Central Texas Storybooks

Central Texas Stories and Legends

Ike Jones Mill
All in the Family

Milling seems to have run in the Col. Thomas Henry Jones family. When the Colonel's son, Isaac Van Zandt Jones, returned to Texas from military service, he established his home on a farm below his father's mill, which had been in operation for about 10 years. The Salado River ran below his house, so in 1880 the industrious son set up a gristmill in the community of Kolls, Texas, located near present day Amity Road East and Sulphur Wells Road.1 The mill became known as the Ike Jones Mill.

Ike Jones Mill creekside 1995
This 1995 photograph shows the creekside view of the cotton gin that replaced the Ike Jones Mill. The mill was in operation from 1880 to 1917.

Isaac (Ike) Van Zandt Jones was born in 1842 in Madison County, Tennessee, near the town of Jackson.2 His parents were Col. Thomas Henry Jones and Maria Louisa (Van Zandt) Jones. Mrs. Jones was the daughter of Jacob Van Zandt and Mary (Isaac) Van Zandt who were well known in Tennessee and Texas. Her brother, Isaac Van Zandt, was prominent in Texas politics and was a candidate for governor at the time of his death in 1847. Van Zandt County in northeast Texas was named in honor of him.

As a young man, Jones had received his education at Bastrop Military School located at Bastrop, Texas. At the age of 18 he joined the Confederate army as a member of Company D, Eighth Texas Regiment. During his years of military service, he fought in a number of significant battles and numerous skirmishes. Jones was able to complete his service without suffering a single wound. He was discharged from the military at Bentonville, North Carolina.3 Jones returned to Texas in 1865 where he joined his parents in Austin. Like his father, who was involved in the construction business, the younger Jones became involved with the business of manufacturing brick. However, after eight years of making bricks, he turned his attention to merchandising with the dry goods firm of Clapp & Co. Jones soon grew restless of fancy notions and dry goods and yearned for something more profitable and fulfilling.

Isaac V. Jones married Miss Claudia Caroline Toole, daughter of Henry and Mary (Telfair) Toole, of North Carolina in 1866.4 Soon after their marriage the young couple followed Jones's father to Bell County and settled on their 417-acre farm. It was here that they would have a family of six sons, Henry Toole, Walter T., Rufus Telfair, Charlon Y., Isaac, and High P., and build their life together.5

Soon after his arrival, Jones constructed a frame gristmill made of rawhide lumber sawed from native hardwood trees. The local supply of available resources usually determined what material would be used in making the mill and the dam.

Ike Jones Mill sluice gate
This sluice gate was used to block and divert water into the mill.

The Ike Jones Mill dam was made of cedar posts which were sunk with an upstream incline.6 The dam was located more than half a mile upstream from the mill. This location was to secure a sufficient drop in elevation to make possible the free flow of water through the sluice. The sluice started the water on its way to the mill.

The Jones Mill was very successful as a gristmill, but Jones was always looking for ways to improve the mill to meet the ever-changing needs of the farmers. When cotton became a dominant crop, Jones converted his mill to a cotton gin. With his desire to improve ginning technology, Jones invented a bailing press for compressing cotton, hay, tobacco, or other crops requiring baling. A patent was granted for this press on March 21, 1882.7

Nineteen years later, on December 24, 1901, Jones received a patent for a new and improved bailing press that made cylindrical bales of cotton. In his application for the patent, Jones stated that the redesigned press would receive the cotton as fast as it was ginned and the bale would be complete the moment the ginning was completed.8

As innovative ginning methods continued to be introduced, the old converted gristmill gins could no longer meet the demands of the ever-improving cotton production and the ginning methods. Therefore, in 1917, the Ike Jones Mill closed. The mill site subsequently assumed a new purpose: it became a recreational area. The one-half mile long mill race was perfect for swimming, and mill house became a bathhouse. Just above the mill was a sulphur well. The beautiful scenery around the mill site made the Ike Jones Mill site a popular recreational spot.

In addition to being a millwright, Jones was an avid, progressive farmer. His farms were considered to be the best in the area. He gave special attention to the fruit industry. He had a huge orchard consisting of plum, apricot, apple, pear, and peach trees. At one time, he had over 400 peach trees. He also had an excellent collection of grapes of at least 40 different varieties. Jones also successfully engaged in stock-raising with special attention to the raising of Jersey cattle. His pride and joy was a Jersey cow who is said to have given over 14 pounds of butter per week.9

Ike Jones Mill millstone
The Ike Jones Mill millstone, with gears and pully system attached, was left here by the flood of 1921.

According to an article published in the October 11, 1920 issue of the Temple Daily Telegram, the Jones Mill and 203 acres of land were acquired by Edwin Bailey of Temple. Bailey planned to build upon the natural recreation facility already in place by adding a modern stock farm with an updated playground. The property was to be operated under the name Pleasure Stock Farm.10

It was Bailey's intention to remodel the grounds and facilities to make the site the most attractive and alluring recreational grounds for miles around. He even planned to construct small cottages that families could rent for their stay during the hot summer months.

Meanwhile, the mill fell victim to the flood of 1921 as evidenced by the twisted machinery scattered about on the banks of the river.

Ike Jones Mill millstone
This view of the cotton gin shows the water entrance stopped with concrete cinder blocks.

After the flood, Bailey built a modern gin made of sheet iron on the old mill site. Gasoline power was used and machinery in a small room off the gin supplied the demand for home-grown meal.

J. L. Bailey purchased Stinnett Mill in 1922, two years after his son Edwin purchased Jones Mill, which was about a mile below Stinnett Mill.11 It was rumored that the two plants would be connected by electric power generated from both dams so that extra power could be transmitted to either plant as needed.12

The Joneses' grand old homestead that once was the center of Southern hospitality was destroyed by fire in 1924, the same year as the third fire of the Salado College building. The Bartlett Tribune reported that the fire was of "undetermined origin."13

Apparently, the cotton gin had ceased operating by 1928. When Ruth Garrison Francis, a hometown Salado girl, and her father were exploring the old mill sites on the Salado in 1928, Ruth wrote that hogs were enjoying a swim in the mill race pool. She and her father found timbers and twisted machinery, including the mill hopper, scattered along the banks of the creek.14

As of November 2017, information regarding the death and burial site of Jones's first wife, Claudia, the mother of his first six sons, could not be found. Records show, however, that on April 24, 1912, Jones married Mildred Caroline Reid, daughter of William H. and Maggie Reid of Belton, Texas.15 Four sons and one daughter were born to this union. Their names were Hugh, Kleber, Thomas, Isaac, and Mary.

According to an article in the Temple Daily Telegram announcing his death, Isaac V. Jones died January 1, 1920. The article states that, "Death came unexpected and was a great shock to his many friends throughout Bell County." The article continues, "The deceased would have been 77 years of age this month and was a resident of Bell County for more than 50 years ... Mr. Jones was one of the most highly respected men of Bell County."16

Isaac (Ike) Van Zandt Jones and his second wife, Mildred Reid Jones, are buried in the Old Salado Grave Yard along with five of Jones's children, Rufus Telfair, Percy, Walter T., Tom Reid, and Mary Ward Jones. Also buried in the Jones family plot are Linton Jones, Dr. Kleber Jones, and Capt. Rufus Jones, all brothers of Ike Jones.

Ike Jones's father and mother, Thomas Henry Jones (1816-1883) and Maria Louisa Van Zandt Jones (1822-1863) are buried in the Oakwood Cemetery, Travis County, Austin, Texas.

The scattered debris from the Ike Jones Mill, the last of the romantic old mills, is a reminder that for over one hundred years milling was a way of life along the Salado River. Texas history marched along the banks of the Salado as each mill made its contribution to the community and to the country as a whole. All that remains of these once working mills are fond memories of the past, idle remnants of the mills themselves and the stories that have grown up around them.

Jones Family Gravesties in Salado
Jones Family gravesties in the old Salado Cemetery.

Within the rock wall enclosure of the old Salado Cemetery are the graves of Linton Jones (1860-1870), Dr. Kleber Jones (1851-1871), and Capt. Rufus Jones (1841-1871), all brothers of Ike Jones, Also, within the walls are the graves of two sons of Ike and Claudia Jones, R. Telfair (1872-1883), and Percy (Born Nov. 10 and died Dec. 22, 1882). The tall tombstone to the right of walled enclosure is the grave of Walter T. Jones, (1869-1895), son of Ike and Claudia Jones. The gravesite next to the gravel road includes the graves of Isaac (Ike) Jones (1843-1918) and Mildred R. Jones (1878-1967). Also, included are the graves of Mary Ward Jones (1916-1979) and Tom Reid Jones, M.D. (1913-1973), children of Ike and Mildred Jones.

By Charlene Ochsner Carson
Page last updated: March 6, 2019


  1Tyler, George W., History of Bell County, edited by Charles William Ramsdell, Ph.D., The Naylor Company, San Antonio, 1936, p. 297.
  2Bell County Reprinted Biographies, Central Texas Histories and Biographies, Volume V, Newhouse Publications, Honey Grove, 1991, p. 78.
  3Ibid., pp. 78-79.
  5Ibid., p. 79.
  6Jackson, A. T., Mills of Yesteryear, Texas Western Press, The University of Texas at El Paso, 1971, p. 98.
  7Jones, Isaac Van Zandt. Bailing Press patent, March 21, 1882. Accessed via The Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries, on November 8, 2017.
  8Jones, Isaac Van Zandt. Bailing Press patent, December 24, 1901. Accessed via The Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries, on November 8, 2017.
  9Bell County Reprinted Biographies, p. 77.
  10"Jones' Mill Sold to Temple Buyer," Temple Daily Telegram, October 11, 1920.
  11Ingram, Charles W., Temple Daily Telegram, accessed via The Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries, on January 18, 2017.
  13Cates, R.F., The Bartlett Tribune and News (Bartlett, Texas), Vol. 38, No. 52, Ed. 1, Friday, August 1, 1924. Accessed via The Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries, on June 5, 2017.
  14Francis, Ruth Garrison, "Old Water Mills of the Frisky Salado," The Dallas Morning News, Sunday, August 12, 1928 - Feature Section.
  15Williams, E.K., The Temple Daily Telegram (Temple, Texas), Vol. 5, No. 136, Ed. 1, 1912. Accessed via The Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries, on June 5, 2017.
  16Williams, E.K., The Temple Daily Telegram (Temple, Texas), Vol. 13, No. 44, Ed. 1, 1920. Accessed via The Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries, on June 5, 2017.

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