Bedicheck, well-known Texas naturalist and foodie, once turned
down an invitation to have lunch in Fredericksburg
saying he much preferred to dine on peaches and freshly baked bread
in the shade of the cypress trees at Lange's Mill.
The story of Lange's Mill, 2 miles north of Doss
in Gillespie County,
began when brothers John and Thomas Doss, along with their slaves,
came to the Texas
Hill Country from Virginia around 1850. More brothers came later.
a miller by trade, was a friend to C. H. Guenther who built a mill
on Live Oak Creek south of Fredericksburg.
After months of searching, Thomas Doss found a place to build his
own mill in a secluded valley 23 miles northwest of Fredericksburg,
at the site of an old distillery, where spring water gushed from
the side of a hill above Threadgill Creek.
When Thomas discovered that the property was in the public domain,
he and brother John each claimed 160 acres around the spring. They
built a house on a hill above the creek.
Under the supervision of August Steiners (sometimes spelled Steiness),
slaves began work on a dam to impound the water and a millhouse
just below the spring near a cliff decorated with Indian pictographs.
Within a year sparkling clear water rushed through the mill race
and spilled over the wooden water wheel.
In 1856 Thomas Doss, John Doss and William Thomas formed a partnership
to operate a saw mill, a grist mill and a distillery under the name
T. C. Doss and Co. William Thomas sold his interest in the business
back to Thomas and John Doss in 1857.
The Doss Brothers, true to their Virginia roots, were Confederates
all the way. When John Doss died in 1863 his will directed that
his interest in the mill be sold and the proceeds invested in Confederate
Bonds. It was not the best decision he ever made.
Then in 1864 Thomas Doss sold the mill to August Steiners, for $10,000
Confederate money. By the following summer all that Confederate
cash was practically worthless.
After selling the mill the remaining Doss brothers, carrying a large
sack of Confederate wall paper, left Doss Valley, leaving only their
Meanwhile August Steiners made improvements at the mill. He expanded
the operation to grind both flour and corn meal. He added a room
at the house to serve as a post office for the mail that came over
weekly from Cherry
To pay for the improvements, Steiners borrowed money using the mill
as collateral. He died in 1865, heavily in debt to his brother-in-law,
F. W. Lange of Bexar
After a hearing in probate court Mary Steiners, August's widow,
deeded the mill and the property to her brother, F. W. Lange for
$200 US currency.
a barrel maker by trade, was born in Germany. He immigrated to San
Antonio in the mid-1800s. Before moving to Doss Valley, he made
beer barrels for the brewery at the Menger
F. W. Lange replaced the mill's overshot water wheel with a turbine.
He built a new dam below the original one, but the water pressure
was too great. The dam broke just one day after water backed up
The replacement dam, built of rock masonry with dirt fill, was about
30 feet high and 150 feet long. It was 30 feet wide at the top and
90 feet wide at the bottom.
F. W. Lange operated the mill until his death in 1877. His son Julius
operated the mill until 1888.
Lange's Mill was one of the last of the old burr mills in Texas.
It ground corn and wheat between mill stones with grooves also called
"burrs." The corn meal and flour from Lange's Mill was considered
the finest in the region.
Then slowly the importance of the mill declined. Modern roller mills
replaced the old burr mills.
By the 20th century Lange's Mill was a lonely relic of the past
but still a darned good place to enjoy peaches and freshly baked
bread in the shade of a cypress tree.
August 16, 2019 Column
"News of Our Neighbors," Llano News, November 19, 1936.
"Texas Heritage," Kerrville Mountain Sun, September 26, 1981
"Picturesque Lange's Mill Played A Key Role In Area's Development,"
Fredericksburg Standard, April 28, 1971.
"History of F. W. Lange," Fredericksburg Standard, September
"History of F. W. Lange, cont.," Fredericksburg Standard,
September 24, 1936.