Bosque County: Land and People (A History of Bosque County, Texas) Page: 83
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in the McGee Store and later opened his
grocery store. Bill Fitzhugh also ran a grocery
store in the "old" town.
When S.V. Pool moved to Valley Mills in
1870, he built a residence on the west bank
of the river, across from the "old" town. He
also built a steam gin. The engine, boiler and
gin stand where hauled from Bremond on ox
wagons. In 1871 around 1,400 bales of cotton
were ginned at Valley Mills. At this time
there were no gins west of the Downing and
By 1873 the settlers were plowing up more
land, planting crops, and building gras-
shopper fences around their fields. A gras-
shopper fence, as Gaines describes it, consis-
ted of posts spaced eight feet apart and three
rails or poles tied to the posts with rawhide
strips about one inch wide. Nails, which were
twenty-five cents a pound at that time, were
too expensive for most early farmers. The
cowmen were becoming very concerned as the
wide open ranges for their cattle were being
cut up by the fenced-in farms.
There were other changes in the lives of the
settlers in the year 1873, according to Gaines.
Lumber, at reasonable prices, was available
in Waco and Dallas; so the home building
business boomed in the central Texas area.
"The standard home consisted of one room-
16 x 16, shed room 10 x 16, front gallery 10
x 18. A two-room house seemed to be big
enough for most any family." All of the
pioneers had to dig wells from 25 to 30 feet
deep and wall them with rock to keep the dirt
from caving in. Water was pulled out of the
well with a bucket on a rope. It was in this
year that cook stoves replaced the old skillet
and bake oven. Charter oak stoves, with forty
pieces, could be bought for $45.00. Stove
pipes "poked out" through the shed room
roof of every home in the county.
LaBell, Studebaker, Milburn, Cooper, and
Mitchell wagons replaced the old ox wagon.
The first sewing machine, made by Grover
and Baker Sewing Machine Company was
brought in. Then the tin peddlers arrived in
the county. The pioneer women traded
chickens, eggs, and butter for tin milk pans
and tin dippers. Water looked clear and
bright in the new tin dippers as compared
with the old gourd dippers the settlers had
been drinking out of all their lives. Articles
of furniture including painted bedsteads,
chairs with cane bottoms, and rocking chairs
made their appearance.
It was during the 1870s that two men,
Edward G.P. Kellum and E.V. (Gene)
Jarrett, who became leaders in the commu-
nity, moved to Valley Mills. Edward G.P.
Kellum, born in Chickasaw County, Missis-
sippi, in 1851, came to Texas with his parents
in 1854 settling in McLennan County. Kel-
lum moved his family to the Valley Mills
community in 1874. He accumulated some
two thousand acres of land and became a
leading stockman with 2600 head of sheep
and a large herd of cattle on his ranch. Parker
Kellum became a merchant in Valley Mills in
addition to his ranching interests and was one
of the founding fathers of the community.
Dr. E.V. (Gene) Jarrett arrived in 1878
from Georgia to enter into a partnership with
Dr. E.P. Booth. Booth, in failing health, sold
his drug store in Dr. Jarrett about two years
There was great excitement in Texas in the
year 1874 when the first democrats in ten
years were elected to the offices of governor
and lieutenant governor. Gaines drove four
men from the Valley Mills area to the
inauguration of Governor Richard Coke of
Waco and Lieutenant Governor Hubbard of
Tyler. He drove a two-horse wagon carrying
the men and camp equipment the 135 miles
to Austin. The crowd attending the event was
larger in number than the population of
Austin; so it was necessary for the legislators
and visitors to camp out. The five men from
Bosque County camped just outside the
business district. They fried meat, made
coffee and baked their own bread for five
days. "After being under a dark cloud for ten
years - so far as government was concerned
- the sun seemed to have broken through and
was shining brightly."
Much to the dismay of the old timers in the
Bosque Valley, the way of life was changing
in the late 1870's. The wide open prairies
covered with tall waving grass were dis-
appearing. The newcomers - mostly farmers
- arriving in their covered wagons, were
cultivating the black soil and planting corn,
cotton, and wheat. Some of the old settlers
moved on west; others sold their cattle and
went into some other business. Gaines says
that most of the big land owners "set tight
when the barbed wire came in. They put their
land in cultivation, built tenant houses and
rented their land out at three dollars an acre."
During the 1870's gangs of cattle and horse
thieves struck in Bosque County, having
struck in Bell and Coryell County first. These
thieves struck the small farmer, stealing his
work horses and few cows. However, the big
ranchers banded together and helped them
get their stock back. The thieves were hung,
and in time the settlers of Bosque County
were assured that their property was safe.
In 1881 the arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad
altered the history of Valley Mills; the "old
town" north of the river became the "new
town" south of the river. On July 4 a big
barbecue was held to celebrate the arrival "of
the first passenger train." The train, follow-
ing a joyous welcome at Valley Mills, contin-
ued on to Clifton, where the track stopped for
the time being. The Valley Mills residents
soon began to move to the railroad; Paul
Downing was the first to move his store.
Others who soon followed were A.A. McNeill,
Dick Peters, Dr. E.V. Jarrett, Mr. Gouldy,
Mr. Kellum, and others. Dr. W.T. McNeill
established a drug store. The old settlement
became a ghost town.
The following year, on February 27, 1882,
a cyclone struck and almost destroyed the
small town of Valley Mills. The Downing
store was unroofed; A.A. McNeill's store had
a large piece of lumber jammed through the
roof; Peters' grocery store was blown from its
foundation; Mr. Gouldy's dry goods store was
completely destroyed and his stock scattered
for miles around; the new hotel was de-
stroyed; the new saloon was converted to
kindling wood; the Santa Fe station was
badly damaged; and freight cars were blown
from the track. Several persons were severely
injured, but there were no deaths recorded.
The following description of Valley Mills
as it appeared in 1882 was taken from an
article, "Information Regarding Texas,"
printed in the Texas newspaper, Texas
Siftings, on April 29, 1882. This paper was
edited by Alex E. Sweet and J. Armory Know
at Austin. "Valley Mills is the first town we
came to in Bosque County, on the north
bound train of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa
Pendell Pump Station in 1920 s
Valley Mills, 1903.
Valley Mills School around 1928.
Beauty Shop in Valley Mills, 1925.
Crow Hotel, burned in 1928.
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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/m1/99/?q=campbell: accessed May 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Denton Public Library.