town now known as Porterdale, Georgia was, in 1830, nothing more
than a large cotton patch located on the shoals of the Yellow
River three miles south of Covington, Georgia, county seat of
settlement was in District Ten and part of it had formerly been
included in Henry County and Rockdale County. Because of the
many beautiful cedar trees that grew along the banks of the
river the settlement adopted the name of Cedar Shoals.
were only seven houses on the property known as Cedar Shoals.
Three were located on the north side of the river and four on
the south side of the river. One of the houses on the south side
of rock found down the river from the settlement.
Further up the river and not included in this property, was a
settlement called Boston. Later these houses were purchased by
Cedar Shoals Manufacturing Company and moved to the north side
of the river, as the river would rise over the bridge and people
were unable to cross.
gristmill, blacksmith shop, saw mill, foundry and small country
store were the business establishments in the settlement and
were owned by Samuel J. Bryan of Chatham County.
town was the result of a dream of a young man, Noah Phillips,
from Litchfield, Connecticut. He came south in search of land to
build a foundry. His inquiries led him to Covington, Georgia.
Here he was told he might be able to purchase land three miles
south of Covington on the Yellow River near a settlement called
Cedar Shoals. With his brother-in-law, John Persall, they
purchased land near the settlement and one-half interest in the
foundry from Samuel J. Bryan with the promise Bryan would
continue to run the foundry for one year.
June 14,1831, Phillips and Persall purchased water privileges
from Joseph Harris to carry the machinery in the mill. In the
deal was also enough land to build houses.
With a capital of forty
thousand dollars they erected a factory for wool carding and
cotton and called the factory Cedar Shoals Manufacturing
Company. The factory included eleven hundred eighty-four spin-
dies, ten looms and operated with forty five employees making a
salary of $5.75 per month.
Operation was from six a.m. to six p.m. Lamps were used for
The lovely white
house high atop a hill in Porterdale overlooking the
Yellow River probably dates in part to the 1830's. It
has been the home of several of the businessmen who
have taken advantage of the excellent natural water
power source of Cedar Shoals. Information
courtesy of Dr. Michael Warren. Photo by Dr.
1835 through 1863 the partnership changed hands many times. On
September 3, 1841, John Persall sold his interest in the company
to Noah Phillips making him sole owner of Cedar Shoals
November 19, 1859, Charles Camp of Covington, Georgia, purchased
one-half interest in Cedar Shoals Manufacturing Company and land
for eleven thousand dollars. Then on April 4, 1863, he purchased
the other half of the company for eighteen thousand dollars and
this left Noah Phillips still owning many acres of land in and
around Cedar Shoals.
November 19, 1863, Enoch Steadman, grandfather of the late
Chancellor Steadman V. Sanford of the University of Georgia,
purchased one-half interest in five hundred acres of land in
Cedar Shoals from Noah Phillips for eight thousand dollars. The
other half of the land belonged to Charles Camp. Mr. Steadman
raised cattle on his land and with some of his steers he hauled
brick from Covington to use in the building of the mills. It was
because Enoch Steadman was a Masonic brother and friend of
Sherman that Cedar Shoals was not harmed during Sherman's march
through Newton County. Some of the soldiers camped on the south
side of the river where Oliver Porter later erected a home.
after the end of the war Charles Camp died. Survivors included
his wife, Julia A. McCracklin Camp and a daughter, Charley Camp.
Their home was located in Covington, Georgia.
S. Porter, a native of Penfield, Georgia, came to Covington,
Georgia, seeking a teacher's job after serving in the war. He
taught in Covington several years and became a friend of Enoch
Steadman. Steadman recognized the abilities of this young man
and hired him as his bookkeeper.
was through this friendship that Oliver Porter met the widow of
Charles Camp and married her in 1869. With the uniting of this
marriage, Oliver Porter became guardian of Miss Charley Camp,
and with his wife, inherited the shares in Cedar Shoals
Manufacturing Company owned by Charles Camp.
1871, Oliver Porter, acting as guardian of Miss Charley and
husband of Julia, sold the estate of Charles Camp in Covington,
Georgia, and built a new home in Cedar Shoals and called it
Cedar Shoals Place, which later became known as Porter Place.
The home was built on the south side of the river on a knoll
overlooking the mill. The foundation was rock from the banks of
the river. The home was two storied with a wide veranda
completely circling the house. A servants' quarters was built
behind the house and the carriage house was to the left of the
front veranda. The house was a masterpiece of fine carpentry and
September 19, 1871, Oliver Porter and David W Spence bought from
Enoch Steadman, land, water power machinery privileges and a
brick building used as a chair factory. This was to help with
the growing needs of the mill. Houses were built as many of the
families were moving near the mill to obtain employment.
the growth of the settlement, Noah Phillips gave land for a
schoolhouse to be built on the Rocky Plains Road. This was named
Liberty School and the children from Cedar Shoals walked the two
miles each day to school. Noah Phillips also gave land for a
church for the Methodists and it was called Liberty Methodist
Church. This was on the same road as the school. Later, he gave
the Baptist congregation land to build a church and it was
located on the Salem Road, now Highway 81. By 1887, he had
increased the number of houses on his land in the settlement to
May 27, 1890, J. F. Hanson, 0. D. Johnson and Oliver S. Porter
applied for a charter under the name of Porterdale Mills, Inc.
On July 8, 1890, Oliver S. Porter sold to Porterdale Mills,
Inc., land, mill, houses and waterpower privileges for fifty
thousand dollars. Mr. Hanson was elected president of the
company and Mr. Porter was secretary.
September 15, 1890, bonds were issued by the Porterdale Mills
for the purpose of raising money for proper management of the
business as provided in the charter. All bonds bore the date,
October I, 1890, and were payable at the mill office of the
company or at the Union Savings and Trust Company in Macon,
Georgia, on the first day of October 1900, or ten years after
this date and bore interest of six percent per annum. Bonds were
in denomination of one thousand dollars each.
record can be found as to the exact date the dam was
constructed, but it is recorded that on the sixteenth day of
November, 1897, an agreement between W T. Smith and J. F. Vining
of first part and Porterdale Mills, Inc. of second part, for
Porterdale Mills to be allowed to raise the present dam across
Yellow River to any height they saw fit to increase water
supply. The company gave each party two hundred acres of land
for this privilege, the land having been purchased from J. D.
mill was changed into a yarn and seine twine mill and operated
under this corporation until it was purchased by the Bibb
Manufacturing Company of Macon, Georgia, on May 6, 1898. This
company owned mills in Macon, Columbus and Reynolds, Georgia.
1889, the Bibb Manufacturing Company built a twine mill on the
north side of the river and it was named Porterdale
Mill. The mill on the south side was changed from Cedar
Shoals Manufacturing Company to Welaunee Mill. All machinery was
moved from Welaunee
Mill to Porterdale Mill. Welaunee Mill was used as a
storage for supplies until 1922, when it was started up as a
waste mill. This building was tom down and rebuilt in 1925.
Porterdale Mill had the honor of being the largest twine mill in
the world at that time.
the Bibb purchased the mills, they persuaded the Railroad
Company to extend the tracks from Covington
to Porterdale, and on May 22, 1899, Oliver Porter deeded
land to the Central of Georgia Railroad to run the track into
size of Porterdale Mill was increased in 1910,1918,1936 and
1941. A storage plant, known as the Line Walk, was built on the
hill overlooking the mill. During World War II, machinery was
placed in this plant to help carry the demand of goods. All
mills ran seven days a week during this war.
[Webmaster Insert: There is a remembrance
that the "Line Walk" was originally a rope mill which
was later used for storage.]
and Julia Porter had three sons: John, James, and O. W. and two
daughters, Mary Erin and Miss Charley: Mary Erin died as a
teenager. All the Porter children were educated in the Covington
schools and furthered their education at Emory College in
attending college, they also worked in the mills. James followed
his father's interest and returned to work in the mills upon
graduating from college. John was more interested in the welfare
of the employees and so his father made him overseer of the
village. O. W. (Wick) was in charge of the company store. Miss
Charley, with her mother, was busy seeing to the needs of the
Brannen family built a large two-story house to take in boarders
around 1894, on the south side of the river. W J. Kiser and his
wife ran the hotel until 1921, when Mrs. Effie King, a widow,
took over the duties. Most of the young married couples spent
their honeymoons in this hotel.
Porter realized the need of having a school nearer the village
and persuaded his father to let him build a building to house
the school. In 1900, Oliver Porter gave the go-ahead signal for a
two-story building to be erected behind the company store to
serve as a schoolhouse, community house, and the top floor to be
used for all local secret orders. This proved to be such a
success that a building to house a kindergarten was built on the
south side of the river at the base of the Porter lawn so more
mothers could work in the mills. The first schoolteacher was Mr.
John Cowan and the first kindergarten teacher was Miss Annie
Laurie Jefferson, who later became Mrs. John Porter.
the enrollment in the school increased, four more rooms were
added to the right side of the community house. This addition
was one level, three rooms for classrooms and one large room for
a kitchen. These were added in 1914-, and some of the first
teachers were Miss Cleo Fondsworth, Bess Harwell, Mary Deen
Speer, Helen Williams and Grace Whitehead. There were forty
pupils and Mr. J. E. Cline was the principal.
in the area were scarce and people had to go to Covington for
medication. Mr. Porter secured the services of Dr. Lee of
Covington to come to the village two hours a day. An office was
built onto the mill office for the doctor to use. After two
years of this arrangement, a young doctor, Dr. Tuggle, moved
into the village and stayed two years. When he left, doctors
from Covington again came at intervals to service the people in
the village. Transportation was difficult because of road
conditions between Porterdale and Covington.
houses were added to the north side of the river, the company
store was moved over there with the blacksmith shop. This became
the center of the village. Later, the mill office was moved into
the company store and the room attached for the doctors was made
into a post
office to the rear of the store.
The Welaunee Hotel
was originally a dormitory for young women who worked
at Bibb Manufacturing in Porterdale. Built by the
company. It later became co-ed, and housed Georgia
Tech students who worked on co-op at the Bibb. Now, it
is well known as the Village Inn and Restaurant.
Photo courtesy of the Georgia Department of
Archives and History.
With the aid of Mr. Baun, pastor of Liberty Methodist Church, a
Sunday School was organized in the Community House on January
17, 1904, with Mr. C. T. Lummus serving as first superintendent.
There were thirty-five charter members. The sun- day School grew
so rapidly that it was decided to have both a morning and
afternoon session with the Baptists and Methodists alternating
times of service. Young ministerial students attending Emory
College at Oxford, Georgia, came out to assist in the services.
Porter asked the Bibb to secure the services of a social worker
for the village. Miss Martha Dupree was sent from Macon,
Georgia, to fill this position. The needs of the village were so
great that she asked a group of the ladies in the village to
meet with her to make plans for organizing a Mother's Club. The
club was organized in May 1915, with thirteen charter members.
The object of the club was to furnish food and clothing for the
needy. Clothes were made from material donated by Mr. James
Porter. A linen closet was established to lend sheets and towels
to the sick. This club is known today as the Porterdale
brick school was erected in 1917, and named the John
Porter Building. Bricks left over from this building were used
to erect an indoor swimming pool. The building contained a large
auditorium that was furnished by the Porterdale Woman’s' Club.
This was used for not only the school, but the town as well.
1916, a small group of citizens met and organized a Presbyterian
Sunday School and officially organized the Presbyterian Church
in 1917 in the old kindergarten building on South Broad Street.
Shoals was incorporated as a town in 1917. The voters of the
district voted on March 10, 1917, to incorporate the town and
Judge Charles w: Smith recorded it on March 19, 1917. It was
given the name Porterdale after Porterdale Mills, Inc. and
Oliver S. Porter. With the incorporation of the town came the
on the third mill had begun in 1916, and was doubled in size in
1920. This included a total of over 40,000 spindles and 662
mill was named Osprey. Brick left over from this
project were used to erect a dormitory for girls and it was
called Welaunee Inn. It was erected in 1920. A matron was hired
to look after the girls and they were allowed to go home on
weekends to visit.
hundred and fifty,
six-room houses were built in 1920, which increased
the number of houses in Porterdale to five hundred and
eighty-seven. Later, twenty-five modern homes were built on Bibb
property on Jackson Road.
Presbyterians built the first church in Porterdale in 1923,
followed by the Methodists in 1925, the Baptists in 1930, and
the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ in 1948.
were plentiful in Porterdale. Besides the Woman's' Club, a club
for teenage girls was organized and named the 0. S. Porter Club.
This was in 1919. The Boy Scout troop was organized in 1915;
Men's' Four Square Club in 1929; Night Hawks Club in 1930 and
the Pep Club in 1935. There were also the secret orders of
Masons, Eastern Star, Woodman of the World and Redmen.
the Bibb Manufacturing Company owned and operated mills in
Reynolds, Columbus, and Macon, Georgia, be- sides the mill in
Porterdale, it was decided that mill villages needed a
communication between them and the answer to that problem was
the publishing of the Bibb Recorder. The first issue was
published on January 31, 1920. The last issue of this paper was
December 11, 1970.
this communication between the villages, a social worker for all
villages was employed, and Mrs. Pearl Taylor left Porterdale to
fill that position. She immediately formed Women's Clubs in all
the villages and clubs for the girls. The girls' clubs were
named the Girl Reserves.
1922, the Bibb began the construction of two large buildings
separated by a wide driveway. The first building was to house
the general store, bank, barbershop, shoe shop and post office.
The second building was to house the company store, drugstore,
dentist's office, funeral home and Bibb offices.
first general store was opened October 1, 1923, by Mr. and Mrs.
T. G. Callaway of Covington. The drugstore
was rented by druggist, H. H. Harrison. Mr. Jack
Elliott and O. W. Porter leased the company store and called it
the Porterdale Mercantile Company: Dr. Frank Wesley was the
first dentist. The bank never materialized and Mr. Callaway sold
part- interest in his business to his sister-in-law, Lucy White,
and together they rented the portion designated for the bank and
made a ladies' ready-to-wear department. G. W. Caldwell and Son
operated the funeral parlor. Mr. Pennell rented the barbershop
and Mr. Finch rented the shoe shop.
1923, another school was built to hold grades five
through nine. It also contained a home economics department and
a band room. In 1929, Mr. James Porter gave the school
forty-band instruments and a band director was hired. An
athletic director was also hired in 1929.
building was erected at the north entrance to the
village to be used as a school and church for black people. The
Bibb hired a teacher and secured the ser- vices of a minister
for this community. This was completed in 1937.
November 25, 1938, the Oliver S. Porter gymnasium
was dedicated by Mr. James Porter, honoring his
father, Oliver S. Porter, one of the founders of Porterdale. The
first basketball game in the new gymnasium was between
Porterdale and Livingston Schools on December 3, 1938. The first
high school graduating class, with fourteen graduates, held
their exercises in the new gym in May 1939.
1942, a new activities building was constructed on
the site of the old community house. The building was named for
William D. Anderson, Chairman of the Board of the Bibb
Manufacturing Company: It was to house the men's clubs, band,
kindergarten, dentist's office, beauty salon and Masons.
new bridge across the Yellow River was dedicated on July 30,
1943. This was needed to replace the old wooden bridge which was
so low, when the river rose from heavy rains, people could not
get to the mills to work.
the height of production of the mills from 1940-1970,
twenty-five hundred people were employed. With this progress,
the Bibb Manufacturing Company decided to allow the employees to
purchase their homes which were owned by the company. These
transactions took place in 1964.
village that once won the distinction of being named a
"Model Textile Town", owned and operated by the Bibb
Manufacturing Company, is now a town governed by the laws of a
mayor and council. A new city hall has been placed on the
grounds of the first school building, which was demolished with
progress. Porterdale and Welaunee Mills have been sold. The
grocery store and general store no longer exist. Osprey Mill
still operates with approximately three hundred people. The
William D. Anderson activities building have been sold.
home built by Oliver S. Porter still stands proudly on the knoll
overlooking the Yellow River, and the welcome sign at the
entrance to the town still rings true, "A Friendly Place to