HISTORY OF MORMON MILL

Source:  By NANNIE MOORE KINSER
December 12, 1935


Many thanks to Mary Nell Hodnutt, who transcribed this information from her personal files for inclusion here. July 2000
See also descendant chart she sent in for Thomas Jefferson Moore (not related to the author Nannie Moore Kinser).



History of Mormon Mill
by Nannie Moore Kinser
12 December 1935


The tract of land in Burnet County on which the old Mormon Mill stood was given to Conrad Rohrer for fighting in the Battle of San Jacinto. He was a German and was never married. The Indians killed him when he went to get his horse, which was staked out. William Magill was administrator and sold the land to Preston Conlee in 1848. Conlee sold back to Magill in a short time. The land was given to Roher in 1842, but wasn't located until 1848. Governor Bell signed the deed to Rohrer.

The Mormons first came to Texas in 1839, settled on Webber's Prairie, don't know how long they were there. They took the contract to build the first jail in Austin. There were men of all trades among them. They built a mill on the Colorado River where the present Austin dam is. The mill washed away and they went up near Fredericksburg on the Pedernales River and put up another one. They were unfortunate, as that one was washed away too, and buried their burrs in the sand. Lyman Wight (the leader) claimed he had a vision and knew where the burrs were and made his men dig in a certain sand-bed. They did, and sure enough, found them.

They then came over on Hamilton Creek and put up another mill, put in an overshot wheel and ground corn and wheat. They did not bolt the wheat. They also had a circle saw and made shingles and lumber out of native cedar. They also made tables, chairs and bedsteads and the women made willow baskets. They became dissatisfied in 1853 and they sold to Noah Smithwick. Wight had never got his deed from Magill and he authorized Magill to make the deed to Smithwick. The Mormons left here in August, 1853, going over on the Medina River. Wight claimed he was warned of a war between the North and South, so he started to leave for the North and died on the second day after they started. They brought his body back to Mount Zodiac near Fredericksburg, and then the colony scattered. Some went to California and some remained here.

Noah Smithwick and his nephew, John R. Hubbard, rebuilt the mill, got bolting cloth and rebuilt the overshot wheel. It was 28 feet in diameter. They got the axle, a cypress tree, over on Cypress Creek. Old Joe Yett (colored) said he hauled it and it took four yoke of oxen to get it here. The mill changed hands quite often. First Smithwick and Hubbard, then McCartney, Dr. Moore, John S. Proctor, Eubanks, and possibly others. McCartney got hurt in the mill and died. Smithwick sold to John S. Proctor in 1855, and went down on the river and built the old Smithwick Mill. The house is still standing at the present time (December, 1935). Proctor sold to S. E. Holland in 1869 and he sold to my dad, Joshua T. Moore, in February, 1871. My dad moved here and landed on June 14, 1871. I was two years old that day. While Smithwick and Hubbard were here they had Lewis Thomas to build a rock stone house at the mill. It was built of native stone, got out of an old quarry on the Wormsley survey, about a mile below the mill. This quarry now belongs to my son-in-law, Linzie Holland, grandson of S. E. Holland, and an old pioneer of Burnet County. The house partly toppled over and we sold the stone to a Mr. Swinney of Houston. He wanted it for the Daughters of the Republic. My dad, when he came here, got a new bolting cloth, put in a new dam. A Mr. Cotton of Birdtown put in the dam. A Mr. Kirk hauled the pine lumber from Round Rock to make the race and cover the dam. Round Rock was our nearest railroad.

My first recollection of our new home was a store at the mill, kept by Lewis Thomas. A blacksmith shop and his two dwelling houses, had the post office in the store. Thomas sold out to a Jew, Lewis Winters and he sold to Dr. Jim Knight of Georgetown and he closed out and the office was moved to Burnet.

Dad ran the mill quite successfully for a long time. Once it ran for six weeks, day and night. My two half brothers, Lum and Ed Shuford, and my nephew, Olin Moore, took time about running it. In the fall of 1880 the axle to the overshot wheel broke. It scared a Mr. Crownover so bad that he ran down and told dad the mill had fallen down. Dad went up on the Lacy farm above Marble Falls and got a big sycamore tree. Mr. Struve hauled it here with oxen. It was a little smaller than the old one, so he put in a turbine wheel. He moved the mill up on the bluff a little, and the old rock foundation the Mormons put in is there yet. He had a rock wall built. A Mr. Anderson made it. Dad gave him my bay mare for doing the work and times was pretty hot for Dad until he got me another horse.

There is a graveyard near the mill; it is enclosed by a neat rock wall. There are fourteen graves inside, eight graves outside. Harrison Posey's little girl, Alice, died in 1867. Mrs. Tom Cates told me that she dressed her for burial. Her mother had a quilted silk petticoat put on her and buried her big doll with her. There are three graves, two large ones and a little one, I don't know, just at the steps as you go into the enclosure. One is a Mr. Wyaat. His uncle came and asked permission to fix his grave, but he died soon, so it hasn't been fixed. In 1887, just 20 years from Alice Posey's funeral, Joe Clark buried his little girl there, and in 1893, Charlie Johnson buried two of his little boys there. Uncle Bill Coon told me that one of the Mormons died. His name was Groesbeck. About a year after he died a wagon load of Mormons came from Salt lake City and took out some of the dirt and held the Masonic rites. This grave was opened some years later and a piece of cloth was found, supposed to be the apron. It was almost black.

This grave was robbed by a boy. His brother was a doctor and wanted a skeleton. He got all but two bones. Nothing was ever done about it.

On May 26, 1933, the relief men cleaned off the graveyard and repaired the fence. Some years ago two of the Mormon elders wanted to buy the graveyard from me. I told them if they would pay for the deed I would give it to them. I have never heard from them since. There is an old gate post of cedar that the Mormons put in. It is still standing, but had begun to decay. I won't let it be disturbed. There are signs of little houses all about and a pile of rock where the school house was.

The old log house the Mormons built burned in April, 1915, and a Mexican burned the dam. The pond is still there and has lots of fish, but the big ones won't bite a hook very much. We leased it to some bankers of Waco. They built a little house up there and we took it on the lease. It isn't leased at present. My boys say that the pond (it is about two acres), is hard to swim in as the water seems heavy. It is sixty-three feet deep in places.

I forgot to say that the graves on the outside of the cemetary are not Mormons.

My mother, Nancy Ann Drury, was born July 10, 1829, in Indiana and came to Missouri when quite small. Married Will Shuford in 1849, came to Texas in 1858. She had eight children, five boys and three girls, Henry, George, Lum, Mary, Willie, Ed, Sallie, and Kate. Mr. Shuford died in 1864 and Mother married my Dad in 1868. I was born in 1869. My Dad was born in North Carolina in 1807, just 100 years older than my baby. He was an overseer for the gold mines of North Carolina in 1829 to 1832. He married Lockey Abernathy in 1830, had two children, Katharine and Wash. He came to Dalonago, Georgia, in 1833 to work in the Capps gold mine. The mines and Negroes belonged to William Pinchback.

On November 13, 1833, Dad said he had gone to his cabin when he heard a terrible racket among the Negroes. One ran in and said, "Oh, Marse Josh, the world is coming to an end, for every star is falling". Papa said he got up and every star fell to the ground. He said some of the Negroes were praying, some crying, some preaching, and the rest just yelling at the top of their voices.

In the month of November, 1833, some disease struck the mines and seventeen Negroes and my Uncle Austin Moore died. Papa buried him at Delonago, Georgia, and planted a cottonwood tree on his grave. In the late 1890's Mr. Jay came from there and said the tree was a big tree and the only cottonwood in the graveyard.

Pinchback went broke and had Papa to take his Negroes to New Orleans and sell them. He took them on a ship of some kind. When they got to the Mobile Bay a storm was raging, so they dropped anchor. The Negroes were scared nearly to death. One old fellow got on his knees and prayed a long prayer and at the last he said, "Oh, Lord, if I ever gets out of this ship no white man will ever get me on another one. No, damned if they do".

Papa said he sold and bought slaves, said some funny things happened and some very sad ones, too. After he sold the Negroes he moved to Mississippi and raised cotton in Lownds County. He brought his father and mother from North Carolina and took care of them. His wife died August 13, 1838. In 1847 or 1848 he decided to move to Texas and he took his daughter back to North Carolina on a visit to her mother's people and they went on horseback. Just think of that trip! What would the young folks of these days do. It took them over a month to go. Katherine said she enjoyed the trip after the first two days. Papa never let the horses get out of a walk. She said Papa traded horses every few days. She said sometimes they had to stay all night with the Creek Indians, as it was thinly settled.

In 1849 he came to Texas in mostly ox wagons. They were six weeks on the road. He brought his parents and his brother, Bill, with him; besides Katharine and Wash. Bill's children now live at Caldwell, Texas. Grandpa died in 1857, Grandma in 1867, both buried at LaGrange, Texas. Papa died May 22, 1901. I lost my best friend that day. Mama died January 29, 1906.

Of all my folks there are just two of us living, sister Sallie, Mama's second girl, and myself. Papa raised his grandson, Olin Moore, and a boy, Bob Lewis. We thought as much of them as the rest. My people are buried just everywhere. Papa and Mama are buried at Hairston Creek, near Burnet. Papa's girl is buried at Rockdale, his boy at Poster's Chapel in Burleson County. Of Mama's children, Henry and George are buried at Hallettesville, Mary and Willie at LaGrange, Lum at Cottonwood, Ed at Rio Grande City, Kate at Lamesa, Olin at Austin, and Bob at Hagarman, New Mexico. Papa's first wife is buried at Mount Zion, Mississippi.

You know, it makes me sad and lonely to think of all my loved ones who have gone on and left me behind, not but one of my own near, just one niece. You know blood is thicker than water and I long for my own people.

I forgot to tell that Papa gave us the mill and Price put in a new wheel, in 1892, but it wasn't a success so we tore it down, sold some of the machinery, and built a barn out of the lumber. When Papa ran the mill he raised lots of hogs and fed them the tall corn. He used to kill twenty hogs in the fall. He went to Round Rock every fall and bought our supplies for a year, a barrell of syrup, one of brown sugar, a small one of white sugar (it came higher than the brown), three bushel sacks of green coffee (oh, how I dreaded to parch it; I'd coax Bob to do it for me), boxes of dried fruit, lots of mackerel fish and lots of smaller things. It would be funny to me now to have such a supply on hand. We only bought once a year. Papa sent his son to Yale College one term. It was so cold there he didn't like to stay, so Papa brought him back and he graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina. He taught one term in the University of Texas, but he never made a success. He lost his eyesight and was paralyzed for four years before his death. He died December 4, 1898.





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