Contract with Jan Barentsz Wemp for Maintenance of a Grist and Saw Mill, August 13, 1646

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 Historical documents show the use of these mills and the benefits and issues related to the use of these mills.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
Explain how this mill would benefit the colony.
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Contract with Jan Barentsz Wemp for the Maintenance of the Grist and Saw Mill, New York State Library, NYSL_sc7079_dehooghes-memo-book_A44-A45
Document Description
Contract with Jan Barentsz Wemp for the maintenance of a grist and saw mill, August 13, 1646.
  1. What maintenance was necessary for these two mills?
  2. What do these two mills produce?
[Contract with Jan Barentsz Wemp for the Maintenance of the Grist and Saw Mill]

I, Jan Baerentz, the undersigned, have entered into an agreement with Antonij de Hoo[ges], Comijs of Rensselaerswijck, as follows:

For the period of five years, I will tend to the grain mill, [and] industriously do everything which appertains to it, repairing the dam as necessary, provided that a side-aisle on the grain mill house be adapted for my housing, for the sum of ƒ13 per month, and ƒ100 guilders annually for board, on condition that I will take care of the grist mill with the necessities of candles and oil for the sconce.

De Hooges will also give me the hornless cow, on the same terms as granted to the independent [farmers].

And I have agreed to plane, cut, and haul as many anchor beams as needed to the sawmill, either pine or oak as ordered from me, on the condition that I am granted the use of two horses, for which I will provide at my own expense, and [supply] the ropes, at 15 stivers each, to be paid out of the proceeds of the mill.[ ] time [ ] in the [ ]

And two [horses] [ ] are promised to me by the winter, or whenever I should need them, [ at the] expense of the Lord Patroon, to use for my profit, on the [same] terms as [apply to] the independent [farmers], as above.

I promise to comply with all of this, the foregoing, without any omissions, or the intent to do anything otherwise, during the aforementioned period, on penalty of the forfeiture to the Lord Patroon of the pay I have earned. Subject to the authority of all magistrates, officials, courts, and judges. In affirmation of this, I have signed with my own hand. Done in Rensselaerswijck, this, [the] 13th of August, in the year 1646.

This is the mark of

Jan Baerent[s]z, made with his own hand A. de Hoog[es]