May 23, 2017

John Berry’s Mill

25 JUNE 1967
JOHN BERRY’S MILL
GEORGETOWN, WILLIAMSON COUNTY, TEXAS

burrstone
burrstonecloseup

JOHN BERRY

1786 – 1866
THIS BURRSTONE FROM

JOHN BERRY’S MILL 1846

FIRST MILL IN WILLIAMSON COUNTY

PLACED BY OLD SETTLERS ASSOCIATION 1906

MARKER DEDICATED JUNE 25, 1967
AT BERRY FAMILY REUNION
BY TEXAS SOCIETY ON 75TH ANNIVERSARY
NATIONAL SOCIETY UNITED STATES
DAUGHTERS OF 1812

A native of Kentucky and veteran of the War of 1812, John Berry moved in 1816 to Indiana. In 1827 he brought his family to the Atascosito District of Texas. Mexico awarded him lots in Liberty and Mina (Bastrop) when those towns were founded.

Berry had 18 children by his three wives: Betsy Smeathers (d. 1818), daughter of pioneer Texan William Smeathers (Smothers); Gracie Treat (d. 1830); and Hannah Devore (1812-1904). Five sons and three sons-in-law served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War (1861-1865). Berry’s oldest sons, Joseph (1811-1842), John Bate (1813-1891), and Andrew Jackson (1816-1899), served in the Republic of Texas Army. All three were Texas Rangers before and after the War for Independence (1836) and in the Battle of Plum Creek (1840). Joseph was the first casualty in the Mier Expedition (1842), and John Bate was in Perote Prison for a year.

A Williamson County pioneer, John Berry settled three miles northeast of Georgetown in 1846. He built a blacksmith and gun shop and a spring-driven grist mill near Berry Creek, one of the first in Williamson County, to which other settlers in the area came to grind their corn and wheat. It was constructed at the site of a swift-flowing spring of water, which came out of the-ground at an estimated rate of two to three million gallons each day. A dam was erected, behind which a millpond soon formed. For many years it served the needs of hundreds of families in the vicinity, and even the Indians of the area brought their corn to be ground at Berry’s Mill.

The property was known as Gann’s Mill Farm for a number of years prior to the destruction of the mill in a flood in 1921. The Gann family had enlarged and improved upon the original Berry mill. The burrstone from the mill is now on the courthouse lawn (now in the John Berry Park) in Georgetown. In 1967, the Daughters of 1812 presided at a dedication ceremony in which a marker was placed on the stone, commemorating the mill’s original owner.

Berry died at age 80 and was buried near his home. His descendants include a great-grandson, Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in American history.