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Interpreting the Evidence

Etching of a Water Mill at the Foot of a Mountain by Allart van Everdingen, c. 1645-1656

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Colonial America (1630s - 1760)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Colonial America

  • Primary Source Types:

    Written Document

  • Regions:

    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Etching of a Water Mill at the Foot of a Mountain by Allart van Everdingen, c. 1645-1656 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Water Mill at the Foot of a Mountain, c. 1645-1656, by Allart van Everdingen.
Historical Context
Mills provided a faster, more efficient way for early settlers to change various raw materials into usable products. The two main types of mills were saw mills and grist mills. Saw mills processed timbers into cut lumber suitable for building houses, wagons, and furniture. Grist mills ground grain products into flour for baking and cooking. Before the use of mills, people cut lumber and ground grain by hand which greatly limited the availability of finished goods.
Mills used various forms of power to increase production.

The most common type of mill was a water-powered mill. Water-powered mills required a flowing water supply to move a water wheel which powered the equipment. In addition to water-powered mills, settlers also utilized animal-powered and wind-powered mills to increase their production of finished products. The Dutch colony of Rensselaersyck was no exception. Historical documents show the use of these mills and the benefits and issues related to the use of these mills.

Essential Question
How did mills contribute to the growth and success of the colony?
Check for Understanding
Why would a mill like this be important to a community?