Greetings fellow historians! I want to start my update today by recognizing the many people who are doing all they can to help us through this pandemic. I hope you will join me in sending thoughts and prayers to these modern day heroes who daily risk their own health and welfare to help those who need help: Our first responders of all services, medical professionals of all kinds - doctors, nurses, physicians assistants, lab workers, specimen collectors, technologists, health care administrators, security, Federal, State, and Local health officials, visiting nurses and therapists, and so may more. And let's remember those whose research will lead to safe vaccines, and treatments and medicines. And let's remember the National Guardsmen and women who are answering the call to provide critical support in so many areas that are overwhelmed. One last group that should not be overlooked, but seldom come to mind: our clergy, who continue to provide spiritual support for all. I am sure there are many more who are deserving, and I apologize because I surely have not listed them all.
This week, I took a trip to another mill site near my home. This site is one many of you have driven by, but would not know much about. It is the Lt. Samuel Coney mill site just west of 47 Rockland Street, on the north side of the road. Easily viewable from the street, it looks like a broken down stonewall through which a brook flows. The old name for the brook around the time Easton was incorporated was "Little Brook" and was later known as "Cooper's Brook" and was so named for Timothy Cooper who owned a large amount of land in the Bay Road and Rockland Street area. Today we know it is joined by smaller tributaries downstream to form "Beaver Brook." This little brook begin to flow from a spring near Mountain Road, flows through the wetlands around Borderland State Park, crosses Allen Road, Rockland Street, and Poquanticut Avenue. It was dammed in 1751 to create a water supply for the furnace at Furnace Village, forming Old Pond. Below that, it joins with the Poquanticut Brook to form Mulberry Brook.
"Cooper's Brook" was dammed at the Rockland Street site by 1770 by Lt. Samuel Coney, who moved to the area from nearby Sharon. He must have been an officer in the militia, perhaps during the French and Indian Wars. Perhaps our Sharon friends can shed some light on this Samuel Coney. He was only in Easton for a few years, but served as Town Treasurer from 1771-1774, and as a Selectman in 1771. The mill was not a success however, as it suffered from a very small water supply, rendering the mill in-operable at times during the year. Around the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Coney moved to Maine. After that we lose his trail. The site sat empty and unused until about 1779, when James Perry bought it and owned it for about 15 years. More than likely Perry never ran a mill there. He probably bought it to control flow along the brook which he needed to supply water for his foundry and other businesses at the Furnace site. Had someone else controlled the water, they could have had a negative impact on downstream operations.
Today, this little treasure of a site is relatively unchanged since the time it was abandoned. The two photos attached show Cooper's Brook where it flows through the now broken down stone dam. In the first photo, you can see a natural hollow through which the brook runs; it is here that a very small mill pond, long and narrow, would have formed. The stone work is what is left from the old stone dam. The second photo allows a better look at the remains of the wall that created the dam.
Next week I'll do a little more exploring and see what can be found. Stay well,
Frank T. Meninno
Curator, Easton Historical Society and Museum 508-238-7774