Nash's Iron Foundry

By: Mark Odintz

Type: General Entry

Published: April 1, 1995

Nash's Iron Foundry, the first iron furnace and foundry in Texas, was located sixteen miles northwest of Jefferson, near the site of present Mims Chapel in northwestern Marion County (Cass County until 1860). The furnace was built in 1847 on a tributary of Alley's Creek on the Walter H. Gilbert headright by Jefferson S. Nash, a Cass County planter impressed with the quality of the local iron ore. A foundry was added sometime thereafter, but it was only intermittently operational. In 1857 the business, under the name J. S. Nash and Company, was reorganized with three active partners: Nash, his son William D. Nash, and David Browder, an expert in iron production brought in from outside Texas. Plagued by chronic shortages of money for equipment, the company approached the state legislature for funding in the form of a land grant in 1857, but no aid materialized. In January 1858 the company was incorporated as the Nash Iron, Steel, and Copper Manufacturing Company, and by this time the Nash furnace is reported to have sent more than 10,000 pounds of iron to Jefferson, the nearest shipping point. Still hoping to receive financial assistance from the state legislature, the company expanded and retooled its facilities in 1859 and 1860. The secession crisis and the outbreak of the Civil War put an end to the possibility of government aid, and the operation found its transportation and equipment difficulties considerably aggravated by the war. In 1861 the company attempted to shift over to the manufacture of cannons, cannon-shot, and rifles for the Confederate Army. A quantity of cannon-balls was produced, but it appears that no artillery pieces or small arms were manufactured. On March 5, 1863, the company was reincorporated under the name Texas Iron Company. The company continued to suffer from shortages of equipment and capital, and the business was sold to the George A. Kelly Iron Company toward the end of the war. Much of the plant was dismantled and moved to Kellyville, and by the later 1860s all that remained of Nash's enterprise was an abandoned furnace.

Robert L. Jones, "The First Iron Furnace in Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 63 (October 1959). Bill Winsor, Texas in the Confederacy (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill Junior College Press, 1978).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Mark Odintz, “Nash's Iron Foundry,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 20, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 1, 1995