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How Water Mill Got Its Name

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The Old Mill in Water Mill is one of the oldest commercial buildings on Long Island. Water has been used to mill crops since Greco-Roman times. One of the earliest settlers to Southampton, Edward Howell, owned a water mill back in England, so it's not surprising that he set up his own mill a few miles from Southampton, which eventually became the mill we know today. By 1644, the mill was probably already in use. In 1726 and 1789 the mill moved south down Mill Creek, with permission granted to build a dam and a roadway at its current site.
In 1818, John Benedict, a fuller, dyer, and dresser of cloth, came to work at the mill. By 1833 he was the owner. The Benedict family in the 1800s used the building for fulling wool cloth, dyeing, spinning, weaving and milling grain. ("Fulling"? What's that? Fulling is a step in making wool cloth. First, the wool is cleaned with soap or fuller's earth to eliminate oils, dirt, and other impurities. Next the cloth is struck with hammers to mat the fibers together (or felt it) to make the cloth stronger. This was an important job in the days when everyone wore wool almost all the time.)

Improvements in technology meant that at the turn of the twentieth century, the mill had fallen into disuse. But a women's group eventually purchased the building and restored it as a museum. By 1976, the mill was grinding once again.