Habersham Mills

Habersham Mills

Early Industry

Iron was mined near Demorest by the Habersham Mining Company, incorporated in 1821. The Habersham Iron Works and Manufacturing Company was incorporated in 1837. The iron ore was mined near Demorest and carried to Habersham Mills where the old foundry was located. It is believed that Habersham Mills made cannons for the Confederate Army during the War Between the States.

Evolution of a mill economy

Habersham Mills and the mill village existed in a place and a time that occupies a special corner in the memories of many Habersham Countians because they can never be replicated.

The mill made a significant impact on the economy of Habersham County. For decades, Habersham Mills had the largest number of employees and the largest payroll in the county and was one of the two largest taxpayers in the county.

Habersham Mills began in 1906, when a group of investors from the Atlanta area purchased two woolen mills and several mill village buildings that had previously been owned by Porter Mills.  The investors included S. Y. Stribling, Sr., who became the force behind the beginning and early operation of Habersham Mills.  His descendants continued to be involved in the operation of the mill until it closed.

The mill was converted from a woolen mill to a cotton mill, processing baled cotton into top-quality yarn that was sold to producers of fabric and lace.  It operated very successfully with several hundred employees until eventually the mill and property were purchased by Russell Corporation in 1977.  Russell converted the equipment into machinery to produce the synthetic fiber used to make athletic attire.

In 1999 Russell Corporation closed the mill and subdivided the property into smaller parcels, eventually selling the buildings and a total of approximately 1200 acres of prime real estate at public auction to various individuals.  About a dozen of the current owners have now built new homes on the parcels they own.

Today several of the mill buildings are seeing new life, as part of an extensive renovation project.  Special events and overnight lodging options for area visitors are piquing new interest in the former vibrant mill village.  At its peak, almost 200 families occupied the mill village.

Source: Genealogy Trails

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