Summer Guide Cape Cod

Summer Guide Cape Cod 2018

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www.summerguidecapecod.com 90 The History of Brewster, Sea Captains and More By Jessica Messier B rewster's fascinating history is a story of water, wind, and mills. The town, which is named after William Brew- ster, one of the religious leaders and elders who sailed to Cape Cod on the Mayflower, was settled as a part of Harwich in 1659. Even though Brew- ster did not separate from Harwich until 1803, it was deemed "The Sea Captains' Town" for hous- ing wealthy sea captains. Many of those captains' homes, which were mansions at the time, are now used as bed and breakfasts, restaurants, and his- torical structures for today's Brewster visitors. When settlers came to Brewster in the mid 1600's, governor Thomas Prence purchased land from local Native Americans and built one of the Cape's first mills along the Stony Brook River. The mill (located at 830 Stony Brook Road), which is home to today's Stony Brook Grist Mill and Mu- seum, was a key structure in Brewster's Factory Village, a 19th century industrial area; the mill is the only remaining original structure from Factory Village. The mill used waterpower - a common concept for early settlers and a sign that an early community was thriving - from seven intercon- nected ponds. This mill also neighbored a fulling mill where settlers used to pre-shrink wool fabric before it was sewn into clothing, a carding mill, and shops that both sold dried goods and provided jobs to locals. However, the Stony Brook Grist Mill's power percolated in its ability to grind corn, a food staple for settlers. Even now, every Saturday from June 30 to August 25, from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., visi- tors are able to watch the mill's water wheel turn, witness corn-grinding demonstrations (and later purchase fresh corn meal), and explore historical artifacts on the second floor. If visitors come to the Stony Brook Grist Mill early enough in the season, they will be able to experience the herring run. Near the mill's site on the Stony Brook, the annual alewife migration up the fish ladders takes place. This migration was the focus of "The Run," a nature classic authored in 1959 by John Hay, a naturalist, conservation ac- tivist and co-founder of the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, which is also located in Brews- ter. From mid-March to mid-May, visitors can fol- low the footpaths along the edges of the brook to watch the fish, which migrate from Cape Cod Bay to freshwater ponds in West Brewster in or- der to spawn. Further up the road, Brewster's history takes visitors to Windmill Village (located at 51 Drum- mer Boy Road), home of Old Higgin's Farm Wind- mill (or Brewster's Windmill). This mill, which was built in 1795, was originally located on Ellis Land- ing Road; however, in 1890, it was moved away from the road and toward the bay on the Roland Crosby Nickerson Estate because the sound of the sails on passing boats scared the locals' horses. In its new home, the mill served as a clubhouse at a golf course, until the Nickerson family gave it to the Brewster Historical Society under the condition that it was restored, preserved and open to the public. That wish was granted – the 30 foot tall mill's exte- rior, three interior floors, and equipment have been cared for since then. Visitors can tour the mill, and The History of Brewster Sea Captains & More Windmill Village Photo courtey of Sally Gunning, Brewster Historical Society

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