 2004