Bosque County: Land and People (A History of Bosque County, Texas) Page: 81
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the Liberty Hill Baptist Church, the first
organized church in the county. Services were
held in a log cabin, and by the end of the year,
1855, the Liberty Hill congregation boasted
During the early years prior to 1866, this
community grew very slowly. Perhaps the
lack of growth was due to the fact that most
of the American pioneers who had settled
here became leaders of Bosque County
during its formative and early years. As
political leaders, they were actively engaged
in organizing the new county, and they served
as county officials during the first years of the
county's existence as well as later on. They
were also leaders in frontier defense from the
time they moved into the county throughout
the war years. With the men away from home
much of the time, their wives, strong and
courageous pioneer women, carried on as best
they could in their frontier homes. With the
help of hired hands and older children, these
women supervised the clearing of land and
the planting and harvesting of crops in
addition to the many, many chores connected
with running the pioneer household. At any
rate, it was not until after the Civil War that
the community which was to become present
Valley Mills began to grow.
The development of this area from 1866
through 1874 is aptly described by R.G.
Gaines in his "Looking Backward at the
Course of Human Events." This brief history
is used as our primary source of information
during these nine years of Valley Mills'
Gaines, a boy of seven, moved with his
family to the Searsville area in 1866. He
recalls, "In April of 1866 a rumor was spread
among the settlers of the southwestern part
of the county that two men (from Waco) had
come into the valley of the North Bosque and
had bought the James Sadler place of 640
acres. One of these men was a fine doctor (Dr.
E.P. Booth), and the other was one of the best
and greatest mill builders in the U.S. (Asbury
Stegall), and that they were going to build a
flour, grist, and saw mill. It was rumored that
the mill house would be two stories high and
built of rock. The boiler would be as large as
a house. The engine would be so powerful
that it could pull the flour, grist and saw mills
all at the same time, and the chimney would
be one hundred feet high. The whistle could
be heard for ten miles, and finally, Dr. Booth
and Mr. Stegall were going to lay out this land
which they had purchased from Sadler for a
big city which would be named Valley Mills."
When it became evident that the mill was
to be built, J.L. Sears of the Searsville
community sold his land and bought acreage
in the Bosque Valley. Albert Sears, Sam
Strong, Finley Bloodworth, and the Gaines
family followed suit. "There was a grand rush
to get in the great valley to be near the big
mill and the fine city of Valley Mills, which
had just begun to sprout."
It was in the spring of 1867 that the mill
was completed, Gaines recalls, "About the
middle of March the mill got up steam and
blew the big whistle. The sound went up and
down the valley for miles. Men, women and
children stood in their yards with heads
uncovered and listened, for they believed
that sound meant a better time was coming
Gaines goes on to say that "men grabbed
their axes, yoked up their oxen and started
out to find trees large enough to make lumber
to build better houses. All the big cottonwood
trees that lined the river banks soon di-
sappeared. Hackberry, elm and sycamores
and everything that would make a six-inch
plank went down and to the mill."
C.L. McGee from Tennessee built a log
store across the street from the mill and
stocked it with general merchandise. E.A.
McNeill from South Carolina established the
first blacksmith and wagon shop along with
Mr. Beal. Henry Saddler built a store in town,
painted it white, and put in a stock of
groceries. He had a bar along the back wall
of his store. Dr. Booth put in a drug store, and
Dan Kelly was his clerk. Bill Nichols did shoe
repair and leather work. Mr. Cason was a
In 1867 the Post Office, which had been
moved from Searsville to Valley Mills, put on
a fifty mile long stage line from Waco to
Meridian. Mail was received in Valley Mills
three times each week. Gaines remembers
that his father subscribed to the New York
Weekly Sun, published at that time by
Horace Greely, and also the Brick Pomeroys
Democrat, published in New York.
In 1868 Clarence Hubby drove the mail-
wagon from Waco to Meridian over an
indistinct trail that served as a road. Hubby
was employed by George Burney, who had a
contract to deliver the mail northwest of
Waco. The mail car was a buckboard pulled
by two Spanish mules. Hubby remembers, "I
left Waco by Comanche crossing on the
Bosque, as the crossing at the bridge at
Bosqueville was then called, being named
from the Comanche Indian tribe. The next
settlement was China Spring post office.
There was a wagon trail from China Springs
to Valley Mills . . . Searsville was below
Valley Mills." Leaving Searsville, he went on
to Clifton. Horse tracks and wagon ruts were
all that Hubby had to follow in making the
Settlers kept moving into the area,
"Houses and log cabins poked up their roofs
out of the high grass in every direction. lots
of the new people were 'just good, plain
folks'." They were welcomed into the new
community. It was along about this time that
apple peddlers came into the neighborhood
from Arkansas and Southern Missouri. These
peddlers drove fine horses and mules hitched
to fancy, brightly painted red and green
wagons. The horses' harness, trimmed with
silver and red tassels, was the finest the
pioneers had ever seen. Not only did the
peddlers bring apples to sell, but they
brought good news from up north. As the
settlers bought their apples, the peddlers told
them that they could find a good market for
cattle if they would drive them up north of
the thirty-sixth parallel. Cows were worth
$25.00 and cows and calves brought $30.00
According to Gaines, "This sounded like a
pipe dream to us."
More good news was brought into the
settlement by men who rode in. Houston was
building a railroad west and it had reached
Millican and Navasota. It was possible, they
said, for the settlers to haul their produce to
the head of the railroad where it could be sold
for gold and silver.
Gaines recalls, "Our neighbor, Judge L.H.
Scrutchfield, loaded a big wagon with some
wheat, cow and bob-cat and deer hides,
beeswax, and tallow. He hitched four yoke of
oxen to the wagon and hit the road. Scrutch-
field returned in forty-five days after this
Angus McNeill in.
back of store.
A.A. McNeill's bank, located in
Turn of century barber shop.
Registered Galloway cattle brought to Bosque
County in 1890 by T.M. Pool.
E.G.P. Kellum Home, burned 1899.
When cotton was King in Valley Mills, 1895.
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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/m1/97/?q=campbell: accessed November 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Denton Public Library.