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Tara S. Gree, Clerk of Court and Comptroller of Clay County, FL
Clerk of Court and Comptroller of Clay County, FL Clerk of Court and Comptroller of Clay County, FL
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Sawmill production peaked in Clay County in the 1880’s. By 1927, there were just eight mills, and by 1937, only two were left. (FL Commissioner of Agriculture: Florida, An Advancing State, 1907-1917-1927, pg 29.)

Timber required mechanical processing. During British and Spanish colonial times, many land grants were awarded in areas where streams of sufficient flow could service cutting and grinding operations. Later, operators took advantage of steam power and eventually mills were converted to electricity. At the peak of this industry, dozens, possibly more than one hundred, of mills dotted Clay County. Here we highlight the information gathered about each location.

Logs were transported to the mills by either floating them down a creek or by railroad. Several short line railroads came and went as the timber cutters moved around the County.  Many sawmills were destroyed by hostile activities by 1865.

Middleburg Sawmills

Black Creek (mouth)

In Niles Register, Vol 64, pg 360, (Aug 5, 1843) a visitor writes that he saw the ruins of a sawmill at Black Creek. Apparently the owners had been killed and scalped during the Second Seminole War.

Bennett Sawmill

Lewis S. Bennett had a saw mill in Middleburg in 1844. [Parade of Memories, pg 52]

Brown Sawmill

Thomas J. Brown wanted to sell his mill, two miles from Garey’s Ferry.[see Early History, pg 123]

Buddington & Wilson Sawmill

Buddington had a saw mill soon after he arrived in the Middleburg area. He sold it to Joseph W. Scott on October 28, 1848, and again to Joseph W. Scott on October 28, 1853.

Totally destroyed by fire from railroad engine’s spark, March 18, 1887. [see Southern Reporter, Vol. 18, pg. 765]

Burrows Mill

Henry M. Burrows operated an early sawmill in Green Cove Springs. (See Hooper’s “Clay County,” pg 72.)

Fairhead, Strawn & Co

Fairhead, Stawn & Co mill in Middleburg caught fire injuring fireman James Prevatt, Mr. Price and several black laborers (Florida Times Union, Oct 7, 1899)

Frank Masters injured his hand on December 21, 1900 (Florida Times Union)

Fougere Sawmill

At Black Creek. The Marquis de Fougere purchased land from Villalobos. Details are described in Early History, pg 106. A condition of the original grant was that a sawmill be erected.

Gold Head State Park

Grist Mill CL00673

This mill operated as a saw mill, grist mill and cotton gin. “Bonnie Melrose,” pg 112 indicates that the mill works came from McCarthy’s shop at Orange Springs.

Hart, Ambrose

See “Lumberman and log sawyer”, and perhaps mentioned in his letters


A mill at Highland, with direct access to the Florida Railroad (Parade of Memories, pg 125).

Hilliards Lumber Mill

In Middleburg. Damaged on May 1, 1901 (Florida Times Union)

Horton Lumber and Saw Mill

Built in about 1883 by Henry H. Horton in Orange Park. Webb’s History of Florida, 1885, says it turned out 7,500 ft of lumber per day and employed seven men. It used a 25-horsepower engine to make boards, laths and shingles.

Hull’s Mill

1896 school board minutes indicate that the Honey Hill school for black children was located between Middleburg and Hull’s Mill.

Prescott & Cole

Darlin C. Prescott and James B. Cole bought Varnes land and built a mill, 1847. The ensuing foreclosures are highlighted in Parade of Memories, pg 52.

Keystone Heights Lumber Co.

Primarily focused on building local tourist homes.

Moss’ Mill

After the Civil War, BCC minutes show citizens of Middleburg and vicinty requested a change of location of the ferries on Black Creek, by moving the ferry at M. A. Knights to Moss’ saw Mill and to consolidate Chalkers and Brannings ferries into one at the forks of Black Creek. Signed M. A. Knight, A. C. Chalker, Ivy Williamson, T. J. Dillaberry, Henry Ayers, Charlie Bardin, J. R. Shore, Gad Frisbee, Elias Tedder, M. F Geiger, J. J. Dillaberry, A. H. Moss, W. W. Hull, Jr., M. H. Teratus.

Built an addition to his mill (The Spring, August 15, 1891)

Varnes, Isaac

Sold to Prescott and Cole (Parade of Memories, pg 52)

Yonge, Henry

(Spanish) Henry Yonge (Young) petitions for a mill site on Black Creek and a square of 5 miles to supply timber for the sawmill.

This sawmill had not yet been constructed by the time the Claims Commission met, and Yonge petitiioned for an extension of the condition, but the huge 16,000 acre grant was unconfirmed.

Scottland Mill (Scotland Mill)

At the fork of Black Creek. Part of the Jennings Artesian Land Co.

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Green Cove Springs Sawmills

Borden Sawmill

John G. Borden advertises his sawmill for sale in The Spring, Dec 20, 1890.

Perhaps at Walkill.

Clinch Sawmill

“Animal powered” saw mill (see pg 366 of “Reports of Cases Argued…, Vol 33” )

Darby & Savage

This mill opened in 1870s on the south side of Governors Creek. For a brief time, a shortline railroad ran across the creek to service it. It continued to operate until Dowling-Shands Lumber Company bought it in 1911.

Dowlings Mill

Green Cove Springs. See “Green Cove Springs,” pg 86

From Parade of Memories, pg 213: After Dowling and Shands bought the property in 1911, it continued to make lumber, barrels and shingles. There were sixty cottages for workers. J. C. Penney and his Florida Farms and Industries bought everything but the mill in 1921.

The mill was purchased by Farquhar Machinery and it burned in 1925. Oral histories indicate the sawdust continued to burn for many years.

Doyle, Elmer

Archie McTaggart, of Copenhagen, spent winter at cousin Elmer Doyle in GCS. Fatally injured at his new mill (The Spring, October 29, 1905)

Eddy, V. D.

Sawmill owner (Parade of Memories, pg 168 & 171). Probably in Green Cove Springs.

Hall and Noble’s Mill

In 1906, V. G. Hall and J. L. Noble’s mill cut the timber donated by O. B. Budington to make lumber for the Shiloah Baptist Church.

Neff’s Sawing and Planing Mill

Shown on map CCA101810 in Green Cove Springs

Rivers Mill

Shown on map CCA101810 in Green Cove Springs. A place name in the 1910 census.

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Sawmills in Other Locations

Burlington Sawmill

A 100 tract of the McIntosh estate at Laurel Grove. Sold to H. R. Sadler, Sr. in 1853. McIntosh also had Sugar Works.

Fewkes Mill

Near Sandhill Lake..

BCC Minutes show a petition from citizens of Lakeside for a voting precinct at Fewkes mill, sec 29, township 7, range 23. signed by Joseph T. Fewkes, John H. Picton, John W. Dean, James Strickland, John Coleman, Henry Moore, Moses Coleman, C. B. Griffis, Henry Bristow, Benjamin Lee, Manning Griffis, Moses Coleman, Jr., Manning Griffis, Jr., Sam Beardsley, Harvey Jarret, W. Nelson, James Hillyer, E. H. Roberts

Fouts Mill

In southwest Clay County. A place name in the 1910 census. Probably owned by Martin Fouts. BCC Minutes show a voting precinct was moved from Piney Grove to Fouts Mill.

Horton, Henry H.

Owned a sawmill that could spit out 7,500 board feet of lumber per day. (Parade of Memories, pg 142)

Magnolia Steam Mill (Magnolia Mills)

A saw mill may have existed at Magnolia Springs as early as the first Thomas Travers grant. It is shown on the Bien 1865 map.

Joseph Summerlin had a sawmill there in 1853 (Parade of Memories, pg 65

Pengree, William

Shown in the Spanish Land Grant located at the St. Johns River State College tract, where there is an artesian spring of considerable flow.

Kingsley, Zephaniah — at Tulula Springs

Usually called Spring Field. See Early History, pg 85 for photo. Completed by 1824.

Orange Park area

Joe Winney was injured in a sawmill, perhaps at Orange Park, June 18, 1899. (Florida Times Union)

Rigley’s Mill

Mouth of Black Creek, FHQ, Vol 38, No 2

Underwood, John

The WPA’s Inventory of the County Archives of Florida indicated John Underwood had a mill at Black Creek as early as 1805. This Black Creek is at the St. Mary’s River, and not in Clay County. (See a Spanish Land Grant at the St. Mary’s River)

San Lebrydo Lumber


Passport Day - Saturday, April 27th at Orange Park Branch

We encourage those in need of new passports to use this site (Passport page) to make an appointment (O.P. Branch only) and to review the checklist of items needed to submit a passport application.  Please review the release linked below for details.  It is time for Passport Day in Clay!

Passport Day 2024 – Media Release