Cahoone Brickworks, Swansea

William Colquhoun (Pronounced Ca-hoon) came from Dunbartonshire, Scotland and opened a brickworks in Swansea, MA, on the western shore of the Palmer River in 1673.

On a plaque noting the location of the Cahoon Brickworks that was once mounted on a boulder in front of the Luther Store (see below) in Swansea describes William as follows:

  • taken prisoner in Dunbar, Scotland, during the Cromwellian Wars (1650)

  • shipped as indentured servant to Braintree, Massachusetts (1651)

  • freeman at Block Island, Rhode Island (1664)

  • one of founders of Swansea, Massachusetts  (1669)

  • killed by Indians on eve of King Philip’s War while striving to get a doctor for the wounded of Swansea (June 24, 1675).

The plaque was removed by Cahoon family members and subsequently lost.


The script is the notice that William Cahoon was appointed as the official brick maker for the town of Swansea. A former indentured prisoner from Luss Scotland, Cahoon first arrived in North America in 1651 to work at the Winthrop Iron Works in Braintree. By 1670, he had secured his freedom and is listed as living in Swansea. (Click on right photo for a larger view.)


The Luther Store Museum in Swansea from 1825 holds several bricks from the original Cohoon Brickworks pulled from the Palmer River.


William was a follower of Roger Williams and one of a group who fled the Puritanical rule of the colonies to become one of the first property owners on Block Island. Cahoon died on June 24, 1675, the eve of the King Philip’s War, on his way to secure medical help in Rehoboth for the wounded people in Swansea at the Myles Garrison House. Click here for the description of his burial in Rehoboth.

Click here for a web page about a visit to the brick works site at the Johannis Farm in Barrington

Click here for an article about William Cahoon

Click here for a web page on early Scottish brickmaking.

The Luther Store Museum is located at the intersection of Old Warren Road, Pearse Road and Maple Avenue in Swansea, MA

Click here for a one-hour video of Swansea Historical Society President Carl Becker reviewing the major events of the 17th century that influenced the development of Swansea.

Click on the map below for a Google satellite map of the location.