Mills in New Netherland
Suggested Teaching Instructions
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 Historical documents show the use of these mills along with their related benefits and issues.