Chester's First Industry: The Waterhouse Grist Mill

In 1729 two brothers, Abraham and Gideon Waterhouse, aged 29 and 16, moved to the wilderness later named Chester and within a few years built a grist mill. Of course they had no power machinery, yet that didn’t stop them from constructing a two-story wooden building, about 22 feet square, complete with a wooden waterwheel and other wooden machinery, plus two granite millstones weighing about a ton and a half each.

And you think you work hard!

Nathan Jacobson, a registered professional engineer who has spent most of his life living near the site of the old Waterhouse Grist Mill, spent several years researching the history of the old mill. The Chester Historical Society  published Nate’s book, “The Waterhouse Grist Mill Saga” in the fall of 2017. (The book can be purchased at the Chester Museum for $15 or by writing us at

Additionally, in 2017, Nate created an intricate scale model of the grist mill for permanent exhibit at the Chester Museum at The Mill.

Nate Jacobson and mill model a.JPG

On Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, at the Chester Meeting House, Nate talked about the Waterhouse brothers, why they constructed a grist mill in Chester, and how the mill would have worked. Through his Powerpoint program and the grist mill model, he showed how the Waterhouse brothers would have used the different parts of the machinery to grind the corn and grain for the early settlers. 

You can watch the grist mill program here.