Chalk/Ferguson Mill 1848 – 1900
By Charlene Carson
The Chalk Mill was the first of eight mills that would be built along Salado Creek between 1848 and 1880. There was practically no farming in Bell County territory when the Chalk brothers established their mill. People were mainly engaged in the raising of stock – cattle, horses, and hogs. These animals ran loose feeding on the lush grasses of the prairies, competing with the deer, antelope, and other wild game for the best grazing spots. In some places the land was rough and raw but not without its beauty. In the spring-time it was decorated with a variety of wildflowers including blue bonnets, verbena, Indian plume, sunflowers, and lilies of all hues and colors. The best unimproved land brought fifty cents per acre. It was into this setting that the Chalk brothers selected a spot on the Salado River to build their sawmill.