Bosque County: Land and People (A History of Bosque County, Texas) Page: 15
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CLIFTON, CITY OF
"Old Mill", Clifton
r> '.g?; l -
Flood on the Bosque, circa 1900
Clifton, the largest town in Bosqur
Texas, celebrated its centennial in 1
years before the county in 1954 come
ted the 100th year since its organizat
1980 United States census listed Clit
a population of 3,063.
For the purpose of simplification
history can be divided into two par
of "old town" Clifton, located east
of the Bosque River above the o
bridge crossing, and that of "ne'
Clifton, now the present-day downt
During the past 40 years the "n
gradually has extended itself w
mainly along State Highway 6.
Seed of today's City of Clifton k
germination upon the banks of Clear
near the property today of Sam M
along the farm-to-market road
Clifton and Meridian and almost a m
of the upper Bosque River Bridge.
A log schoolhouse and a Mason
Hall, built in the early 1860's, were
public buildings. Pioneer families
tronized those early structures of ciN
were scattered along the river valle
A map of the settlement of "ol
Clifton shows the Gunarius Shefst
dence (present Mrs. Leo Jenson place), the
William Kemp home (current Elmo Dansby
place), Dr. J.H. Hatton's house across the
C2 road, the Thomas Cobb farm, and pictures
from north to south, along the west side of the
Bosque River, the home of Steve Sargent's
father (a black man), the Kemp Store, the
water mill, the Whittington house, the Jim
John Sears Store, Professor W.A. Culberson's
residence, the Billy Thomas home, and Frank
Browning's Store and house.
From north to south on the east side of the
river were Colonel J.M. Partlow's home, the
Collier house (both near the Santa Fe
Railway bridge), Professor Shelby King's
residence, Dr. Parshall's home, Monroe
Locker's house and gin, the T.O. Prather
home and post office, Mrs. Jeanette Helm's
place, and the Old Rock School.
Building of the old water mill after the
Civil War upon the west bank of the Bosque
River near the current river dam was the
magnet which attracted settlers to the loca-
tion of "old town" Clifton. That mill also
furnished flour to the City of Waco during the
early years when Bosque County still was a
part of McLennan County.
A man named Toland erected the first mill,
and Texas Governor Richard Coke invested
money in one of the mill structures. Billy
Whittington, Willis S. Helm, and Tilden O.
Swenson were three of the mill's long-time
operators who made fine flour and meal with
the water power from the Bosque River.
First built of logs, in 1868 more substan-
tially constructed of rock, and known as "The
Old Mill", that mill continued to operate
until 1905. It last was owned by Ralph O.
Bass, Sr. and E.S. (Pumper) Parks. Mr.
- Swenson, who is believed to have run the mill
for the longest period of time, was its last
After it no longer was used as a flour mill,
"The Old Mill" was the site of Clifton's
electric power plant for a number of years.
Then Mr. Bass sold his interest in the
structure to Mr. Parks, who razed it and used
the stone to build the present flood-control
levee above the Bosque River road west of the
Used to cross from one section of "old
e County, town" Clifton to the other was a wooden foot
1952, two bridge. Cedar posts were sunk into the
memora- Bosque River to serve as a foundation for the
tion. The bridge, which was two boards wide and barely
fton with above the low-water level. When a railroad
bridge later was constructed to the north, it
Clifton's was used as a higher foot crossing.
rts-that Passengers and mail going to and from
and west Clifton were carried by means of a stage line
ld north running from Waco to Meridian. Clifton's
w town" post office first was established on July 22,
own site. 1859, with Chester C. Dewey as postmaster.
ew" city Other postmasters who have served for the
estward, longest terms during the years have been
Captain C.O. Nelson, J.N. Fallis, Fred N.
began its Nelson, Alvin L. Bronstad, and Robert L.
r Branch, Baldridge, Jr. Present Clifton postmaster is
. Oswald Vernon E. Plemons. However, when this
between Clifton history was written, Mr. Plemons
wile north expected to retire on January 3, 1985.
Eighty-seven years after the establishment
ic Lodge of the first post office city mail delivery was
the first instigated in Bosque County when it began
who pa- in Clifton on September 1, 1946.
vilization Francis Marion Kell moved to Bosque
y. County in 1852 and acquired the Bosque
d town" County land making up the W.H. King
ead resi- Survey. That survey included a large portion
of the acreage of present-day Clifton and
much of the Bosque River Valley lands north
and east of Clifton.
One of Mr. Kell's richest farms was com-
posed of a part of today's City of Clifton, and
the Kells' first home was a double log house
separated by a dog-trot and located on a
hillside east of the Bosque River.
In the 1870's they built a four-room frame
house, which later was moved by ox wagons
across the river to a site located one block east
of the present Santa Fe Railway depot. In
1883 other rooms were added to their dwel-
ling, and the Kell family maintained a public
house for many years for local boarders and
A 1,280-acre tract of land, lying to the west
of the W.H. King Survey of which Mr. Kell
was the owner, belonged to a General Mesina,
of France, who had been one of Napoleon
Bonaparte's marshals and who during his
lifetime had acquired a great quantity of
Many years after General Mesina's death
a commission of men was sent from France
to sell his Texas property. That commission
visited Clifton for the purpose of disposing of
his 1,280-acre holding here and stayed over-
night at the Kell Hotel.
Next morning members of the commission
undertook to interest Mr. Kell in the land.
When he declined to buy it, they finally
offered him the entire tract for $50.00. That
offer he also refused. Mr. Kell felt, ad did
many early settlers, that land was too plenti-
ful to be valuable.
Most of General Mesina's acreage then was
sold to N. Jacob Nelson, who acquired large
land holdings near Clifton, much of which
now also is a part of the city.
It was in the spring of 1880 that the Gulf,
Colorado, and Santa Fe Railway bought land
from Francis Marion Kell and built its depot
approximately one mile south of "old town"
Distance of the depot from the town made
it more feasible for merchants in "old town"
to move their businesses nearer the depot
when the railway was completed through this
section of Texas in 1881.
First business house near that new location
was built in the above year by A.H. Hutchins,
of Galveston, and it was the forerunner of
what was to become the "new" Clifton.
However, it was in the spring of 1882 that
merchants of "old town" Clifton actually
began a mass emigration to "new town"
Clifton. Jim John Sears, who operated a store
south of the Whittington home, was one of
the first businessmen to move from "old
town" to present-day Clifton, and his new
location was near the site of the Corner
Billy Kemp's residence was relocated in
"new" Clifton and was converted into the
Kemp Hotel, just west of the Kell Hotel,
where the Central Texas Lumber Company,
Inc., now is situated. Clifton was proud of its
two hotels, both on the east side of the
In addition to those merchants who moved
from "old town", new business firms were
established. They included W.H. Quigg and
Company; Forbes and Bayles; W.P. Gilbert;
Hardiman and Waters; Judge Stroup; A.W.
Potts; J.B. Pool; Charles Harrington; Peter-
son and Grimland; Pierson Peterson, and
Company; A.P. Anderson; C.O. Nelson; Sears
and Kemp; P.E. Schow and Brother; Nelson
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Bosque County History Book Committee. Bosque County: Land and People (A History of Bosque County, Texas), book, 1985; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth91038/m1/31/?q=campbell: accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Denton Public Library.