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Research: Sawmill Database

Alpha-Numeric Key: LI-87
Corporate Name: Samuel L. Hicks
Local Name:
Owner Name: Samuel L. Hicks
Location: On Old River on the Dorsett League (on the Dayton and Hicks mill road)
County: Liberty
Years in Operation: 9 years
Start Year: 1907
End Year: 1915
Decades: 1900-1909,1910-1919
Period of Operation: Built between January 1907 and 1910; ran till 1915
Town: Dayton
Company Town: 2
Peak Town Size: 239 in 1905; 3000 in 1928; 1207 in 1934
Mill Pond:
Type of Mill: Lumber
Sawmill Pine Sawmill Hardwood Sawmill Cypress Sawmill
Planer Planer Only Shingle Paper
Plywood Cotton Grist Unknown
Power Source: Steam
Horse Mule Oxen Water
Water Overshot Water Turbine Diesel Unknown
Pit Steam Steam Circular Steam Band
Gas Electricity Other
Maximum Capacity: 20000: 1910
Capacity Comments: Estimated 20,000-feet per day
Rough Lumber Planed Lumber Crossties Timbers
Lathe Ceiling Unknown Beading
Flooring Paper Plywood Particle Board
Treated Other
Equipment: Sawmill
Company Tram:
Associated Railroads: Trinity Valley & Northern Rwy, Southern Pacific, & Missouri Pacific.
Historicial Development: The history of the Sam Hicks sawmill in Liberty County is unique in East Texas sawmilling. Hicks was a mulatto who employed both white and black workers. Hicks' mother was black, and he would answer that he did not know who his father was when asked. Family tradition has it that he did not like associating with most other African-Americans. Joseph and James Hicks, Sam's sons, were allegedly treated and regarded much as white men by those around where they lived. James was injured and rendered deaf in one hear as a result of a racially-motivated fight in a Houston bar, where he had been told to leave because of his color. The Old River area and Dayton were unlike most other Texas communities in that era. African-Americans were busy in Dayton area activities. Hicks and Ben Day were the first two Liberty County black grandjurymen, selected in 1902. Ben Lewis served as postmaster at Miriam. Aaron Day and another African-American were the first two blacks, in 1907, to be elected to Dayton's first ISD board. Hicks had earlier done contract logging for the C. R. Cummings Export Company's mill at Wallisville. The logs were dragged to Moore's Bluff, dropped in the river, and floated down to the mill's log boom. He had bought fifty acres from J. Heiskell in 1904, on which he built a home and ran a one-room school. His fence-surrounded property included a grove of orange trees. The steam-powered sawmill was located on the west bank of Trinity River and immediately north of Addison Tilton's house. The equipment had been ordered in October, 1909, and by 1910, the Census recorded that ten workers were employed at the mill: Sam L. Hicks, owner; B. F. Cooper, sawyer; Joseph Edge, Walter Wakefield, A. L. Hickman, Will Lacour, George McAllister, R. S. Tilton, A. B. Tilton, and Lewis Tilton. The facility was destroyed in the great storm of 1915. More than thirty sawmills in Texas and Louisiana were damaged or destroyed by the hurricane. W. T. Block estimated the mill's cutting capacity daily to be about 20,000 feet day.
Research Date: JKG 12-14-93, MCJ 03-14-96
Prepared By: J Gerland, M Johnson