Telling Stories, Connecting Communities

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Dellinger Inc: A Shooting Star of Rome’s Textile Industry

Author: Jarrett Craft

Dellinger Spread Company employee photo, circa 1950. Photo Courtesy of David Mitchell

Introduction

Dellinger Inc. was a chenille bedspread and custom carpet producer in Rome, Georgia. Founded by Walter Edwin Dellinger and his wife Callie in the mid-1930s, the company was passed down from generation to generation for 60 years until it finally went out of business in the early 1990s. The company had a plant which took up roughly a whole block on the outskirts of town. The plant became a sophisticated operation with highly skilled technicians and designers working alongside highly proficient employees who filled more traditional roles along the production line. During Walter’s lifetime, the company made chenille bedspreads and tufted carpets from cotton. His successor and son-in-law, Edward Dowd, switched to the wool and nylon custom carpets that the company produced until it closed.

Those are the bare facts. But there is a lot more to Dellinger Inc. than meets the eye. The company possessed a community and culture that was entirely its own, a culture which was defined by close relationships between the Dellinger family and their employees. To shed light on this culture, the truest legacy of Dellinger Inc., we must start at the beginning with Walter Edwin Dellinger. 

Humble Beginnings: Walter and Callie Dellinger’s Early Lives

Walter Edwin Dellinger was born into a large family in Bartow County, Georgia, in either 1885, or 1887 depending on the source. His father, Washington Dellinger, appears to have been a sharecropper, meaning that he shared the profits from the harvest (usually cotton) with the landowner in lieu of rent. Sharecroppers were almost always trapped in a brutal debt cycle designed to keep them poor. These families often moved from farm to farm working as a family; in some cases they would swap back and forth between the farm and a cotton mill. 

Dellingers on the family homestead in Gordon County, Georgia. Photo Courtesy of David Mitchell

With that in mind, Walter’s family appears to have been fortunate because they did not move too often; they lived at the same address in Sonoraville in Gordon County between 1900 and 1910. Walter managed to attend school through the 7th grade while working on the farm. In 1904, just before his 20th birthday, Walter received certification from the Gordon County Schools to teach 3rd grade. This was a fitting career for a man who would often write poetry for family members and eventually served as a correspondent for the Atlanta Journal Constitution on occasion. However, it did not last. By 1907, he had begun a fairly lucrative career as a railroad telegrapher and depot agent. 

Walter, Callie, and their infant daughter Doris. Photo Courtesy of David Mitchell

While working for the railroad, Walter met and married Callie Echols. Family tradition holds that Walter was an “entrepreneur,” meaning that he was always finding odd ways to make money on the side. Between those various side jobs and his career with the railroad, Walter provided a comfortable life for Callie as they built their family. Callie gave birth to their oldest daughter Doris in 1915. Three years later Doris became a big sister to Madge. Doris claimed that Madge was Callie’s favorite, while she herself commanded Walter’s affection. With that said, both daughters were doted upon by their parents and had comfortable childhoods, especially compared to that of their father. 

A New Chapter: Dellinger Spread Company 

By 1930 Walter had moved the family to Dalton, Georgia. Walter, now aged 44, had done well for himself. He had a stable job, still working as a freight agent for the railroad, during the worst years of the Great Depression. The family owned their own home valued at $10,000 ($165,622.16 in 2021), and even had their own radio set.  Their daughters had educational opportunities that were never available to Walter or Callie. Despite the dire circumstances being experienced by the nation, things were going well for the Dellingers. 

Certification of Walter Dellinger’s status as a qualified railroad telegrapher. Photo Courtesy of David Mitchell

Dalton was the epicenter of the chenille tufted bedspread, robe, and rug industry. What started as a cottage industry selling bedspreads to tourists driving down Old Highway 41 to the beaches of Florida had become a fully-industrialized commercial enterprise for many entrepreneurs by the 1930s. These local businesses took advantage of the international fad of chenille products to sell beyond their local markets and meet demand in the great northeastern cities, with many close ties to New York in particular. There was also plenty of demand across the Midwest and as far away as Europe. 

Chenille in the 1930s was a pioneering business within the textile industry. It was high risk, but it did provide a chance for small businesses to take a piece of the pie. In an industry that had been dominated by large textile corporations for years, many rightly predicted that chenille production would be a way to grab a foothold in the textile market. Walter Dellinger, always the entrepreneur, must have realized this historic opportunity while living in Dalton, the chenille capital of the world. However, Dalton was already saturated with the chenille industry, so it would be tough to prise employees away from established companies. If Walter and Callie were to start a chenille business, they needed a place relatively untouched by the chenille boom in Dalton and Calhoun. With that in mind, in 1934 Walter retired from the railroad, sold his home in Dalton, and moved to Rome, Georgia to start the next chapter of his life: Dellinger Spread Company. 

An Old Fashioned Startup

Walter and Callie Dellinger started Dellinger Spread Company with little if any experience in the chenille business. They purchased second-hand equipment and hired a largely female workforce from the surrounding countryside and town. It is unclear how much experience these employees had. Many of these women would not have been familiar or comfortable with work on an assembly line. Bedspread manufacturers in Dalton and Calhoun tackled this issue by providing the raw materials for tufters to work in their homes. When the tufter finished the bedspread, the manufacturers would collect the bedspread and bring it back to their plant to apply the final touches and designs. This allowed women to work from their homes where they could still assist in farm labor, chores, and child rearing while also supplementing the family’s income. 

Dellinger Spread Company photo circa 1940. This shows the number of employees (almost entirely white women) and the company’s plant at its earliest stage. Photo Courtesy of David Mitchell

Walter Dellinger used a similar method in the early days of Dellinger Spread Company. He started off with a converted garage as his collection and distribution center. The Dellingers had local women tuft the bedspreads in their homes, and paid them by each completed item rather than an hourly wage. The Dellingers would pick up the bedspreads and apply the finishing touches in their plant, before packaging and shipping them to clients across the United States. Walter and Callie quickly built a network of sales agents in the major cities of the North and Midwest. Before long, it became prudent to have employees work on site in the plant.

Company tradition tells that the first addition to the original plant was a dye house built in the 1940s, used for dyeing skeins of yarn purchased from suppliers. Payroll records from September 1938 to February 1939 indicate that at least some employees worked on site. When they missed their shift, the bookkeeper scribbled “not here” next to the employee’s name. The payrolls show that there was a corps of regular employees who worked day in and day out. They were supplemented by irregular employees when demand picked up or a regular employee missed a shift. It is unclear if these employees worked in shifts, and if so, how many worked on a shift. What can be said for certain is that Dellinger Spread Company had quickly built a workforce to rival established cotton mills in the area. 

Dixie-Dell on the National Market

Official company letterhead in use as early as 1942. It shows that the company employed sales agents in Boston, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Chicago, and New York and illustrates the Dellingers’ rapid success. Photo Courtesy of David Mitchell

The Dellingers were able to expand their company with incredible rapidity. This growth was based on their ability to fill orders placed in major commercial centers across the nation. In New York, Walter’s friend Norman Roemer served as a great marketing agent. Earl Barton traveled the Midwest gathering orders for the company as well. But to truly establish themselves, it became clear that Dellinger Spread Company would need a signature product. But finding that trademark item was easier said than done. 

Indeed, much of the company’s early days seems to have been based on trial and error. One Dellinger granddaughter remembers “Smokey the Bear” bath mats as one of Dellinger Spread Company’s earlier product lines from the 1940s. According to her, they must not have sold well because dozens of them remained in the family’s basement well into the following decade. But the Dellingers struck gold when they trademarked the Dixie-Dell brand. By the early 1940s it had become their calling card in the textile industry, a brand that they proudly emblazoned on company letterheads. In 1942 the company had selling agencies in New York, Pittsburgh, Boston, Chicago, and Kansas City. 

Walter Dellinger as an older man. Photo Courtesy of David Mitchell

Part of the national appeal of the tufted bedspread industry came from the fact that the employees who made it were of “pure Anglo-Saxon stock.” The 1930s saw bigotry, xenophobia, and racism reach a high in many western countries, the United States included. The previous decades had seen waves of Chinese, Eastern European, Italian, Irish, and German immigrants flood into the United States, and many were concerned about the dilution of Anglo-Saxon culture in the country. Georgia-based manufacturers of chenille bedspreads took advantage of this wave of anti-immigrant sentiment to emphasize that their employees were “untainted” by the influx of new cultures. The Dellingers were no exception, as the top of their 1940s company letterhead read “Home-made, Rome-made by the Highlanders of Georgia.” The message was clear to Dellinger Spread Company’s customers: Dellinger products were not made by Asians, Eastern Europeans, Jews, or African Americans. 

Separate and Unequal: African Americans at Dellinger Inc.

Dellinger Spread Company prided itself on the opportunity for upward social mobility and financial independence that it provided for its employees. The company employed many single mothers over the years, empowering women to leave and avoid abusive relationships on which  they may have been otherwise financially dependent. As indicated by the company letterhead mentioned above, the Dellingers employed white women primarily. Dellinger Spread Company, as a general rule, did not hire African Americans; who therefore missed out on the social and economic benefits that the company provided. 

Walter Dellinger directly supervising one of the few African Americans he ever employed at his company, circa 1950s or early 1960s. Photo Courtesy of David Mitchell

This, of course, could be chalked up in part to Jim Crow segregation laws and industry-wide labor practices which were pervasive at the time. Southern textile industrialists had been claiming since the 1880s that African Americans were mentally unfit to work any of the machinery in their factories. Many believed Their racist views held that African Americans were only capable of doing the most menial, dirty, and backbreaking jobs in the mill. There are dozens of accounts of white employees walking off the job when management tried to promote an African American to a position that they felt should be reserved for white people. The Dellingers may not have felt strongly about enforcing these racist industry standards, but they certainly did little to challenge them. 

The result was that, whether intentional or not, Dellinger Spread Company was a segregated workplace. If African Americans worked at the plant at all, they only did the most unpleasant or lowest paying jobs that the company had to offer, as would have happened at other textile industries in the region. At various points over the course of Dellinger’s 50 plus years of history, African Americans may have worked in more menial positions in the shipping department or as janitors. At any rate, there was no place for them in the company potlucks and parties. They missed out on the Christmas gifts from management. They were not allowed to make an impact or even take part in the company’s culture that shaped the lives of so many. More importantly, African Americans did not have the opportunity to use Dellinger Spread Company as a means for financial mobility and independence. At Dellinger Spread Company, and the wider textile industry, African Americans did not receive the benefits of industrialization. 

A Company Family: Paternalism and Company Culture under Walter Dellinger

One of many company potlucks held by the Dellingers over the years, circa 1950s. Photo Courtesy of David Mitchell

The Dellinger family worked hard to create a close knit environment amongst their employees. Towards that end, they often hired several members of the same family. Dellinger family members made sure to send notes to employees who had fallen ill or who had a death in the family. They threw company Christmas parties and asked their grandchildren to distribute gifts to the employees. Taking a cue from more established textile companies, such as Callaway Mills, the Dellingers distributed turkeys or hams to the employees to serve as the mainstays of their Christmas dinners.

The Dellingers saw their company not only as a way to make money, but also to help improve the lives of their employees. As part of that mission, Walter hoped to provide recreation for his employees. He created a series of company publications known as “Dell Dots”, which offered casual reading material to his employees. It seems that Walter started the Dell Dots as early as 1942, perhaps in an attempt to lift spirits during the war years. He gathered what must have been his favorite jokes from the various publications to which  he subscribed. The result was a compilation of corny quips and exhortations to buy war bonds. He continued to produce Dell Dots into the 1960s. 

Oldest surviving Dell Dot, printed in 1942. It includes several jokes and riddles, adverts for US Savings Bonds and Dixie Dell Chenilles, and a system to show which volume and edition the Dell Dot belongs to. Photo Courtesy of David Mitchell.

Regardless of whether the Dell Dots were well received or not, the Dellinger family managed to create a strong bond with their employees and earn  their employees’ loyalty. The countless company potluck dinners, Christmas gifts, and personal touches had done the trick. Although injuries were not common, it was not unheard of for employees to suffer broken toes from being crushed by loads of heavy carpet, for needles and punch guns to create puncture wounds, and for cuts and sore heads to result from collisions with the machinery. One woman even lost an arm to the out-dated machinery, but refused to sue. Despite the occasional carnage, union organizers made no headway with the employees of Dellinger Inc. 

The New Generation: Edward Dowd Enters the Fold

Doris Dellinger married Edward Dowd during World War II. Edward and Doris settled in Rome after the war and Edward took on a responsible position in the company. Walter often sent Edward to make visits to the company’s representatives in the west and Midwest so that Edward and Doris’ family vacations could be covered by the company. Edward joined Dellinger Spread Company during a period of change. Walter got advice from his long time sales agent, Earl Barton, to switch from tufted bedspreads to carpet manufacturing, a change occurring throughout the industry at the time. This transition resulted in the company rebranding as Dellinger Inc. 

Walter Dellinger playing golf in south Florida with his son in law Bud Yoakley. Although Bud and his wife Madge were not overly involved in the company’s day to day operations, they still weighed in as major stockholders from their home in Florida. Photo Courtesy of David Mitchell

Although the company continued to produce tufted bedspreads, chenille robes, and bathmats throughout the 1950s, they began to invest more and more in carpet production. At the beginning of the decade, the company advertised their traditional chenille products in textile sales directories. By the end of the decade, they had invested heavily in a brand new carpet production facility. This gave Dellinger Inc. the ability to manufacture custom carpets made not only of cotton, but also of wool, nylon, and viscose (a synthetically produced silk substitute). The company’s 1957 sales directory entry duly advertised the company’s ability to produce custom carpets. 

Edward Dowd cut his teeth and learned the industry during this time of transition at Dellinger Inc. During this period, the company employed some 200 operatives, making the company a driving force in the community. Dellinger Inc. was at its pinnacle, but the transition into custom carpet brought uncertainty. Edward undoubtedly drew his own conclusions on how to keep the plant viable for years to come and surely was excited to have the opportunity to implement them. After many years as the understudy during the company’s golden years, Edward got his chance in 1964 when Walter Dellinger passed away.

A New Era: Edward Dowd’s Tenure at Dellinger Inc.

After Walter’s death in 1964, Edward Dowd took control of the company’s day-to-day operations. While all major changes had to be approved by his wife, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law, Edward moved the company in the direction that he saw fit. His legacy would be a continued specialization in custom carpets. However, certain patterns never altered as power changed hands. Walter and Callie had drilled their values well into their family. As far as the Dellinger family was concerned, the company was a means to support the community and lift employees out of poverty just as much as it was a livelihood for themselves. Employees were to be treated with gratitude and respect by the whole family. Edward could be more stern than Walter, as he tolerated zero “gossip or back talk,” but his goal was always to ensure that the Dellinger grandchildren treated Dellinger Inc.’s employees well. When Edward converted to the Baptist faith in 1973, he began leading a morning Bible study at the plant before work. True to form, he worried that his employees would feel pressured to attend because he was the boss. 

Aerial view of the Dellinger Inc. plant in 1964, when Edward Dowd assumed control of the company. The plant had expanded massively under Walter Dellinger, and Edward planned to make more changes of his own. Photo Courtesy of David Mitchell.

Under Edward, the company began to manufacture carpet using high-quality wool imported from New Zealand. He supervised the construction of a larger and more modern dye house as well as a filtration and softening room. Together this allowed for the company to establish a color lab to  precisely match swaths of cloth or color samples sent in by customers. As the company began to lean further into the high-end custom designed carpet sector, it seemed that they had finally found a niche to dominate within the textile industry. 

From the 1960s to the 1980s, Dellinger Inc. did some impressive business. Their workers, already skilled, came to be masters of their craft. Employees from the design team and color lab to the tufters and the twisting department all reached exceptional levels of skill. Dellinger great-grandson David Mitchell recalls the production process. 

“A carpet was first laid out by using a spur like device to use a purple dye to imprint the design of the carpet.   Depending on the level of complexity – it would go to the punch gun and have the design – followed by the colors – and then laid out with the design.  This took weeks as you had intricate pieces in the carpet. It would then go back downstairs and be hand carved to the specifications.  These were artisans that did this work.  The precision was unparalleled and it was always women – never men that did that work.  Next it would go to have rubber put on the back of the carpet – again this is a process and took weeks.  Finally, it would be wound face out and placed in a tube for shipping.”

David Mitchell, Dellinger Descendent and Employee

Their custom carpets and rugs could be found in corporate offices, ornate hotels, and the homes and estates of wealthy individuals. Dellinger Inc. began dealing with more and more impressive clients, who often required not only increased levels of quality but also larger sizes. Management and employees alike were particularly proud of a massive carpet mural for the Frito-Lay Company’s research center in Texas. Carpets of this size forced the company to invest in a larger finishing and shipping room, where they could lay out the massive carpets for quality control trimmings, final inspections, and packaging. Before this, they had to use the warehouse floor space of a local lumber dealer in order to accommodate larger carpets, such as for hotel dining rooms. 

Papering over the Cracks: The Decay of Dellinger Inc.

Dellinger Inc. was not without its problems. Under Edward Dowd, the company  had flourished, coming to dominate a niche in the textile industry. The employees had reached the pinnacle of their craft. However, much of the Dellinger family pursued their own lives and interests, rarely taking part in events or management of the company. The equipment did not always meet safety codes, and by the 1980s was not only dangerous but also unreliable. Despite the additions to the plant in the 1960s and 1970s, the majority of the equipment in older portions of the plant had not been updated. Even so, clients demanded higher and higher quality for the prices that Dellinger Inc. offered. As the years passed and the pressure began to bear down, Edward’s often stern demeanor seemed to feel more and more harsh, ultimately creating a brutal cycle. 

Dellinger Inc. advertisement under Edward Dowd. Dowd’s choice to focus on the custom carpeting business reflected in the company’s advertising. Photo Courtesy of David Mitchell

Edward’s irritation could be taken out on the employees or the clients; threatening the fragile social system at Dellinger Inc.. In order to produce the quality levels desired by their clients at a profit, the company would have to lower or cease dividend payments on their stock, which would certainly raise issues from the extended Dellinger family. Cutting wages would upset the employees, who could already undoubtedly feel the company’s close knit environment straining under the pressure. There must have seemed to not be any way forward without offending one group or another, and potentially bringing the whole company crashing down around them. There was but one person who had all the qualities to keep the Dellinger Inc. machine running: Martin H. “Buddy” Mitchell. 

Buddy Mitchell (b.1940) was a native of Rome, Georgia. He met and married Madge’s daughter, Penney Yoakley; so he was a member of the Dellinger family by marriage and his children were Walter and Callie’s great-grandchildren. He could serve as one of the family’s ambassadors at company parties and events. Moreover, he represented the branch of the Dellinger family that had been geographically distant for years, as Madge reared her family in Florida. He was part of the management team at Dellinger Inc., so he was able to help meet the needs of clients that other family members may not have been willing to meet. 

Buddy Mitchell presents a Dellinger-made carpet to Governor Jimmy Carter, early 1970s. Photo Courtesy of David Mitchell

Buddy was a bit of a scholar, constantly reading on a variety of topics. He was an active community leader in Rome, serving as a city council member from 1974 to 1991. He was regarded as incredibly polite and considered a gentleman by all who had the chance to work with him. He followed in the footsteps of Walter Dellinger in many ways; even briefly working as a teacher before joining Dellinger Inc, just as Walter had worked as a teacher before working for the railroad. Buddy Mitchell understood the value of the relationship that Dellinger Inc. had built with both their employees and their customers, and he was committed to preserving it. Given the power of the forces at play, maintaining the company became an uphill battle to say the least. 

The Silencing and Demise of Dellinger Inc. 

The company culture established by Walter and Callie was largely intact when Buddy Mitchell joined in the early 70s. Since the Dellingers had modeled their company culture on the principles of other regional textile companies, Dellinger Inc. was a time capsule with roots as far back as the 1880s. Many employees had worked at Dellinger Inc. for decades, and expected that culture to continue. Therefore, when employees fell ill or had a death in the family, Buddy Mitchell became the Dellinger family ambassador who paid a visit to offer support or condolences. 

He attended company potlucks and parties, bringing his children along with him whether they wanted to go or not. If they complained, he simply told them that it was their duty; he was the “management” presence at the event, but they were the “blood” presence that represented the whole Dellinger family. Patterns of respect which had been in place for decades persisted under Buddy’s watch. His son David recalls that one longtime employee prepared a horrendous carrot and raisin salad for the company potlucks, time and time again. As dreadful as the dish was, everybody ate it to respect that employee and her effort. Even though it made David gag, he took one look at his father and knew that he had to eat it, yet again. Although this is a somewhat extreme example, it shows how Buddy Mitchell tended the family-style relationship that Callie and Walter had cultivated with their employees. He made sure that the employees continued to feel valued by the family.

The antiquated company culture was matched by the dilapidated machinery. Buddy’s son David began working at the plant over the summers during his high school and college years, and was a witness to the last years of Dellinger Inc. Of the plant’s machinery during the late 80s and early 90s, he recalls, 

“We had a dye house that was literally like a laboratory and the other various departments were all driven by labor – but the equipment was generally tools – that only worked when in the hands of skilled personnel… Eddie Amos was the “Plant Manager” that would fix anything that was broken – and if parts were needed – they could be taken from other equipment and repaired on site.  Everything was driven by the hands of the one that helped the equipment and the talent they brought to the piece.  Making spools of yarn for the carpet/rugs was LOUD and fast paced.  Clipped/Chipped fingers were common until you developed timing and the understanding of the device.  You had to cross train to understand this…”

David Mitchell, Dellinger Descendent and Employee

When clients complained about quality issues, complaints that Edward would have considered “picky,” Buddy handled them personally. On one occasion he traveled all the way to an expensive lake house by the shores of Lake Michigan to make corrections on a carpet that the client found unsatisfactory. When machinery broke in the plant, Buddy and Eddie Amos tinkered with them until they worked again.  Although he undoubtedly knew that Dellinger Inc. could not carry on indefinitely without serious changes, he made it work. Whether he was conscious of it or not, he poured his heart and soul into preserving Dellinger Inc.’s profitability, company culture, and pay structure.

As the 1980s gave way to the 1990s it became clear that the system was at a breaking point. No longer could Buddy Mitchell alone paper over the cracks. The world was moving forward from the traditional company culture and business structure on which Dellinger Inc. operated. For example, African Americans had become common in most workplaces by this point, but Dellinger continued to hire mostly white women and remained largely unintegrated after the end of segregation. The world was leaving Dellinger Inc. behind, and something had to give. Ultimately, the company lost profitability. Low cost imports from developing countries had closed the gap in terms of quality because much of the plant’s machinery had not been updated in years. Those companies usurped Dellinger Inc.’s position in the custom carpet market, as clients abandoned them in pursuit of lower costs. Dellinger Inc. became unviable and began to collapse.

The Legacy of Buddy Mitchell 

Article announcing plans to demolish the old Dellinger plant. Courtesy of David Mitchell

For Buddy Mitchell, it must have seemed as if the whole world was ending, and he undoubtedly blamed himself. After all, when the company closed, around 100 people were thrown into unemployment. Without the company, the Dellinger family no longer received dividend checks. Without the company, the community founded by Walter and Callie Dellinger dissolved. A new world was in the process of taking hold; with race relations being a key dividing line between the new world of equality and democracy and the old world of Dellinger Inc. 

Buddy Mitchell was a part of that new world. As a city councilman he oversaw the establishment of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid holiday for city employees. He stood at the crossroads between the progressive business culture of the 1970s and 1980s and a company that was stuck in the segregation era with no intention of changing. For the man who had spent the majority of his adult life giving his all to prop up the ailing company, its collapse was too much to bear. The plant’s closure in the mid 1990s broke Buddy Mitchell’s heart. Amongst the abandoned machinery, between the walls of the old Dellinger plant that he loved so dear, Buddy Mitchell took his own life in 1997; ultimately a victim of the company, culture, and family that he had striven to save. With Buddy’s death, the plant, which had been still for years, fell silent. No longer could one hear the break whistles, the creak of the floorboards, or the whir of the machinery. Those who spent their lives in the plant, who could tell which room they were in by the smell and temperature of the room alone, never returned. A world vanished. 

Buddy Mitchell. Courtesy of David Mitchell

Although Buddy Mitchell gave his life to preserve Dellinger Inc, it faded and disappeared. Buddy’s struggle inspired others though, namely his son David. To this day, David follows in his father’s footsteps, working for the Atlanta Preservation Center. Even though Buddy failed to save Dellinger Inc by bringing it into the new world, his son continues to preserve Atlanta’s history and pull it forward into a new age focused on democracy, equality, and progress. Buddy instilled the value of history in his son, and through him, continues to preserve southern history to this day. 

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:

The History of the Mandeville Mansion

Author: Jamie Bynum

The large, currently yellow and purple, Victorian-style historic home that stands in Carrollton, Georgia is known as the Mandeville Mansion or the Maple Street Mansion. This home was built around 1890 for the family of Leroy Clifton Mandeville, who was born in 1851. He and his wife, Carrie Richardson Mandeville, had five children: Leroy Clifton Jr., Eleanor, Eugenia, John, and Camilla. If you already know about Carrollton’s textile industry, the Mandeville name will be familiar to you: Mandeville Cotton Mills was arguably the most prominent textile mill within the Carrollton city boundaries. It was organized by Joseph Aycock, Henry Lovvorn, and Leroy Clifton Mandeville in 1902 as the combination of Carrollton Oil Mill and Mandeville Cotton Mill. As for the name of the street, it is said that Leroy’s father, Appleton Mandeville, planted maple trees for his wife from Vermont on the lot before the mansion was constructed. This house was the first in the area to have indoor plumbing and electricity.

L.C. Mandeville

This location served as a home until its conversion to commercial use in the 1960s. One of the most notable names from this building was the restaurant known as The Maple Street Mansion which catered to both Carrollton residents and students from the University of West Georgia. During its commercial usage, the house was expanded to include an event space, meeting room, and a sports bar inside of a 19th-century train car. In March of 2014, Mandeville Mansion was in danger of being torn down. Though the house had been purchased by a private individual in an attempt to save it, renovation funds were lacking and the owner feared that, without a thorough rehabilitation, the historic home would have to be razed. Many citizens of Carrollton were invested in trying to keep the mansion as a tangible part of Carrollton’s history and began raising money for the necessary renovations on the 123-year-old mansion. Since then, it has served as a few different restaurants, the most recent being 4 am Coffee Roasters Cafe and Bar. 

Eugenia Mandeville Watkins

With the popularity of the building, rumors have spread about its potential “resident ghost”. Eugenia, one of the daughters of Leroy and Carrie Mandeville, is rumored to have lept from a third-story window at the age of 18 and many claim she still roams the halls of the building. Her headstone in the Carrollton City Cemetery tells a different story: it puts her birth in 1878 and her death in 1915, meaning she would have been 37 years old at the time of her death.

Mansion
The Mandeville Mansion, 2014

The Mandeville Mansion, the Maple Street Mansion, or “the large purple and yellow building” has been in Carrollton for over 130 years and is beloved by the residents of the community. It has a long history of initially serving the family of a textile mogul, then all of the citizens of Carrollton. 

The Uprising of ’34

Author: Jamie Bynum

LaGrange strikers detained by the National Guard. Photo Courtesy of the Troup County Archives

On September 01, 1934, a massive strike that would last only three weeks would begin in the southern United States. Officially known as The General Textile Strike of 1934, and unofficially as The Uprising of ‘34, this strike led to textile mills shutting down for a brief period, arrests, fights, and unfortunate deaths. This strike would be the largest conflict of the National Recovery Administration (NRA) of the Great Depression.

Unrest within the textile industry came from several places. A major factor that played a hand in all of this was the Great Depression, which caused wages to fall. Mill managers and owners would stretch a few employees to cover the work of many while working only 30 hours a week. The reduction in weekly hours from 40 to 30 came from the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 (NIRA). A Textile Industry Committee was set up to regulate the textile industry across the United States in favor of the workers, consumers, and business owners; however, it was quickly realized that only the interests of the business owners were taken into consideration.

Even before the Great Depression, the textile industry still faced “a period of declining prices, management cost-cutting, and frequent and largely unsuccessful strikes by workers.” The cotton textile industry faced especially significant issues with the decline of the cotton boom of World War I. When the war ended, the demand for cotton for wartime materials nosedived, leading agriculturalists out of their line of work. Textile mills moved now more than ever to the southeastern United States, where employees could be paid significantly less due to the large labor force of previous agricultural workers. Wages had already begun to take a turn for the worse, but the onset of the Great Depression caused even lower wages. 

Due to these difficult working conditions, mill workers began getting more and more restless. One year before the strike occurred, mill workers began organizing unions, such as the United Textile Workers of America (UTWA). In September of 1933, the member count of this union was at 40,000; it quickly rose to 270,000. In August of 1934, a special convention was called from the UTWA membership; their demands were a $12 minimum wage for a 30-hour workweek. When mill owners didn’t take these demands seriously, mill operatives began striking and walking out of their jobs.

Cars organized as “flying squadrons” drove throughout southern Piedmont in an attempt to get other workers to go on strike with them. In Georgia, 44,480 of the state’s 60,000 textile workers had left their jobs by September 14. The National Guard was quickly called upon by governors to help quell strikes. Governor Eugene Talmadge declared martial law and had 4,000 National Guard members come to the state, who then began arresting thousands of people thought to be associated with the walkouts.

One of the first communities within the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail region to see evidence of this strike was Trion. The vice president of Trion Mills, who also happened to be the mayor of the town, asked Governor Talmadge to send the National Guard, Talmadge refused. For the entire year before the strike began, employees held complaints of code violations, mostly relating to the extremely low pay they were receiving. Not only were the violations amended, but anyone associated with a union was harshly punished with eviction from the mill village. On September 05, the mill exploded in violence, so much so that local authorities had to swear in almost fifty special deputies to help protect the mill. Gunfire ensued, leaving two men dead and at least twenty men wounded.

Aragon Mills saw the death of a mill guard on September 15. A flying squadron of three cars drove past and shot at the mill, killing guard Matt Brown. A total of twelve suspects were rounded up and jailed. Before state troops could make it to Aragon, Rockmart’s deputy sheriff took it upon himself to deputize “loyal mill workers” and arm them with weapons to find where the squadron was believed to be camped. He claimed that he “intended to run every striker out of the county.”

In Newnan, no deaths occurred; however, 112 men and 16 women were taken into custody from East Newnan and transported to a detention facility at Fort McPherson. Flying squadrons set out on September 17 from Hogansville, Rockmart, and LaGrange to Newnan, where the mill workers were not for the strike. At Newnan Cotton Mills Number 1 plant, a group of picketers, sympathizers, and curious onlookers gathered around. Some of the picketers included heavily armed guardsmen and two planes circling overhead. A brief scuffle ensued, and the picketers were subdued. Those from Newnan were told to go home, while those from outside of Newnan were taken to Fort McPherson. Work quickly began in the mills of Newnan after the strikers were taken away.

In LaGrange, the uprising still took hold despite Callaway Mills ensuring every family had at least one full-time employee. Much of the trouble faced in LaGrange was hyped up by out-of-town flying squadrons. Strikers from this community began to travel with these squadrons to other communities to promote the strike. The National Guard detained picketers in this community. Unrest in this community did not stop with the General Textile Strike of 1934; they faced a second strike in 1935 in which martial law was again declared.

Columbus faced a completely different series of events. While there had been some violence in August, by the time the strike officially kicked off, there was none to be reported. This peacefulness was most likely due to the mills within the city closing their doors before things could get worse. Workers picketed outside of the mills, but they were generally good-natured. Dalton experienced no violence as well, even whilst keeping their mill in operation. 

In Carrollton, no evidence of the strike was present until September 11, when a flying squadron rumored to have originated in LaGrange arrived at the Mandeville Cotton Mills. This squadron forced the mill to close down, and it remained closed most likely due to more squadrons passing through. Talmadge called in the National Guard to help arrest strikers at the mill several times. This call for help was when Mandeville was able to resume operations. 

By the middle of the month, it was clear that no progress was being made to better the conditions of working within textile mills. The strike ended on September 23 when President Roosevelt intervened, asking the workers to return to the mills. The workers, however, were afraid to return to the mills and face retribution from the owners and managers. Many workers were fired from their jobs, forced out of the mill villages that housed mill workers, and “blacklisted” from working in any textile mills ever again. As for those held at Fort McPherson and county and city jails, they were quietly released, most of them never to face the charges of the strike.

Graduate student Allison McClure worked with ArcGIS Story Maps to create the map below outlining the impact of the General Textile Strike of 1934 throughout the rest of the United States.

“The Industrial Revolution in the United States of America bred multiple successful businesses and industries across the country. Investors and business owners saw great financial and commercial success from their factories and plants, but the people working hard manual labor suffered physically, mentally, and financially. The textile industry on the East coast boomed throughout the early twentieth century. The poor, working-class Americans who staffed these factories endured harsh working conditions for very little pay, but during the interwar period and the Great Depression, workers began to demand better treatment from their employers. 


The General Textile Strike of 1934, also called the Uprising of ’34, occurred as a result of workers organizing against their employers to demand better wages and work environments. Through the influence of unions, like the Textile Workers’ Association, employees of large textile conglomerates went on strike and faced police brutality and elitist government officials in days-long strikes that resulted in workers being injured and even killed. In Georgia, factory workers in Trion, Augusta, and LaGrange participated in movements that shaped the textile industry in the state forever. While individual strikes in some states ended in death and sadness, the strike led many factories to implement wage increases, safety measures, and even allowed workers to organize in some cases. Overall, the General Textile Strike is important to study and present in a format like ArcGIS StoryMaps because it shows how a major labor movement moved from Northern states to Southern states, and it shows how different states treated strikers and met their demands.”

Waterpower and Water Transportation in Textile Mills

Author: Jamie Bynum

Waterpower was crucial to the development of the textile industry in the southern United States, especially to communities at or above the fall line. Georgia Public Broadcasting defines the fall line as “a geologic boundary marking the prehistoric shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean as well as the division between the Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions of the state.” Aptly named, the fall line is known for its creation of waterfalls due to dropping elevation. This boundary was used to the extreme by textile mills, as early on all of their machinery was operated using exclusively waterpower. The southern United States had this advantage over the North since waterpower was not as efficient there. However, a major problem came along with the utilization of the waterfall for power: it was impossible for boats to travel directly from one point to another if there was a waterfall between the two points. Roads were not very reliable, especially in times of bad weather, which would cause some roads to become completely impassable. After the Civil War, waterpower and water transportation were relied on less and less as the implementation of railroads, steam engines, and electricity made its way into textile mills.

The main use of water for power came in the form of water wheels and turbines. Early textile mills relied on the types of water wheels that had been in use for centuries, but only had an efficiency of about 30-40%. Of course, with the early textile mills of the region opening at the peak of the Industrial Revolution, a more efficient manner of power production was sought out. By the end of the nineteenth century, water wheels had been upgraded to an efficiency rate of 80-90%. Alongside the development of more efficient water wheels was the implementation of water turbines. The main difference between traditional water wheels and water turbines was that water turbines were smaller and were placed horizontally, completely submerged in water. Soon, water wheels were replaced by water turbines that took up less space and were able to spin much faster. Some southern mill owners found these turbines to be so efficient that they continued to use them into the 1930s. The use of water turbines not only generated waterpower but electricity; by the 1880s, some mills used electricity from water turbines to operate all or part of their mill, light their mill, or light nearby cities.

Troup Factory was the first textile operation in Troup County. This photo shows the original grist mill (left), the cotton factory (background), and the wooden raceway flume (foreground); all built by Maxey Brooks. Photo Courtesy of Troup County Archives.

Before the introduction of steamboats and levies to this region, transportation via water was more difficult than in other parts of the southeastern United States. Due to the location of these communities relative to the fall line, all types of boats had a hard time navigating the waterways of west Georgia. Small boats known as flatboats and keelboats dominated waterways above the fall line before the advent of the steamboat. Flatboats were generally eight- to ten -feet wide and between thirty- to forty-feet long and transported both freight and passengers downstream. The keelboat, on the other hand, was designed to go upstream using manpower via poles, rowing, or dragging. Water transportation upstream without any assistance was costly and time-consuming, so the solution was to apply the power of steam to boats. After their introduction in the early 1800s, steamboats quickly replaced keelboats in most parts of the South; however, flatboats remained competitive in downstream transportation until the 1860s due to their cost and improvements made to the construction and operation of flatboats. The initial impact of steamboats on inland rivers was not significant due to their inability to travel north past the fall line but became irreplaceable once levies came along.

The S. S. Monroe being launched on her maiden voyage. Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Troup Factory, one of the first textile mills in Georgia having opened in 1843, relied exclusively on waterpower. However, the rushing water used for waterwheels came not from natural waterfalls but a man-made log dam constructed in 1829 for the grist mill that eventually became this textile mill. With the construction of a cotton mill to accompany the original mill that operated wool carding machines, the owners of the mill had a second dam made of rocks constructed below the log dam. These dams used raceway flumes to guide the water down a narrow path where it would fall from the side of the dam, creating more turbulent waters to push the waterwheels. Water was not always beneficial to the mills; Troup Factory flooded several times over the years, which would have made the wagon road shown in the below map impassable. 

Photo courtesy of the Digital Library of Georgia.

West Point, another early textile community in the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail, also relied on waterpower and water as transportation. The Chattahoochee Manufacturing Company and the Alabama-Georgia Manufacturing Company, both located along the Chattahoochee River, began operations on the same day in 1866. In 1888, after the Chattahoochee Manufacturing Company had become the Langdale Mill of the West Point Manufacturing Company, the family that owned and operated the mill established the Chattahoochee Navigation Company. The goal of this company was to operate barges for the transportation of goods to and from the mill. The only alternative at this time was to attempt the five-and-a-half-mile wagon ride to the West Point depot. The fate of this company shows why water transportation was difficult in this region: when the water was too low, the shoals would be exposed and stop barges in their tracks, while high water levels would cause extreme rapids that were too difficult to navigate. 

The former Alabama-Georgia Manufacturing Company, renamed Riverdale Cotton Mills, in the 1900s. Photo courtesy of Jarrett Craft.

Columbus’ textile industry utilized water the most out of any community throughout the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail. Several of the early textile mills in this town relied heavily on the powerful Chattahoochee River, just as the mills near West Point did. Two notable mills here were the Eagle and Phenix Mills and Bibb Manufacturing Company. Eagle Mills opened in the mid-1800s and was re-established after the Civil War. Once reestablished, it absorbed a nearby mill, making it one of the largest mills in the state; this achievement was accomplished using waterpower and transportation to produce goods and rapidly grow the company. The other prominent mill along the river, Columbus Mill owned by Bibb Manufacturing Company, was established in 1900 around a dam site that could be used to power the mill. As seen in the below image of Bibb Manufacturing, the surrounding area was not suitable for boats to pull right up to the mill.

Photo of the Bibb Manufacturing Company and River Bank
Bibb Manufacturing Company and river. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Water was an incredibly important resource for early textile mills in the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail, as it was used for both power and transportation. Early roads were often unsuitable for anything more than small freight loads going short distances. The use of water in many places allowed larger deliveries to be made to and from textile mills and was the best mode of transportation until the implementation of railroads throughout the state. Waterwheels were used to power the various mills throughout the region until steam engines and turbines were introduced. Steam, in the end, replaced water for both transportation and power.

Mapping for the Textile Heritage Trail

Author: Jamie Bynum

I began working for the Center for Public History at the University of West Georgia in January 2020. I have worked exclusively on the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail project performing a variety of tasks. My main task has been to create maps for the Trail to bring history to the public in a visual manner. To accomplish this, I have used two programs: Story Maps and ArcGIS. These maps also serve as my thesis project for my Master of Arts in History degree.

This is a view of creating one of my many maps in ArcGIS. For this specific map, I have added additional data to create an animated timelapse.

If you have looked through our community pages, you might notice almost all of them have an interactive map showing textile-related locations within that respective community; these were all created using Story Maps. As the name suggests, Story Maps allow us to tell a story. For this project, that would be each community’s textile history. While the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail is a digital history project, it is also a tourism initiative. The use of Story Maps allows the public to not only learn historical information about a community’s textile industry but navigate to these places to see what they look like today.

The maps I have created with the ArcGIS program are more for historical research rather than tourism. These maps, unlike the Story Maps, are not interactive and remain stationary. My thesis topic centers around the importance of waterways and railroads to textile mills in the 1800s into the early 1900s. The maps I have created show the correlation between textile mills and waterways from the 1840s until about 1880; by this point, railroads were becoming more widespread and textile mills were ditching waterways and waterpower for railroads and steam power. To remain competitive in the textile industry, it was important that these mills upgraded their sources of power and transportation. By using maps, the transition through the various modes of power and transportation is very clear.

This map is the most extensive of all of the maps I created as it represents the entire Textile Heritage Trail.

I did not work on these maps alone. While what can be seen visually was created by myself, the data used to create them was a collaborative effort with fellow graduate research assistant Jarrett Craft. Without his help, the maps would not have been made. We worked together to gather mill coordinates, mill village boundaries, and mill histories. The two of us used both Sanborn Fire Insurance maps and textile directories to gather most of the information needed, with Google Maps being used to confirm coordinates and locations. 

This is an example of a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from the town of Tallapoosa.

By creating these maps, the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail is able to bring the textile industry together in a visual manner. For visitors, that means an easy way to see the geographic impact of the textile industry, as well as a way to navigate it.

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.

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

Author: Jarrett Craft

Explore this feature story via the drop-down sections below!

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.

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.

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