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Oil mill becomes 'biggest ever' investment in Bulloch
Bulloch History
roger allen
Roger Allen

Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at the origins and growth of the agriculture industry in Southeast Georgia and Bulloch County.

Part I

The March 6, 1903 Statesboro News reported that “Mr. Holland of Gastonia, N.C. is in town this week, and is interested in getting up an oil mill in Statesboro.”

In addition, the paper reported “people have been speaking about building one, but if they decide not to, it is very probable he will do so at once. He is the brother-in-law of Mr. E.C. Oliver (and) comes highly-recommended.”

Then, on March 27, 1903, the Statesboro News reported that “An Oil Mill Be Soon Erected. The money for the erection in Statesboro of a $30,000 cotton seed oil mill has been subscribed.”

And, “Mr. John F. Olliff is the moving spirit of this enterprise (as) the Olliff Investment Co. has subscribed $10,000, J.W. Olliff, and Lester Olliff $5,000, B.F. Turner $5,000, and other citizens have (bought) stock.’

In addition, “Mr. Olliff says that the company will build in connection with the oil mill, a large ginnery, at which many bales of cotton can be ginned daily.”

Therefore, “The company will be incorporated at once, and will be empowered to manufacture fertilizers, as the men hope in the course of a year or two to add a large guano plant.”

He explained, “Years ago, cotton seed were only regarded as useful for fertilizer, while now they constitute one-third the value of the cotton crop (extracting) oil from (and also) cotton seed meal, and hulls for feeding.”

Next, on May 2, 1903, the Statesboro News announced the creation of the Bulloch Cotton Seed Oil Mill, with its officers J.W. Olliff, J.L. Olliff, R.M. Williams, J.H. Donaldson, S.C. Groover, J.W. Wilson, and B.E. Turner.”

The Statesboro News of May 26, 1903 announced “The Bulloch Oil Mill contract was awarded to the Tompkins Co. of Charlotte, North Carolina (and) the contract price is (near) $80,000.”

It added, “Stockholders (may) decide to put in a guano factory (and) a tract of 15 acres of land has been purchased for the location in the Southeastern portion of the city.”

Then, on July 24, 1903, the Statesboro News revealed that “Contractor Charles F. McKenzie has a large force of hands at work on the Bulloch Oil Mill Plant.”

And, “The mill is located on the line of the Savannah & Statesboro Railway in the southeastern portion of the city. About 400,000 bricks will be used in the construction” of three large buildings and a number of smaller buildings.

The Sept. 29, 1903 Statesboro News revealed that “the largest pile of money ever invested in one enterprise in Bulloch County is the Bulloch Oil Mill, located at Statesboro, Ga.”

“The plant will cost about $50,000 when completed. There is all the very latest improved machinery for making oils from cotton seed. A large ginnery for ginning both upland and Sea Island cotton.”

And, “Any person having a bale of cotton to gin can get it ginned almost by the time it is unloaded from the wagon. They can sell the seed to the mill for the cash.”

So, “Exchange them for ginning and bagging, and get a liberal amount of money to boot, or they can get the seed, if they choose...Now, the Bulloch Oil Mill bespeaks a liberal patronage of the people of this section.”

Continuing, “The gins will be running by Monday, October 5, and the oil mill as soon as we have sufficient seed to start with. The cotton house (and) our seed houses are ready (and) we have the cash to pay for them.”

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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