GABRIEL MILLS, CEDAR MILLS & BERTRAM TEXAS WEBPAGE
Map of the Bertram Area
WELCOME TO LEN KUBIAK'S TEXAS HISTORY SERIES
HISTORY OF BERTRAM AND AREA SETTLEMENTS (Gabriel Mills/Mather Mills/Brizendine Mills/Cedar Mills/Oatmill Settlements)
BERTRAM AREA BULLETIN BOARD
Received the following email that will be of interest to our audience.
Let me introduce myself....my name is Levis Raymond Sanford, aka L. Ray Sanford, however, I prefer the nickname "Racy". A friend sent me the URL of your page concerning Fort Tumbleweed and Bertram, Texas. I find it most interesting...there are many of my ancestors mentioned on your page.
My father, Levis Riley Sanford and his sister, Willie Marie grew up on a farm just outside of Bertram. My grandparents were Samuel Moreland Sanford and wife, Mabel Ella Riley. I have the Masonic papers authorizing my grandfather, Sam Sanford to lay the cornerstone in the Bertram school. This was done in July of 1909. Mabel's mother was Lumima Vaughn, wife of James Dancer Riley, and sister of Thomas Davis Vaughn, Jr. (who I think you identify as Captain Vaughn)
I have one potential conflict with your page. I have it that Alexander Sheldon Vaughn and wife, Nancy Holt (or Holder) Davis (parents of Captain Vaughn and Lumima Vaughn) had nine children instead of seven as you state on your page. I have it that Lumima was the youngest of the children. I got this information from a book titled "The Alexander Sheldon Vaughn Family, 1817 to 1983" which was compiled by D. H. Taylor in 1983. Mr. Taylor is a descendent of Alexander Sheldon Vaughn. Wonder if you have this publication? It has green plastic binding and green covers and contains over 200 pages.
In December 1998, my son, Mark Sanford and I formed a Family Partnership with it's main asset, the farm where may dad and his sister grew up near Bertram. This was also the home of my grandparents, "Sambo and Mabel" as I knew them. It is also where my g grandfather, John Thompson Sanford and wife Nancy Theodicia Hay settled in approximately 1875. They were the original owners of the "Sanford Family Altar Bible", which is in my possession and contains some family history pages. The farm contains 224 acres along FM 243. Bear Creek runs through the property. Texas Parks and Wildlife has designated this property as a Wildlife Management Area. Mark and his family moved onto the place last August from Houston. They plan on building a home on the place in the future.
I am retired from KHOU-TV in Houston after 40 years with them on the technical side. My home is still in Houston, however, I spend considerable time in Bertram. My email address is
BERTRAM AREA HISTORY
The area that is today Bertram was once the home of various Indian tribes dating back some ten thousand years. As late as 1836, the Comanche nation had a large presence on nearby Bear Creek, a spring fed creek with cold clear water year round, even in periods of drought. To the south of this area was the headwaters of the San Gabriel and Oatmeal Creek, all supporting sizable numbers of migrating tribes of native Americans.
With the coming of the white man, most tribes moved their camps out of the area leaving only the powerful Comanches that continued to wreck havoc in the area until after the end of the Civil War.
Gabriel Mills/Mather Mills/Brizendine Mills Settlement (1858)
In 1849, Sam Mather, an Englishman by birth, settled on the North San Gabriel and soon after built a gristmill powerered by the waters of the North San Gabriel river.
Sam Mather settled in Gabriel Mills in the late 1850's.
Between 1849 and 1852, William P. Rich , C. A. Russell, Winslow Turner and M. S. Scaggs also settled in the Gabriel Mills area while I. M. Brown and R. G. Rice located in Burnet County five miles N. W. of the Mather settlement in an area called Cedar Mills.
Area farmers came from miles away to use the mill and shop in the stores that were established in the later 1850s.
In 1854, the Gabriel Mills church and school was constructed just west of Gabriel Mills. The benches for the school and church were made of split and hewn logs (hewn with a broad axe) and the roof was made of oak boards, split with a froe and mallet. Sam Mather's mill was destroyed in the San Gabriel flood of May 1854.
Gabriel Mills Church and School(1856)
In 1856, Sam Mather and B. K. Stewart each deeded twenty-five acres of land for the purpose of building a new church, school and Mason's lodge for Gabriel Mills. Sam Mather's son, Andy Mather became a Texas Ranger and helped protect the early settlements against Indian Raids during the Civil War era.
Gabriel Mills Post Office (1858)
In 1858, the settlement got its own postoffice and officially became a town. By 1884 Gabriel Mills had seventy-five inhabitants, a mill, a gin, a school, and two churches. The community reached a peak population of eighty in 1890 and thereafter declined rapidly. By 1892 its population had dropped to thirty, in 1905 its post office was discontinued, and sometime before 1915, the lodge/church/school building was destroyed in a fire; by 1920 Gabriel Mills was deserted. In 1988 all that survived of Gabriel Mills was a cemetery.
Cedar Mills Settlement (1848)
The Cedar Mills settlement started around 1848 but the following year, was bypassed by the new stagecoach road to Fort Croghan in Hamilton (which became Burnet) in 1849. This new road helped create the village of Gabriel Mills and eventually turn Cedar Mills into a ghost town.
Alexander Vaughn, brought his wife and family from Missouri to the Cedar mills area 3 or 4 miles south of present day Bertram in 1853. The village of Liberty Hill just a few miles to the east had been settled a few years earlier.
Alexander and his wife, Nancy Davis Vaughan, had seven children. Their second-oldest son, Thomas Davis Vaughan, joined the Confederate Army in 1861, and fought at the Battle of Galveston.
After the civil war, Captain T.D. Vaughan and his brother-in-law, J. D. Riley, became partners in a general store at South Gabriel, near the river for which the small community was named.
Until 1882, Captain and Mrs. Vaughan owned the land in and around the area that became Bertram. With the burning of the old state capital bilding in Austin came the need for a railroad line from Marble Falls to Austin to haul granite to Austin.
This railroad, called the Austin and Northwestern Railroad Company, was organized on April 22, 1881.The narrow gauge railway company obtained a right of way from the Vaughns in January of 1882, which ran through through the proposded site for Bertram. The Bertram townsite was a forty-acre square bounded by North, South, East, and West Streets.
TOWN OF BERTRAM ESTABLISHED JUNE 25, 1882
The new town of Bertram was named after Austin merchant Rudolph Bertram, the largest stockholder in the Austin and Northwestern railroad company.
The Vaughan-Riley Store was moved to Bertram on August 10, 1882 and was soon followed by the T.H. Reed Store which was constructed of rock from it's South Gabriel school building. The Reed Store (1882) is Bertram's oldest commercial building and is still in use on the northwest corner of SH 29 and FM 243 East (at the light). In December of 1882, the post office was moved from South Gabriel to Bertram, but Bertram citizens selected June 25, 1882, as the official birthday of the town, honoring the date of the train's first arrival.
By the next decade, Bertram sported a population of approximately 150, had a cotton gin-gristmill, three general stores, a grocer, a blacksmith, a shoemaker, and two wagonmakers. After 1900 Bertram was a major shipping point for cotton, cattle, and wool.
In 1928 a record 11,624 bales of cotton were ginned in Bertram. Then came the great depression and with it the plummeting cotton prices causing the town's population to decline from a high of 1,000 in 1929 to 550 by 1931.
On December 8, 1882, the South Gabriel post office was moved to Bertram and Peter R. Weston was assigned as the first Bertram postmaster. Subsequent postmasters included:
Riley, Jas. D., 19 Feb 1889
Poole, Robt. Z?, 18 Apr 1893
Weston, Peter R., 25 Jun 1897
Weston, Amanda, 25 Oct 1906
Starr, Wm. A., 16 Sep 1909
Taylor, Chas. A., 3 Mar 1915
Johnson, Ed. P., 15 Jly 1924 (Acting postmaster)
Johnson, Mrs. E. P., (Vina), 24 May 1927 (Acting postmaster)
McNabb, Ed. R., 24 Sep 1927 (Acting postmaster)
Johnson, Vina, 19 Dec 1927
Bertram School, originally housed grades 1-12; now serves as an elementary School as part of the Burnet ISD.
This is a work in progress. Bookmark this page and come back often. If you have old photographs or history relating to the Bertram area, please email me a copy and I'll include your photos on this webpage.
For questions or comments, send me an Email