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Trull Mill Was Many In Area | New 18-Hole Public Golf Course Taking Shape On Trull Farm
TOWN CRIER, OCTOBER 14, 1987
Trull Mill Was Of Many In Area
Copyright © 1987 by Capt. Larz Neilson
Capt. John Trull, Captain of the Tewksbury Minutemen, received a message during
the night of April 18-19, 1775. It is probable that he was told by a man on
horseback that the British were marching.
Owner of about 200 acres in North Tewksbury, he lived in a farmhouse on what is
today called River Road Hill. There was a field nearby, a pasture, in which the
Minutemen had drilled. That farmhouse burned, about 1912, but about 135 acres
of the farm are today known as the Trull Golf Course.
The farmhouse overlooked the Merrimack River. Across the river was the town of
Dracut, and the home of Captain (later General) Varnum, of the Dracut Minutemen.
Capt. Trull knew what to do. It is to be believed he already had his orders,
arranged by the Massachusetts Committee on Safety. Sam Adams was one of the
organizers, and the people of the colony were ready for a march by the British
to such a place as had military stores, such as Concord.
Trull, quite obviously in accordance with previous orders, took his gun outside
and fired three shots. Across the river those shots were heard by Capt. Varnum,
and he, too, knew what to do.
The individual Minutemen captains had their orders. Those of Trull and Varnum
were probably the same as the captains of Reading, Wilmington and Billerica -
march to Bedford where Capt. Ebenezer Bridge of Billerica will take command
and give orders.
Remember the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere?
It wasn't the only thing that happened that night. As the British troops
marched toward Lexington there were officers who heard guns being fired
and church bells being rung. The countryside was being alarmed.
And Paul Revere was not the only man who rode.
Revere got his horse that night from a man named Richard Devens. Devens was
chairman of the Charlestown Committee on Safety.
Devens quite probably furnished horses to other riders, that same night.
Some one must have ridden to Essex County towns. Minutemen of Andover
marched across Tewksbury in the early hours of the morning, and Minutemen
of Danvers joined in the fighting as the British retreated, somewhere in
the modern town of Arlington.
Just look at the Town Seal of Tewksbury.
A rider on horseback is shown near the center of Tewksbury and the church
which marked that center. The ancient tradition is that he is the person
who warned the town that the British were marching.
No one knows who he was. It is possible that it was he who warned Capt.
Cadwallader Ford of Wilmington. It is also possible that he rode on to the
home of Capt. Trull and then possibly to Chelmsford.
Bruce Morang, distinguished Reading editor, has carefully researched the
history of his town on that night. It is he who tells the tale of Dr.
Martin Herrick, 28-year-old physician, of Precinct Two, now North Reading.
Dr. Herrick received his information from no less a person than Paul Revere,
on that night. He rode on, into Woburn and Stoneham, then to LinnEnd (Lynnfield)
and Reading, passing the alarm. The end of his ride was at the Gowing Tavern,
from which he rode home, then he joined his company of militia and marched.
And, like others, Capt. John Trull was a man who helped spread the word that
the British were out, and then marched to join the fighting. But there is even
more, in his case.
It is on record that a New Hampshire company of soldiers was in Cambridge after
the fighting on April 19. That company had marched" and had run for over 50 miles,
to do its part, and did its duty in the seige of Boston, which started that night.
Who sent the word to a company of soldiers over 50 miles away? How did they know
it was time to march?
It is impossible to say. No one knows.
John Trull, with his three rifle shots, warned Dracut, a town that borders New
Hampshire. Were those rifle shots repeated, across New Hampshire, to warn those
New Hampshire men who marched, is well as those from Maine, who marched?
The Trull Mill in North Tewksbury, just down stream from River Road was an
ancient manufacturing asset to the farmers and husbandmen of Colonial times.
It was still in existence when World War II became a reality, in the United
tates, and possibly a year or two later.
No one seems to know the date it was started. The chances are fairly good that
it was in operation before 1700, but there is no available proof.
The art of milling was brought to the Massachusetts Bay colony by the early
Pilgrims and Puritans. Any place where there was a possible waterfall was
utilized for its power. There was, in those days, no other source of power,
other than treadmills, possibly powered by servants or horses.
It will be remembered by some that the Saugus Iron Mill dates back to about
1650. It is quite possible that the mills on the Charles River, and at other
places, date back to the same time or earlier.
In Wilmington the Nod Mill, just southerly of Salem Street was in operation
by 1695, being owned by a member of the Sewell family. A mill on Glen Road,
known later as the Harnden Mill, was in operation by 1705 and possibly
earlier, being owned by a member of the Thompson family.
The Pearson Mill, on Middlesex Avenue in Wilmington, was in operation by
1705. Mill stones from that mill can be found on property nearby,
privately owned of course.
The writer has never dated the Kendall Mill in Tewksbury, on the banks of
Strongwater Brook, but that probably dates back to about 1700. And so, it
can be presumed, was what was known as the Trull Mill.
Most of those mills had both a grist mill and a saw mill.
Grist mills ground grain. Saw mills cut lumber.
In grist mills two ponderous stones, one above the other, were used with one
stone being turned by the power of the water.
One such mill stone may be seen, as part of a wall on North Street in
Tewksbury. It is near the old Battles house. As previously stated there
is a mill stone near the site of the old Pearson Mill, Middlesex Avenue,
One such mill stone was used to anchor the flagpole on Wilmington Common
back about World War I days. It may be still so used, but if so is now
The mill stones were mostly used in the fall and early winter, after the
harvest of the summer grain. In other times the mills which were other
times the mills which were used were saw mills, generally up to the 15th
On the 15th of April, if fields not owned by the miller were being flooded
he was forced to release the water by an ancient colonial law. Such was
probably the case at Nod Mill in Wilmington, but most certainly was not
the case at Trull Mill.
The mill pond, upstream from River Street, is in a declivity which has a
hill for its background. No farmer could complain that his fields were
being flooded, because there were no fields.
After the grain had been ground the sawmill part-of the operation started,
say in December or January. Big sawmill blades, generally six or seven feet
long, were used to cut the trees into timbers or boards.
There was an ancient remark about the speed of those blades. "Up today and
down tomorrow." This remark can be understood when one considers the size
of the pine and other trees being cut.
There is a copy of a deed made out to Captain John Trull, in one of the
buildings at the Trull Golf course, in North Tewksbury, dated May 12, 1778.
It sells and conveys to John Trull, gentleman, two mills now standing and
land, for the sum of 173 pounds six shillings and eight pence, from John Wells,
blacksmith. One mill is a sawmill, and the other is a grist mill.
The brook is named "Johnson’s Brook." Nearby is land of one John Hardy.
Johnson's Brook is today Trull Brook.
The deed was signed before William Stickney, "Just. Pads." (Justice of the
Peace). Stickney, of course, is an ancient Tewksbury and Billerica name.
The date of signing was Sept. 11,1778.
The name of the Register of Deeds is Eber (Ebenezer) Bridge, who, quite
probably was the same man who led the Billerica Minutemen, on their march
to Concord and afterward was colonel of the Second Middlesex Regiment at
From the above one should not assume that John Trull was not living in
the neighborhood before that date.
Tewksbury is, of course, a part of the ancient Billerica, and the Trull
family were present when that town was first settled. There was a six acre
grant in 1658. Many grants were made at that time, and in some instances the
family did not accept, but the Trull family had been living nearby, in what
is probably now Burlington. There was a later grant of land too, which adds
to the probability of that family having been one of the earliest in Billerica.
Samuel Trull, of the fifth generation, born in 1701-02, most certainly
lived in Tewksbury, as did his brother John.
And there have been members of that family in Tewksbury ever since.
Trull Mill Was Many In Area | New 18-Hole Public Golf Course Taking Shape On Trull Farm