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The first mills open for business in Bulloch County
Bulloch History
roger allen
Roger Allen

Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at places and events of interest in Bulloch County history.

According to John Leander Bishop’s 1901 “History of American Manufacturers, 1608-1860,” in 1777, the Georgia legislature passed an “Act for Opening the Land Office, and for the better settling and strengthening this state,” which had the growth of Georgia’s industry in mind.

This act declared, “any person or persons who build or cause to be built a grist mill on any vacant land he or they shall have one hundred acres of land...and any person or persons building or causing to build a saw mill on vacant land, shall have five hundred acres of land.”

Bulloch County’s industries grew rapidly. Whereas George White’s 1849 “The Statistics of the State of Georgia” declared that “In Bulloch County there were 8 sawmills and 12 grist-flour mills,” John Ramsey McCulloch’s 1852 “Universal Gazetteer” stated Bullock County had “12 grist mills and 7 saw mills.”

“The Manual of Georgia for the Use of Immigrants” (1878) listed 37 cotton factories; 14 wool factories; (and) 7 paper factories, 1,400 flour-mills…(and ) 734 saw-mills” in Georgia.

J.T. Derry’s 1878 book, “Georgia: A Guide to its Cities, Towns, Scenery, and Resources,” stated the Augusta Cotton Factory first operated in 1847 with two mills. The factory was 5 stories high, 448 feet long, and 52 feet wide.

The Augusta Cotton Factory also had 23,424 spindles and 770 looms, and employed 622 hands. The number of yards of cotton-cloth turned out every four weeks was 1,158,608, and declared it was one of the best managed mills in the United States.”

Obediah B. Stevens’ 1901 handbook of Georgia, “Georgia: Historical and Industrial,” stated Bulloch County had 20 lumber and saw mills, 15 turpentine distilleries, 25 flour and grist mills, 1 Sea Island gin factory, and 1 sash and blind factory.

Lucian Lamar Knight’s 1917 book, “A Standard History of Georgia and Georgians,” reported that Georgia’s flour and grist mills now produced over $8.25 million worth of products.

Georgia also had some 1,800 saw mills that employed between 15-20,000 men and produced over 1 billion board feet of lumber annually. In addition, at this time Georgia’s cotton oils seed mills produced over $31 million worth of products.

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at

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