Historic Habersham Mills
Habersham Mills, situated on approximately 1,200 acres along the Soque River, has played an important part in the history of Habersham County, being the oldest industry and the site of a close-knit mill town.
It all started early in the 1800s, when Burnt Mill was built on Minus Shoals on the Soque. By 1837, Habersham Iron Works and Manufacturing Company began operation on the large shoals, where the current mill now stands.
During the 1860s, Habersham Iron Works forged cannons to help the Confederacy in its efforts to win the Civil War. These cannons, stamped with "Habersham Iron Works," can still be seen at Chickamauga National Battleground. Several Civil War veterans are buried in the Mill cemetery.
By 1882, Habersham Iron Works was replaced by Porter Manufacturing Company, a woolen mill. In 1906, S.Y. Stribling Sr., president of Roswell Manufacturing Company, came to Habersham to look at the possible purchase of Porter Manufacturing, and on February 7, 1906, purchased the company for $38,000.
One of the first changes made was to convert the mill from wool to cotton yarn. In the process, the mill was disassembled and moved. Additional changes were made as follows:
In the early years of the cotton mill's operation, cotton bales were received at the Habersham Station (located across Highway 441 at the Habersham Mills Road intersection) of the Tallulah Falls Railroad, were transported via wagon to the mill; the manufactured yarn was sent back to Habersham Station for shipment.
Until 1914, when it was converted to electricity, the mill was run by water power furnished by a water wheel. All employees who lived in the mill village were provided electricity free of charge by the company.
The mill village originally had 25 houses, which were included in the purchase of Porter Mills. In time, an additional 75 houses, a company store, and a one-room "Little Red Schoolhouse" were built for the employees working at Habersham Mills.
In 1920, the company purchased a movie projector for the entertainment of its employees, and in 1921, they built a new school house for grades one through seven. The company even had its own baseball team.
(Information taken from "Habersham Mills, An Historic Synopsis", compiled by Dudley Sisk; "The Northeast Georgian" of January 25, 2000; a speech given by Marion Stribling; and the "Tri-County Advertiser" of July 8, 1976)
(Oaky Aerial Photo of Habersham Mills, Lake, and Dam. Photo by Justin Ellis. Picture reprinted from the Soque River Watershed Association website.)