photo Matt Allingham

Grist mills for corn, oats, rye and other grains were common in colonial America and up through the late 19th century. A grist mill and sawmill were typically among the very first buildings constructed in new communities in colonial America. Grain-based foods were an important part of the American diet; small farmers grew grain crops but needed more convenient processing than could be done on the farm. In mid-19th century Ledyard, mill owner Albert Brown paid tax for a grain (grist) mill on this site in 1858-1860. This was not Albert's primary livelihood - he was listed as a farmer and a wheelwright in the 1860 census. The Ledyard mill's life as a grain mill lasted only a few years - work at the mill seems to have focused on sawing logs after 1860 and through the rest of the life of the mill.

1858 Ledyard taxes for Albert Brown. After being declared insolvent by the court in 1857 his taxable property consisted of a grain mill, 1 cow, and one two year old [cow].
(Ledyard Historical Society, Janice W. Bell Historical Research Room, Bill Library, Ledyard, Connecticut.)

Although there was a gristmill on the site in 1860, the grist mill in the Ledyard mill today is not the original. in 1978, a few years after the sawmill building was restored, a gristmill was purchased from the Exeter, Rhode Island country club for $300 and moved to Ledyard. The corner of the building where the gristmill now resides was added to the restored mill in the early 1980s and the stones and other gristmill equipment were installed.

The gristmill is not operational.

In addition to the installed mill, several millstones are displayed outside near the mill building and an unusual conical millstone inside the mill (found in the foundation of the barn of the old farmhouse next door!).

Left photo New London Day, October 3, 1981. Other photos from Ledyard Historical Society, Janice W. Bell Historical Research Room, Bill Library, Ledyard, Connecticut.