In 1849, Bowen Mill started manufacturing along Snake Creek in Whitesburg. The mill manufactured skeins of coarse yarn used in osnaburg, grain sacks. When the mill burned down, in 1851, the Bowen brothers sold their assets to William Amis who reopened the mill in 1866 under the name of Carroll Manufacturing.
In 1880, the mill changed hands again and became Hutcheson Mill, which manufactured cotton sheeting and shirting fabric. Hutcheson Mill, over the next fifteen years, became an innovative enterprise powered by electricity. By 1895, Hutcheson’s textile mill had 5,000 spindles, 240 employees, and 1,300 acres.
Sold in 1921, the mill took on the name Banning Mill. Between the 1930s and 40s, during the Great Depression through World War II, Banning Mill closed and reopened many times. By the 1950s, Banning Mill made yarn for carpet but despite their effort to become innovative, the mill closed in 1971, after 130 years of operation.
In the late 1940s, A.L. Fuller and Charlie Goodroe established a cotton mill, called Virginia Manufacturing Company, to spin yarn in downtown Whitesburg. One of the most common jobs for women working in cotton mills during this time was operating the spinning frame. A former spinner recalls, “My dad didn’t want me to spin, because he said it was too hard. And spinning was hard, but I loved it.”
James Briggs eventually bought the company to add to his franchise, which included mills in Tallapoosa and Columbus, Georgia. He added a braid mill and started manufacturing cords for venetian blinds, shipping the completed cords to the Tallapoosa plant for assembly. Later, Briggs sold his company to Gibson LaFoy, Ralph Hart, and Martha Arnold who continued cord manufacturing under the name West Georgia Mills, Inc. After the mill burned down, the three stockholders sold their company to Willington Technical Industries, who went through a series of name variations. Willington rebuilt the mill, moving it from its original location downtown to Willington Mill road.
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