From the recording Nantucket Girl
This Old Mill
• Susan J. Berman – Guitar & Vocals
• Ray K. Saunders - Lead Guitar
• Mark Dann – Bass
• Cadence Carroll – Backing Vocals &
This song explores some of the history and mystery of Nantucket's Old Mill. As the oldest working windmill in the United States the Old Mill is a beloved historic site on the island. However those who constructed the mill in 1746 didn’t write down anything, so there is no historic record regarding how or who built the mill. Legend has it that a sailor named Nathan Wilbur built the mill. From there the story goes in a few directions. One says that he was laughed at but persisted, another that he was robbed and murdered. We’ll never know the truth.
There is also a legend that the Old Mill was constructed of wood from shipwrecks. This story has some supporting evidence. By 1746 wood was scarce but there were over 200 shipwrecks in and around Nantucket. There are also indications that the wood of the Old Mill was submerged in seawater.
When the mill is grinding corn into corn meal, with its wooden shafts and gears there’s an extraordinary magic from days gone by that I sought to capture in this song.
This Old Mill
By Susan J. Berman
Natives call this windy hill Popsquatchet,
Here you stand a mill from days of old.
Your legends raise more questions than they answer,
But your spirit speaks so clearly, of so much still untold.
This old mill on the hill with your oaken beams of shipwrecks,
This old mill on the hill, oh the stories you contain,
Like a tale that a sailor Nathan Wilbur built you,
This old mill, this old mill, the truth turns in your vanes.
Tell me were you built by one or many?
Is theft and murder shrouded in your past?
The hands that honed your shafts and gears remain a mystery,
But those timbers held by trenals, were surely made to last.
Others stood before you, but are gone now.
The total at one time was up to five.
Those mills all went idle, were torn down and were destroyed,
Yes you nearly met that same fate, yet somehow you survived.
When I see those vanes turn on Popsquatchet,
You take me to another place in time.
Immerse me with your intrigue and impress me with your will.
Defy all those modern changes your grind is so sublime.