Site of the Old Mill at Sturgeon – Cammocks Creek & the Kittery House
Alexander Shapleigh was an early arrival here in the “Piscataqua River” area. He soon had a business in operation by trading fish, wood and other goods to the old country and other places. It was apparent that he did not live here very long. He returned to England and operated his business interests from there with his son-in-law, James Treworgye and his son, Nicholas in this country. The marker on the lawn reads:
“The site of the Kittery House, erected about 1638, by Alexander Shapleigh (the immigrant), gave name to the town of Kittery, Provence of Maine”.
The existing house is the third one to be built on this site; many changes and additions have been made since Capt. Elisha Shapleigh rebuilt it in 1802.
The first reference to a tidal mill was by a Capt. Walter Neale, an agent for Sir Ferdinando Gorges that granted a parcel of land to Capt. Thomas Cammock in 1633.
A dam and a mill was built, now north of the causeway that is today called, “Shapleigh Mill Pond” on River Road, Eliot, Maine. Foundations of wood timbers and stone are still visible at this site.
The area was named “Cammock’s Creek”, later Stacey Creek and Shapleigh’s Creek. The early inhabitants of this area were the Pennacook Indians who raised corn here. These mills were used to grind Indian corn by water power and were used to saw wood logs into boards. Most mills were 2 & 1/2 stories high as the grain was carried to the top and fed to the mill stones on the bottom floor. Milling was very hazardous due to the potential for fires caused by dust explosions.
This trade caused him to sell the goods, ship and all, due to the high profits in foreign countries. He left the business in later years and his son, Nicholas Shapleigh took over and enlarged the business by building a large “Grist Mill” at the Sturgeon Creek area.
His main problem was to assure that he did not flood the lands of his neighbors while blocking off the creek area into a pond for the required water power he needed to operate the mill. There is a sketch of the old mill on Sturgeon Creek showing the bridge and the water in the area. It indicated that the mill was in operation from 1816 to 1886.
The early settlers looked for mill sites, a tidal mill, mill stream or windmill for the owner to operate a grist mill to grind Indian corn and for a saw mill to cut lumber. The miller was a very important person in a town, also the mills were a common place for the gathering of people.
Early mills in this area sawed the lumber and it was shipped to England. Early saws were the up and down type that were housed so as the saw was up six feet and down six feet.