Letter Honoring the Late Local Treasure James Owens

from the Docents of the Jonathan Young Windmill

To the Editor:

This past August, the Cape lost one of it’s local treasures: artist, teacher, and resident expert on historic grist mills, James Owens. Always one to be generous with his time and talents, Jim was a dedicated researcher and explorer of the history and lore surrounding the critical role of wind, water, or tidal-powered grist mills in Colonial New England, especially right here on Cape Cod. Thanks in part to his lifelong dedication to this work, our local mills have flourished and provided wonderful teaching and learning opportunities for countless children and adults.

Jim began his education at the little yellow schoolhouse in Eastham, now the Schoolhouse Museum, in the 1930’s. He served in the U.S. Army during WWII in Italy in 1945-1946. Upon discharge, he attended the Rhode Island School of Design and then went to NYU for his teaching certification. He always smiled when he stated that the only application he submitted to teach was at Nauset Regional High School and he was lucky it just happened to be in his hometown of Eastham. He ended up teaching there for 26 years. It was also fortuitous because it allowed him to step into the role of Docent for the Eastham Windmill, the oldest Smock Grist Mill in the United States that is still standing today, where he proudly served as the official Miller for 44 years.

The Docents for the Jonathan Young Windmill on Town Cove in Orleans would like to express our debt of gratitude to Jim Owens for his generosity in donating educational materials, artwork, and photos over the past 30 years, all of which improved our tour capabilities and will be on display for many seasons to come. As tour guides, we are grateful for having had Jim as a mentor and resource. He definitely inspired many people to see these seemingly quaint old landmarks with a renewed respect and appreciation, marvelous machines providing vital links to the history and development of each town on Cape Cod.

Thank you, Jim Owens, for your service to our country, our community, and to your beloved town of Eastham. Peace be with you, our friend.

John Knowles and Nick Muto, Docents

Jonathan Young Windmill, Orleans

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