Steward's Mill and its relationship with Troy

Last week I wrote about the community of Troy/Pine Bluff located on the west bank of the Trinity River in Freestone County. This inland port played a very important role in the progress of growth for several counties located westward from the town, especially Freestone, Navarro and Limestone but other communities farther to the north and northwest. 
Most of the time, steamboats could go as far upriver as Troy but any other shipping points farther upstream were very limited depending on the water table within the river channel. Since the boats could reach Troy/Pine Bluff, a lot of cargo going in either direction was either received or shipped from Troy. 
However Troy/Pine Bluff was located in a rather isolated area with the river on one side and fairly steep and uneven hills located on the other three sides. There also were several streams in the area which restricted ingress and egress to the community if it happened to be the rainy season. Therefore there was a direct need for a distribution center located farther to the west, closer to the blackland prairies, where material could be distributed in many different directions. The community of Steward’s Mill filled this need successfully. 
Founded in 1853 by G. Washington Steward, who had built a double pen log cabin and a water-powered flour mill, the community was named after its founder. In the years to follow, Mr. Steward built a general store and a cotton gin. Then a William Bonner built a shoe factory and a saw mill. In the 1880s, Steward’s Mill boasted it had a church, a school, a post office and a population of 70 with a service radius of seven miles. 
However the most important contribution for Steward’s Mill was the fact it was a major distribution center for goods outbound such as cotton, corn and tobacco and a tremendous amount of inbound staples meant for cities such as Corsicana. I feel sure material meant for Navarro County and other local points would have made it to the settlers one way or another but the location of Steward’s Mill was an ideal jumping off point for much of day-to-day important necessities. 
It is a shame there aren’t any shipping manifests/ledgers for either inbound or outbound goods in existence today. It would be nice to see what transpired in a single year so we would have some idea just how important Troy/Pine Bluff and Steward’s Mill played in those early days. With the advent of the coming of the railroads to the area, boat traffic declined rapidly and, in turn, Troy/Pine Bluff faded into the past. 
However, there are still a few remnant structures of Steward’s Mill still standing. It has been several years since we went to the community of Steward’s Mill and the last time we visited the location, the old store was still standing but slowly going downhill. By now, it may be gone but we need to verify this. 
In the archaeological report I have been using for most of the information about navigation on the Trinity River, the archaeologists with Southern Methodist University published a small map on which they marked an approximate location for each community and landing listed in the book. 
Not only did they mark the location of Troy/Pine Bluff and Steward’s Mill, they also illustrated an approximate location of the road connecting the two settlements. 

 

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