In the early days here in New England, owners, operators and builders of grist mills were the most important people in town.
Perhaps the biggest example of their importance was in their tax exemptions.
Until about 1830 the residents of Vermont were assessed a tax on many of their personal belongings.
Examples: horses two years old $4; horses three years old $8; standard pocket watch $5; gold pocket watches $10; house clocks $10; cattle, oxen and carriages were also assessed at similar figures.
These various assessments were taxed at a rate of five to six percent and paid yearly.
Millwrights were also exempt from many of these taxes, including by state law "exempt from paying tolls on turnpikes."
The early millwrights traveled 25-35 miles applying their trade in new towns and villages springing up in even the most remote sites so freedom of movement was crucial.
A ledger belonging to and kept by Jesse W. Adams offers a rare insight of his business from 1829 to 1833. An 1827 document exists addressed to Adams and written by Jesse Stedman of Chester.
Stedman is tutoring Adams using advanced algebra and trigonometry along with drawings of the mill components.
Adams spent the years 1829 and 1830 in Springfield further learning his trade. By 1831 Adams was applying his skills in Rockingham. Below is arguably the most interesting entry, complete with the original spelling:
"Rockingham January the 18 1833 this day William Simpson began work for Jesse W. Adams til he is twenty one years old his age being thirteen years old at the time he began with me.
"I am to cloath and school the said William Simpson and to instruct him in the art of mill wright building if said William is capable of being instructed in the buisnes and when the said William is twenty one years of age he is to have two suits of cloths and a set of bench plains and a hand saw.
"This bargain was in the presants of Meffsrs John Robinson Bellows Falls, Mr Bundy and Mr Fullam and the boyes father and myself. Jesse W. Adams"
To find a written indenture or apprenticeship is one of the rarest artifacts one can find.
This indenture is the only one I have ever seem in forty years of collecting and dealing in historic documents.