In 1851, following a stay of several years in Gillespie County, Texas, a group of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints led by Lyman Wight moved 50 miles to Hamilton Valley in Burnet County.
There they built a mill at Marble Falls, a site where Hamilton Creek cascades over a drop of more than 20 feet. It was known as Mormon Mill.
The mill was three stories high and housed both a grinding mill and a saw that could handle large timbers, according to historian Melvin C. Johnson. The Wight or Mormon Mill settlement was originally known as Hamilton, but the name was later changed to Burnet. Members of the settlement built a school and participated in local politics. They did not, however, seek to hold political office. Several families chose to leave the settlement to go elsewhere for economic or religious reasons.
The Wight-led settlement has an enduring legacy. Seen in these images is the settlement’s cemetery, known to this day as Mormon Mill Cemetery. A street in present-day Burnet still bears the name Mormon Mill Road. Millstones from the mill are on display at Fort Croghan in the town of Burnet, Burnet County, Texas. The cemetery is situated on private property. It is requested that the owner’s privacy be strictly respected.
Lyman Wight chose to stay in Texas rather than go to Utah. He was eventually released from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and cut off from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has, nonetheless, a remarkable legacy of courage and years of devotion to the LDS Church and the Prophet Joseph Smith and as an innovative leader.
Kenneth R. Mays is a board member of the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation and has also been an instructor in the LDS Church’s Department of Seminaries and Institutes for 30 years.