(Rockwall County) In 1866, just one year after the Civil War, J.A. Hartman erected a windmill over a 45-foot, hand-dug well to provide water to the cotton gin which would bear his name. Among the first such contraptions to be installed in Rockwall County, the Hartman Mill’s steel tower was erected on oak pilings to extend its elevation and was topped by an 8-foot blade system and gearbox.
It stood its ground, tall and proud, until 1900 when it was moved to the top of the hill at the corner of Hartman and Renfro Streets, where a new and improved steam-driven cotton gin was located. At its new location, the windmill crowned a 65-foot well. The well served the needs of local residents as well as the gin.
On July 26, 1984, the historical windmill was moved once again to its present location in Harry Myers Park, behind the Manson-Lamoreaux-Hartman House, which serves as the Rockwall County Historical Museum. It is loved and viewed by many and this story is told to children on school tours as well as to families and individuals who visit the museum to learn about Rockwall County history.
Recently, during a heavy spring storm, the windmill was struck by rain, hail, lightning and high winds. The aging windmill structure atop the 65-foot tower plunged to the ground. The Rockwall County Historical Foundation is in the process of repairing the 400 lb., 8-foot wide blade span of the windmill fan mechanism. Jim Mills has tirelessly spent may volunteer hours straightening the blades and reassembling the parts to the fan.
The Hartman windmill may be the oldest remaining windmill in our county. It is a treasured link to our history and the time when cotton was king, that only a few remaining citizens of Rockwall County can remember. The RCHF organization is asking for financial help to restore this treasure to its near-original state for the future generations to enjoy.
“It’s All About The Windmill,” a fundraising spaghetti dinner and program, will be held at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23 in the Community Center in Harry Myers Park. The cost is $15. It will be catered by J Carino’s Country Italian Restaurant. Guests will be limited to the first 100 people who make reservations to either email@example.com or 972-722-1507. Remember that a reservation made is a reservation paid!
Cash donations are also being accepted for the Windmill Fund established by the Rockwall County Historical Foundation. Donors may send a check to RCHF, P.O. Box 916, Rockwall, TX 75087.
Submitted by Leigh Plagens, RCHF publicity chair.
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