The first portion of this page was transcribed by Betty Miller from The Southland Vol. XII. No 1, Waco, Texas; Established March, 1892. The second portion was taken from Van Zandt County Texas Biographies 1848-1991 Vol. II. Thanks to Kitty Wheeler for the original information and for permission to use it on the web site. The information that is included in this document is transcribed portions of information that appear in the above referenced book. Additions, corrections, comments, complaints and compliments concerning this page should be submitted to Betty Miller and Betty Phillips.
The (sic) is a thriving village about ten miles from Canton and six miles from Ben Wheeler. It is situated in the cream lebel country and is surrounded by one of the richest landed sections in the county. It has eight or ten business houses including a gin, a shop, a general merchandise, groceries, drugs, dry goods, etc.
There is an excellent school in the village conducted last term by Prof. Miller also another school near by.
There are two physicians, Dr. Cox and Dr. McEschern. They have organized an excellent brass band and in many ways thrift and progress are manifest.
The society is good, the land rich, the climate excellent values incresing rapidly, etc. it is a most pleasant place to visit and offers many advantages to home seekers and investors.
John C. Burrage, the first postmaster, was also one of the first to operate a general merchandising store at Martins Mill. He and John Bob Wallace owned and operated a store for many years. Shreveport and Jefferson were the main shipping points and had to have the supplies for the store from these points. It took two weeks, and sometimes longer, to make this trip in an ox wagon. Mr. Wallace made these trips alone many times and camped any place along the rough road he happened to be at sundown. Most of the time he would have several slabs of salt bacon and he had to keep a big fire burning all night to keep the wolves from attacking him. they could smell the meat and a hungry wolf is sometimes vicious. He declared he was not afraid. There were not many bridges at this time and if it rained much, they had to wait until the water ran down to cross the creeks or rivers. On one trip to Jefferson, the ox wagon bogged down in the middle of the crossing and Mr. Wallace had to unload the supplies and carry them to the other bank so the team could pull the wagon through. these pioneer men had the strength of an ox and no job was too hard to tackle.
Mr. Burrage bought cotton and hauled it to Wills Point to be shipped to Galveston for sale. John Bob Wallace made many trips with this cotton to secure the highest price possible. Over the years he made this trip many times and was never once robbed.
Besides the Burrage and Wallace store, Martins Mill boasted of several businesses around the turn of the century. Byron Burnett and brothers ran a general store, Mack Barber had a family grocery, a gin ran by a Mr. Harrison who had purchased it from john Martin and John C. Burrage also had a gin. Two physicians served the needs of the people in the area, Dr. marvin Love Cox and Dr. T. G. McEachern. There was a special closeness between doctor and patient in those earlier days for no night was too dark, cold, or stormy to stop the doctor from making calls to relieve those in pain. This they had to do by riding in a buggy or on horseback over rugged terrain. Many a country doctor of old has fallen asleep in his buggy after a long night's work, giving his trusty steed his head knowing the faithful horse would take him home.
Martins Mill citizens had two churches to worship in. The Holly springs methodist Church organized in 1852 and the Baptist worshipped in the Old Liberty church built in 1870.
In January 1900 the school at Martins Mill was under the direction of Miss Lydia Riley of Canton and all per (sic) patrons spoke well of her efficient work and management.
In July of 1901, a representative of the Wills Point Chronicle, visited Martins Mill and stated, "We recently visited Martins Mill and was surprised to find the place in a progressive condition. Only two or three years ago Martins Mill was only a wide place in the road, so to speak. Now it is a thriving little village.
J. C. Burrage, the pioneer merchant of the place has recently constructed an elegant new store house, and is still handling general merchandise and drugs. He is assisted by two very efficient clerks, Henry Williamson and Malcomb McEachern. Burnett Bros. drug store is another ol establishment but recently removed into a brand new building. The youthful proprietors are two of Van Zandt's most successful business men. D. L. Burnett is also postmaster. D. M. Barber is still manipulating his general mercantile business at the same old stand, and seems to be doing well both physically and financially. The new firms are Lancaster & Co. general merchandise, W. W. Griffin & son general merchandise and drugs, and Ed Nixon harness and leather.
Brock Bros, mill, gin, and sawmill, Ab Sides Blacksmith shop and livery stable are other important industries. Martins Mill has a daily mail to Brownsboro, by way of Palace, Ben Wheeler, and Edom. The public school now in session, is better than ever before in its history. It is presided over by Prof. J. M. Travis, one of the Free State's most competent teachers and an elegant gentleman in every respect. The community is erecting a larger and better school building, and Prof. John w. Miller has been employed to teach the school next year. We also heard some talk of moving the Baptist Church from Sand Springs to Martins Mill.
The village is fortunate in having two good physicians, Dr. T. G. McEachern has been practicing there for about twenty-five years, and is still robust physically, and enjoys a lucrative practice. He makes headquarters at J. C. Burrage's. Dr. M. L. Cox has an up-to-date office at Burnett Bros. drug store.
Martins Mill is situated in what is known as the Cream Level country, and is one of the best farming sections of the Free State. They raise cotton, corn, oats, all kinds of fruit, peas, goobers, sugar cane, "the watermelon smilin' on the vine" and, in fact most every old thing that's raisable. The farmers, as a rule, understand their business. Such men as Joe Andrews, Andy Riley, John Bob Wallace, John Bass, J. R. Cantrell, Billy Cole, Byron Burnett, john Lancaster, J. E. Pugh, Wm., J. A., and J. D. McWilliams, A. R. Scales, N. D. Self, C. M. Sides, T. R. Sims and many others that we could mention have made farming a success. The only drawback to the community is a lack of transportation facilities for produce. the markets are too far off. Verily, this is a section of God's country and a railroad would insure its people a streak of good fortune as endless as a wagon track."
It was a sad day for the residents of the Martins mill area when the post office was closed, but these are hardy people, these citizens of Martins Mill. Through the years they have suffered loss from a tornado, loss as many as five churches and a couple of schools to fire, but they've always rebuilt. So will the heart and soul of Martins Mill live on forever in the ones who treasure the memory of those earlier days.