This grist and saw mill was built by Zebulon Gurley sometime prior to 1778. It is known as Mason’s Mill, named after the Mason family who acquired it in the latter half of the 19th century. It was operated as an up-and-down saw mill, and although this type of mill went out of general use in the United States around 1840, this mill continued its use until it ceased operation about 1935. The mill was torn down in the 1960’s. The saw from the mill is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington,D.C.
In 1885, this mill was the subject of an important lawsuit over riparian rights. Charles Mason, along with Emory B. Smith and William Williams, mill owners in Gurleyville, brought suit against James Hoyle of Willington. Hoyle had dammed the Fenton River in Willington, thereby reducing the water flows for these mills operating downstream. The plaintiffs won the lawsuit that is still cited today as a precedent in cases involving water rights.
The mill functioned as an important part of the Four Corners community, as evidenced by the following excerpt from Edna Mason Parker’s memoirs.
“My father [Charles Mason] let his brother, Frank, run the sawmill, while he did the rest – shingle mill, gristmill, blacksmith shop and repair work. Many men brought wheels and such to have them fixed over. He built ox wagons, carts, ox sleds, and such like. Us girls [Edna, Alice and Eva Mason] used to go down and watch him work. He sometimes let us help pack shingles, and he paid us for that.”
About the Property
Location: Mansfield, Connecticut. On Old Turnpike Road, by the Fenton River
Donors: Beth and Leonid Azaroff
Steward: Laura Jones