Uncover the textile history along Raccoon Creek in Chattooga County.
Berryton, an unincorporated community in Chattooga County, began its textile journey in 1883 with the opening of Raccoon Mills along the banks of Raccoon Creek. By the census of 1900, Raccoon Mill had a population of 441. Many area residents worked at Raccoon Cotton Mills operating the 104 looms and 3,400 spindles.
In 1910, John M. Berry purchased Raccoon Manufacturing Company, after the company declared bankruptcy, and changed the name to Berryton Mill. Berry, also owner of Rome Hosiery Mills in Rome, Georgia, used the mill’s 5,000 spindles and 200 workers to produce yarn for Rome Hosiery Mills and other mills in the area. Berry made extensive improvements and alterations to the mill, which operated by steam and waterpower and contained 5,000 ring spindles and 100 knitting machines.
The Raccoon mill village, later Berryton mill village, contained a mill owned company store, where residents could barter for goods, a public school, and three churches. The company owned about a 100 houses within the village and charged about 25 cents per room. Two families shared many of the mill homes and the village connected to other surrounding communities by railroad.
Although impacted by the national textile workers strike in the 1930s, through the decades the mill remained the center of Berryton life. The turning point for the mill occurred in 1951 during the Textile Workers of America strike with the killing of one non-striking female worker. Conditions for the mill continued to worsen when mill owner and President John M. Berry died in 1952. In 1958, a North Carolina company, Harriet & Henderson, purchased the mill from the Berry family and operated it until 2000 when the mill closed.