This site is popularly called “Taylor Mill” because Frederick Taylor was its last operator from 1841 until well past the Civil War. When Monadnock #6 was settled, there were a number of small mills built on small but reliable brooks to furnish early settlers with the means of grinding their grain into flour and sawing lumber into boards to build the early homes. More specialized mills followed. Taylor mill was one of the later ones, built by Thaddeus Barker, the youngest child of William Barker, in 1799.
Though Parke Struthers credits Calvin Greenwood with putting in the turning works here, we have examples of furniture made by Thaddeus Barker from that time that feature turned pieces. The site was better suited for a turning operation from the beginning. While the flow in the North Branch of Otter Brook is one of the biggest and most reliable in Nelson, the relatively small drop in the brook there provides relatively little horsepower. Thaddeus lived next to his mill at B-4-4.
Thaddeus ran his mill until 1802 when he sold it to Abel Richardson and moved to B-2-6. Richardson ran it for four years until 1806. For the next 29 years the mill, known as the Greenwood Mills, was owned and operated by Bela Greenwood and his sons, Calvin and Cyrus. The Kitteridge family followed with a partnership that included Joshua Kitteridge SR’s sons, Joshua, Stephen and Abel with Abel as the single owner by 1837. The Kitteridge family had plenty of experience running sawmills. Joshua senior purchased land at the outlet of Center Pond in 1785 with the town’s first sawmill (C-4-3) on it. His son, Herbert, operated it until 1825.
Abel Kitteridge seems to have worked with his neighbor, Willard Jewett, to increase the power of the mill by constructing a “meadow dam” and forming a pond on Willard Jewett’s property near the junction of today’s Granite Lake and Nelson Roads. The base of the dam, still visible today, stored water upstream of the mill for periods of high production and was probably the uphill end of a water delivery system (possibly a penstock) that enabled the mill to operate an overshot wheel or water powered turbine for greater power.
Frederick Taylor bought the mill in 1841 and brought in Elisha Davis as a partner. They ran the mill as a chair factory in conjunction with Taylor’s mills in Munsonville. Taylor Mill operated until at least 1877 when it appears in the county map of that year.
From a piece that ran in the Keene Sentinel in 1907 accompanying the notice of the auction of the “Henry D. Taylor Farm”, we have this partial description of the history of the mills here: “A mill stood on the stream some rods north of this house for more than a hundred years, but for some time it has been unused and is now being demolished. Two plants or mill buildings on that site have been burned since about 1839, the first containing a cotton batting factory, saw mill and music hall, the last the chair shop of the late Frederick Taylor, a saw mill, etc.” This description is not as clear as it could be. We know that Taylor and Davis operated a chair factory here beginning in 1841. It seems the buildings burned about 1839 were the cotton batting factory, saw mill and music hall. The buildings now being demolished were the chair shop and saw mill once owned by Frederick Taylor.