History of Mormon Mill
by Nannie Moore Kinser
12 December 1935
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
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
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
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.