1639 - History of Mother Brook - 2009 - Dedham, MA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NorStar
N 42° 15.042 W 071° 09.330
19T E 322184 N 4679861
This sign posted in Condon Park relates the history of the mills that operated along Mother Brook that started in 1639 when a canal was dug from the Charles River to one of the brook's branches.
Waymark Code: WMDRPB
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 02/19/2012
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member cache_test_dummies
Views: 3

In Dedham, within Condon Park, is a sign and a marker near a brook. The large sign has a map of the brook, presently called Mother Brook, but over the history it was also known as East Brook and Mill Brook, with text boxes containing specific topics about certain locations along the brook. The text is as follows:

1639 History of Mother Brook 2009

Industrial activity on Mother Brook contributed to New England's growth and prosperity as an industrial center in the United States until the early 20th century. It was the site of one of the earliest textile mills, as well as grist, saw, paper, wire, fulling, cotton, and woolen mills. These activities were conducted on five privileges - mill sites - four in Dedham and one in Hyde Park.

One March 23, 1637, one year after settlement, Dedham's founders voted to grant 60 acres of land to Abraham Shawe if he built a water mill to grind corn on the Charles River near the current Dedham-Needham line. At that time, corn in the colony was gound on hand mills imported by Governor Winthrop. Shawe died before the mill was built and his heirs were not interested in building the mill. The townspeople soon realized that the Charles River did not provide enough water power to run a mill. The town surveyed its land and determined that the drop from Easte Brooke, behind the present day Brookdale Cemetery, combined with the water from the Charles could power a mill. Every landowner was ordered to go to Watertown Mill and bring millstones back to Dedham by land. On March 25, 1639, Governor Winthrop and Company approved the digging of a canal. In c. 1639-40, the townspeople dug the canal to join the Charles River with East Brook, which flowed to the Neponset River. The Neponset River's subsequent industrial activity would not have been possible without the water from the Charles River flowing through Mother Brook.

In c. 1641, the first mill was built near the present day Bussey Street by John Elderkin. Elderkin sold a half interest to Nathaniel Whiting, who later acquired the entire property. Mother Brook was originally known as East Brook or Mill Creek. This privilege was operated by the Whiting family for 174 years.

The second privilege was located at the present intersection of High and Maverick Streets. In 1932, the Boston Envelope Company took over the mill to manufacture drinking cups. The building at this site is still in commercial use today.

The third privilege was located at Sawmill Lane. The view of the Stone Mill from the bridge on Sawmill Lane is essentially the same as when the mill was built.

The fourth privilege was on Milton Street, the present site of the Stone Mill Condominium complex. It retains the 19th century Stone Mill at its center.

The fifth privilege was in present day Readville.

History Courtesy of Dedham Civic Pride Committee

This is a pretty concise history of Mother Brook. There is more - a trip to the Dedham Historical Society would be a good place to learn more. What is not mentioned by the sign is the fact that the brook still carries water from the Charles to the Neponset River. In 1955, the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) was named as commissioners to maintain the flow to Mother Brook and to upgrade and maintain the dams and channels for the purpose of flood control for the Charles River. Today, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has that responsibility. Thus, the brook's purpose has changed from providing power for industry to diverting flood waters from the Charles River. The outlet from the Charles River is located along the Providence Highway, across the road from the Uno's Restaurant.
Agency Responsible for Placement: Other (Place below)

Agency Responsible for Placement (if not in list above): Dedham Civic Pride Committee

Year Placed: 2009

County: Norfolk

City/Town Name: Dedham

Relevant Web Site: [Web Link]

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