Telling Stories, Connecting Communities

Tag: Hosiery (Page 1 of 2)

Griffin

Come visit a textile community that thrived for a century under the operation of just a few individuals.

The citizens of Griffin are rightfully proud of their textile heritage. The Dundee towel brand put Griffin on the map and drove its economy for years. Between its purchase by Springs Industries and the effects of NAFTA, the Dundee towel brand is no longer produced. Photo Courtesy of the Griffin-Spalding Historical Society.

Griffin’s textile industry began in 1883 with the founding of Griffin Manufacturing and expanded rapidly in the following decades. Fighting through race riots, minor strikes, tornados, fires, and economic depression, Griffin’s textile industry steadily built a name for itself. By 1909 Griffin boasted seven cotton mills, including one of the largest towel mills in the world in Kincaid Manufacturing and four mills owned by the Boyd-Mangham group. However, an embezzlement scandal soon brought the Boyd-Mangham mills under new ownership and shocked all of Georgia in the process. Several knitting mills were also added to Griffin’s textile business during the 1910s and 1920s.

The majority of those cotton mills gradually came under the control of the Cheatham family’s Georgia-Kincaid Mills during the 1920s, while branches of the Shapard family owned the lion’s share of the town’s knitting mills by the 1950s. The Cheatham controlled mills, formerly known as the Georgia-Kincaid Mills, changed names to Dundee Mills after their famous Dundee Towel brand. The story of Griffin textiles revolves around these two families who drove production for the remainder of the 20th century and beyond. Although the Dundee Mills are gone today, companies such as Allstar Knitwear, 1888 Mills, and American Mills keep the textile tradition running strong.


Visit


Things To Do

  • Griffin Regional Welcome Center, 143 North Hill Street: The Griffin Welcome Center, constructed in 1899, was originally the Griffin Grocery Company Building. Currently, the building is home to the Griffin-Spalding Chamber of Commerce, the Griffin Downtown Development Authority, the Main Street and Downtown Council office, the Griffin Museum, the City of Griffin Economic Development office, and a banquet room and meeting facility available for rental. The welcome center is open to the public Monday through Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.
  • Griffin-Spalding County Library, 800 Memorial Drive: This public library is a branch of the Flint River Regional Library System. Their hours of operation are Monday and Thursday 9:00 am – 9:00 pm and Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm.
  • Griffin-Spalding Historical Society, 633 Meriwether Street: Founded in 1969 by Seaton Grantland Barnes, John Henry “Jake” Cheatham Jr., and John Hunter Goddard, Jr., the mission of this historical society is to preserve and share the history of Griffin and Spalding County and to promote the preservation and use of their historic places. The Bailey Tebault House, headquarters to this society, has an extensive history that is available to read on the society’s website. The house itself is also available for events such as weddings.

Places To See

  • Allstar Knitwear, 841 East Broadway Street: This site is currently active and not open to the public; however, it can still be seen from the road. The owners of this business are relatives of the Shapard family, they have been in operation since 1955.
  • American Throwing Company, 335 East Solomon Street: This was yet another Shapard operation, controlled by the descendants of Robert Shapard. It was in operation between the late 1940s and early 1960s.
  • Cherokee Mills Site and Mill Village, 5 Park Avenue: Cherokee Mills was another mill that belonged to the Boyd-Mangham group of mills. After their collapse, this mill was purchased by Kincaid Manufacturing Company, which in turn became Dundee Mills. This mill became Dundee No. 5, which continued operations through the time that Springs Industries took over. The mill itself has been partially demolished, but portions of it might still be visible at Park Avenue and 6th Street in East Griffin, the address above will take a visitor to the site. The surrounding homes are part of a mill village that was shared with the former Boyd-Mangham Manufacturing Company, which became Dundee No. 3. It was located on the opposite side of the mill village from Cherokee Mills/Dundee No. 5 alongside the railroad track. Both are private properties but can be viewed from the road.
  • Crompton-Highlands Mill and Mill Village, 238 Highland Street: While the old Crompton-Highlands mill has been demolished, its mill village still stands. The homes situated on the streets between McIntosh Road and Spring Street, east of Old Atlanta Road and the railroad tracks, are home to the original mill village; look for Highland Baptist Church and the company water tower. The mill site sits between the mill village and the railroad tracks. It is currently a fenced-off field, but portions of the foundation might be visible.
  • Dovedown Full Fashioned Hosiery Mills Site: One of the many knitting and hosiery mills built by the Shapard brothers and their family members, the Dovedown Full Fashioned Hosiery Mill building sits at the intersection of West Solomon Street and the railroad. It was originally the site of Griffin Hosiery Mills, but it was renamed in the 1940s. It has been repurposed into offices and currently houses several businesses.
  • Griffin Knitting Mills, 830 East Broadway Street: Griffin Knitting Mills was one of the few knitting mills in Griffin which was not controlled by the Shapard family. The building was originally built to house the production facilities of Griffin Buggy Company. By 1925, it had been repurposed as a knitting mill. The company continued operations until the 1960s when it was merged under the name Jaco Knitwear. It later housed Sybil Mills. The building is now split between the Ole Mill Range complex and Wilson’s Grocery. The site is directly across the street from Allstar Knitwear.
  • Griffin Manufacturing Co./Thomaston Mills, Griffin Division Site and Mill Village, 670 West Quilly Street: The mill village homes, located off of Experiment Street, are private property and are not open to the public. This is the site of Griffin’s first textile mill, founded by Seaton Grantland and run by W.J. Kincaid for many years. After its collapse in the 1920s it was bought by the Hightower family of Thomaston and consolidated into their Thomaston Mills. It continued operations under Thomaston Mills until the company declared bankruptcy in the early 2000s. It is now used as a warehouse. Many of the homes surrounding the site are remnants of the mill village built to house workers at Griffin Manufacturing Co.
  • Kincaid Manufacturing Co., Lowell Bleachery South, and Mill Village: A visitor driving northwest along Experiment Street can see to their right the demolished foundations first of Kincaid Manufacturing/Dundee No. 1 and then Lowell Bleachery South. Kincaid Manufacturing was the second mill to ever be built in Griffin and was named for its founder, W.J. Kincaid. It was one of the largest mills in town when it merged with Georgia Cotton Mills in 1924 and formed Georgia-Kincaid Mills. The new company was later renamed Dundee Mills after their most famous brand. Lowell Bleachery South was built by Kincaid Manufacturing in partnership with Lowell Bleachery of Massachusetts. Kincaid Manufacturing bought out Lowell’s interest and the bleachery became a division of Georgia-Kincaid shortly thereafter. The shared mill village of these two plants can be seen at Bleachery Street, Cheatham Street, Poplar Street, Peachtree Street, and Elm Street.
  • Planter’s Cotton Warehouse, 310 East Solomon Street: This site was originally used as a cotton warehouse. It is now home to several local businesses.
  • Rushton Cotton Mill Site and Mill Village, 1240 Lyndon Avenue: Rushton Cotton Mills was built by Benjamin Rush Blakely in 1899. It was hit by a tornado and largely destroyed in 1908, but was quickly rebuilt. Rushton Cotton Mills was run by Blakely and his associates until John Cheatham bought a controlling interest in 1927. From that point, it was run by the Cheatham family until it was absorbed into Dundee Mills as the Rushton Division between 1978 and 1980. It was purchased by Springs Industries along with the rest of Dundee Mills in 1995; it was shut down along with the rest of the former Dundee Mills in the mid-2000s. Today the site is home to local businesses. Although it is still private property, it can be viewed from Moody Street and Lyndon Avenue. Many of the homes in the immediate vicinity were constructed to house Rushton’s workers.
  • Spalding Cotton Mills/Dundee Mill No. 2 Site and Mill Village, 802 High Falls Road: Some remains of this 100-year-old site can be viewed near the intersection of High Falls Road and 2nd Street in East Griffin. Spalding Cotton Mills was originally built as part of the Boyd-Mangham group of mills. After their collapse, it became part of Georgia Cotton Mills, which in turn became Dundee Mills. The former Spalding Cotton Mills became Dundee No. 2 and absorbed the former The Central Mills/Dundee No. 4 in 1937. The homes in the mill village, many of which are hipped-roof or side-gabled duplexes typical of most southern mill towns, can be viewed along Spalding St or High Falls Road, Solomon Street, Lakeview Avenue, 2nd Street, Chandler Street, and Little Street.
  • Spalding Knitting Mills, 324 East Broad Street: This building was originally built to house Norman Buggy Company. By 1949, it had been bought by Spalding Knitting Mills, Robert Shapard’s first operation, which had originally been located downtown. It currently houses several local businesses.

History


Explore this community’s history via the drop-down sections below!

Griffin Catches Mill Fever: Grantland, Kincaid, and the Birth of Griffin’s Textile Industry

1895 Sanborn Fire Insurance map of Griffin featuring Griffin Manufacturing and Kincaid Manufacturing. Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Griffin’s textile history began with the founding of Griffin Manufacturing Company by Seaton Grantland in August of 1883. Responding to Henry Grady’s calls for industrial development in a “New South” Grantland quickly gathered $100,000 in local capital. Grantland and his stockholders were as enthusiastic as they were ambitious, their startup boasted 160 looms and 5,000 spindles by 1888. His venture was located along the Central Railroad of Georgia just northeast of town on the way to the community of Experiment.

This success was shortly followed by the foundation of Kincaid Manufacturing Company on February 11, 1888. The stockholders voted Seaton Grantland as the vice president of the new company, while W.J. Kincaid, a North Carolina native, Confederate veteran, department store owner, and key partner in Griffin Manufacturing Company, was voted president. Kincaid went on to assume the presidency of Griffin Manufacturing Company by 1893. In that year, Kincaid’s two factories featured a combined 9,928 ring spindles and 338 looms and produced a wide variety of cotton goods including sheetings, shirtings, cottonades, ticking, drills, plaids, towels, and cheviots. Up to $40,000 in new machinery had been installed in expansions to the Kincaid Manufacturing Company in order to focus on towel production.

At that point, the two mills were successful enterprises, having received orders from firms as far away as San Francisco and Shanghai and established a precedent of paying 10 percent dividends on stock. Despite lighting strikes and recession-enforced closures in the middle of the 1890s, a $300,000 order placed to supply the Army with jeans for the Spanish American War helped Kincaid to cement his place as one of Georgia’s premier mill men.  Kincaid would set the pace for Griffin’s textile industry for the next two decades until his retirement in 1910.

Segregation in Griffin’s Textile Industry

W.J. Kincaid, while being a skillful businessman, used that influence to establish a rather dark and shameful precedent for Griffin’s textile industry. In an interview with the Macon Telegraph, he stated his opposition to using African American employees by stating “At present I do not see any necessity for the introduction of negro labor in Southern cotton mills.” This claim was made on the grounds that there was more than enough white labor available and that “The negro is particularly adapted to producing the raw material, but there is no doubt in my mind as to his inability to succeed permanently as a manufacturer.”

This decision on the part of manufacturers, when reinforced by episodes where white mobs intimidated African Americans and their white employers, managed to keep African Americans largely out of all but the most menial of jobs in Griffin’s work force.  The members of the white mobs were part of a trend known as white-capping. In Griffin’s case, a group known as the “Labor Union Band”, rode through town beating innocent African Americans with the goal of driving them out of the county. They also threatened the Kincaid mill’s superintendent. Kincaid, to his credit, petitioned the governor to call out  the local militia, who eventually returned order to the situation.

This image depicts one of Georgia’s worst instances of white-capping, the 1906 Atlanta Race Riots. White mobs used forms of extralegal violence to enforce the social and economic superiority they desired on African American communities, essentially openly using terrorism to enforce segregation. While what happened in Griffin was certainly not on this scale, the effect was similar.

Whether it came from policies set at the top, or terror enforced by mob’s whips, African Americans were kept out of Griffin’s factory lines. This effectively denied Griffin’s African Americans the opportunity to reap the benefits of industrialization, which as Kincaid put it, were saving money and accumulating property. In the long term, when compared to their white counterparts, only a handful of African Americans were able to accumulate the generational wealth offered by the steady pay of factory work. Therefore, they could only rarely afford to send their children to college and push into the middle class. This model of systemic racism can be applied not only to a regional, but also a national scale. In the end, this system had its roots in the decisions of a handful of people in positions of influence, such as W.J. Kincaid, who chose bigotry over fairness and equality.

Despite their choice to employ only white labor, the two mills under Kincaid expanded massively during the 1900s. In 1900 Griffin Manufacturing Company featured 593 looms, 15,000 spindles, and  $400,000 in, reportedly, all locally-raised capital stock. Meanwhile, Kincaid Manufacturing boasted 430 looms, 12,552 spindles, and $320,000 in capital stock largely owned by the same investors as Griffin Manufacturing Company.  At this time the two mills produced “colored cottons”, towels, tickings, cottonades, and table damasks, employing 900 people between them. In 1904 Griffin Manufacturing approved a $275,000 ($7,922,132.02 in 2020) expansion which was planned to add a two-storied 75 x 336 foot addition to the mill. This added an estimated 10,112 spindles and 396 looms to their operation, requiring 400 new employees. Kincaid Manufacturing’s stockholders elected to follow suit in February of 1907 by doubling the capacity of the mill, bringing its spindle count up to 30,000. This round of expansion was reported to have cost a total of $575,000 ($15,683,675.53 in 2020) between the two mills. The level of investment in the two factories is staggering when it is remembered that the stockholders of the two enterprises were largely one and the same.

W. J. Kincaid, key stockholder of Griffin Manufacturing Company and founder of Kincaid Manufacturing Company. Photo Courtesy of the Griffin-Spalding Archives.

Things were not all gumdrops and roses for the Kincaid-controlled mills during the 1900s, there were plenty of obstacles to overcome. The first hurdle was the inaugural strike for Griffin’s textile industry.  On January 14th, 1904 the weavers of Kincaid Manufacturing were informed that their wages would be cut by 20 percent. This could have been caused by anything from a dip in sales to the mills running out of cotton. Of the 75 weavers affected by the cut, 70 immediately walked out on strike. Management quickly backed down, restoring the wages. Following that, in January of 1906 a small tornado struck the cloth room of Kincaid Manufacturing, removing the roof from the building and badly injuring a young boy. It is estimated that $400 ($11,395.29 in 2020) in damage was done to the mill. Despite these setbacks, the mills remained a success which inspired others to invest in the city as well.

New Kids on the Block: The Emergence of the Boyd-Mangham Group and Rushton Cotton Mills

By 1909, locally-based industrialists built 5 new mills in Griffin. Rushton Mill was the first of the new batch, founded in 1899 by Benjamin Rush Blakely and J.P. Nichols. The new mill produced brown sheeting, napped goods, and yarns. In 1902, the Rushton mill had 192 looms, 5,000 spindles, and employed 225. The operation was successful, by 1907 it had increased its capital stock to $125,000 and transitioned to the production of fancy dobby weaves, domets, and shirtings.

The future was promising for Rushton Cotton Mills, but disaster struck it in 1908. The mill was damaged by a massive storm system that devastated the south on April 24th, 1908. The storm left a vast swathe of debris which stretched from Louisiana to eastern Atlanta, the death toll eventually exceeding 300 people with a further 1,200 injured. 46 towns were reportedly wrecked.

The ruined Rushton Cotton Mills in 1908, shortly after the tornado strike. Photo Courtesy of the Griffin-Spalding Archives.

 

In Griffin, 5 people were confirmed to have been killed by a tornado with several more injured as the tornado ripped through the Rushton Cotton Mills village, destroying between 15 and 25 mill houses. The mill itself lost its engine room and boiler room in their entirety, while the whole roof was blown off the card room. Estimates in the aftermath of the tornado guessed that $12,000-$15,000 (up to $418,025.54 in 2020 dollars) in damages had been done to the uninsured mill. Despite those devastating losses, the mill’s owners doubled down on their investment and announced their intention to rebuild the mill.

By April 27th the streets had been cleared of debris, Rushton Cotton Mills was being dismantled in preparation for rebuilding, and new materials were ordered. Kincaid Manufacturing and Griffin Manufacturing took on the employees of the damaged mill to lower the amount of unemployed in Griffin due to the tornado. By 1909, Rushton Cotton Mills was listed as having resumed operations, the mill was even expanded to house 13,000 spindles and 380 looms.

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.

The other Griffin mills founded during the 1900s were Boyd-Mangham Manufacturing Company, The Central Mills, Cherokee Mills, and The Spalding Cotton Mills, all jointly owned and managed by Douglas Boyd and the Mangham brothers. The Boyd-Mangham group of mills was built on a family connection, as Douglas Boyd and J.W. Mangham were brothers-in-law.  After a failed startup, they opened the Griffin Knitting Mills. The new mill was organized with a capital stock of $20,000 in 1900, manufacturing both men’s and women’s underwear. J.J. Mangham became involved in the business by 1903, by which time the “Griffin Knit” brand was established. Anticipating growth, they built a small two-story mill building at the corner of Experiment Street and West Broad Street. However, the knitting mill failed shortly after the new building was completed.

Despite the setbacks, Douglas Boyd and the Mangham brothers were on the rise. In 1899-1900, the Manghams partnered with W.J. Kincaid to build The Spalding Cotton Mills to produce 4-yard sheeting. The cornerstone was laid on August 25th, 1899. The new mill was ambitious, being capitalized at $100,000 and projected to house 5,000 spindles in 1899. This was quickly expanded to $200,000 in capital stock and its equipment 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.

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.

Undaunted, Douglas Boyd and the Mangham brothers pressed on. 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 producing “fancy weaves”. This was followed in 1905, when the group incorporated the Central Mills. To house the new company, they expanded the facility built for Griffin Knitting Mill and equipped it with 10,000 ring spindles, 400 twisting spindles, and 160 looms producing “Cotton Crepe”.

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 ordered machinery by June of 1908. This new mill, still listed as under construction in 1909, was envisioned as a producer of cotton sheeting. It was incorporated with a capital stock of $200,000, being able to house 10,000 spindles and 350 looms.

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.

Heading into the 1910s, Griffin’s textile industry was booming. To put that growth into numbers, the city possessed 41,552 ring spindles in 1900. By 1909 that number had risen to 109,500 spindles, a 62 percent increase. 45,000 of those were housed in the rapidly expanding Boyd-Mangham group of mills (41 percent of the total), while 51,500 spindles were operated by W.J. Kincaid’s two mills (47 percent of the total), the remainder being in the Rushton mill. In addition there was a boost to 3,631 total looms from 1,409 looms, indicating that the various mills’ product lines were becoming more sophisticated. On the basis of that growth, the 1910s were shaping up to be a golden age for Griffin.

Changing of the Guard: Retirements, Scandals, and New Faces in 1910s Griffin

 Farmers using horse-drawn carts to deliver cotton to a warehouse on East Taylor Street, circa 1910. Griffin’s mills were afflicted by shortages in cotton several times in the period from 1883-1910, perhaps due in part to their supply chain’s reliance on horse-drawn transportation. Photo Courtesy of the Griffin Spalding Historical Society.

 

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.

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.

The Mangham Embezzlement Scandal

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 prosecution eventually proved that J. J. Mangham, who was de facto in charge of Boyd-Mangham Manufacturing, declared $200,000 in false assets. He also fabricated a $150,000 unimpaired capital stock and an $80,000 surplus. Mangham discounted the stock of the mill in Atlanta banks who provided him with credit, which he used to speculate illegally. Mangham further claimed that the company owed him $10,000, when he actually owed it several thousand instead. On the 25th of November, 1911 J. J. Mangham was found 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 for the felony and 1 year for the misdemeanor in the state prison at Milledgeville. Mangham was eventually pardoned by the governor in 1915, the pardon was given to him at his wife’s deathbed.

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 at auction 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.

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.

When the dust settled Cherokee Mills was absorbed by Kincaid Manufacturing Company, 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. Meanwhile, Kincaid Mfg. Company had expanded dramatically under the watch of James M. Brawner, reaching 32,000 spindles and 1,082 looms with electric power. He focused production on towels, crashes, and damasks. At the same time, J.P. Nichols and Benjamin R. Blakely assumed leadership of Griffin Mfg. Company and expanded it. Combined with their interest in Rushton Cotton Mills, the two men operated a total of 47,000 spindles, 416 broad looms, and 952 narrow looms.

The period from 1916 to 1922 was a difficult time for both the City of Griffin and the country, with a boom supported by World War I followed by a bust as demand slackened. Europe’s shattered postwar economies could no longer afford to purchase American surpluses, which caused instability at a corporate level for many of the mills in Griffin. In addition to this, the boll weevil epidemic struck down the cotton crop, which made raw material for production hard to come by.

Photo of the Griffin Manufacturing Company facility taken from the south. Although this photo was taken later, the buildings depicted were present in the 1910s. On the left in the foreground was the tail end of a structure known as the “old mill” which housed weaving and spinning machinery. The building to the right in the background was the “new mill”, the extension built in 1904. It was home to weaving, spooling, spinning, and carding operations. Photo Courtesy of the Thomaston-Upson Archives, Thomaston Mills Collection.

Perhaps it was this tumultuous period that caused the executives at Griffin Manufacturing Company to deny weave room employees a 20 percent pay increase on certain items. Following that, May 14th, 1917 saw 75 weave room employees of Griffin Manufacturing strike after several days of dissatisfaction. It is unclear what prompted this strike other than the refusal to by management to grant a pay raise, but strikes usually followed pay cuts or unacceptable changes in hours.

The strike was settled 1 week later after conferences between Mayor JW Hammond and company officials J.P. Nichols, B.R. Blakely and W.G. Nichols. A compromise was reached where the mills would operate 10 hours a day instead of 8.5, while the night shift would  be eliminated. “An equitable adjustment of wages” was also reached, with the Atlanta Journal Constitution reporting that “The terms are satisfactory to both officials and employees.”  Although the locals managed to settle the strike, this period of instability created the conditions for the founding of two textile dynasties that would largely control the path of Griffin’s textile industries for the next eighty years: the Shapards and the Cheathams.

The Shapards: Griffin’s Knitting and Hosiery Kings

The Dovedown Hosiery Mills facility, pictured here, originally housed the Shapard family’s first operation, Griffin Hosiery Mills. The Dovedown Hosiery Mills were created as a separate company in the 1930s, it later moved into the Griffin Hosiery Mills facility before that branch of the family exited the textile business. It now serves as an office park. Photo Courtesy of Jarrett Craft.

The Shapards came from Tennessee, the sons of a wealthy attorney and Civil War veteran. They  got their start in Griffin’s textile industry as executives under Clyde L. King in Georgia Cotton Mills, but in 1916 Robert P. Shapard I and his brother Thomas L. Shapard founded Griffin Hosiery Mills. Their venture was a small one with only $25,000 in capital and fifty employees. The brothers divided their business interests by 1922. Robert formed Spalding Knitting Mills while Thomas L. maintained Griffin Hosiery Mill. Both men passed their holdings to their respective heirs, who expanded those operations and founded new companies.

Both branches of the family had run-ins with strikes during the 1930s and 1940s. On Jan 21, 1936 Robert Shapard’s descendants were faced with a labor dispute. Following a 6 percent wage decrease, approximately half the workers in Spalding Knitting Mills’ knitting room went on strike. This was brought on by 6 employees running through the room turning off machines and urging their fellow employees to quit. Some fights apparently broke out in the yard but nobody was seriously injured.

The mill’s president Robert P. Shapard Jr. claimed that the mill would reopen the following day, and that hours had been altered so that each worker could make up the difference by working more hours.  It is possible that this wage decrease was the direct result of a large snow storm which crippled much of the metro-Atlanta area. Mills across Griffin were prevented from operating due to a lack of power, which had been knocked out by the storm. The wage decrease might have been initiated to recoup the profits lost during the snowstorm. The strike ended 2 weeks after it began. The mills never completely shut down as not all the employees struck at one time.

Robert P. Shapard Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps by entering the family business. He played a major role in the 1936 Spalding Knitting Mills strike as president of the mill. He passed his business down to his children, several of their descendants still make their living in the textile industry today. Photo Courtesy of the Griffin-Spalding Archives.

Five years later, Thomas’s heirs were faced with their own showdown against Griffin’s labor force. Dovedown Hosiery Mills employees called a strike on May 26, 1941, reportedly after a previous pay cut imposed by management. Workers asked for $3 more per week, previously making $32.60 per week ($568.59, 14.21 per hour in 2020). The additional $3 per week would bring them up to 81 cents per hour and $35.60 per week (15.52 per hour and 620.91 per week). Women made $19 per week($331.39 per week, 8.72 per hour in 2020) at 38 hours per week equaling 50 cents per hour. The proposed raise would have brought them up to 58 cents per hour and $22 per week ($383.71 in 2020 $10.09 per hour). Tom Shapard, the superintendent, claimed the mill would reopen the next day for those who wanted to work.

Not one of the 130 employees came back, prompting the U.S. Department of Labor to dispatch T.W. Pennington as conciliator. He certainly had his work cut out for him as on June 20th riots took place outside the mill when it attempted to open. 1 man was injured and 4 men were arrested on charges of “rioting.” 3 out of those 4 had been arrested the previous day on the same charges, being released on $500 bail. In response, management stated that the mill was “idly awaiting peaceably permitted entry of those who desire to work.” The strike had lasted for a month at this point. Three days later, the mill was set to restart after a settlement was reached. The 4 week long strike resulted in an increased pay rate for the returning employees, whereby they would receive an extra 5 cents for every dozen pairs produced. This brought an end to the ordeal which saw 20 people arrested and at least 1 man injured.

The Shapard family managed to overcome these difficulties to become the undoubted leaders of Griffin’s hosiery and knitting industry. At its heydey in the 1950s, the Shapards accounted for half of the hosiery mills in operation.  Thomas’s widow ran Griffin Hosiery Mills until December of 1957, founding Dovedown Full Fashioned Hosiery Mills along the way. After her death, her family chose to liquidate her holdings and exited the textile business.  Robert’s descendants kept ahold of the family business through to the 1990s, expanding it massively along the way. They also created American Throwing Company and even acquired another branch for Spalding Knitting Mills in South Pittsburg, Tennessee. The 1960s saw a steady decline in Griffin’s knitwear industry. By 1976, only Allstar Knitwear and the Shapard companies were left. Today, Griffin only has a handful of knitting companies. The companies owned by Robert P.’s descendants were consolidated into American Mills during the 1980s. In 2012, American Mills launched Cushion Pros to focus on production of cushions and pillows, it currently employs 50 people. Relatives of the Shapards also own Allstar Knitwear.

Under One Roof: Unifying Griffin’s Mills Under John H. Cheatham

John H. Cheatham got his start under J.M. Geer in Easley, South Carolina. Geer was the head of a prominent textile family which owned mills at Easley , Greenville, and Greer in South Carolina, Hartwell and Douglasville in Georgia, and Laurel in Mississippi. Geer was well known for his affection towards his employees, an affection that Cheatham benefited from when Geer retired from managing the Hartwell mill and appointed Cheatham as his successor. Cheatham used this break as the foundation for his career, which eventually resulted in the establishment of a textile empire in Griffin. Photo Courtesy of the Griffin-Spalding Archives.

John H. Cheatham also established himself in Griffin during the same tumultuous period as the Shapards. Originally from South Carolina, he got his start in the textile industry in Hartwell, Georgia after being named head of Hartwell Mills in 1917. He quickly used that role to be hired as the president of Georgia Cotton Mills by the creditors who held a controlling interest in the company. By 1924, he had paid off the banks and also held a controlling interest in Kincaid Mfg. Co., which had recently built Lowell Bleachery South in conjunction with the Lowell Bleachery of Massachusetts. In that same year, Cheatham pulled off a merger between Georgia Cotton Mills and Kincaid Mfg. Co. to create Georgia-Kincaid Mills. In 1927, Cheatham took a big step towards winning over his 2,000 employees by paying out over $35,000 in cash bonuses to mill operatives, a 40 percent raise from 1926. Management and office employees were not included. By 1928 he had purchased a controlling interest in Rushton Cotton Mill. With that maneuver, he had managed to buy or absorb all but one of the cotton mills in Griffin which had existed in 1905.

John H. Cheatham formed Georgia-Kincaid Mills in 1924 by merging most of Griffin’s existing mills into one massive operation. Kincaid Manufacturing Co. became Plant No. 1, the former Spalding Cotton Mills became Plant No. 2, the former Boyd-Mangham Manufacturing Co. became Plant No. 3, the former Central Mills became Plant No. 4, and the former Cherokee Mills became Plant No. 5. John H. Cheatham eventually renamed his company to Dundee Mills, named after its Dundee Towel brand. Photo Courtesy of Jarrett Craft.

In 1928, when John Cheatham bought Rushton Cotton Mills, the Griffin textile industry had changed dramatically. Cheatham had created the largest company that Griffin had seen. Georgia-Kincaid Mills boasted $1,900,000 in capital, 228 cotton carding machines, 3,000 narrow looms, and 76,000 ring spindles producing Turkish and huck towels, damasks, corduroys, tickings, crashes, diaper cloths, and flannels. Combined with Rushton Cotton Mills and his holdings in Hart and Stephens counties, Cheatham had amassed a total of 325 cards, 3920 looms, and 108,400 spindles under his control.  By 1930, Cheatham’s economic prowess earned him political stature to match, as he became a state senator.

Unions, Strikes, Tornados, and Train Wrecks: Griffin’s Textile Industry During the 1930s and 40s

Cheatham’s actions had ramifications throughout Griffin’s textile business which carried on into the next two decades. First, W.F. Ingram and James M. Brawner, who had been in control of Kincaid Manufacturing before Cheatham acquired it, created their own company known as Highland Mills. Highland Mills was a sizable operation, which produced Sateens with $825,000 in capital, 28 cards, 90 broad looms, 410 narrow looms, 12,800 ring spindles, and 1,200 twisted spindles. However, tragedy struck on February 20th, 1928 when a northbound train struck W.F. Ingram’s car at the crossing near the mill while he drove home from work. Ingram was killed instantly. On top of that, the mill was heavily damaged in 1933 by a hail storm that busted 2,000 window lites. Perhaps for those reasons, they decided to sell. By 1935, the original owners had been bought out by Crompton Company of Virginia who expanded the operation, and by the 1950s they were known as Crompton-Highlands Inc, known for the production of velvet.

The completed Highland Mills along with its village. The train track that W. F. Ingram died on runs in front of the mill. Despite the tragedy of his death, the mill would go on to become well known for its velvet and corduroy products. Photo Courtesy of David Baugh.

Griffin Manufacturing Company, whether as a result of Cheatham’s maneuvers or the looming stock market crash, went bankrupt in 1929. The mill passed to a receiver in July of 1929, listed as having $614,000 in liabilities with only $511,000 in assets. The Hightower family of Thomaston shortly purchased the mill, paying $400,000 for it. They paid off the debt and established it as the Griffin Division of Thomaston Mills with 500 looms and 30,000 spindles.

The 1934-35 Textile Strike in Griffin

With the onset of the Great Depression, Griffin’s mills struggled just to stay open. Undoubtedly, that meant wage cuts and irregular working hours for operatives and small dividends for investors. Wage cuts inevitably led to tensions between workers and management. Frustrations finally boiled over in the fall of 1934, as textile workers nationwide went on strike. The first casualty of the strike in Griffin came when the Rushton Mill closed indefinitely on September 12th after several workers quit on the 11th. Several other Griffin mills operated as normal, but had guards protecting the facilities.

However, it appears that Griffin’s mills were shortly forced to close by the strike. It ended quickly though as the Georgia-Kincaid Mills reopened on September 17, 1934 while the Griffin Division of Thomaston Mills also planned on reopening, although the Rushton and Highland Mills were forced to remain closed. By September 19th management city-wide had gained the upper hand, as 8 men were arrested at Griffin on the charges of “causing trouble” and were held at the Spalding Jail. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that 11 mills were operating while 2 remained closed meaning that 3,586 employees were back at work while less than 1,000 sat idle. The paper further reported “Officials declared the situation is getting better.” By September 21st Highland Mills reopened, leaving only one Griffin mill closed. The textile strikes were an absolute victory for management and a crushing defeat for unions nationwide, the situation was no different in Griffin.

Twisting department of the Thomaston Cotton Mills’ Griffin Division, 1930-1950. Photo Courtesy of the Thomaston-Upson Archives’ Thomaston Mills Collection.

However, the strikes appear to have caught the mill owners’ attention. They began giving raises as soon as the economy was stimulated by World War II production. On July 1st, 1941 “Proportionate increases” were obtained by 4,500 Griffin textile employees, the minimum wage being raised from 32 cents per hour to 37.5 cents per hour. This was followed by more raises, 5 percent across the board at all of Griffin’s major mills, which were approved by the War Labor Board in 1945. Mill owners expected these wages to stick,and they were proven right on January 6th, 1946. Griffin’s mills announced a voluntary $425,000 ($5,587,965.38) pay increase, despite the fact that the only mill threatened with strikes was the Crompton-Highlands mill. Dundee Mills, Lowell Bleachery South, and Rushton Cotton Mills gave a combined $250,000 ($4,578,375) in wage increases while Thomaston Cotton Mills and Crompton-Highlands gave about $90,000 ($1,648,215) each.

Photo of Lowell Bleachery South during the 1940s, after the company’s name changed from Georgia-Kincaid Mills to Dundee Mills. The main body of the facility was for bleaching and finishing toweling produced by Kincaid Manufacturing/Dundee No. 1. Photo Courtesy of the Griffin-Spalding Archives.

Mill owners, wiser after the strikes of the 1930s, hoped that these voluntary raises would stave off strikes and unions. However, it appears they were not above using stalling tactics to delay union elections though as they were accused of doing so to delay elections at the Dundee and Thomaston Mills in 1946. At any rate, the mill owners’ combination of carrot and stick appear to have worked. On August 11th, 1948 mill officials announced that Griffin’s industrial payroll had shot up by $750,000 ($7,979,066.39 in 2020). At that point, Griffin’s mills, with the exception of Crompton-Highlands, had managed to stave off the unions.

The Decline of Griffin’s Textile Industry

The various cotton mills in Griffin which were listed in 1935 managed to stay in business for the next fifty years. Before his death in 1950, John H. Cheatham rebranded Georgia-Kincaid by changing the name to Dundee Mills, which it would do business as until it was sold to Springs Industries.  Cheatham passed his various interests to his son John M. Cheatham who modernized, maintained, and eventually expanded the business until his death in 1985. During his tenure, Dundee and its associated mills were especially known for towel production, a legacy continued from the days of W.J. Kincaid, although they did maintain other product lines.  The Cheatham family sold their textile empire to Springs Industries in 1995, including Rushton Cotton Mills, Hartwell Mills, and other companies acquired during John M. Cheatham’s expansion push during the 1970s and 1980s.

Springs Industries initially pushed a modernization campaign on their new facilities but by the early 2000s had decided to shut down their acquisitions, probably due to the impact of NAFTA on manufacturing in the United States. Springs Industries was the last major textile operation left in Griffin, as Crompton-Highlands had collapsed in the 1980s and Thomaston Mills closed in 2001. During the period of collapse for these major firms, a grandson of John H. Cheatham founded 1888 Mills. It was bought out by an international corporation before long. Likewise, the knitting and hosiery business also dwindled off. Today, 1888 Mills, Allstar Knitwear, and Shapard-owned American Mills are the last vestiges of Griffin’s rich textile history. Beginning in the mid-2010s, the former Dundee plants underwent demolition. Today, only the Griffin Manufacturing and Rushton Cotton Mills remain, standing as silent monuments to Griffin’s textile industry.


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Cedartown

Cedartown, known best for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company that produced tire materials and rubber parade floats, was also home to several yarn and cotton mills.


Visit


Things To Do

  • Cedartown Depot, 609 South Main Street: The depot houses the town’s Welcome Center and also contains a railroad museum. Constructed in 2004, the Cedartown Depot is a replica of the original Seaboard Airline Railway depot that stood at the same location. The depot is also a Silver Comet trailhead. The Welcome Center is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Saturday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and Sunday from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm.
  • Polk County Historical Society Research Library, 205 South College Street: The Society is headquartered in a beautiful building on College Street designed by noted Georgia architect Neel Reid. A grant from the state provided extensive renovations and made the building an ideal site for a museum, and in 1980 the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, the first structure in Polk County to receive this honor. 
  • Polk County Historical Society Museum, 117 West Avenue: The museum, formerly headquartered in the original Hawkes Children’s Library, has now moved to the old Southcrest Bank building on West Avenue.
  • Silver Comet Trail, 609 South Main Street: The Silver Comet Trail is built on an abandoned rail line, once owned by Seaboard Airline Railroad. This historic rail line has been transformed into a walking/biking trail running through Cobb, Paulding, and Polk counties. Cedartown is right in the middle of of the trail making it a perfect location to see both sides of the trail
  • Cedartown Cotton and Export Co. Mill No. 3 and Mill Village, 591 West Avenue : Mill No. 3 is the last of Cedartown Cotton & Export Co.’s facilities that are still standing. It has since been converted into a flea market. The mill village, located next to the mill, was built during the 1920s. At this time, Charles Adamson began purchasing mail-order “kit homes” for his mill employees to live in. He continued to build homes in Cedartown’s West End.

Places To See

The following properties are not open to the public, but you can view them from the exterior to learn more about the buildings that supported the textile industry here.

  • Gildan Inc. Yarn-Spinning Facility, 270 North Park Boulevard: This manufacturing facility produces the yarns used by Gildan Inc. to make t-shirts.
  • Blue Springs Finishing and Dyeing Company, 701 Wissahickon Avenue: This location is private property and is not open to the public.
  • Cedartown Cotton and Export Company Warehouses, 5991 North 2nd Street: These warehouses were used by the Cedartown Cotton and Export company and stand directly next to where Mill No. 1 used to be.
  • Cedar Valley Golf Club, 1811 Buchanan Highway: Built by Charles Adamson, this facility was used to entertain northern textile investors. The Clubhouse is believed to be the original facility.
  • Goodyear Clearwater Mill/Paragon Mill and Mill Village, Goodyear Circle: These homes are private property and are not open to the public. Located at on West Avenue and Adamson St. near 2nd and 3rd Streets, the Goodyear mill village covered a radius of 25 city blocks and included a school that Goodyear maintained. Though the Goodyear mill is gone, the mill village, with homes built by both Charles Adamson and Goodyear, is still there.
  • Josephine Knitting Mills, 701 Wissahickon Avenue: The Josephine Mill is still standing and is now home to the GEO Chemical Corporation. The brick building with the blue doors, next door to GEO Chemical, is the old Noble Paper Mill and the Kuster Box Plant. Most of the housing constructed for workers at Josephine Mills was located along Cedar and Locust Streets to the west and Prior Street to the south.
  • Standard Cotton Mills and Mill Village, 4015 Cedar Hill Street: Although the mill no longer exists, its mill village still stands. These houses were constructed to house the mill workers of Standard Cotton Mills.
  • United States Finishing Company, 701 Wissahickon Avenue: : This location is private property and is not open to the public.
  • Wayside Inn, 500 West Avenue: The Wayside Inn was built by Charles Adamson in 1920 as a 32-room “mill hotel.” This inn offered rooms for travelers and a fine restaurant. Using a kit ordered from the Aladdin Company of Bay City, Michigan, each piece of the building was individually cut, numbered, and shipped by rail for on-site assembly. The building was demolished in 2021.

History


  • Photo of a woman in the snow in front of the Mill
    Women in the snow. Photo courtesy: Polk County Historical Society

Cedartown was established as part of Polk County in the late 1830s. By the late 1880s, the city saw massive land sales which attracted industrialists like Charles Adamson. Adamson, Cedartown’s first factory owner, purchased land in the city and established a textile mill called the Cedartown Cotton Manufacturing Company in 1894. In 1899, the company expanded by adding Paragon Mills to his company; two years later, he added the Southern Extension Cotton Mill. The Cedartown Cotton and Export Company ran for twenty years producing high-grade hosiery yard. The Cedartown Cotton and Export Company continued to operate its first and third mills into the 1930s.

To house mill employees, Adamson ordered 33 prefabricated mail-order “kit homes” from the Aladdin Company of Bay City, Michigan,
and had them assembled on site. The mill village included a playground, children’s nursery, and a mission school. Throughout the 1920s, Adamson continued to build new homes in Cedartown’s West End. Charles Adamson was instrumental in the early prosperity and development of Cedartown but unfortunately, due to the advent of rayon wiping out his fortune; Adamson died a pauper in 1931.

Cedartown was also home to several yarn mills including Standard Cotton Mills, Wahneta Knitting Mills, the Josephine Mills, and more recently Gildan Incorporated’s yarn-spinning facility, which is still in operation today. Standard Cotton Mills opened in 1900 and specialized in the manufacturing of high-grade hosiery, underwear, and yarns. Adding 6,000 more mule spindles to the original mill in 1901, the mill continued to slowly expand during the next few years. In 1902, the Standard Cotton Mill built a second mill to manufacture lower-grade cotton into coarser yarns. The addition of this second mill doubled the capacity of the Standard Cotton Mills.

Standard Cotton Mills ceased operation in 1931 and in 1935, it became the facility of the Uxbridge Worsted Company later known as the Bachman Uxbridge Company. In August 1960 Indian Head Mills Inc. purchased the mills, modernized, and expanded them. Unfortunately, profits slumped in 1963 due to increasingly cheaper foreign imports and the two Cedartown mills closed in 1964. Crown Textile Manufacturing then purchased the mills from Indian Head in May of that same year.

Crown did not put the mills into production and sold them to Hale Manufacturing Company, who purchased the mills to manufacture yarn for the carpet industry in Dalton, Georgia. Hale Manufacturing sold the plant to Polymer Corporation, one of its biggest customers, in 1988. Standard Cotton Mills is no longer standing but the smokestack remains as a reminder of the once-thriving cotton textile industry.

The Josephine Mills went into operation making cotton underwear in 1901 and also built homes for its employees. Cedartown Knitting Company consolidated both Wahneta Knitting Mills and Josephine Mills in 1907, in an attempt to bring back Wahneta Knitting Mills from its closure in 1905. The purchase of the Kuster Box Factory by the owners of Cedartown Knitting added to the mill complex. The Kuster Factory made paper boxes used to package the underwear made at the mills. With 126 of the most modern knitting machines, the capacity and output of the mills were about 500 dozen per day of knit underwear for women and children.

Updates to equipment at both mills in 1903 increased the output of the Wahneta Mill to 200 dozen children’s union suits per day. The Josephine Mills output was increased to 750 dozen women’s underwear. A consolidation of the parent company led to the closing of the Cedartown Knitting Company. Used as a Sunday school, day and night school, and a mission home, the Wahneta Mill building continued the benefit the community into 1907.  

In 1916, F. D. Noble, the new owner of the Kuster Box Factory, also purchased the Josephine and Wahneta mills. In the early 1920s, Noble moved his manufacturing operations to Rome, Georgia. In 1923, the United States Dyeing and Finishing Company acquired the Josephine and Wahneta mills and the Blue Spring mill village. The Josephine mill building received an addition while demolition began on the Wahneta mill building. The former Kuster Manufacturing Company paper mill served as the cotton warehouse.

In 1902, the Cherokee Mills opened in Cedartown. Equipped with the best machinery, Cherokee Mills manufactured fine-grade men’s heavy knit underwear. The mill’s president was William Parker who was also general manager of Standard Cotton Mills. Heated by steam and lit by electricity Cherokee Mills was a modern mill for its time.  Sold to Standard Mills in 1922, Cook Duck Mill became the new name of the Cherokee Mills. Utilizing twelve acres of land, the Standard Mills complex was an important industrial enterprise in northern Georgia.

In 1964, Arrow Company, a division of Cluett, Peabody & Co. Inc., opened a mill in Cedartown to make men’s and boy’s shirts. The Cedartown plant was originally designed to produce 4,000-4,200 dozen 100% cotton shirts per week but eventually produced 5,500 dozen shirts per week. The plant was in operation until it closed in 1995 due to slow sales with the rise of the casual dress in the workplace and increased competition from lower-cost overseas textile imports.

By the early twentieth century, cotton mills began manufacturing tire cord and other textile products for the new automobile industry. These operations proved costly, leading owners to sell the mills to national companies. In 1925, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company purchased the former the Paragon mills, its first mill in Georgia, to produce cotton cord and cloth for tires.

The Goodyear Clearwater Mill #1 added two additional buildings to the original mill building and 100 additional homes to the mill village. 288 homes were located in the mill village, providing housing for more than fifty percent of the plant employees.

Production at Goodyear Clearwater Mill #1 continued during World War II and African Americans in particular benefited briefly from wartime labor shortages. Working longer hours and sometimes receiving pay increases, some companies hired African American workers to fill production lines, positions not previously available to them. These jobs disappeared after the war and did not return until after Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Goodyear mill closed in 1983, due to several causes including a decline in demand for tire fabric, increased production of smaller tires, and increased use of steel-belted radial tires. Destroyed by fire three years after closing, the mill complex is no longer standing. The mill village remains with both the original mill homes built by Adamson as well as those built later by Goodyear.

With a history steeped in cotton textile manufacturing, Cedartown still boasts a modern manifestation of the industry. In July 1998, Harriet & Henderson Yarns Inc. broke ground on a new yarn spinning facility in Cedartown. In 24-hour operations by October of 1998, the plant supplied the yarn to sock knitters in the Ft. Payne, Alabama area. In 2003, Frontier Spinning Mills and Gildan Inc., in a joint venture, purchased the two yarn-spinning facilities in Cedartown from Harriet & Henderson Yarns Inc., after the company declared bankruptcy. The facilities began operations as Cedartown Manufacturing LLC., spinning cotton yarn for t-Shirts and tank tops. Modernized and refurbished in October of 2012, when Gildan Inc. purchased 100% of the plant, the plant is still in operation in Cedartown.


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Tallapoosa

Come see an old mining town that struck gold in the textile industry due to its easy access to the nearby river and railroad.

An early gold mining town in Haralson County, Tallapoosa’s easy access to the Tallapoosa River and Georgia Pacific Railway made it an ideal place for cotton manufacturing. Due to the low cost of shipping and building in the city and the presence of a ready workforce Tallapoosa became the site of a series of industrial enterprises. The first successful cotton manufacturing company, Tallapossa Mills, brought new commerce and jobs to the city.

The Jackson brothers, owners of Tallapoosa Mills, sold their majority stock holdings in the company to the William Whitman Company, after World War I, but the organization remained mostly unchanged. At the beginning of the Great Depression, C. E. Pearce continued to serve as manager of the cotton mill, and A. V. Howe, one of the original organizers and officers, served as president. After operating part-time during the Depression, the mill closed in 1939 due to economic decline.

The northeastern-based American Thread Company (ATCO) purchased Tallapoosa Mills in 1943 to make combed cotton yarn and reopening the mill on January 28, 1944. World War II ended in 1945 and ATCO expanded the Tallapoosa plant in February 1947. The three-story extension of 110,000 square feet was built next to the original building, adding 25,000 spindles.Manufacturing volume increased by 140 percent as did the number of employees, rising from 315 to 680. In 1959, ATCO expanded operations once again.

To help promote ATCO brand yarn in the 1940s and 50s, the ATCO franchise published a series of knitting and crocheting pattern books, called “Star Books.” ATCO’s Tallapoosa mill closed in the early 1980s, the last textile manufacturer to close in the city. Venus Threads purchased the mill and reopened it in the early 1990s, and continue to operate it today.


Visit


Things to Do

  • West Georgia Museum, 185 Mann Street: This museum has exhibits on the Tallapoosa area’s history, as well as its natural history.

Places to See

The following properties are not open to the public, but you can view them from the exterior to learn more about the buildings that supported the textile industry here.

  • Mandeville Mills Cotton Gin, 76 East Alabama Street: The Mandeville Mills of Carrollton had a number of side businesses including a cottonseed oil mill and a fertilizer factory. To supply the cotton for their textile operation and the seeds for their oil mill, they set up a network of gins in the surrounding countryside, even up into Haralson County. Their Tallapoosa gin still stands, it was repurposed into an antique mall and local business which have since closed.
  • Tallapoosa Cotton Mills/Atco Mill, 191 West Atlanta Street: This 100-year-old facility is still standing and remains in operation as Venus Threads. This building is an excellent example of both the early- and mid-20th century industrial architecture. The southern facing wall (opposite the water tower and smokestack) is the original facade. It features rows of windows that have been bricked over. The northern facing wall is the expansion added by ATCO and features a more sleek design with no windows, reflecting the fact that the building was air-conditioned. ATCO operated the facility until the late 1980s. It was purchased by Venus Threads, who still run it today. 
  • Tallapoosa Knitting Mill/Kimball Knitting Co., 2276 US-78: This location has since been demolished and unrelated buildings constructed in its place, but you can still see the surrounding area. This small-scale operation was only active in the 1890s and early 1900s.

History


Explore this community’s history via the drop-down sections below!

Survival of the Fittest: Tallapoosa’s Early Attempts at Joining the Textile Industry

Founded as an early gold mining town in Haralson County, Tallapoosa’s easy access to the Tallapoosa River and Georgia Pacific Railway made it an ideal place for cotton manufacturing. Due to the low cost of both shipping and construction in the city, as well as the presence of a ready workforce, Tallapoosa became home to several textile manufacturing operations which brought new commerce and careers to the city.

Alliance Knitting Company, Tallapoosa’s first textile mill, opened in the 1890. Initially the mill employed a small shift of 13. However, they quickly expanded to employ 24 people, mostly women and children. The mill hired them to spin, knit, and weave materials such as cotton, wool, and silk fibers. However, textile companies that started with such a diverse product line often had a hard time making a name for themselves as they never focused enough on one product to catch the attention of selling agencies. In the end, Alliance Knitting Company went under after less than a year of production.

Students at the Tallapoosa School circa 1906. Photo Courtesy of the University of West Georgia’s Center for Public History.

Alliance Knitting Company was not alone amongst the Tallapoosa textile startups in the 1890s; Anchor Woolen Mills, Enterprise Cotton Company, and Southern Hosiery Company all rose and fell in the same decade. Tallapoosa’s young companies, such as Alliance Knitting, were always going to have a hard time without streamlining their production. However they also had the misfortune of starting a business in and around the Panic of 1893, which brought established mills along the Trail, even the mighty Eagle and Phenix of Columbus, to their knees. Tallapoosa’s infant textile industry had no chance.

Indeed, Tallapoosa’s shaky start in the textile industry continued with several mills either closing within a few years of being opened or never making it past the planning phase. W.C. Kimball and Co., opened in 1902, produced women’s and children’s ribbed hose with 8 knitting machines and 16 steam-powered cylinders. By 1904, this mill had closed and sold off its machinery. In 1902, local businessmen proposed the Tallapoosa Cotton Mill Company, but they abandoned it by the next year.

A New Era: The Establishment of Tallapoosa Mills

An early postcard depicting Tallapoosa Mills. Photo Courtesy of Jarrett Craft.

Tallapoosa’s first prosperous mill was Tallapoosa Mills, Inc. A group of local businessmen, headed by A.L. Jackson, led the drive for the capital needed to start up the mill. They were successful, and they completed construction on the $200,000 mill building in January of 1908 during the second “Tallapoosa Boom”. By April of that same year, the contracting firm of A.H. Washburn of Charlotte, North Carolina completed the installation of the mill’s 10,000 spindles.

The mill complex consisted of the mill itself, two warehouses, an engine house, an electric plant, and a water plant with a 250,000-gallon reservoir. Thirty double-houses were built for operatives, with this number increasing dramatically during the first two decades of the mill’s operations. A major product of this mill was 20s 2-ply skeins, which means that each skein (the technical name for a ball of yarn) was made with 16,800 yards per pound. Later on, they produced 16s and 12s 2-ply skeins alongside their 20s. Even after changing ownership in 1923, this mill continued to manufacture similar products. The cotton used to create these skeins was locally grown and purchased from areas such as Carrollton, Tallapoosa, and Cedartown.

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

The Tallapoosa Mills did not employ a selling agent to act as a middleman in bringing their goods to market. Instead, they sold their products directly from their office, indicating that the majority of their early sales might have been from a relatively local market. However, by 1914 after operating for several years, Tallapoosa Mills had made enough of a name for itself to where their goods were demanded on a national market. It was in this that the Tallapoosa Mills faced a major complication: how could they efficiently ship their product to far away customers in New York, San Francisco, or Europe?

The challenges that the young company faced is illustrated by the sinking of the steamship Monroe, as reported by the New York Times. Struck by another ship, the Monroe went down within 12 minutes with hundreds of people, and ten bales of Tallapoosa Mills’ goods, on board. Although it might have been safer to ship the goods overland, it would have cost so much in shipping that the company could not make a profit. The shipping company employed by the mill, who chose to ship the product on the Monroe independently without consulting the mill, refused to cover the cost of the lost goods. A court case against the shipping company by the mill was not resolved until May of 1921, when the steamship company paid $671 ($9,805.67 in 2021) to cover the loss of goods.

Photo of a Tallapoosa Mill Paycheck

Tallapoosa Mill Paycheck. Photo courtesy: Tallapoosa Museum.

Although they made enough money in the 1910s to expand their mill’s machinery capacity twice, the Jackson family, who had also come to control the Hutcheson Manufacturing Company in Banning, opted to sell the majority of their stock holdings to the William Whitman Company of Boston, Massachusetts for $500,000 ($7.6 million in 2020) in 1923. This new ownership group promised to employ 325 operatives the year round; however, there was no real change to on-site management for quite some time after this purchase. The Times-Recorder of Americus, Georgia notes this sale as another move of northern mill interests to the south, which can be seen in many communities throughout the Textile Heritage Trail. Tallapoosa Mills slowly but surely increased the capacity of their mill, hosting 60 cards, 16,896 spindles, and three boilers by 1935. In November of 1938, the mill was reported to be running two full-time shifts. It was no secret that the mills awarded their employees with significant paychecks, money that in turn fueled the economy within Tallapoosa.

Plucked out of the Fire: American Thread Company Bails out Tallapoosa

Despite this growth, the mills closed in 1939 due to the Great Depression’s strong effects on all aspects of American industry. In the beginning years of the Great Depression, the mill continued to operate one to two days a week, just enough for its workers to be able to afford groceries. During this time, they also waived rent fees for anyone living in the mill village. This closure led to a drop in Tallapoosa’s population, with residents who remained in town having to seek work out elsewhere.

Throngs of partygoers at the American Thread Company barbecue in front of the Tallapoosa Mill. 3,000 people attended the barbeque thrown in January of 1944 to celebrate American Thread Company reopening the town’s largest employer. Photo Courtesy of the Lane Brothers Commercial Photographers Photographic Collection, 1920-1976 housed at the Photographic Collection, Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library.

The American Thread Company purchased the mill in 1943 under the influence of an Atlanta promoter. They began producing fine cotton yarns and threads in January of 1944, operating 16,000 yarn spindles and 7,500 thread spindles. In May of 1944, the company hosted a celebration that included barbeque and a flag raising to officially open the mill. Three to four thousand people attended this celebration, including dignitaries and out-of-town visitors. Newspapers noted this event as the start of a “new era for Tallapoosa”.

Soon after opening, this company was able to give its workers a raise of eight cents per hour, bringing their hourly wages up to 73 cents per hour; today, this would be an increase of $1.07, bringing wages up to $9.74. By 1947, The American Thread Company was noted as being the largest thread manufacturing operation in the United States with plants scattered across the nation; this helps to explain how the company was able to increase their wages so soon after opening.
With the growth and wealth they were able to accumulate from this Tallapoosa mill, the American Thread Company saw fit to double down on their investment by expanding upon the mill itself as well as constructing a new sales and service branch in 1947. The new 3-story, 110,000 square foot mill building would come to benefit the company by housing 25,000 additional spindles and employing 680 operatives, an increase of 140%. The sales and service branch would carry a complete stock of the company’s sewing threads, crochet cotton, knitting wools, stamped goods, and Star Brand instruction books.

Company Men: Rejecting the Unions

Despite this company’s success in this Haralson County town, there were a significant number of disturbances that occurred relating to this mill, specifically against those who were interested in unionizing. A group of mill employees approached a known United Textiles Workers-AFL organizer, and threatened to harm him if he did not leave and not stop until he reached Alabama. Opposition to unionizing came mostly from those who benefited from an informal system put into place by managers and higher-ups, who often went outside of understood labor-management relations. A major case involving the American Thread Company and unionizers occurred when an organizer for the Textile Workers Union of America, C.I.O., claimed to be abducted by American Thread Company employees and dumped outside of Tallapoosa in 1948. Two employees were laid off for one and three days, respectively, but no other punishments seem to have occurred for this crime.

An arial view of the American Thread Company’s Tallapoosa plant after rounds of expansions in the 1940s and 1950s. Photo Courtesy of the Lane Brothers Commercial Photographers Photographic Collection, 1920-1976 housed at the Photographic Collection, Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library.

Employees from the American Thread Company’s mill in Tallapoosa even threatened workers from the same company’s mill in Dalton, Georgia. Textile Workers Union (C.I.O) members from the Dalton mill were met in August of 1949 outside of the gates of the Tallapoosa mill with clubs and pistols. Those who were opposed went to the Attorney General to investigate this “mob action.” Two mill workers were faced with a restraining order after facing charges for assault with a deadly weapon. This altercation resulted in a suit for $300,000 to be filed for damages.

In 1951, a subcommittee of the Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee found that efforts towards self-organizing and collective bargaining on the part of employees were losing ground against their employers, specifically in southern textile mills such as the American Thread Company’s Tallapoosa plant. Employers being able to avoid this collective bargaining from their employees allowed for them to have a substantial advantage over their northern counterparts.

The Long Road Down: The Steady Decline of Tallapoosa’s Textile Industry

The Tallapoosa mill in 2020 under Venus Thread Company. Photo Courtesy of Jarrett Craft.

As with the Tallapoosa Mills in the early 1900s, the American Thread Company also relied on national and international business. In October of 1950, President Truman allowed for the importation of an additional 7,500,000 pounds of long-staple, Egyptian-type cotton beginning in the following January. Allowing this increased importation saved many southern thread mills from reduced production or even closure, including the American Thread Company in Georgia. Of course it cost money to import additional cotton, and over time the American Thread Company began to feel the strain as costs mounted.

The American Thread Company operated their Tallapoosa mill through 1985, but closed it in the face of international competition. Established in 1992, Venus Thread, Inc. began operating in the old Tallapoosa Mill and American Thread Company building, and is the only textile mill in Tallapoosa that is still in operation. This location currently hosts dyeing and finishing while employing around 20 workers. The company previously operated a twisting department at their Tallapoosa location, but it has since closed down due to a declining industry. Operations occur in a newer metal building, while the historic mill building is used only as a warehouse. The company is committed to maintaining their operation in Tallapoosa despite the continued decline of American industry.


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Newnan

The textile industry in this community began earlier than many others and grew quickly.

The city of Newnan was already an established industrial center before the textile industry appeared in 1888. Beginning with cotton, Newnan’s textile industry diversified by adding a hosiery mill in 1926. Soon after Newnan participated in the General Textile Strike of 1934. The cotton and hosiery mills operated until the 1990s when they faced international competition.


Visit


Things to Do

  • McRitchie-Hollis Museum, 74 Jackson Street: Located in Newnan, this home was built by Arnall Mills’ president Ellis H. Peniston and his wife Mildred Willcoxon Arnall Peniston in 1937. Now home to the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society’s McRitchie-Hollis Museum, the museum hosts exhibitions and shares stories of the textile industry. For more information visit newnancowetahistoricalsociety.com.
  • Newnan-Coweta Historical Society’s Depot History Center, 60 East Broad Street: This historic depot was built in the 1890s to serve passengers as well as freight. The depot is now operated by the Newnan-Coweta County Historical Society and can be toured by appointment. While you’re there pick up a “City of Homes” driving tour brochure to see Newnan’s historic homes!
  • The Coweta County African American Heritage Museum, 92 Farmer Street: The African American Heritage Museum & Research Center provides a repository for African-American artifacts and records while also serving as a genealogy workroom for African-American research. Adjacent to the museum, which is housed in a restored shotgun-style house, is the Farmer Street Cemetery which is one of the largest slave cemeteries in the South. The museum is open on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • “City of Homes” Historic Homes Tour: Pick up a self-guided driving tour brochure from the Coweta County Convention & Visitors Bureau located at 200 Court Square in Newnan’s historic courthouse. The tour provides a nice stroll through Newnan’s downtown area and includes fifty historic homes. The visitor’s bureau is open Monday through Friday from 9 a. m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Places to See

The following properties are not open to the public, but you can view them from the exterior to learn more about the buildings that supported the textile industry here.

  • Newnan Cotton Mill No. 1 and Mill Village, 110 Field Street: This mill has been transformed into Newnan Lofts. The building and the surrounding mill village are both listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Drive down East Washington Street past Robinson Street to see the mill village, homes built by the mill owners to house their employees. 
  • Newnan Square, 100 Court Square: The first official land sale in Newnan which took place in 1829, resulted in the construction of this small town square, featuring a log cabin and a small store. With the rise of the textile industry, the square served as a hub of trade and home to several textile-related businesses, including Newnan Hosiery Mill and the Manget-Brannon Company. Indeed, a building occupied by Newnan Hosiery Mill can be viewed from the road at the corner of Spring and LaGrange Streets. The building is brick, painted white, and features distinctive Palladian-style windows on the second floor. It currently houses several local businesses. Historic photos from the 1890s show the square full of horse-drawn carriages loaded with cotton coming from the country to sell in the city markets. The original 1829 courthouse, which has been remodeled several times, remains in its original location at the center of the square. Over the decades, the square continues to serve as a space for social gathering and home to many local businesses.
  • International Playtex Corporation, 320 Temple Avenue: In 1954, this company opened its Sewn Products Division, northwest of the town square. Playtex was among the companies that took over the textile industry in Newnan in the 1960s. Making bras and a line of baby pants and bibs, the plant employed mostly white women from the area. By the late 1990s, most textile mills across the nation closed due to increased foreign competition with Asia, and this company closed its doors here in 1999. 
  • Manget-Brannon Company, 24 1st Avenue: Founded in 1918 as the Manget Brothers Company grocery store. Later, the company shifted its concentration to the cotton brokerage trade remaining in the business until 1962. The old Manget-Brannon Company cotton warehouse now provides space for retail business and charities including the Bridging the Gap Community Outreach. 
  • McIntosh Mill and Mill Village, Jefferson Street: This mill has since been demolished. Located at the intersection of Sprayberry and Jefferson Streets, this village is an example of the type of housing provided to mill employees in the early twentieth century. 
  • Newnan Cotton Mill No. 2 and Mill Village, 94 East Newnan Road: This mill has been largely demolished and the site is fairly overgrown, although the foundations and a few outbuildings might still be visible. The mill village is still standing, it makes up a sizable portion of East Newnan. The village is centered on East Newnan Road stretching down from Freeman Street to Cole Street. Two clusters of houses are based between Freeman and Front Street and Hill and East Murphy Streets respectively.
  • Newnan Hosiery Mills Inc./Mann’s Hosiery Mill, 17 Augusta Drive: This was an important employer in the area until closing in 1950. This property is currently vacant and for sale.  

History


  • Photo of a Mill Village house
    Mill village house. Photo courtesy: Kymberli Darling

The booming county seat of Newnan had already become a leading commercial center and a railroad hub by 1888, when local investors established the Newnan Cotton Mill. The company added a second mill, the East Newnan Cotton Mill, in 1901. Both mills specialized in the production of mixed fibers. During the construction of the first mill, the company added a dozen saddlebag homes nearby to house the mill employees, and additional homes were built in 1905. By the 1920s, this mill employed nine hundred workers, both white and African American, to produce weaving and specialty twist yarn.

Keeping up with the New South trend of the 1920s, Newnan’s textile industry diversified with the opening of the Newnan Hosiery Mills in 1926. Also known as, Mann’s Mill, the hosiery mill manufactured socks and at its height employed up to three hundred and fifty local workers. The mill closed in 1950. The International Playtex Corporation opened its Sewn Products Division in the former Newnan Hosiery Mill Building in 1954. By 1965, this plant employed six hundred people locally. In 1991, the Playtex Corporation was purchased by the Sara Lee Corporation, which shut down operations in Newnan in 1999 when the company reorganized.

Newnan is also well known for its involvement in the General Textile Strike of 1934, since the first strikers to be arrested worked in East Newnan Cotton Mills and nearby Arnall Mills in Sargent. The Georgia National Guard and local civil authorities arrested the picketers, inspected them for weapons, and transported them in military trucks to Fort McPherson outside Atlanta. The National Guard kept the strikers in outdoor detention facilities built for World War II prisoners until the strike ended three weeks later. Afterward, some workers were blacklisted and forced out of company homes because of their participation. Atlanta Constitution photographer Kenneth Waters documented the strike, and his photographs are available at the Atlanta History Center.

During World War II, the Newnan Cotton Mill received the Army-Navy award for excellence in war production. By 1950, the Newnan Cotton Mill and East Newnan Mill employed over one thousand workers and were pioneers in the field of blended fabrics used for a variety of products, including men’s suits and overcoats and women’s dresses and hats. Over the next two decades, however, a series of national companies purchased the plant, including Mt. Vernon Mills, West-Point Pepperell, and Bibb Manufacturing. Operations ceased in 1970.

Facing increasing foreign competition from Asia, the remaining textile mills in Newnan closed in the late 1990s. Fortunately, remnants of Newnan’s rich textile history are still around. In 2001, the Newnan Cotton Mills buildings were rehabilitated into Newnan Lofts, a mixed-use development now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Drive down E. Washington Street past Robinson Street to see the Newnan Cotton Mills’ mill village, homes built by the mill owners to house their employees. The former Manget-Brannon Company’s cotton warehouse now provides space for retail business and charities including the Bridging the Gap Community Outreach. The historic railroad depot is available for tours and special event rental.


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Moreland

Initially a cotton agricultural community, Moreland eventually opened its own textile mill.

While the textile industry began many years prior, the first textile mill constructed in Moreland was the Moreland Hosiery Mill in 1920 that operated until 1978.


Visit


Things to Do

  • Erskine Caldwell’s Childhood Home, 20 West Camp Street:  Caldwell, author of Tobacco Road, God’s Little Acre, and other Southern novels, was born in Moreland in 1903. His birthplace has been moved to the Town Square and converted into a museum, open by appointment.
  • Moreland Hometown Heritage Museum, 7 Main Street: The Moreland Cultural Arts Alliance, Inc. and Moreland’s Hometown Heritage Museum combined their collections to open the Hometown Heritage Museum in the Historic Moreland Mill. This complex of unified commercial buildings from the 1890s era is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and also houses Town Hall. An 8,000 square feet portion of the complex is dedicated to a museum of “things” from the home, the farm, the country store, and Moreland Knitting Mills dating from 1900-1945. Their hours of operation are Thursday through Saturday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm.

History


  • Photo of the Moreland Hosiery Mill
    Moreland Hosiery Mill. Photo courtesy: Kymberli Darling

The community that became Moreland began as a settlement around the Mt. Zion Methodist Church in 1843. The railroad arrived in 1852, along with a wooden train station called Puckett Station. In 1888, the town was named for the first doctor with the Atlanta and West Point Railroad, Dr. John Moreland, and a railroad depot was built.

Primarily an agricultural region, local farmers in Moreland grew cotton as well as fruit. Marketing the produce through the railroad, local farmers utilized a local cotton ginnery and a brick cotton warehouse constructed along the railroad in 1904.

The boll weevil began to destroy the cotton crops as early as 1915 and through the 1930s, leaving many farmers destitute. Well-known yet controversial local novelist Erskine Caldwell, whose house remains on the Town Square, wrote about the region’s Depression-era challenges in his most famous books Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre.

In 1920, the Moreland Hosiery Mills opened in an old cotton warehouse and fertilizer plant built around 1904. The Moreland Hosiery Mills employed twenty-five people, mostly white women, girls, and boys, to produce seamless socks for women and children. Due to a decrease in the cotton market and financial hardship, a group of investors purchased the mill in 1926. Renamed the Moreland Knitting Mills the company manufactured cotton hosiery, later rayon, and nylon hosiery. The knitting mill was the major employer in the area until it ceased operations in 1968.

After the knitting mill closed, the property was sold and used as a storage facility except for a brief period when Bobby Powell manufactured women’s garments on the property. In 1974, the property was sold to the PEB Corporation to manufacture women’s uniforms and housecoats until it closed in 1978. In 1983, the PEB Corporation gifted the property to the City of Moreland.

The former hosiery mill is now the Hometown Heritage Museum. The museum hosts exhibitions about local history and authors, including both Erskine Caldwell and Lewis Grizzard, a prominent author and commentator on southern history, life, and culture. The 1890s era building is on the National Register of Historic Places and houses Town Hall.


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Grantville

This small town has a textile industry known for its appearance in the famous zombie franchise “The Walking Dead”.

The textile industry was brought into Grantville with the introduction of the railroad, as was the case with many other communities. Grantville Hosiery Mill and Grantville Cotton Mill called this community home and both closed down in 1980. Keep an eye out in AMC’s “The Walking Dead” for the remains of the cotton mill and a ruined cotton warehouse downtown!


Visit


Places to See

The following properties are not open to the public, but you can view them from the exterior to learn more about the buildings that supported the textile industry here.

  • Arnold & Baxter Cotton Warehouse, 17 Church Street: The brick remains of this building were used to film AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and still bear Morgan’s message, “Away With You”. It currently serves as a courtyard for the adjoined local restaurant.
  • Grantville Freight Depot, 30 Main Street: This train depot was originally built in 1852 to handle both freight and passengers along the Atlanta and West Point Railroad. In the early 1900s, a second depot was built across the street to accommodate passengers only.
  • Grantville Hosiery Mill and Mill Village, 78 Moreland Street: This building has been partially demolished. The surviving portion is home to an architectural salvage store. The Grantville Hosiery Mill Village is located along Banks, Shephard, and Rock Streets. These villages consist of mostly one-story, wood-framed houses.
  • Grantville Passenger Train Depot, 30 Main Street: This passenger train depot was built along the Atlanta and West Point Railroad.
  • Grantville Yarn Mill and Mill Village, 41 Industrial Way: This site was used in the filming of AMC’s “The Walking Dead”. As of 2020, the 100-year-old property is vacant and has been for sale for several years. The mill village for the Grantville Mill is located along Grady, Smith, Maple, and Arnold Streets.

History


Explore this community’s history via the drop-down sections below!

Homegrown Business: The Early Years for Grantville Hosiery Mills

Early photo of the Grantville Hosiery Mills’ knitting mill. Photo Courtesy of the Grantville Genealogy Society.

The town of Grantville began as a small settlement known as Calico Corner in 1840. In 1852, the first train came to the settlement courtesy of the Atlanta and LaGrange Railroad, and it sparked economic development in the community The town was renamed Grantville in honor of the chief engineer of the railroad, Lemuel P. Grant. With the success of the regional cotton industry and the railroad by the early part of the twentieth century, Grantville flourished, offering opportunities for industrialists to invest in the growing textile industry.

On August 21, 1896, The Herald and Advertiser of Newnan, Georgia published a small article on Grantville’s industries. They noted that “The progress made on this [building] indicates that in a month or so we can hear the buzz of the spindles as they weave the cotton thread into serviceable fabrics.” This excitement was about the Grantville Hosiery Mills, which began operating in late 1896 or early 1897 under the leadership of Nathaniel O. Banks. The stockholders envisioned a fully-integrated hosiery knitting operation, one which would eventually spin its own thread or yarn and turn that material into a finished product. However, initially they did not have the resources or machinery to spin their own yarn, and they relied on costly imports. Therefore Banks and his stockholders built the mill along the railroad track, at the bend of modern-day Moreland Street, to lower production and logistical costs in obtaining their thread and shipping their final product. Their plans progressed quickly; in February 1897 The Herald and Advertiser announced that the company had goods ready for sale. By 1899, the Grantville Hosiery Mills operated with 38 steam-powered knitting machines.

Although the Grantville Hosiery Mills started small, its stockholders had big plans for their fledgling enterprise. In 1899, the directors announced that they would double its capacity; when the expansion was completed the following year, the Grantville correspondent for The Herald and Advertiser proudly announced that the company produced 450 dozen pairs of hosiery per day with 75 knitting machines. The Grantville Hosiery Mills’ client base was steadily growing with regular customers in Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia, and Boston as well as orders from as far away as Australia. With that in mind, the stockholders authorized a second round of expansion. On April 17, 1903, Nathaniel O. Banks, president of the Grantville Hosiery Mills, agreed to a contract with the R. D. Cole Manufacturing Company to build a two-story brick 48×56 foot addition to the mill, as well as a 30,000-gallon water tower.  The Herald and Advertiser expected that the machinery in the proposed addition would bring the total number of employees up to 125.

Having made a name for themselves and established a strong client base, the mill’s leadership finally addressed one of its most significant production costs: purchasing yarn and thread. The stockholders elected to build a yarn mill to supply their hosiery production. They chose a site, at modern-day Industrial Way, along the railroad on the opposite side of the town square from the original hosiery mill. They built houses for their employees and set up shop in 1905 with a capacity of 3,000 ring spindles producing knitting yarn; finally realizing their goal of creating a fully-integrated company. That same year they adjusted their charter to allow for greater investment, up to $300,000 in capital stock; although only $52,400 had actually been paid in at that point. By 1909, they expanded the yarn mill to 5,000 ring spindles with bleaching and dyeing facilities.

A Time to Mourn: The Passing of Nathaniel O. Banks

Grantville Hosiery Mills experienced a leadership crisis in 1908 and 1909 which put all that growth in jeopardy. First, Thomas Arnold died and had his estate advertised for liquidation in The Herald and Advertiser after his death. He was an original incorporator of the mills and a major stockholder who owned seven $100 shares of Grantville Hosiery Mills’ capital stock as well as a $1000 gold bond from the mills. Just one year later in 1909, the mill’s president and “one of Coweta’s best and most useful citizens”, Nathaniel O. Banks died at 56 years old. This loss not only shook the leadership of Grantville Hosiery Mills to its core, but also had a significant impact on the greater Grantville community.

An early photo of Grantville Hosiery Mills’ employees outside one of their mills. Photo Courtesy of the Troup County Historical Society.

 

However, his son, William N. Banks assumed Nathaniel’s role as president of the company shortly after his death. Those who expected the young company to flounder under its relatively inexperienced new president would have been pleasantly surprised by William Banks’ performance. He quietly stabilized the company and oversaw a period of unprecedented expansion which would become Grantville’s golden age of textile production, albeit with a couple of hiccups along the way.

In June of 1910, the Grantville Hosiery Mills joined a multitude of other Georgia mills charged with violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. Those indicted frequently purchased all of the locally produced cotton and sent the surplus to New York. This kept the price of cotton in the South low and prevented it from fluctuating; all at the expense of the farmers. This example shows how serious of a business the textile industry was in the South during the early twentieth century. Not long after this scandal, the mill’s employees avoided a major tragedy on February 27, 1912. That day, a hosiery press exploded within the mill, injuring no one except the press operator who was “severely scalded”. The February issue of The Atlanta Constitution describes the explosion as having “pieces of iron flying to the ceiling.” After overcoming those two mishaps, William Banks pushed for yet another round of expansion, traveling as far away as New York to purchase the best equipment for the yarn mill. The expansion added 5,000 ring spindles, effectively doubling the yarn mill’s capacity.

The Golden Years: Grantville Mills under William N. Banks

A modern photo of the Grantville Hosiery Mills’ Yarn Mill. This displays the mill after the many rounds of expansion under Nathaniel and William Banks respectively. Photo Courtesy of Jarrett Craft.

By 1920, Grantville Hosiery Mills boasted 10,000 ring spindles, 150 latch needle knitting machines, 30 ribbing machines, and 12 looping machines, with the number of employees rounding off at around 300. Just seven years later, these numbers rose significantly to 15,000 ring spindles and 200 latch needle knitting machines, as well as the addition of 3,400 twister spindles employing 300 people. W.N. Banks was directly responsible for this period of growth and was duly recognized for his success within the textile industry when he was elected president of the Cotton Manufacturers’ Association in 1936. By this point, he was a textile executive with 25 years of experience and had even gone so far as to rebrand his company as Grantville Mills.

The honors did not stop there for Grantville’s most prominent citizen. By the end of his career, he served on the boards of The Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills, Bibb Manufacturing Company, West Point Manufacturing Company, and AMCO Mills. He also served as president of the Montgomery Knitting Mills of Moreland, the McIntosh Mills of Newnan, and the Habersham Mills of Habersham. To firmly cement his family’s legacy amongst the people of Grantville, Banks founded the Grantville Mills Foundation to benefit the people of his hometown. In 1950 the Grantville Mills Foundation built a new recreation center for Grantville’s African American community. The foundation also contributed to scholarship funds for textile education.

William N. Banks passed on the day-to-day leadership of Grantville Mills to his brother in 1956, promoting himself to chairman in a sort of quasi-retirement. In his nearly four decades as president, he doubled the capacity of the hosiery mill and tripled that of the yarn mill. He took a small firm with 210 employees and tripled it to 600 by 1957.

Down the Drain: The Rapid Decline of Grantville’s Textile Industry

In 1961, William Banks decided to hang up his hat and retire for good. He passed away four years later in 1965. In the meantime, the Grantville Mills began experiencing a change in ownership for the first time in its history with the mill being sold to Flaggs-Utica Corporation. Flaggs-Utica shut down the hosiery mill shortly afterward, opting to invest in modernizing the yarn mill alone. The mill operated under this company for nine years when ownership was transferred to Kingtex Fabrics Company, Division of Gensco; but this company did not own the mill for very long. By 1976, West Point-Pepperell purchased the mill. They owned it for the next four years until its closure due to competition from foreign imports in 1980. Former employees of the mill were forced to file for benefits under the Federal Trade Readjustment Assistance Act. That undoubtedly helped in the short term, but it did little to replace the permanent loss of Grantville’s largest employer.

The ruins of the Arnold & Baxter cotton warehouse, made famous by AMC’s nationally acclaimed television show “The Walking Dead”. Photo Courtesy of Kymberli Darling.

Today, Grantville’s textile past has been put on national display. The yarn mill and the ruins of the Arnold & Baxter cotton warehouse were used in the filming of AMC’s “The Walking Dead”. The show featured the warehouse with particular prominence, famously painting the warning “Away With You” on the ruined structure and drawing visitors to Grantville from around the world. Now, this old building is once again a meeting ground for this small southern town in Coweta County.


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Dallas

This town began as a gold-mining community but soon made its way into the textile industry with a cotton mill and a hosiery mill.

The city of Dallas started as a gold rush town, but quickly expanded into housing a textile industry. This community boasted both Dallas Hosiery Mills and Dallas Cotton Mills.


Visit


Things to Do

  • Paulding County Historical Society, 296 North Johnston Street: Visit Dallas’ local museum to learn more about the city’s history!
  • Liberty Cotton Mill/Paulding County Cotton Manufacturing Company Mill and Mill Village, 398 West Memorial Drive: Come shop in a piece of Paulding County’s textile history! The Liberty Cotton Mill/Paulding County Cotton Manufacturing Company site is now home to Old Mill Antiques. Two new buildings have been built around it, but the original mill building still stands. The mill village, clustered mostly along Memorial Drive in front of the mill and Victory Drive behind it, were built by the mill to house its employees. They are good examples of traditional mill village architecture.

Places to See

The following properties are not open to the public, but you can view them from the exterior to learn more about the buildings that supported the textile industry here.

  • Dallas Hosiery Mill and Mill Village, 493 Main Street: The mill has been demolished and a new structure built in its place, but the village still exists. This mill village is a little scattered and has likely been partially demolished and replaced with newer buildings. Mill houses can be viewed from the street heading south on S. Johnston Street and East on S. Main Street.

History


  • Photo of a village home in Dallas
    Mill Village Homes. Photo courtesy: Kymberli Darling.

Dallas, the seat of Paulding County, began as a gold-rush town with its incorporation in 1854. By the early 1880s, both the railroad and the textile industry came to Paulding County, bringing with it a new wave of economic prosperity.

The community’s first textile mill, Paulding County Cotton Manufacturing Company, opened in 1900 with the erection of both a cotton factory producing soft hosiery yarns and a cottonseed oil mill. This company initially operated 3,100 ring spindles and employed 50 people; the number of spindles increased to 5,040 in 1907 and doubled to 10,140 only three years later. The mill was sold and the name changed to Liberty Cotton Mills in 1917.

Not long after beginning operations, the Liberty Cotton Mills ran into contracting issues. On November 27, 1918, the company sent a telegram to the United States War Department concerned about the cancellation of a subcontract with the Signal Corps it held through a Boston firm. The owners of the mill noted that their entire company was on this contract, and its abrupt cancellation would put many people out of work. The war department responded noting that it was impossible for them to intervene in such subcontracts.

Despite this setback, Liberty Cotton Mills was able to continue operations until 1927, when the mill was yet again sold. The Dalla-Noval Yarn Mill purchased the mill and operated 7,300 spindles by 175 employees. Sometime between 1936 and 1942, the mill was sold for the third time to A. D. Juilliard and Company, which was based in New York, to be the Dallas division of the company. By 1948, they had completely vacated their mill here.

The Whitfield Spinning Company, incorporated in 1946, purchased the mill in 1950. This company made shade covers for the tobacco industry through the 1970s when they were forced to close down due to foreign competition.

The second textile mill established in this community was the Dallas Hosiery Mill, which began operations in 1905. By 1910, the mill was producing cotton seamless hosiery with 107 knitting machines, 19 ribbing machines, 28 looping machines, and three sewing machines operated by 100 workers. The Douglasville Hosiery Mill purchased controlling interest in the mill by April of 1920. The mill kept its name but became an adjunct to the mill in Douglasville. The Douglas County Sentinel reported that the Douglasville Hosiery Mills had plans to enlarge the Dallas plant and add more machinery.

Dallas Hosiery Mill moved to Cedartown in the early 1960s. The mill was struggling by 1965 and was seized and losing workers due to a failure to pay $60,000 in back-employee payroll deductions. If the mill did not pay the money, it would be put up for sale. According to textile directories, it was around this time the mill shut down for good.


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Rossville

Visit a community whose textile industry is older than the town itself!

Rossville’s textile industry began in the late 1800s with the construction of the Richmond Hosiery Mill. This mill is considered one of the oldest and largest mills in the region. Soon after the hosiery mill was constructed, Peerless Woolen Mills was established, and it eventually led the textile industry in woolen products. This mill shut down in the late 1960s.


Visit


Places to See

The following properties are not open to the public, but you can view them from the exterior to learn more about the buildings that supported the textile industry here.

  • Park Woolen Mills/American Textile Woolen Company, 108 West Gordon Avenue: This hundred-year-old mill is still intact and can be seen from the street.
  • Peerless Woolen Mills, 555 McFarland Avenue: This location is now privately owned and is not open to the public. Peerless Mills can still be viewed safely from the street. The mill was purchased by the Hutcherson family in 2012.

History


  • Photo of female mill workers standing outside the mill fence
    Group of young mill workers. Photo courtesy: Library of Congress

Rossville’s textile history began in the late 1800s. Richmond Hosiery Mill, established here in 1898, was one of the largest and oldest textile mills in Northwest Georgia. The mill produced socks for men, women, and a unique section of the mill was dedicated to making hosiery for “misses”.  The mill employed 400 men, women, and children in 1910 and 700 by 1922. Richmond Hosiery Mill and the many young children whom the company employed were the subjects of Lewis Wick Hines’ historic pictorial survey of child labor in American industry.

In 1905, the same year that the city of Rossville was incorporated, John L.
Hutcheson Sr. established Peerless Woolen Mills. Peerless Woolen Mills was the primary manufacturer for blankets for the armed forces during World War II. Peerless claimed to be the largest single-unit mill in the world by the 1950s, leading the textile industry in woolen products.

In 1952, the Hutcheson family sold Peerless Woolen Mills to Burlington Industries. Textile workers in Rossville began to feel the strain from competition in overseas markets and voted to unionize in August of 1961. Strongly against organized labor, Burlington Industries made plans to close the plant by the end of 1961.

In an attempt to save one of Rossville’s largest employers, local businessmen tried to identify one large company to buy the plant but their efforts proved unsuccessful. Instead, dozens of smaller textile-related companies purchased the plant and leased out the space.  A large part of the plant burned in 1967 after a fire broke out from a short-circuiting piece of equipment.


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Rome

Although this community’s textile industry did not last more than around 50 years, it produced a variety of products such as cotton duck, hosiery, chenille bedspreads, carpet, and rayon.

Rome’s textile industry hosted a variety of productions including cotton duck, hosiery, chenille bedspreads, carpet, and rayon. Unfortunately, the textile industry within this community did not last more than around 50 years.


Visit


Things to Do

  • Chieftains Museum and Major Ridge Home, 501 Riverside Parkway Northeast: This location is not only a National Historic Landmark but one of the few entities to be verified as a site of the Trail of Tears. Major Ridge was one of the signers of the Treaty of Echota, the treaty which forced the relocation of the local Cherokees. Visit this museum to learn more about the history of the Cherokee Nation!
  • Oak Hill and the Martha Berry Museum, 24 Veterans Memorial Highway Northeast: Berry College was opened in 1902 as the brainchild of Martha Berry, the daughter of a local business owner. Visit this museum to learn more about the history of Berry College.

Places to See

The following properties are not open to the public, but you can view them from the exterior to learn more about the buildings that supported the textile industry here.

  • Shaw Industries Plant 93, 20 East 12th Street: This modern flooring operation is one of the few remaining vestiges of Rome’s textile industry. It is appropriately located adjacent to the site of Anchor Duck Mills.
  • Anchor Duck Mills and Mill Village, East 12th Street Southeast: Although the mill has been demolished and replaced with unrelated buildings, the mill village still stands! Entrances to the mill village can be found at Mclin Street, Blanche Avenue, and Walnut Avenue.
  • Reynolds-Rankin Manufacturing Suit Company, 100 Broad Street: When this company was still in operation, it only rented out the front part of the building; the rest of the building was owned by Coca-Cola.
  • Rome Manufacturing Company, 2nd Avenue: This facility produced men’s and boy’s undergarments in the first half of the 20th century. The building is well preserved and is now home to several businesses.

History


  • Photo of an Italian American Manufacturer Chatillon Corporation
    Italian American Manufacturer Chatillon Corporation. Photo courtesy: Russ Harwell

The textile industry began in Floyd County during the early twentieth century with the opening of Massachusetts Cotton Mills in Lindale. Soon, other textile companies began to set up mills and plants in nearby southern and northern Rome. Rome, one of the largest cities along the trail, was a major producer of cotton duck, hosiery, chenille bedspreads, carpet, and rayon.

Floyd Cotton Mills was one of the earliest textile mills established within the city of Rome in 1903. Floyd Cotton Mill and the cotton duck that the mill produced paved the way for other textile companies to establish themselves in Rome, such as Anchor Duck Mills. Anchor Duck Mills produced duck cotton and a variety of other products. A past employee stated that the mill “could make about any type of fabric that was needed because they had all the various types of equipment.”

Rome Hosiery owned the Cherokee Hosiery Mill, which started production in 1913. The children that were employed by the mill were part of Lewis Wickes Hines famous survey of child labor in American industry. Hines noted that the children could be seen working on the production of hosiery as turners and loopers which were skilled positions.

Walter Dellinger founded Dellinger Bedspread Company to cash in on the rise in demand for chenille bedspreads in the early 1930s. Chenille bedspreads became a popular and profitable industry in Rome and were highly sought after items for tourists who were visiting the area. When the demand for chenille declined after World War II, Dellinger Bedspread Company began to produce carpet until its eventual closing.

In the late 1920s after conducting a nationwide survey, the American Chatillon Corporation purchased 2,000 acres of land in northern Rome and founded the Tubize plant. Tubize produced rayon, a popular synthetic fiber, and gained most of its workforce from Rome and the surrounding communities.  During World War II, Tubize produced fibers used in the production of parachutes.

Similar to the textile industry throughout the northwest region, business in the textile mills began to falter in the years following World War II. After merging with several other companies, Floyd Cotton Mills, which had changed its name to Floyd, Strain, and Juilliard Company, closed in the late 1950s. The Dellinger Plant eventually shut down as well. 


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LaFayette

The textile industry of this community is one that is still in operation after over 100 years.

The railroad that was built in 1888 gave way to the first textile mill to open in LaFayette. To this day, the textile industry is still present and active in this community with Shaw Industries.


Visit


Places to See

The following properties are not open to the public, but you can view them from the exterior to learn more about the buildings that supported the textile industry here.

  • Union Cotton Mill/Consolidated Cotton Corporation Mill and Mill Village, 15 Probasco Street: The mill itself appears to have been demolished and replaced at the modern site of Syntec Industries; the village of this factory, however, can still be seen today. The neighborhood bounded by North Chattanooga Street, Bradley Avenue, and Probasco Street is largely made up of mill village homes.
  • Walker County Hosiery Mills/Barwick Mills Site, LaFayette Cotton Mills, and Mill Village, West Main Street: The southern end of the first mill, which contained a greater part of the original Walker County Hosiery Mills, burned in November of 2015; the western portion of this building, however, still stands. Situated along the Chattooga River at 365 West Main Street, this site facility was originally known as Elizabeth Hosiery Mills before being renamed to Walker County Hosiery Mills. It was then occupied by Barwick Mills until its collapse in 1980. Lafayette Cotton Mills, located across West Main Street from Barwick Mills at 300 West Main Street, was demolished in 2007. The homes of their shared mill village remain. The mill village straddles West Main Street and can be seen by heading west on that road when coming from town. The first mill houses can be seen after crossing the Chattooga River. These homes are private property and can only be viewed from the street.

History


  • Photo of young male mill worker leaving
    Young mill worker boy. Photo courtesy: Library of Congress

A busy textile town established in 1835, Lafayette became the seat of Walker County in 1885. The building of the Chattanooga, Rome, and Carrollton railroad in 1888 gave LaFayette its first vision of prosperity. LaFayette hosted a diverse number of textile mills from cotton and hosiery to carpets.

Organized in 1893, Union Cotton Mill, the first textile mill to open in LaFayette, produced cotton yarns, towels, and osnaburgs and duck fabric. In 1920, the Consolidated Textile Corporation of New York purchased Union Cotton Mill. From 1934 to 1939, operations at the mill were shut down before being purchased and reopened by Exposition Cotton Mills and began operating again. In 1948, S. Liebovitz and Sons of New York purchased the mill and changed the name to Public Shirts Corporation. In 1984, a fire destroyed the building.

Organized in 1900 as the Elizabeth Hosiery Mills and later renamed Walker County Hosiery Mills in 1906, this textile enterprise played an important role in the growth and development of the LaFayette area. The mill began operations with only 80 machines. By 1917, the mill was equipped with 346 modern knitting machines. The mill employed 270 people and with an output of 1,450 dozen men’s and 400 dozen women’s hose per day of Raven Brand hosiery. Employees lived in the nearby mill village where residents maintained their own vegetable gardens and a cow or pig. A baseball diamond and a primary school were also located within the mill village. Liquidated in 1951, the mill was later occupied by Barwick Mills.

After serving in the Coast Guard during World War II, Eugene Thomas Barwick started buying and selling tufted goods for Sears. In 1949, Barwick brought out one of his chief suppliers and formed his own company, Barwick Mills. Doubling his sales in 1950, Barwick expanded his business. By 1954, Barwick Mills’ revenue topped $26 million. By 1971, the company had two massive production facilities, one in LaFayette, Georgia, and one in Dalton, Georgia. One of the early producers of tufted carpet Barwick Industries Inc. invested in many recreational facilities including an airport. Barwick Industries dominated the carpet industry for more than 20 years. As with many textile mills in Lafayette, Barwick closed down by the mid-1980s due to increased competition from overseas textile companies.

Established in 1903 by J.E. Patton, LaFayette Cotton Mills operated successfully for seventeen years. Heated by steam, the mill owners maintained the mill building, along with flowerbeds on the mill property. In 1946, Lawrence Fabrics Corporation purchased the mills to make abrasive jeans until about 1954. After Lawrence Fabrics sold out around 1957, the mills changed hands several times until finally shutting its doors for good in 2004 as Sunrise Hosiery, a sock company.

The LaFayette Cotton mill village cottages ranged in size from six to eight rooms each on one-eighth acre of land. Along with electricity and running water to each house, the mill village also boasted concrete sidewalks. Many village residents maintained their own vegetable gardens within the mill village, which also featured an orchard large enough to supply every family in the village with fruit for the summer. The village also included a primary school, a clubhouse, and playgrounds for the mill village children. Today, LaFayette still influences textile history through its carpet manufacturing at Shaw Industries Inc., the world’s largest carpet manufacturers.


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