Thomas Anderson, born in Virginia in 1820, came to Texas in the late 1850s seeking a new and prosperous home. p>
Thomas Anderson, born in Virginia in 1820, came to Texas in the late 1850s seeking a new and prosperous home. Being a country dweller and a miller by trade, he noticed the numerous advantages of the hill country. After searching for land, Anderson picked his home site on Cypress Creek, which flowed into the Colorado River.
Anderson and his two sons, Ed and Abe, constructed the mill by hand. The undershot wheel was a work of art with every part of this giant wheel hand-tooled with an adze and secured with wooden pegs.
The Anderson gristmill was a gathering place for farmers who came to have their corn ground. The settlers had to travel many miles and usually several wagons from a community came to mill and visit with friends while the corn was being ground.
Anderson used his engineering skills to build an irrigation system to cultivate his peach and apple orchards and provide running water to the house, a rarity at this time even for city dwellers.
In 1863, the mill was converted to manufacture gunpowder for use by the Confederacy during the Civil War. The many bat caves in the area supplied guano for the manufacture of saltpeter, an important ingredient of gunpowder. After the War, the mill was converted back to a gristmill. In the early 1870s, Anderson added a cotton gin.
After Thomas Anderson’s death in 1894, the family moved to Austin. The mill equipment was sold and the structure deserted. In 1936, a granite marker was placed on the road overlooking the mill and in 1941, the rocks from the mill were torn down and moved. The original site of the mill is now covered by Lake Travis.
The Anderson Mill Garden Club rebuilt the mill and preserved the history of the locality and its pioneers. In 1972, the Anderson Mill Museum was completed at its present location, 13974 FM 2769, and is open to visitors between March and October on the fourth Sunday of the month. Margaret Keith Halsell, Anderson’s great-great-granddaughter, recently donated a 125-year-old painting of the mill to Anderson Mill Elementary School in Round Rock. It now hangs in the office of the school, 10610 Salt Hollow.