Located in the northern part of Hardin
County, the unincorporated town of Village Mills sits on Highway
287 between Wildwood to the northwest and Big
Thicket National Preserve to the southeast with Beaumont
to the south. Sometime during the last two months of 1881, the Sabine
and East Texas Railroad finished construction of a pathway through
the area. The first settlers soon arrived and named their new home
after a nearby stream of water called Village Creek. The Long Manufacturing
Company of Beaumont bought 40,000 acres of forested land and established
a saw mill. However, the Texas Tram and Lumber Company of Beaumont,
owned by majority stockholder William A. Fletcher, purchased the mill
in 1883. That same year saw the grand opening of the town's post office.
By 1889, the local mill was sawing through a staggering 75,000 feet
of lumber every day. The workers then took the wood and loaded it
on a private tram, which consisted of a locomotive and sixteen cars.
The saw mill area was so large, it took up the space of two towns.
The work facilities took up the northern section and claimed the town
of Long Station while the workers inhabited the southern section
in the town of Village Mills. Although they were considered seperate
entities, those living in the county collectively called the two towns
In 1890, the town had a restaurant, a train depot, a hotel, churches,
schools, and a building for a fraternity called the Order of Chosen
Friends. It also boasted a population of 800, making it the largest
town of Hardin County.
The citizens of Village Mills witnessed a world record getting broken
in 1895 when its mill was able to saw through 255,403 feet of lumber
in eleven hours using a singular blade. At the end of 1901, the mill
had provided an annual production of seventeen million feet of wood.
The following year, the Kirby Lumber Company bought the facilities
and the surrounding acreage for $60,000. Owner John Henry Kirby renamed
the place Mill L and appointed B. H. Rice to be the supervisor. The
business continued to prosper through the years as the plant continued
going through timber at rates reaching as high as sixteen million
feet a year.
All the prosperity came crashing down when the stock market plummeted
and brought the nation into the Great Depression. The demand for lumber
decreased at an incredible rate. To make matters, the timber resources
started drying out. In 1931, these two factors proved too much for
the mill and it was forced to close. Two years later, the facilities
were destroyed. The post office moved to Long Station in 1938 but
kept the name of Village Mills. By the 1940s, the population had dropped
The discovery of oil and natural gas deposits boosted the town's economy
in 1945, ultimately resulting in the construction of 31 wells. Toward
the end of the 1960s, Long Station became a part of Village Mills.
By 1984, the number of operating wells had decreased to seventeen.
The population reached 300 in 1990 and increased to 1,700 a decade
"Village Mills Hangs Tough After Heydey". Beaumont Enterprise. January
County 1907 postal map showing Village Mills
near Tyler County
From Texas state map #2090
Texas General Land Office
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