Telling Stories, Connecting Communities

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Visualizing Data

Author: Tennesse Mena

In the Spring of 2022, I commenced my work in the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail project with the guidance of Dr. Andy Walter, Dr. Ann McCleary and Keri Adams. I began with making visual representations of the number of mills throughout the years of 1870 to 1976 of a few of the communities within the region of West Georgia and eventually made graphs of each community represented. These visual representations were in the form of bar graphs and culminated into a 3-D model graph which portrayed the number of mills throughout the years and compared them to all other communities within the research region.

It is amazing to see a visual rendition of the dataset as it portrays the history of the textile mills in West Georgia. It is interesting to see the decline of textile mills that some communities have experienced and the increase that others have gone through. What would be fascinating to see is the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the cities compared to the number of textile mills throughout the years and if there is a correlation between GDP and number of textile mills. Another worthwhile project to undertake would be the representation of women owned textile mills in West Georgia, if there is any, and their stories. 

As the semester progressed, I started mapping out the West Georgia region using Quantum GIS (QGIS). QGIS is a free to use and open source mapping software that offers a wide range of data editing and mapping features. This allowed me to learn more about the program and I delved into refreshing my memory of mapping and QGIS as well as learning new things about the program and how to produce an end result that is both visually pleasing as well as easy to read and understand. When making a map, or any other visual representation of data, one must always keep in mind the viewing audience and cater to them, making it intriguing, informative, and readable. Throughout my time spent graphing, mapping and collaborating with others, I was able to learn so many valuable skills that I will take with me for my future professional endeavors.

All of my work throughout the semester culminated into the Scholars’ Day end results seen below. Scholars’ Day is sponsored by the Honors College and the Office of Undergraduate Research. It is a day in which undergraduate students present their research projects in the form of an oral presentation, poster presentation (which is what I did), visual arts presentation, or a performance presentation. It tells the story of the economic flow of the West Georgia textile industry. As we can see, nonlocal investment steadily increased throughout the years, first seen with the nonlocal ownership in Massachusetts. This then spread to regions on the east coast but there were even nonlocal investments in both California and Arizona in later years. It is amazing to see the changes throughout the years and how it has shaped these communities into what they are today. 

Scholars’ Day was a great experience as I was able to put my presentation skills on display. Of course I was nervous at first but after presenting my project over and over again, I was able to lose my nervousness and perfect my presentation along the way. This was great exposure for my future endeavors and I truly did learn from my experience at Scholars’ day. There were some great suggestions from the audience at Scholars’ day, one of which resonated with me. Someone in the nursing profession suggested seeing the correlation of cancer rates within these communities compared to others that are not around textile mills. This could be a possible project undertaken in the coming semester or in the future.

Slideshow of Maps:

These graphs were very enlightening and show how visual representation can contribute so much to understanding a topic. They are also very easy to read and understand so that it reaches a wider range of audience. While making these graphs, I noticed several trends, one of which is an increase in mills in some of the cities such as Dalton, GA and Calhoun, GA. It can also be seen that some communities have remained consistent with the number of mills throughout the years as well as a decrease in the number of mills in other communities. 

It’s amazing to see all this information side by side, year by year and comparing how the mills have increased, decreased, or remained constant in communities over time. With the help of some more research, these graphs can be further developed to provide a more detailed depiction of the fluctuation of the number of mills within these communities throughout West Georgia and how it has affected them. Collaboration with these communities is an essential part of accurately portraying the stories told by these graphs. The graphs are only a small portion of the full story.

Slideshow of Graphs:

My Journey Into Mapping

Author: Jessica Sinel

As an undergraduate research assistant, I was tasked to create maps to visualize the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail during the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters for the Center of Public History. This project allowed me to gain further knowledge of working with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and working with mapping programs such as ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro. This feature story will focus on my work in creating maps for the Textile Heritage Trail.

Before maps could be created, the raw data from the Davison Blue Book had to be organized for ArcMap to work correctly. With the help of Dr. Andy Walter from the Geoscience department, and Jamie Bynum, we organized the data by year from 1870-1976, and we listed each city’s (from Columbus to Dalton) number of mills, type of product produced, and nonlocal owners. We then focused our attention on the number of mills, so we made a dataset with every city on the Textile Trail, and the number of mills for each city from 1870-1976. Dr. Walter included latitude and longitude of each city so that the cities can be mapped with the location of each city. After the data was organized, we then familiarized ourselves with the new dataset by creating charts and graphs of the data to give us an idea of what the data looks like. After getting a feel for the data, it was time to start creating maps for the number of mills.

Dr. Walter showed me how to add the data into ArcMap, and I started working on mapping the number of mills from 1870-1976. I first started with how the map was going to look such as the layout, style, color, symbols, labels, font sizes, etc. The look and details of the map can be changed throughout the course of creating the maps, which I will talk more about later in this blog. I created a map for each year to show the number of mills for each city and the total number of mills in operation for that year. The maps displayed roads including freeways and highways, rivers, and railroads to illustrate how each city might have used the roads, rivers, or railroads to transport the products into the mills. I also created maps that showed different time periods, such as one map for the number of mills between 1870-1928, another between 1929-1957, and another between 1958-1976. After creating the number of mills maps and revising the look of them, I went to work on animating the number of mills in a map.

Animating a map was a new learning experience for me because I have not done one in any of my GIS classes. Animating a map allows the reader to see changes in the data as it moves through time in either seconds, days, months, years, or decades. It took me a week to learn how it works and how to create a time animation for the number of mills. The data does not have every year between 1870-1976, and because the years are irregular, animating the map is a little more difficult. ArcMap can animate a map, but its animation is basic and relies on data for every year with no gaps. Because the years in the data has gaps, ArcMap would not work for this project. I had to learn a whole new program, ArcGIS Pro, to be able to animate the number of mills. ArcGIS Pro can animate both regular and irregular time intervals, and can add titles, texts, and images to the animated map. I have not used ArcGIS Pro until this project, so this was also a new learning experience for me. After two weeks of familiarizing myself with ArcGIS Pro, I was able to create a time animation for the number of mills from 1870-1976. It took me several attempts to get the animation looking how I wanted it to look.

After the number of mills were mapped, I then focused my attention on the non-local owners. The data for the non-local owners contained the city and state that the owner was living in while owning a mill(s). The city’s location of the non-local owners then had to have coordinates in order for the owners’ location to be mapped, so I used Google Earth to help get coordinates for each city. The location of owners can now be mapped. I used ArcGIS Pro to create these maps. I created flow maps, which is lines from a starting location (like the regions used in these maps) to the owners’ locations. I separated the maps into four time periods and separated them into three regions (Northern, Central, and Southern). I created buffers with these maps to show how far away the owners were from the mill’s region. The buffers included 100, 500, and 1,000 miles from the center and included percentages of the owners located within each buffer. It is a good way to show how the non-local owners’ range widely and how most of the owners were in the northeast region of the U.S. Since these maps can be sometimes confusing, I created an interactive map of the owner’s location so that you can turn on and off years and regions so you can see the owners in your own way. The interactive map does start with no layers displayed so that you are not overwhelmed with the information to start with. The interactive map can be found here:

https://uwg.maps.arcgis.com/apps/instant/interactivelegend/index.html?appid=4294b64dff254ea3886f99b3a44686b6.

After the non-local owners were mapped, I then turned my attention to the product types that were produced in each town. The data for the product types included cotton, woolen, dryers & finishers, knit goods, rayon & silk, jute, synthetic, cordage, printing, and cord., twist & duck. I then mapped the product types using ArcGIS Pro, and I created pie charts to show the amount of each product type on the map. I started with mapping the product types in each region (the towns in each region were combined) over three time periods, 1870-1928, 1929-1957, and 1958-1976 and they also included the number of mills in each region. These maps also contain a table of the percentages of each product type which corresponds to the pie charts on the map. I then created maps of the product types in each town using the same three time periods. The results of these product type maps show that the early years mostly had cotton and slowly over time had a wider variety of different types of product. I was also able to create a time animation map for the product types produced in each town so you can see the changes of product types produced over time.

Getting the details in a map can be time consuming and can take days or even weeks to get the exact color, style, or layout just right. For a map to look professional, time must be taken to make it look professional. There can be several things that can make the difference between a professional looking map and a poorly looking map such as: is the map balanced, are the colors balanced with the rest of the map (is it too bright, or too dark), are the labels for each city in the correct location and not overlapping with other cities and symbols, are the symbols big enough to see, is the data accurate in the map, etc. There are many other things that can go into the details in a map. The maps need to have a professional layout so everyone can read and understand the maps, no matter how experienced they are with reading maps. This was important to me in creating maps for the Textile Trail because I want the maps to look as professional as possible so that everyone can read and understand the maps that I have created for the Textile Trail.

I learned so much from the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail project these semesters. I not only learned to organized raw data, create new maps, and create a time animation map for the number of mills from 1870-1976, but I also learned the history of the textile industry in West Georgia. You can learn so much more working with a project compared to what you can learn in a classroom. I was able to take the knowledge that I learned in the classroom, expand upon it, and apply it to a real-world project. I also learned that visualizing data could have endless possibilities. I would like to thank Dr. Andy Walter, Dr. Ann McCleary, and Keri Adams for giving me this amazing opportunity to work with the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail project.

Griffin: The Rise and Fall of the Boyd-Mangham Mills

Contents [hide]

1 Humble Beginnings: The Griffin Knitting Mill

2 Building an Empire: The Boyd-Mangham Group in the 1900s

3 The Top of the Mountain: The Manghams Buy in to Griffin Manufacturing

4 With His Hand in the Cookie Jar: J.J. Mangham’s Trial

5 Picking up the Pieces: The Aftermath of the Mangham Trial

Humble Beginnings: The Griffin Knitting Mill

The Boyd family, owners of a cotton warehouse in downtown Griffin, began their involvement in Griffin’s textile industry by establishing the J.D. Boyd Manufacturing Company in 1897. This company was a small start-up which failed shortly after the death of J.D. Boyd Senior. J.D. Boyd Manufacturing disappeared from listings and was replaced by the Griffin Knitting Mill under Douglas Boyd and his brother-in-law J.W. Mangham. J.W.’s brother J.J. would join the business soon after.

The Boyd-Mangham clan organized their new company with a capital stock of $20,000 in 1900, manufacturing both men’s and women’s underwear. The venture appears to have been a cursed one from the start. In 1900, not long after the mill commenced operations, a train killed one of the mill’s female employees after her dress was caught in the tracks. Not long afterwards, in February of 1901, a notable labor dispute occurred when the mill’s superintendent assaulted a female employee. According to reports, he told her to complete some extra orders, which she refused to do without receiving a ticket for it. In those days, knitting mill employees were paid for each item, pair, or bundle that they produced instead of at an hourly rate. Essentially, the superintendent attempted to force her to work for free. When she refused, he forcibly ejected her from the building while she stabbed him repeatedly with her knitting needle.

1905 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map showing the newly vacant Griffin Knitting Mill after the business failed. The Boyd-Mangham group shortly remodeled and refit the building to produce cotton products, rechristening it as The Central Mills. Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress

In her account of the event, she implied that he dragged her to the office and assaulted her there before tossing her out of the building. She was severely injured in the fight which led to considerable unrest amongst the employees. When management asked Booth to apologize to the employee, a fight broke out between him and the woman’s friends. The Griffin Rifles were called out in response to that and the wider unrest amongst the mill’s employees, while warrants against several employees were sworn out by the superintendent for rioting. Either way, this was not good publicity for the young company. J.J. Mangham became involved in the business by 1903. Under his leadership the company expanded their product line and added additional machinery, even coming up with the “Griffin Knit” brand. Anticipating growth, they built a small mill building at the corner of Experiment Street and West Broad Street. However, the knitting mill failed shortly after the new building was completed. 

Building an Empire: The Boyd-Mangham Group in the 1900s

The Spalding Cotton Mills. The tower housed a water tank which fed the fire suppression sprinklers while the section behind it housed the mill’s cotton carding and yarn spinning operations on the first and second floors respectively. The section immediately to the right of the tower was home to a picking process on the first floor and slashing and spooling on the second floor. The one story annex on the far right served as the mill’s weaving facility. Note the elevated skylight which spanned the length of the building, bringing extra light into the center of the mill. Photo Courtesy of Jarrett Craft

Despite the setbacks, Douglas Boyd and the Mangham brothers were on the rise. In 1899-1900, the Manghams partnered with Griffin’s preeminent businessman, W.J. Kincaid, to build The Spalding Cotton Mills with the goal of producing 4-yard sheeting. The stockholders laid the new mill’s cornerstone on August 25th, 1899 amidst much fanfare. The new mill was ambitious, being capitalized at $100,000 and projected to house 5,000 spindles in 1899. They quickly doubled their investment to $200,000 in capital stock, with a planned expansion of the mill’s equipment to bring it up to 9,000 spindles and 300 looms, only 60 days after opening.  In 1901, after production had commenced, a fire broke out in the picker room which caused $500 ($15,081.71 in 2020) in damages.

In 1902, J.J. Mangham took over from W.J. Kincaid as president of The Spalding Cotton Mills. His brother J.W. and Douglas Boyd were also voted officers of the mill. They took advantage of the 10 percent dividend paid out by the profitable mill and the duly confident mood of local and state-wide investors to embark on further ventures. They organized their next mill, Boyd-Mangham Manufacturing Company, in May of 1902 with $125,000 in capital stock. The size of the mill showed the ambition of its owners, as it housed 10,000 spindles and 300 looms. The new mill produced “fancy weaves”. By 1909, the mill had increased its capacity by 50 percent, boasting a total of 15,000 spindles and 410 looms still producing fancy weaves.

This postcard depicts the Central Mills, the third mill built by the Boyd-Mangham group. The facility was originally built to house the Griffin Knitting Mill, but was expanded and adapted for the Central Mills. The section of the mill in the background, with the tower, was home to weaving operations on both floors. The portion in the foreground operated drawing, carding, and weaving machinery on the first floor. The second floor was where cotton the fiber was spun, spooled and warped. Photo Courtesy of Jarrett Craft

With Boyd-Mangham Manufacturing up and running on a solid footing, the group turned their attention to yet another project. This time, they already owned a suitable property with a factory building, the old Griffin Knitting mill at the corner of Experiment Street and West Broad Street. Under the leadership of J.J. Mangham, the group incorporated The Central Mills in 1905. To house the new company, they expanded the old knitting mill and equipped it with 10,000 ring spindles, 400 twisting spindles, and 160 looms producing “Cotton Crepe”. By 1909 there were only 8,000 ring spindles, but they were replaced by 60 additional wide looms as the mill transitioned to the production of wide sheeting.  

Building on the momentum accrued over the course of the decade, the Boyd-Mangham group organized yet another cotton mill, Cherokee Mills, in 1907. The group began construction and had ordered machinery by June of 1908. This new mill, still listed as under construction in 1909, was envisioned as a producer of cotton sheeting. The Boyd-Mangham group incorporated their latest venture with a capital stock of $200,000, with the plant able to house 10,000 spindles and 350 looms. 

The Cherokee Mills shortly after its completion. The 1st floor housed cotton carding and yarn spinning operations, while the second floor held additional yarn spinning equipment and looms for weaving the thread into sheeting. On the right in the background, the engine room held a 900 horsepower steam engine and a 60 horsepower dynamo for generating electric power. The section of the mill which stood beyond the engine room housed a picking operation on the first floor and warping and slashing equipment on the second floor. Photo Courtesy of Jarrett Craft

The Top of the Mountain: The Manghams Buy in to Griffin Manufacturing

The first half of the 1910s proved to be a changing of the guard for Griffin’s textile industry. This process began with the retirement of W.J. Kincaid from the textile business. Kincaid was no longer listed as president of Griffin Manufacturing and Kincaid Manufacturing in 1910. Because textile directories usually collected their data several months before the release of the new year’s directory, this means that he likely resigned his post in mid to late 1909.

Following his resignation, in February of 1910, Kincaid sold off his $200,000 ($5,397,768.42 in 2020) in Griffin Manufacturing Company stock to Seaton Grantland, H.W. Barnes, B.R. Blakely, and J.P. Nichols. James W. Brawner, Kincaid’s close associate, also sold $37,000 in stock to J.P. Nichols, Douglas Boyd, and J.J. Mangham because he wanted to focus on other interests, namely assuming the presidency of Kincaid Manufacturing. J.P. Nichols and H.W. Barnes took over as executives. This did not mean that Kincaid was through with the textile industry, as on September 15th, 1911 W. J. Kincaid, Allan Little, J.M. Brawner, and Frank Ingram bought 1,000 shares of stock in Kincaid Manufacturing from Seaton Grantland at a price of $100,000 ($2,698,831.58 in 2020). This all just meant that he was making room for a new group of leaders.  

The Kincaid Manufacturing Company’s southwestern facing façade. Photo Courtesy of Jarrett Craft

Douglas Boyd and J.J. Mangham’s acquisition of Griffin Manufacturing stock from James W. Brawner was prestigious, as stockholders of Griffin Manufacturing had traditionally been the leaders of Griffin’s economy. It made sense that the men who controlled 41 percent of Griffin’s spindles would want to join that group. Surprisingly, this acquisition in Griffin Manufacturing Company’s stock represented the Boyd-Mangham group’s high-water mark. By December of 1911, they were forced to sell three out of their four mills as part of a long-running bankruptcy and embezzlement scandal. 

With His Hand in the Cookie Jar: J.J. Mangham’s Trial

This collapse was a major shock for the people of Griffin and the Georgia textile industry as a whole, as the Boyd-Mangham group of mills were seen as generally prosperous and well run enterprises. Many believed that the Boyd-Mangham saga began as a knock-on effect of the Panic of 1907, in which the stock markets of New York crashed, causing runs on trusts which formed an integral part of the stock system. The stock market, and economy as a whole, only really stabilized after J.P. Morgan intervened to provide cash for the banks and trusts which were receiving too many withdrawal requests to deal with. However, economic tremors continued for several years thereafter, including a considerably more minor Panic of 1910.

Wall Street flooded with crowds during the early days of the Panic of 1907. Several sources blamed the misfortunes of the Boyd-Mangham group on losses received during the 1907 panic and the ensuing recession. Photo Courtesy of Soerfm, via Wikimedia Commons

The Boyd-Mangham group of mills, with the exception of the newly built Cherokee Mills, were forced into bankruptcy during this tumult. In May of 1911 the Boyd-Mangham Manufacturing Company halted production and began bankruptcy hearings, having filed a list of assets and liabilities which listed a number of debtors amongst the assets. Those parties denied owing anything to Boyd-Mangham Manufacturing, so an investigation ensued. Investigators shortly found enough evidence to procure a warrant for J.J. Mangham’s arrest on Thursday July 6th. Mangham was arrested on Friday the 7th. Charges against him included obtaining money under false pretenses and paying dividends on stock which had not been issued.

On Saturday July 8, 1911 J.J. Mangham gave testimony in his bankruptcy trial, pleading the 5th lest he incriminate himself. The stress of these charges appears to have weighed heavily on J.J. Mangham, as the 17th of August, 1911 saw his trial postponed on the grounds that he was mentally and physically unable to be of use to his lawyers. A doctor from the Piedmont sanitarium, where Mangham was a patient, testified in his defense. His brother J.W.’s case was also postponed. Doctors declared Mangham fit enough to resume the trial by November of 1911. The trial neared its conclusion by November 23, 1911, by which time the state had concluded its argument after questioning several Atlanta Bank officials and Griffin businessmen. All that was left was for Mangham’s defense to wrap up the cross examinations. By this point, onlookers filled the courtroom to watch the closing arguments, as the Atlanta Journal Constitution claimed that the case garnered a large attendance on account of the prominence of the issue.

Shortly afterwards, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Mangham, who was de facto in charge of Boyd-Mangham Manufacturing, created false entries in the company books so that it showed $200,000 more in assets than actually existed. He also fabricated a $150,000 unimpaired capital stock, which was actually impaired,  and $80,000 surplus which did not exist. Mangham evidently discounted the stock of the mill in Atlanta banks. The banks provided him with credit which he used to speculate illegally. Meanwhile Mangham further claimed that the company owed him $10,000, when he actually owed it several thousand instead.

Boyd-Mangham Manufacturing Company circa 1910. At this point much of the second floor housed the mill’s thread spinning operation. This in turn fed the looms which produced fancy weaves, taking up the majority of the first floor. This mill became the epicenter of J.J. Mangham’s embezzlement trial. Photo Courtesy of Jarrett Craft

On the 25th of November, 1911 the court found J. J. Mangham guilty of embezzling $23,412.50 ($631,876.27 in 2020) and paying out illegal dividends on Boyd-Mangham Manufacturing Company stocks, a felony and a misdemeanor respectively. He was sentenced to 4 years at the state prison in Milledgeville. Mangham’s lawyer promptly filed a motion for a new trial. The motion was granted and the new trial set for December 29th, although other indictments were still pending against Mangham. Mangham’s case worked its way up through the appeals courts of Georgia before his final appeal was defeated on August 10th, 1912 in the State Appellate Court. His case could not be appealed any further because he was not charged with any Federal offences. Mangham surrendered to the prison on the 19th and began serving his sentence at the state farm in Milledgeville.

Picking up the Pieces: The Aftermath of the Mangham Trial

On April 2, 1913 J.J. Mangham’s lawyers announced that they would ask the prison commissioners to pardon Mangham, even though he had served less than a year of his prison sentence. On the 8th of November, 1913 a petition signed by 600 citizens of Griffin calling for clemency for the convicted J.J. Mangham was presented by two attorneys to a commission. Mangham had already been in prison since August of 1912, just the beginning of his 4 year sentence for embezzlement, along with a 1 year sentence for a misdemeanor. Even half of the jury which convicted him asked for his release on the grounds that Mangham had already been punished enough.

To put the severity of his sentence into perspective, the Register brothers, who committed involuntary homicide, were only given a sentence of 3 years. It was not until the 17th of August, 1915 that Governor Harris pardoned J.J. Mangham. The Governor was evidently swayed by three things: the petition from Griffin’s citizens, the fact that Mangham’s wife was on her deathbed, and that the prison commission recommended his release.

Pictured here is the No. 1 mill of the newly formed Georgia Cotton Mills, a consolidation of 3 of the Boyd-Mangham group’s mills. This mill was formerly known as The Spalding Cotton Mills. Photo Courtesy of the Griffin-Spalding Historical Society.

The results of the trial were cataclysmic for the Boyd-Mangham group of mills. Not only were two of their owners convicted, as J.W. was saddled with charges of declaring illegal dividends which carried a $1,000 fine, the mills were also forcibly sold to Atlanta-based businessmen. On Dec. 9th, 1911 The Spalding Cotton Mills, The Central Mills, and Boyd-Mangham Manufacturing Company were sold at auction, each one for considerably less than they were appraised at. Boyd-Mangham Manufacturing and the Spalding Cotton Mills were valued at a combined $313,000, selling for $70,000 and $45,000 respectively. The Central Mills were sold for $48,000.

The sale of these three mills represented the largest forced sale made in middle Georgia up to that time. The Atlanta Journal Constitution claimed that efforts would be made to have the mills back in business by the following fall. Furthermore, Cherokee Mills went into bankruptcy as well, and was idle by April of 1912. It reportedly owned Lowell Machine Shops $15,292 ($404,195.94 in 2020) amongst other debts. By October 25th, 1912 the Cherokee Mills was advertised for sale as part of the bankruptcy.

When the dust settled Kincaid Manufacturing Company absorbed the Cherokee Mills, it became Kincaid No. 2. The other three mills from the Boyd-Mangham group were eventually consolidated under the corporate name of Georgia Cotton Mills. Clyde L. King, a businessman from Atlanta, controlled Georgia Cotton Mills with a capital base of $400,000. The new corporation produced shirtings, drills, sateens, huck, terry towels, and diaper cloth with a combined 30,000 spindles and 1,000 looms. In the early 1920s Georgia Cotton Mills went through some stormy times and they brought in a new president, John H. Cheatham, from the Hartwell Mills in Hartwell, Georgia. He quickly restored the mills to a profitable state, and in 1924 he offered to purchase the common stock of Kincaid Manufacturing Company. When the Kincaid stockholders accepted his offer, the Georgia Cotton Mills merged with Kincaid Manufacturing, finally bringing the Boyd-Mangham mills back under one corporate roof. The combined Georgia-Kincaid mills would later be renamed Dundee Mills, a name which became synonymous with Griffin textile production.

Examining the Trail’s Sanborn Maps

Author: Tinaye Gibbons

1895 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map depicting the Kincaid Manufacturing Company and Griffin Manufacturing Company. These maps are important because they help us to understand which operations took place where and on what floor. They also help us to track the growth of a plant when other sources might be lacking. Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Textile history is important to us at the Center for Public History because of the diverse ways that it impacted communities across West Georgia specifically. We analyze and study the communities along our trail because of the influence and impact that the textile industry brought to and had on the area and region. Many of the people in these communities worked in, for, or somehow with the textile industry throughout the twentieth century. We have researched this history in these communities by analyzing the mills which were there, as cities had everything from cotton mills to chenille bedspreads, but all of them supported a workforce and sustained local communities throughout Georgia. This spring, we had an undergraduate research assistant who assisted us in researching these communities in a new way. She used Sanborn Maps to study textile mills in these areas.

The Sanborn Map Company was founded in 1867 in Pelham, New York, by D.A. Sanborn. Originally, these maps were created as fire insurance maps, so that businesses or residences, could be correctly identified and properly cataloged by fire marshals if disaster struck. 12,000 cities across Mexico and North America were documented and mapped out annually. Sanborn maps are incredibly useful as research sources because the collection of maps shows the change in industry over time by examining building additions, new mill structures, and mill homes, and the use of buildings by titles and names from year to year.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map depicting West Point Manufacturing Company in its early days. Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Center undergraduate assistant Tinaye Gibbons spent the spring semester of 2018 looking at each available Sanborn map of communities along the Trail. The Sanborn maps allowed Tinaye to analyze the change in the built environment of cities as textile mills grew and expanded throughout each community that we had maps for. Some of these communities – Dalton and Columbus especially – had sixty or seventy maps whereas less industrial places had fewer. The majority of her work was focused around Dalton and Columbus, Georgia, as they were heavily documented by Sanborn Maps due to the amount of textile industry each city had. Columbus’s economy was driven by textiles, and most of the mills were cotton-based. Muscogee Manufacturing Company, for example, employed 650 people in 1910 and manufactured denim, towels, and even couch covers.

Tinaye noted in her research that, “not every community on the Textile Heritage Trail had Sanborns created, but the majority of cities that were present did allow me to look at a wide range of textile industries.” Dalton, Georgia, similar to Columbus, also had an economy that was strengthened by the textile industry in the city. The diversity of textile mills throughout Dalton is evident in Sanborn maps, as the textile industry grew throughout the city.  The carpet manufacturing was the longest operating mills in Dalton. Chenille bedspreads, hosiery mills, and carpet production all fueled Dalton’s economy in addition to the cotton mills.

These maps documented local history as well, due to their ability of showing how the city was changed by the textile industry growth and decline. Sanborn maps helped to document change in the city as new mills opened, closed, and new businesses took over mill spaces as they closed down over time. The textile industry fueled the economy for many of these cities. As textile mills continued to thrive throughout the twentieth-century, cities adapted to the expansion of the mills that were there. As technology advanced, mills began to expand both in function and in size. Whereas mills used to just produce goods, now they were able to dye the fabrics in house, for example, and the Sanborn maps were great resources for documenting these changes as mill buildings showed up on different maps. The history of the city is evident in Sanborns as well as it shows how local businesses and city growth were impacted by the textile industry.

Tinaye Gibbons, Undergraduate Research Assistant on the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail

Tinaye was hired through UWG’s Student Research Assistant Program (SRAP) through the Honors College. This position meant that she needed a project to focus her scholarship and a way to present her research. Tinaye chose to focus on the economic impact of Carrollton’s cotton and hosiery mills on the city using Sanborns. Tinaye decided to focus her project on the Carrollton textile history because she was not very familiar with Carrollton. She noted that, “I am not from the west Georgia region, so this project exposed me to different cities that I had never been to and I was able to look into different years of each cities’ [history].” Her project research focused on Mandeville Mills, rehabilitated as the Mandeville Lofts, and presented about it at Scholar’s Day held at UWG. In her presentation, she analyzed the change in the American Textile Narrative as she examined the growth of Mandeville Mills during the 1920s, 1930s, and the 1940s. Tinaye said, “I wanted to show the change that America went through each decade, and how a mill in Carrollton could reflect the changes in America during each time.” The Sanborn maps assisted heavily with this research because it showed how textile industries grew and eventually declined throughout the twentieth century.

Sanborn maps allow for history to become a physical element. A city’s growth in industry, in size, and in city shape can be seen in Sanborn maps as the buildings shifted, opened and closed each year. Tinaye found out through that Sanborn maps that, “many cities did not just have cotton mills, but additionally had bleachery companies, machine shops, hosiery mills, knitting mills, and apparel manufacturing plants along with textile mills.” This allowed for a lot of comparisons to be made as well. Take Columbus, Georgia, for example. Tinaye spent significantly more time familiarizing herself with Columbus’s industrial history than some other places because there was just more industry there. The Sanborn map collection boasted thirtyish years’ worth of change and documentation in Columbus since the textile industry was prevalent for so many decades in Columbus.

Tinaye contributed to the Textile Heritage Trail heavily due to her research with the Sanborn Maps. Her study of the maps helped our team to better understand industry in the cities and allowed us to visually process all of the information and research that we had about the textile industry in Georgia. By analyzing the Sanborn maps, Tinaye could measure change in the cities over time, both yearly or in larger gaps, like she did at her presentation. This research helps us to understand the textile industry better, because it answers the questions of why, when, and where a certain building was built and for what purpose. That information is crucial to telling the history of the textile industry in Georgia, so that we can connect the places to the people who lived there.

Laurine Dixon Entrekin: Bremen-Bowdon Investment Employee

Author: Judy Rowell

Laurine Dixson was born in Bowdon, Georgia on August 25, 1912. She married Forrest Entrekin in 1930.

Laurine Dixson Entrekin, 1951

In 1950, at the age of 38, she was a homemaker with 2 children Jerry, age 16, and Linda, age 8. In November of that year, Forrest Entrekin died at age 42. She owned a car but did not drive and had few options to support her family.

She took a job at Scoggins 5 &10, a dime store in Bowdon soon after the death of her husband.  James and Sarah Scoggins had purchased their store in 1949, the year before Mrs. Entrekin became a widow. At that time most counters had a small cash register, and the sales force consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Scoggins plus two or three full-time employees. Laurine Entrekin was one of those valuable employees.

Customers, with the aid of one of the sales staff, when needed, would go to different counters to find items they wished to purchase and pay for their purchases at that area. Customers might often pay at two or three different cash registers before leaving the store.

Laurine Entrekin, her mother, Clara Dixson, her daughter Linda Entrekin Cater and her grandchildren, Bart and Beth Cater –Inside the plant on July 16, 1976.

Mrs. Entrekin worked there for approximately one year before a relative helped her secure a job at Warren Sewell Clothing Company in Bowdon. She was hired as a seamstress and sewed the collar on a man’s suit. She was a petite lady, and handling the entire coat (especially the wool coats during summer) was difficult as she was expected to make production (complete a required number of sewn collars) each day.

In addition to working from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday for Sewell’s (the colloquial name for the apparel) company, she continued to work at Scoggins 5 & 10 during her one-hour lunch break from 1:00 to 2:00, and all day on Saturdays. During the later years of Mrs. Entrekin continuing to work a second job, the dime store changed to self-service with cash registers at the entrance.  It was most important to have help during lunch as the “Sewell lunch hour” was the busiest time of the day. Mrs. Entrekin would eat the lunch she had brought from home, run “up town” and assist the then full-time clerks at the cash registers.

Customers usually found what they needed and carried the items they desired to purchase to one of the “check outs” as they were commonly called. As items were rung they would be bagged and ready to leave the store as soon as they were paid for. Often times customers would hand a hand full of items over to the cashier along with a couple of dollars and say, “Put these on layaway for me.” Many times the cashier would have no idea who the person was, but before anything could be said, Mrs. Entrekin would grab the layaway and already had the name written down. She knew almost everyone who worked at the plant.

Bowdon Bulletin, July 1976.

With hourly wages at the plant standing at $1.00 in 1961, a 5 &10 lunch hour job for the employees such as Mrs. Entrekin, gained a bit of extra income and were favored with a discount on purchases. The practice benefitted the merchant owner, as well. With the limited time for shopping and especially during the holiday seasons of Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day when items were placed on layaway, the clerks like Mrs. Entrekin expedited the process by being familiar with the names of the people from the plants coming in to pay a dollar or fifty cents on their chosen items. Time was saved for the shopper as well as the merchant. Thursday and Friday (payday) were especially busy days.

Laurine Entrekin worked at Warren Sewell Clothing for 24 years, retiring in 1976. The Bowdon Bulletin noted her retirement on Monday, June 16, which was marked with a retirement dinner and a picture in the “Sewell Life” section of the paper. She passed away on October 26. 2005, at the age of 93.

Mapping Out History

Author: Brandon Cohran

It has always been important to us at UWG’s Center for Public History to include and to highlight student work in our projects. In this blog post we feature maps of the Textile Heritage Trail created by students in Dr. Andy Walter’s advanced economic geography seminar during Spring 2017. These maps reveal spatial dimensions of, and provide geographical context for, the history we are seeking to bring to life through the Textile Trail project.

Dr. Walter began collaborating with the Center’s directors, Dr. Ann McCleary and Keri Adams, in 2016. For Dr. Walter, an economic geographer in the Department of Geosciences, the Textile Trail project was an opportunity to engage in mapping (did you know that geographers love maps?) while learning about an industry that has played a defining role in the West Georgia region’s economy and urban system. Ultimately, the goal of this partnership is an interactive mapping component to the Textile Trail, perhaps built into a mobile app, as well as series of maps representing the historical geographical evolution of the textile industry in the region. Dr. Walter is also working on the Center’s University History Project to create maps and a digital mapping platform to tell the stories of the people, programs, and spaces that make up our university. The heat map above was created by Dr. Walter to show the spatial density of mills across space, i.e. the number of mills in localities from place to place.

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Interpreting Carrollton

Author: Brandon Cohran

History with a capital ‘h’ is often an early warning for people to become uninterested very quickly. It’s dates, places, the names of this or of that, and the worst part is, is that it never, ever, changes. Today, tomorrow, next week, and next year, History stays the same. Public history, however, is constantly in motion and is creating new opportunities for history to intersect with everyday life. The purpose of public history is to do exactly that – create an intersection between history and public spaces. In Carrollton, there are several institutions and resources available to anyone who wants to experience history beyond the textbooks. Public History students and faculty at the University of West Georgia have impacted this community for almost two decades. Before public projects ever happened, faculty and students of the Center for Public History conducted countless oral histories of and collected photographs and objects from people who lived in the area. 

Mandeville Mills, Carrollton, Georgia, ca. 1905. Courtesy UWG Center for Public History.

Carrollton, Georgia, is a city steeped in history. The city incorporated in the mid-nineteenth century, and after the railroad expanded close to Carrollton, the textile industry started in Carrollton with the opening of Mandeville Mills in 1899. Today, the extant structures of mill no.1 and its various additions were converted condominiums, and the mill is on the National Register of Historic Places. The former home of Clifton Mandeville, founder of the mill, still stands near downtown and displays the beauty of the Victorian-style home. Across the street, at Feathers & Twigs, there is an interpretive  sign outdoors, which details the former home, as well as other historic homes along Maple Street. This sign is one of five interpretative panels for the Textile Trail located in Carrollton, which are  supplemented by a self-guided walking trail brochure. This signs were curated and designed by three public history graduate students, Andy Carter, Keri Adams, and Jennifer Teeter, working with the Center for Public History.

Flyer highlighting the museum’s upcoming exhibit. April – June, 2018. Courtesy Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum.

In addition to the old cotton mill, Carrollton is home to the Southeastern Quilt & Textile Museum. This museum allows visitors to experience textiles in a unique and exciting way as they have many textiles in their collection and feature exhibits with them. The interpretation done at the museum allows visitors to not only get a better understanding of the history on the textile industry, but also to see products that were created during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Georgia. The museum features quilts dating back as far as the 1790s, and many of them feature local and state artists. Typically, there about 30 quilts on display at any time, and visitors are welcome to interact with them – just wear gloves! Every semester, the Southeastern Quilt & Textile Museum hosts a graduate student from UWG. This spring, Museum Studies Certificate student Chloe McNeil serves as the museum’s Operations Manager and Curator in which she is tasked with daily administrative operations, curator of collections, and education programs. Public History graduate student Kymara Sneed works part-time in guest services.

Adamson Square, Carrollton, Georgia. Courtesy UWG Center for Public History.

Outdoor interpretation is abundant throughout Carrollton. There are 23 historic markers throughout Carroll County, and Carrollton boats six of them. These historic markers feature people or events pertinent to Carrollton’s history. Adamson Square, in downtown Carrollton, in the past few years has experienced a revitalization of the history behind the square. There has been an effort to keep a historic look and feel to the buildings around the square. One of the buildings, Horton’s Books & Gifts, is the oldest bookstore in the state. The downtown Carrollton Historic District and surrounding streets were placed on the National Register in 2007. 

In addition to the historic markers scattered throughout Carrollton, there are also several walking tours available, many of which involved work done by graduate students from the University of West Georgia. These trails vary from the historic district walk to the historic cemetery tour – which is currently being updated for Carrollton Main Street – by Melanie Sigman in collaboration with Geosciences faculty member Dr. Andy Walter. Brochures for these tours are available via mobile apps, or at the Carrollton Main Street office, or Log Cabin Visitor Center on Lake Carroll. The City Cemetery guide, which is offers a detailed commentary about the cemetery, the different sections of the cemetery, and it highlights some of the people who are buried there, such as the aforementioned Clifton Mandeville, and Newton Allen Horton – the namesake of Horton’s Bookstore. 

Newly installed interpretive plaque at LocoMex in Bowdon Station, Bowdon, Georgia. Photograph by Mignon Wessigner, Bowdon Area Historical Society.

To venture out of Carrollton just a bit, but to discuss another trail, my colleague Chanell Lowery, tomorrow, on March 13th at 5pm at Bowdon City Hall, is launching a Bowdon Spur Walking Trail Tour. As part of her thesis project, Chanell developed a walking tour in which visitors will learn about Bowdon’s textile heritage and how the community had a regional and national influence still seen today.  In her research, she discovered untold stories about the LaMar Manufacturing Company’s first African American employees, a pay stub from Warren Sewell Clothing Company, and the process of apparel manufacturing yesteryear. One of the most important narratives that Bowden’s apparel heritage is important because it shares common threads seen in history throughout the United States. Also, Bowden’s apparel companies have adapted to the textile hardships by changing their business focus to supplying tailored garments for the U.S. military.

An employee uses a hand iron to smooth and finish the lining of a men’s coat in this photograph, ca.1986. Courtesy Charles & Marjorie Middlebrooks, in memory and honor of the Plunkett Family.

Public history, to us at the University of West Georgia, is important because history through public engagement often facilitates lasting impressions on people about the place they live or visit. Why read about quilts from the local cemetery to see where people of the past are buried rather than driving by and glancing at the obelisks? It is our goal to promote the use of history to teach where, when and how events happened locally, statewide, and nationally. The city of Carrollton is actively bringing public history to its visitors in a variety of ways. As long as the community stays involved, and new ideas are embraced, public history will continue to encourage engagement with visitors and residents of the city.

A special thanks goes out to all of the previous students who have worked on this project along with my current team members Emily Harrington, Chanell Lowery, and Tinaye Gibbons. In addition, a thank you to the Center faculty Drs. Julia Brock and Ann McCleary, and Keri Adams.

Textile Talk

Author: Brandon Cohran

A new year ushers in new changes, and for us at the Center for Public History at the University of West Georgia, we are making changes as well. Beginning this month, we are looking to bring unique and diverse blog posts to the website in order to offer fun, new, and interesting perspectives about the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail. As a new graduate research assistant, and the Textile Heritage Trail Curator, I am ecstatic about the Textile Trail project and all of the potential stories and experiences that will come out of this ongoing documentation of regional history.

What is the Textile Heritage Trail, you ask? Why does it matter? Well, the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail, or Textile Trail, is a research project conducted by students and History Department faculty in the Center of Public History at the University of West Georgia. The Textile Trail is a heritage tourism initiative, whose shared history is curated and researched by students in order to tell the stories of communities throughout northwest Georgia. The Trail spans from Dalton to Columbus, Georgia, along the U.S.Highway 27 corridor, and focuses on this region from antebellum to the present day, while telling the history of the textile industry in the region. The textile industry built small Georgia towns and cities during this period.

Photo of the 1904 Chattooga County Fair in Summerville
Product showcase at the Goodyear Tire Plant in Cedartown, Georgia, 1950s. Courtesy of Polk County Historical Society.

Textiles, such as, cotton mills and hosiery mills, as well as chenille, carpet, apparel and garments, led to the manufacturing of rubber wire and tire cord for automobiles. The textile industry throughout central and northwest Georgia, created economic growth and stability, which led to a strengthened infrastructure for small towns along railroads and rivers.

Foundations of the Textile Trail began long before its founding in 2012. It started with the work of History students and  faculty that conducted research and oral history projects in proximity to the University of West Georgia in the early 2000s. The first wave of research was an indication of the importance that textiles, primarily cotton, had on the growth of various communities in size and in the economic stability in the Carrollton area. In the spring of 2012, the Textile Heritage Trail became a Center-based project that utilized student work every semester. The years of research and labor became a centralized focus of the Center, and through all of the past and present work, each year new discoveries help us to update our information about the communities along the Trail in addition to creating new entries.

The next milestone for the Textile Heritage Trail came in 2013 in thanks to a grant that the Center received from the Callaway Foundation of LaGrange, Georgia. History student researchers and faculty embarked on new research and image collecting leading to the Trail’s first guidebook, The West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail published as a part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series in December 2015. The Center, through the book project, was able to develop deeper stories and to form stronger community connections to the textile industry. We use our website, self-guided walking tour brochures, and interpretive signs to tell these stories.

Our current student-staff working on the Textile Heritage Trail consists of three graduate research assistants, one of which has worked the project since the fall of 2014. Together it is our mission, I feel, to provide enriching stories, educational information, and to give exposure to the diverse range of people whose lives changed because of the Textile Trail throughout north and west Georgia. My two project team members are Chanell Lowery and Emily Harrington. They both contribute heavily to the success of the project along with myself, Brandon Cohran.

Emily Harrington, our Strategic Planning Coordinator for the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail Project, is in her second consecutive semester being involved on the Textile Trail as a Graduate Research Assistant. This new planning initiative is generously funded by the Callaway Foundation of LaGrange, Georgia.  Emily said that she “has enjoyed [her] time working on the Trail. It has had its challenges along the way but those challenges have been great learning opportunities for me.” She acknowledges that, “the future is sure to bring some great changes for us due to sticking with our strategic plan to incorporate future improvements to the Textile Trail.”

My other peer, Chanell Lowery, has been involved with the Trail project for over three years now, and with that, she has fulfilled many roles. Currently, however, she is working the completion of the Bowdon Spur Project (and leading the tour for it), while also transitioning digital databases, completing membership signs, and finishing newsletters and community brochures. Her experience with so many aspects to the Trail helps to keep the project organized and intact. The project touched home with Chanell, as she said, “when I started working on the Trail three years ago, I thought my work would be about helping others learn about their heritage, but it turns out I ended up learning about mine too. Last year, I learned that my  great-great-grandmother, Dora Lively, worked at Callaway mills.”

In addition to the dedicated work that both my colleagues Emily and Chanell do for the project, I am the new Curator for the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail. So far, my contribution to the project has included the development of this blog, but also community research for the entries on the website and compiling new community histories to explore. I hope that these entries will not only be informational about the Textile Trail Industry in the area, but that the region’s past will connect to the present. My goal is to have the website community pages, and the blogs, be informational and unique. In my limited exposure to the Trail, so far, I have seen how important the textile industry was to the development and stability of small communities all throughout Georgia.

Two Chenille Spreads depicting peacocks outside of Prater's Mill
Chenille bedspreads on display at Prater’s Store, Dalton, Georgia. These two bedspreads feature colorful peacocks,  an iconic theme of the Old Dixie Highway chenille shacks in the mid-20th century. Courtesy of Janet Cochran.

To compliment the information on the Textile Heritage Trail website about the community’s textile history, we also include places to visit and activities to do when in the surrounding area. This added dynamic helps highlight the lasting impact that the Textile Trail had on the communities and people in the decades following the decline of the industry. Many, but not all, of the sites listed as places to visit display textiles or give their community’s narration of the impact that the textile industry left on the people who lived there.

The Textile Heritage Trail focuses on the people who lived in communities along the Trail and how their lives changed due to the textile industry throughout Georgia. I find it exciting that we, the current student-staff of the Center for Public History, continue to discover and tell the amazing stories of these people. Moving forward with this blog, I hope to focus on one key element or group of people every month, so that we, at the Center for Public History, can continue to grow and expand on the variety of ways that the Textile Heritage Trail influenced the people of Georgia.

A special thanks goes out to all of the previous students who have worked on this project along with my current team members Emily Harrington and Chanell Lowery. In addition, a thank you to the Center faculty Drs. Julia Brock and Ann McCleary, and Keri Adams.  

Remembering Anchor Duck Mill with Leon Shiver

Author: Brandon Cohran

History is the memory of perspective. Events are remembered by how they are documented. Leon Shiver, the feature of this story, grew up in a cotton mill village in Rome, Georgia. He has collected memorabilia and artifacts from the Anchor Duck mill, as well as attended annual reunions of the people who grew up in the mills. Years later, Leon understood the importance of his story and reached out to us at the Center for Public History, in order to share his love of history with us. Leon has sent us personal stories and accounts from his childhood that has helped us to understand what it was like to live in the textile mill villages, that we research and study now. Leon has welcomed many students from the University of West Georgia to his home in order to look over and photograph items from his personal collection of documents, items, and photos. Because of our relationship with Mr. Shiver, we have been able to improve our understanding of textile mill life in Georgia, while adding his stories, maps, and photographs to our collection. 

Leon Shiver providing context for photographs from his collection. Courtesy Keri Adams and UWG Center for Public History.

The history of the textile industry in northwest Georgia contains many narratives. Economically, the textile mills that were spread throughout this region led to the stabilization of many communities. Some cotton mills were later revitalized as apartment lofts or stores, and mill village homes remained in use in the decades following the mills closing down, preserving the structures, but the historical importance on the economy is lost. Anchor Duck Mill and part of the mill village, however, closed in 1958 and has since been razed, but Leon Shiver appreciated the history that was around him as he worked to preserve any of the history that he could. He sent his personal stories from his childhood of growing up in a mill, as well as allowing students and faculty to visit his home to see his collection of memorabilia of the Anchor Duck Mill. This is his story.


Leon Shiver was born in 1939, and his family moved to Rome, Georgia, in 1940 from Sale City, Georgia. His family came to Rome, on his uncle’s promise of work at Anchor Duck Mill for his father, who was trying to fight the Great Depression as a farmer. Anchor Duck Mill, incorporated in 1900, manufactured cotton duck, which was a heavy-duty cloth used for products, such as ropes and sails. Howard Shiver, Leon’s father, began working at Anchor Duck Mill as a sweeper in the weave rooms keeping the floors clean and kept, but he worked his way up to “Loom Fixer” as he then worked maintenance upkeep on looms.

Howard Shiver, working at Anchor Duck Mill. Photograph from Leon Shiver collection.

Cotton mill work was not an easy job. It was especially not a clean job. Leon recalled how his father climbed under the looms in order to fix them, but “both men and women chewed tobacco in these days, as smoking was prohibited, and often the tobacco spit would be under the looms.” He remembered that his father “always had a change of bib overalls for obvious reasons.” Due to his hard work in the mill – first sweeping dust and debris up from the weave room, and then working on looms themselves – Leon’s father moved up in the company and was promoted all the way to “Second Hand,” or a position similar to a foreman. Howard Shiver’s promotion meant that the Shivers were moving houses, too. In company villages, the employee rented housing was offered on a tier-based system, meaning that the higher your position at the mill, the “bigger and better house you could rent.” The price tag that came along with this upgrade was “50 cents per room per week,” Leon recalled while looking over a photograph of one of his childhood homes in the village.

Mill school picture of Leon Shiver, shown third from right in the center row. Photograph from the Leon Shiver collection.

Growing up in a mill village meant that the company created the community, and maintained all the necessities of life, but also provided the amenities, too. When Leon was a boy, age 11 or 12 in the early ‘50s, he went to work for Robert Branton, who operated a grocery store. Leon delivered groceries all throughout the mill village to folks. He recounted that deliveries were hassle-free because “in those days, nobody locked their doors, so I could put stuff in the icebox as needed and the rest on the kitchen table.” Mill villages often had their own schools in place as well, and Leon attended one where approximately 90% of his classmates were from the mill village. The mill company stores were common throughout the textile industry, and Anchor Duck Mill had its own store as well as company scrip for employees to use at the company store, like Leon Shiver’s shown here.

Anchor Duck Mill store scrip backside. Coin from the Leon Shiver collection.

When Leon was not delivering groceries around the mill village, he was taking photographs. In 1948 or ‘49, his father won a camera from a punchboard drawing that Leon used to take photos of the “Village People” when his family lived on Blanch Avenue in the village. Leon told us stories of running around the mill village taking photos of his friends and family, such as Carl Dunn who boarded with the Shivers on-and-off throughout their time at Anchor Duck Mill. Photography stayed a passion for Leon throughout his life and travels to this day.

Aerial view of some Anchor Duck Mill village houses. Leon Shiver’s home was the corner lot, opposite the baseball field wall. Photograph from the Leon Shiver collection.

Sports played a prominent role in many mills throughout Georgia. Anchor Duck was no different, as it hosted a baseball team, and both a women’s and men’s basketball team. Leon was very familiar with the baseball field growing up because his childhood home was right across the street from it. Leon shared the story about a time that Rome experienced heavy rainfall and bad flooding. Silver Creek, the river that flowed through Anchor Duck’s property, periodically flooded. Leon recalled that during one of these floods, the scoreboard from the baseball field washed away and right by his house. He then used the board as a raft to float around while the water was high enough. 

Leon Shiver pointing to Anchor Duck bowling league trophies. Courtesy UWG Center for Public History.

Leon experienced some negative times growing up in the mill village, too. The General Textile Strike of 1934 caused shifts in the political and social spheres regarding workers’ labor rights and tension among workers at Anchor Duck. In 1948/49, workers at Anchor Duck led a strike of their own, but Leon’s father, as a Second Hand at the mill, worked throughout the strike. Since Howard Shiver was a Second Hand, he continued to work, even when the strike happened at Anchor Duck. As he was leaving one night, he was threatened by two Strikers, but Howard encouraged them to move along without any trouble. Leon, as a child of a worker, also felt the tension of the strike because he was “frequently accosted by the striker’s children, called a ‘scab’ and generally harassed by them.” Leon carried ‘chunking’ rocks in his bicycle basket in order to ward off the striker’s kids and to get home safely. 

Leon Shiver providing context and details to a photograph from his collection with Textile Trail Curator Brandon Cohran. Courtesy Keri Adams and UWG Center for Public History.

Anchor Duck Mill was Leon’s home growing up. His family experience is a common story for mill families that once lived in communities in the Textile Trail corridor. We, at the Center for Public History at the University of Georgia, are grateful that he preserves and shares his memories, scrapbooks, and photographs. Leon understands the significance of the textile industry and the people who worked in the mills. He loves to share his story – and collection – with anyone who is interested as he often says that “history is meant to be shared” and that he is glad that he is able to help to tell the story of Anchor Duck Mill and other surrounding mills.

Doorknobs from nearby Shannon Mills, in Floyd County, Georgia, village houses. Artifacts from Leon Shiver collection. Courtesy UWG Center for Public History.

 Leon is an annual attendee to the Anchor Duck Mill reunion that is held every fall. This reunion is where Leon gets the opportunity to share – and grow – his collection of memorabilia and artifacts regarding Anchor Duck Mill and surrounding mills, including Pepperell and Shannon mills. Leon has contributed to our work at the Center for Public History in many ways since getting to know him. Photographs from his collection were used in our first guidebook that was published as part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series. In addition, Leon contributed new items to the Center’s archival collections, as Leon provided us with blueprints and maps of cotton mills and a photograph album documenting the 1971 worker’s strike from the mill in Trion, Georgia.   Leon’s willingness to share his collection and personal story provides the Textile Trail with a new depth of knowledge of this region’s shared history, as well as new resources to interpret and explore the history of the textile industry in northwest and central west Georgia.

Dangers of Mill Life

Working in textile mills before the mid-1900s was rife with danger. The entire mill line was exposed to hundreds of fast-moving parts—belts, spindles, shuttles–that could easily snag you if you were not paying attention. It was not uncommon for workers in mills to have accidents, such as getting a limb caught in a machine, which would leave them injured for life. Working in a mill could also result in chronic illness, as the lint in the air that workers breathed could accumulate in the lungs, causing respiratory problems.

hine-empty children

Adults were not the only ones to face the hazards of mill life. Unlike today, when you have to be at least a teenager to go to work, children were permitted and even encouraged to work in textile plants so that they could help their families financially. These children, due to their small size, would be tasked with climbing on the machinery to reach places that adults could not, allowing them to fix any breakdowns or tangling of textile lines. That also meant that, because they were reaching into and climbing on the machines, they were very likely to fall victim to accidents.

workersboilerroomN33F12a

Thankfully, as time went on and machinery safety and building architecture improved, so did working conditions. Federal laws began to prohibit children from working until they reached a reasonable age and the health and safety of employees began to receive more attention from authorities. Outside of government intervention, workers also began to band together to form unions that acted to intercede both with employers and with the government to work for improvements such as shorter workdays and fair pay. While the successes of unions varied from time to time and place to place, their work often did lead to reforms that greatly improved life for mill workers.

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