Mills on Salado Creek (Eight Mills Along Nine Miles of the Creek)
Among the early Salado businesses were gins and mills that operated along Salado Creek. The first mill on Salado Creek was the Chalk/Ferguson Mill built in 1848 by brothers Whitfield and Ira Chalk as a sawmill and was later equipped as a gristmill. Ferguson purchased the mill in 1867, almost 20 years later, and operated it until his death in 1876. All total, there were eight mills in the Salado area as follows: A. W. Davis (1866, wool carding), Thomas H. Jones (1869, gristmill), Stinnett Mill (1874, still standing), Isaac Jones Mill (1880, cotton), Chalk/Ferguson Mill (1849), John T. Dulaney (1867, cotton), Summers Mill (1866, flour/saw mill), and J. Morton Smith (1880, grist). Of those established during this period, Stinnett Mill is a private residence and Summer’s Mill and is a retreat. For more information on the other five mills on the Creek, visit this web site created by a Salado historian. http://www.centraltexasstories.com
The mill that created the most attention in Salado was the Davis Mill, constructed in 1864 by William A. Davis, it was the first stone mill with carding machine in this vicinity. A sawmill and gin were added in 1866. With its French burrs, Leffel water wheel, and silk bolt from Galveston, the mill produced flour for local homes. Widows did not pay a milling fee.
Davis’ deed allowed him to build a dam that would not create an overflow of springs along the creek. So he built a dam that caused the springs to overflow the creek and prevented free use of the springs for drinking water. After many complaints about the height of the dam being 8 to 10 inches over creek level, Mr. Davis refused to lower the dam. He was sued in Bell County Court. After a verdict favoring Mr. Davis was overturned upon appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, another trial ruled in favor of the citizens request to lower the dam. The sheriff saw to the lowering of the dam. It was reported the dam was raised sometime later on and left that way until washed away in a flood years later. It was about the same time when the citizens of Salado decided they needed a bridge across the creek, and one was constructed in 1868.
Texas Centennial Subject Marker placed in 1936. Davis Mill site was on the north side of Salado Creek where the Main St. bridge crosses the creek (east side). (THC)
This mill, built in 1874, is located on Salado Creek north of Salado. From Stagecoach Drive (IH35 frontage road), go east on Rose Lane, then south on Stinnett’s Mill Road. (NRHP)
This mill was built in 1866 on Salado Creek. Some of the building material came from Houston by ox team. It was a gristmill. From Main Street, go 4.5 miles east on Royal Street, .5 miles north on Armstrong Road, 2 miles east on Barnes Road, then 3 miles north on FM 1123 to just north of Salado Creek. Located on private property; used as a retreat. (NRHP)
For more information on the other five mills on the Creek, visit this web site created by a Salado historian. http://www.centraltexasstories.com
The Thomas H. Jones Mill was built in 1869 on the site of the old 9thhole on Mill Creek Golf Course. A portion of the original rock wall and a sprocket are all that remain. Col. Thomas H. Jones came to Texas in 1846 and settled on the Colorado River near Austin where he engaged in farming. While living in Austin, Jones developed a friendship with Col. E.S.C. Robertson.
Their friendship developed into a partnership when the Jones family moved from Austin to Salado in 1867 so Jones could pursue his interest in milling. In 1869, Jones and Robertson built a gristmill and mill race on 227½ acres on Salado Creek. The Jones mill was the fifth of eight mills that would be built on Salado Creek.
In 1870, when cotton became an important agricultural crop in Central Texas, Jones added a water powered cotton gin to his mill, utilizing a wooden screw press. The Thomas H. Jones Mill was in operation until his death in 1883, at the age of 67. Salado Historical Society Landmark Award marks the remains of Col. Thomas H. Jones Mill.
(Photo by Charlene Carson)