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Research: Sawmill Database

Alpha-Numeric Key: WK-78
Corporate Name: Kelley & Robbins
Local Name:
Owner Name: John Felix Kelly, Sr., and William Robbins
Location: At or near Phelps
County: Walker
Years in Operation: 2 years
Start Year: 1879
End Year: 1880
Decades: 1870-1879,1880-1889
Period of Operation: 1879 to 1880
Town: Phelps
Company Town: 2
Peak Town Size: Unknown
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: 
Capacity Comments: 1,500,000 feet of lumber during the reporting period of the census
Rough Lumber Planed Lumber Crossties Timbers
Lathe Ceiling Unknown Beading
Flooring Paper Plywood Particle Board
Treated Other
Equipment: Sawmill with circular and muley saws
Company Tram:
Associated Railroads: International & Great Northern
Historicial Development: John Felix Kelly, Sr., was prominent in Walker County sawmilling during the 1880s. W. T. Block has identified Kelley as J. F. Kelly (different spelling of last name), who was enumerated during 1880 in District 155, Precinct 4, residence 2. During 1880, he owned outright two sawmills and partnered seven others (Kelley & Roberts and Kelley and Robbins) at Phelps, one at New Waverly (Kelley & Robinson), one at Riverside (another Kelley & Roberts), one five miles north of Riverside (Kelley & Grinstead), one in District 155, where he lived (Kelley & Johns), and one in District 157 (Kelley & Pace). The first seven are documented in Northwestern Lumberman listings and the last two in the Census of 1880. Block quoted from Walker County, Texas: A History: “He built a sawmill near the International & Great Northern a few miles from Waverly. . . . The railroad built a switch across to the sawmill. . . . known as Kelly's Switch. Just a mile south was the community with store, school, and post office called Barado. One day the boiler of the mill blew up, resulting in Kelly's death a few days later (on November 5, 1888). As late as the 1930s, the old boiler and some equipment were still there, where the forest had grown up around them. . . ”. Block reasonably assumes that Kelly had either Houston or Galveston money behind him. During the 1880 Census, the mill employed sixteen workers, four under the age of sixteen. The crew worked ten-hour shifts for wages from $1.25 to $2.50. The owners paid out a total of $3,000 in wages. Capitalized at $4,000, the mill equipment included of a boiler, a steam engine, a circular saw, and a muley saw. The mill operated at three-quarters time for the year. From $8,250 worth of sawlogs and mill supplies, the mill cut 1,500,000 feet of lumber valued at $15,000. The company did its own logging in the vicinity of the sawmill.
Research Date: JKG 11-11-93, MCJ 03-31-96
Prepared By: J. Gerland, M. Johnson