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.

Images

Boettcher's Mill

Boettcher's Mill

The "single largest privately owned business in Walker County, employing over 500 workers" during its heyday. | Source: Bob and Lydia Shadle View File Details Page

Baldwin Boettcher, 1898

Baldwin Boettcher, 1898

Founder of Boettcher's Mill. | Source: Bob and Lydia Shadle View File Details Page

Edward Boettcher

Edward Boettcher

Son of Baldwin Boettcher. | Source: Bob and Lydia Shadle View File Details Page

Baldwin Boettcher's Locomotive

Baldwin Boettcher's Locomotive

A private locomotive and railroad line helped the mill to transfer lumber. | Source: Bob and Lydia Shadle View File Details Page

Sam Montoya

Sam Montoya

Worker photographed at Boettcher's Mill. | Source: Bob and Lydia Shadle View File Details Page

Baldwin Boettcher Home

Baldwin Boettcher Home

The original home of Baldwin Boettcher was in Westfield located north-west of Houston. | Source: Bob and Lydia Shadle View File Details Page

Pay Envelope

Pay Envelope

Pay Envelope for Joe Martinez from Boettcher's Mill. | Source: Bob and Lydia Shadle View File Details Page

Vivian de Soto, Jr.

Vivian de Soto, Jr.

Employee at Boettcher's Mill. | Source: Bob and Lydia Shadle View File Details Page

Baptism

Baptism

A baptism occurring in King's Lake near the Boettcher's Mill for one of the employee's children. | Source: Bob and Lydia Shadle View File Details Page

Commissary Store

Commissary Store

Store for employees and visitors at the Boettcher Lumber Company. | Source: Bob and Lydia Shadle View File Details Page

Church Group

Church Group

A group photo of Boetccher's Mill employees while attending church on the property. | Source: Bob and Lydia Shadle View File Details Page

Christmas Celebration

Christmas Celebration

A Boettcher's Mill employee's child attempting to hit a pinata as part of a Christmas celebration. | Source: Bob and Lydia Shadle View File Details Page

Juan Hernandez, Boettcher's Mill mechanic

Juan Hernandez, Boettcher's Mill mechanic

Hernandez was one of several Hispanic workers at Boettcher's Mill. | Source: Bob and Lydia Shadle View File Details Page

Hernandez Home

Hernandez Home

The residence of the Hernandez employees at Boettcher's Mill. | Source: Bob and Lydia Shadle View File Details Page

Site at Boettcher's Mill

Site at Boettcher's Mill

Photograph of home previously used for workers at Boettcher's Mill. | Source: Bob and Lydia Shadle View File Details Page

Mill Pond

Mill Pond

Workers loading a truck with lumber at Boettcher's Mill. | Source: Bob and Lydia Shadle View File Details Page

Donicio Martinez Family

Donicio Martinez Family

Photograph of Martinez family who worked at Boettcher's Mill. | Source: Bob and Lydia Shadle View File Details Page

Boettcher's Mill

Boettcher's Mill

The mill was located in Huntsville, Texas. | Source: Bob and Lydia Shadle View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Texas Historical Marker, “Boettcher's Mill,” East Texas History, accessed June 26, 2017, http://easttexashistory.org/items/show/221.

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