Boettcher's Mill

German immigrant Baldwin Boettcher established a sawmill at Westfield, north of Houston, in 1898, along the International and Great Northern rail line. Boettcher and his mill workers produced 15,000 board feet of yellow pine, gum and cypress lumber daily. Using vertical integration, Boettcher owned every part of his operation, including timberland, tram and rail equipment that moved logs to production, milling equipment, kiln, planer, and the lumberyards where he sold his products. The business included a grist mill and cotton gin, and employees and their families, primarily from the Martinez and Zamora families of Mexico, lived in a mill town. When Boettcher died in 1912, his widow, Elzora, and their son, Edward, took over the business. Four other sawmills operated nearby during what was a timber bonanza era in Texas.

In 1929, Edward Boettcher bought land at this site and relocated the mill and employees. By October, the mill produced 40,000 board feet per day. The stock market crash later that month and the onset of the Great Depression led to the closing of many east Texas sawmills. Boettcher continued operations, though, storing large stocks of dried dimensional lumber. The mill saw a boom in the late 1930s, and Boettcher's decisions throughout the next several years kept the mill going. His sons and grandson worked with him at the mill, but due to his death in 1967, as well as increased federal regulations for the industry, the family closed it in 1969, greatly impacting the local economy. The city annexed the property in 1984, and the mill remains a key element in Huntsville's history.

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