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Research: Sawmill Database

Alpha-Numeric Key: CK-18
Corporate Name: Penitentiary Commission, State of Texas
Local Name:
Owner Name: Penitentiary Commission, State of Texas
Location: Mewshaw at 2130 and 84
County: Cherokee
Years in Operation: 5 years
Start Year: 1908
End Year: 1912
Decades: 1900-1909,1910-1919
Period of Operation: 1908 to 1912
Town: Mewshaw
Company Town: 1
Peak Town Size: Unknown
Mill Pond:
Type of Mill: Rough 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: 40000: 191050000: 1908
Capacity Comments: Unknown
Rough Lumber Planed Lumber Crossties Timbers
Lathe Ceiling Unknown Beading
Flooring Paper Plywood Particle Board
Treated Other
Equipment: Sawmill
Company Tram:
Associated Railroads: Texas State Railroad
Historicial Development: The Penitentiary Commission, State of Texas, operated a steam sawmill at Mewshaw in 1908. It produced 35,000 feet per day. The Cherokee Banner reported on December 11, 1908, that the facility was “large, commodious, and well-ventilated.” The article claimed the prisoners preferred the outdoor work to being inside the prison walls. According to the Southern Industrial and Lumber Review, in July 1908, the mill could cut 50,000 feet daily. It was intended to provide material for the wood-working manufactures at the other prison units as well as for the Texas State Railroad from Rusk to Palestine, the building of which was under way. The journal reported again in February 1909, Chairman Crockett of the state House Appropriation Committee reported to the legislature that the convict sawmill at Rusk, with a 40,000-foot capacity, was “a money making and successful proposition.” The security system for guarding the convicts was supplemented with trained bloodhounds that would track down any prisoner who would attempt to escape. Daily work goals were set and workers severely punished if the goals were not met. J. T. Wilkinson, an one-armed man, received a ninety-nine year sentence at Rusk for participating in a lynching in Henderson County. He was released after twelve years and went to work guarding the prisoners at Mewshaw. His weapon of choice was a ten-gauge shotgun. The Penitentiary Commission operated several forest industry projects with convict labor. The prisoners worked in a furniture factory at Rusk, and at charcoal-making camps near Butterfield and Wells. The sawmill closed in 1912.
Research Date: MCJ 12-18-95
Prepared By: M Johnson