GRIST MILLS OF THE VICTORIA AREA
(The following information is from a VCGS Quarterly article taken from the Sidney WEISIGER collection located at the
Victoria College/University of Houston Victoria Library.)
One thing that was a must in the early days was some form of grinding corn into meal. Grist mills were located in almost every community.
Listed below are some of the mills in the Victoria area.
- The RIVES Mill in Mission Valley was operated in connection with the cotton gin.
- A.B. LEAVETT owned a saw and grist mill on the Coleto Creek. LEAVETT, who came from Maine, operated a drug store at Main and
Constitution Streets in 1847. He sold out, moved to the Coleto Creek and built his water-powered mill in 1855. This structure was destroyed
by a great flooding of the stream.
- Mr. FRIEDERICHS, Irvin FETTERS and Jessie KOLLE had mills around Raisin and the Coletoville
- RATHBONE and WELDER owned a gin in Raisin, and corn was probably ground there. The boiler
from this gin was removed on a flat car
to Victoria and used on a dredge boat on the Guadalupe River by Victoria Navigation Company,
which RATHBONE and WELDER also owned.
- A.H. CROMWELL had one of the earliest mills on the San Antonio River, some three miles
below Carlos Rancho. It was built soon after 1842 at Anaqua near the CROMWELL Ferry and
passed into the hands of William TOM after 1872. TOM operated here for some years.
Able HATHAWAY constructed this mill for CROMWELL.
- John W. ROSE built one of the oldest grinders on the Old Guadalupe River in connection with
his gin. This was on the plantation known first as “Vinagras” in 1836 when owned by
CARABAJAL. During the ROSE ownership the land was known as “Forest Grove.” The Civil War
ended this as a great plantation. It was here that Victor ROSE grew to manhood. Today this
is the home of the WEDEMEIER families.
- Charles SCHROEDER had a gin and mill in the settlement of Spring Creek, which is no more.
- Along about 1858 Elijah BENNETT, who owned land in Farm Lot P in a bend of the Guadalupe
River, constructed two flat boats, spaced them about four or five feet apart, and in this gap
installed a water wheel. The water rushing between the boats turned the wheel and
thus furnished power to move the grinding stones. This was in the present Victoria City Park,
about the area of the zoo. Mr. BENNETT also operated a ferry on the river.
- Some distance below town, three or four miles, was the Preston ROSE or SHARKEY Mill. This
was a combination saw and grist mill and was operated with horse power. Built near CAMPBELL’s
Lake and MORRIS Mound, it was operated by Frederick C. HUGHES in 1855. Col. John SHARKEY or
SHIRKEY was one time an owner and sold to W. G. VENABLE. Campbell Lake was named for Ralph
CAMPBELL. Mr. CAMPBELL’S daughter, NANCY, married William RUPLEY, and the
name of the lake was changed to RUPLEY, today known as RIPLEY Lake.
Mrs. SHIRKEY or SHARKEY moved to Victoria after her husband’s death and long operated the
“SHIRKEY HOUSE” at Juan Linn and William Streets.
- In the city of Victoria proper, there were several mills. Mr. Jacob FOX built one prior to
1880 on the block bordered by Stayton, Washington, Power and Craig Streets. The gin and mill
were at the corner of Power and Craig Streets.
- The old “DUTCH MILL” in Memorial Park was not our first Dutch type mill in town. On the
corner of Moody and Santa Rosa Streets, Lot 4, Block 66, George SCHEWITZ erected a Dutch mill
some years prior to the Civil War.
The SCHEWITZ family later lived on the corner of Stayton and Moody across from the home of Dr.
WARD. The final history of the old SCHEWITZ mill is obscure.
- The DURETT Milling Company operated at 201 W. Church Street until 1919 when it was moved
to the 200 block of East Rio Grande and
known as the Este-Mill. Later Mr. KRAMER owned and operated this mill.
- SIBLEY Brothers had a mill and lumberyard in the 300 block of North Depot Street in 1874.
M. MALLORY was an employee of this business in 1890.
- SITTERLE Brothers ran a corn meal plant located at 806 E. Juan Linn and were grinding corn
in 1935. Others were Arthur WEARDEN at
507 N. Wheeler, Farmers and Merchants Gin Company, GOLDMAN Gin and the Farmers Co-Op.
Mills were of several types. Some, like the old Dutch Mill, used great stones to crush the grain and made a fine type of meal. The
faster-turning plants used metal grinders or burrs and were called burr mills. Grist mills, like so many other things, were a matter of necessity
and certainly played their part in the development of our country.
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