Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: On Bursley's Brook

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On Bursley's Brook

Near the close of the year 1689, the town granted to James Johnson, who ten years before, received a grant on Nilus, which he seems not to have utilized, liberty to set up a fulling-mill on the stream, called Bursley's brook, provided it were built and in readiness to full cloth, within one year from the date of the grant; otherwise, the grant was to be null and void.

"Bursley's brook" is supposed to have been the small stream now known as Brussell's Run. This stream, nearer the salt marsh, was at an early period called "Mill brook." It is now called Drake's river.

Tide Mill

October 13, 1681: At a town meeting, by vote of the town, liberty was granted to James Johnson and Jacob Brown, to make use of the river near the end of the highway by Jacob Brown's pasture, for the building of a gristmill; provided they build it and keep it in good order for the grinding of the town's corn; and that they make convenient gates to let out the water, that they flow not any ;man's hay in hay-time; and do grind the town's corn brought to them for the sixteenth part thereof; and have the mill ready to grind within two years from the date hereof. The privilege here granted was for a tide-mill.

The highway mentioned is the road to the "Old Dock," along the easterly side of the late Benjamin Shaw's mill-pasture, or field, from which it is not ;now fenced. This pasture or field is the easterly half of that designated in the grant as Jacob Brown's pasture.

In the winter of 1769, the tide-mill, then owned by Samuel Brown, Jr., and Gideon Shaw, the former a grandson of Jacob Brown, was burned to the ground. Brown wished to rebuild; but Shaw would neither assist him nor buy out his share of the privilege, nor would he sell his own share. Under these circumstances, Brown had recourse to the General Court. He petitioned that body to take his case into consideration and devise relief. Although ;no record of his success is found, we see Brown rebuilding the mill, after about two years; and it thereafter remained in the Brown family till about 1818, when David Nudd and Capt. David Brown, of Little River, bought it, and put in a second run of stones. Six years afterwards, they sold to Moses and Benjamin Perkins; and in 1834, the mill passed into the hands of their brother, Deacon James Perkins, who introduced an undershot wheel, of twenty feet diameter, and otherwise extensively repaired it. In 1855, he built it over once more, and fitted new gearing; and for many years thereafter, it was in constant operation.

In course of time, Deacon Perkins' son, Henry J., became the owner of the mill and by him, the property was sold to the town for fifteen hundred dollars, and the mill demolished, in 1879, for the supposed benefit of the marshes, on which the water had been kept back, till they had become of little value.

This Gideon Shaw, joint owner with Brown, when the mill was burned in 1769, was an eccentric man, -- one of his peculiarities being a habit of talking aloud to himself on the street, or wherever he might be, and never looking back as he walked, whatever might be transpiring behind. It is related, that, when he was once drawing a bag of corn to mill on a hand sled, and talking as usual, a man who knew him well, coming up behind, stepped on to his sled, to provoke him to look back. But Shaw kept straight on, muttering, "Now she runs hard;" and when, after riding some distance without eliciting a sign of recognition, the man stepped off, he added, "Now she runs easy again," and kept on his way.

Another time, while walking over the causeway near the beach, along the side of which was a wide ditch, he carried on this colloquy with himself: "What'll you bet, Gideon, that I can't jump across that ditch?" "Half-a-dollar." He jumped, and landed safely on the other side. "What'll you bet, Gideon, that I can't jump back again?" "Half-a-dollar." Again he jumped, but missed his footing and went into the ditch. Picking himself up, he said: "Nothing got and nothing lost," and walked on unconcernedly. So, "Nothing got and nothing lost, as Gideon said," passed into a proverb.

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