FITZHUGH MILLS AND SPRING
Fitzhugh’s Saw Mill furnished enough hardwood timber to build Collin County. With its constant supply of water for the boiler of a steam engine, the large spring near Wilson Creek was an ideal place for the Fitzhugh’s Mill.
The older Fitzhughs, John and George, operated a mill in Missouri before coming to Texas. John and his sons, William and Robert, continued the family’s milling tradition and expanded the business to include another essential industry – saw milling.
At the time, Captain William Fitzhugh established Fort Fitzhugh near Gainesville and led a Texas Ranger company in far West Texas. His brother, Robert Fitzhugh, was the sheriff of Collin County from 1848 to 1854.
Robert’s headright was 490 acres northeast of the present intersection of Stacy and Country Club, FM 1378. To the east of his land was the Calvin Boales league. In 1853, he bought 160 acres from Boales for 50 cents an acre. This appears to be the land that includes the large spring where the mill was located. His father had bought another 160 from Boales in 1848. During some in-family trading in 1858, Robert acquired this land also.
By this time. Robert Fitzhugh had bought several other blocks of land from others with large Republic of Texas grants and had a total of 1,384 acres.
Except for his own headright of prairie land, this land was mostly virgin hardwood forest on East Fork and Wilson Creek, now under Lake Lavon. This timber was harvested for the sawmill.
Sometime in the mid-1850s, John, William and Robert built mills at the site of the large spring. In 1858, John and William sold their interest to Robert, “in the steam saw and grist mill built by the above named parties on the waters of Wilson Creek on lands belonging to Robert Fitzhugh.”
The tax evaluation of the machinery was $5,220. Robert owned a thresher in 1853; its engine could have provided the first steam power for the mills.