I don’t know what led me to the mill today. I had seen signs for the “Mill and Covered Bridge” since moving to the area.
The sound of rushing water, the musty scent in the air, and an eerie dampness encirled me. I did feel uneasy in this place.
I had no idea what happened there until researching the mill after I got home. Construction of the textile mill began in 1836 by Roswell King, a wealthy businessman and industrialist from Connecticut who settled in Georgia. He purchased land that had belonged to the Cherokee Nation from white land lottery winners. His slaves built the mill, and he was noted as being a brutal slave owner, much moreso than others. Hydropower from the adjacent Vickery Creek powered the mill, and they used cotton from nearby plantations. The mill was used to produce supplies for the Confederacy, including fabric for their gray uniforms.
The workers lived in dark cramped conditions, and a measles outbreak in 1847 left over half of them ill or dead. The mill was seized by the Union army in 1864. 400 women and girls who worked in the mill were arrested for treason, spent a week incarcerated in Marietta where other unspeakable things happened to them, then were shipped North with their children on trains to Kentucky and Indiana. Most of their husbands were fighting in the war, and they would never see them again. Those women and children were left to fend for themselves. Supposedly, many died from starvation or exposure until a mill was built in 1865 where they could work. Most never returned home to Georgia. The owners and stockholders of the textile mill had fled before the Union army approached Atlanta, leaving the workers behind. Something tells me the owners fared far better because the mill was in operation until 1975.
I understood what I felt at the mill today after reading about it’s dark past. I would love to go back another day to explore further. There are larger water falls from the dam that was blocked, hiking trails, and a monument to those who were deported. It’s amazing where killing some time in an afternoon can lead.