CONTRARY to what one would think, the Dutch colonists on Long Island did not build windmills but they harnessed their mill wheels to some of the many tidal creeks that indented the shores of their property. The last of these tidal grist mills stood on the west side of the Storm Kill, or Gerritsen's Creek, until 1934 when it was burned, supposedly by arson. It had been built before 1756 on the site of an earlier mill and had wooden machinery, leather beltings and large revolving mill­stones. It was on the edge of the basin into which poured the sea when the rising tide opened the flood gate of the dam that crossed the narrowest part of the creek. When the water reached the top of the dam, the gates closed with a full pond behind them. A gate in the sluiceway in back of the mill could be raised by hand by means of a ratchet wheel and thus allow the water to flow over the mill wheel as it was needed. Prior to 1645, Hugh Gerritsen owned the land bordering on the west side of the Strom Kill which was often called Hugh Gerritsen's Creek. In 1685, his mill was mentioned in Dongan's Patent. On 17 January 1687, Mary, widow of Gerret REMMERSEN, conveyed to her sons Rem and Samuel land in Gravesend. It is from this Samuel GERRETSEN that the future millers of Gravesend were descended. He was on the town's assessment roll of 1693, its census of 1698 and some deeds of 1698. In 1703, he was clerk of its board of supervisors; from 1716 to 1737, a member of the colonial legislature. He married Ida BARENS and had a son Johannes who was baptized 30 September 1716. About 1746, Johannes GERRITSEN married Elizabeth STILLWELL (baptized May 1718) and had a son Samuel born 9 August 1750. Aftcr Elizabeth's death, Johannes married Jannerje WILLIAMSE and had a daughter Eida who was baptized 31 March 1765. In his will, which was probated 7 January 1766, he mentioned Jannetje and Eida and left his real estate, including the mill, to Samuel. By a license issued 6 September 1770, Samuel married Altea RYDER. Tradition says that during the Revolution Samuel was making a great deal of money grinding corn for the British but became disgusted with feeding the enemy. So, one dark night he sank his mill­stones in his pond and thereafter declared they had disappeared. He did not find them until the war had ended. On 7 November 1822, Samuel died in Flatbush at the home of John LOTT, husband of his daughter Elizabeth (born 6 January 1779). He left the mill to his son John S. GERRITSEN (b. 19 July 1771 ­ d. 1864). John married Mary, commonly called Polly, who was the daughter of Peter CORTELYOU, 20 December 1798. After her death he married Catharine VAN BRUNT. He had three children: Samuel I. (born about 1800), Simon C. (who married first Ann FREEK and then Catharine CORTELYOU) and Peter (who died young). Samuel I. GERRITSEN inherited and ran the mill. On 2 October 1821, he married Jane VAN BRUNT (b. 14 May 1803 - d. 21 November 1861) and, they had two children: Mary CORTELYOU (b. 27 July 1822) who married Abraham DITMAS POLHEMUS on 13 May 1864 and Helen VAN BRUNT (b. 15 November 1824) who married Stephen H. HERRIMAN on 27 April 1853. Samuel I. GERRITSEN died 20 September 1876. His executors deeded the mill with the land on which it stood to Helen VAN BRUNT HERRIMAN. Her husband willed it to their children : Marion BELL (baptized 29 July 1856), Helen (baptized 14 November 1858) and William S. HERRIMAN. William S. HERRIMAN, who was the last to run. the mill, sold the property in 1899 to William C. WHITNEY who left it to his son Harry Payne WHITNEY. Harry Payne WHITNEY used the old farm as a training place for his famous race horses. Next Chapter..WYCKOFF - BENNETT HOUSE DUTCH Houses..Index Main Return to TOWN Index Main Return to BROOKLYN Index Main