1890’s Days Gone By In Trion

Days Gone By In Trion…

The following is an excerpt from a comprehensive history of the town of Trion, with significant contributions from the collection of the Myers family and the Trion Company (now Mount Vernon) archives.  Most of the information dates from, or recalls, the 1890s.  Our thanks to the Trion citizens who recorded and those who have shared this and other wonderful information on Trion . This article was in a 2009 quarterly.

“In 1890, DeForrest Allgood was killed by his brother-in-law, Dr. J.B.S. Holmes, of Rome.  The reason for this tragedy is not definitely known and probably never will be.  Both men stood high in their communities and people prefer to forget such unpleasant memories.  Rome was so sure the Dr. Holmes was innocent that it did everything in its power to free him.  Summerville and Trion were so sure that DeForrest was not guilty that they lashed out at Rome in every way that they could.  The week the verdict of “not guilty” was returned, the Summerville paper had almost one complete page of editorials against it, and over a year later suggested that a new mill be built in Summerville, the people supplying the capital and naming it the DeForrest Allgood Memorial.

Trion felt this blow the keenest of all and mourned with the widow, the former Miss Susie Wright of Griffin, and his two little boys, Andrew Perry and DeForrest Jr. Many people say that more tears were shed in Trion at that time than ever before or since.  It is a fact that Allgood’s favorite horses refused to draw the hearse that was to bear his body.  Even in the midst of the funeral, more horses had to be brought.  This is attested by people who were there and saw it happen.

Mr. A.S. Hamilton, who married Margaret Allgood, succeeded his brother-in-law as president of the company and it grew with the rest of the country.  In the county papers of the period there were frequent mentions of new houses being built, the brick yard, new barns and other improvements.  In 1893 it required $23,000 to stock the machines, figuring cotton at $35 per bale.

A new waste house was built on the creek, just south of the mill and it was considered worthy of note that it was being covered with sheet iron.

The Trion Factory Burial Union was organized in September and the paper announced it had at present 158 members and $118.85 deposited with the Trion Manufacturing Company.  All persons in Trion and the immediate neighborhood of Trion who are of sound body and mind between the ages of 5 and 60 years are cordially invited to join the Union.  The burial benefits are $30.00; the admission fee 50 cts., and dues only ten cents per month.’

On April 19th the company purchased and installed a large bell.  It was placed in the tower of the new mill and used to wake people in the morning and also to be tapped by the watchman to show the hours at night and on Sundays.  The bell weighs 1028 pounds and cost $228, including freights. It certainly is a rattler.

From the county paper of that year we get the most complete contemporary description of the later Fourth of July picnics.  The affair had grown and changed over the years.  Men like the famous Taylor brothers of Tennessee were asked to speak, or the beloved General John B. Gordon.  But see if this does not make you see and feel what those days were like:

‘The annual picnic at Trion on the 4th had a larger attendance this year than ever before.  The crowd was estimated at between two and three thousand.  People began coming in from the country at an early hour and those living near the railroad took advantage of the cheap rates offered and turned out in full force.

The ground selected for the picnic lies on the south side of the river and is better than the old north side ground in that it is more convenient to the depot and town and that it is spacious.  But the old ground has a decided advantage in the way of plenty of large trees!  Shade was at a premium yesterday; the heat was intense and blinding clouds of dust drifted over the landscape.  But nevertheless everybody seemed determined to ignore the dust and heat as well as they possibly could and as a general thing everybody enjoyed themselves.

A very interesting program had been prepared for the amusement of the people, including tub races, sack races, bicycle races and, as the climax, the balloon ascension of Professor Rozell.

The tub races came first and amused the crowd very much.  The mishaps of the three wise men of Gotham were not of circumstance to the experience of those racers.  The tubs floated about harmlessly enough but when their would-be occupants stepped in they promptly turned over and thoroughly drenched the men.  The crowd yelled and looked very much as though it would like to join the floundering men in the water.

Professor Rozell made his ascension about 4 o’clock in the afternoon.  The balloon ascended rapidly until it struck the high currents of air when it began to drift toward the east.  The professor did not cut loose from the balloon with his parachute as was his intention owing to some failure of the apparatus.

The ascent and descent of the balloon occupied only about ten or fifteen minutes and after it was ascertained by the crowd that the balloonist was unhurt, they began to turn their faces homeward.

The band is a recent organization and has improved very rapidly indeed, and is a very creditable and praiseworthy evidence of the enterprise of the citizens of Trion.

One hundred and fifty-three wagons and buggies were counted Tuesday evening as they came down the road by Dr. Rudicil’s home, returning from Trion.’

The dates of the various flying jinnies used at the celebrations are not known but there are remembrances of an early one pulled by a little mule.  The later one was run by “Uncle HenryGilreath, it’s motive power steam.  It was set up early every 4th and old and young kept it busy until far into the night.  All over town the whistle on it could be heard and we probably would have had to tie ourselves to our houses, like Ulysses of old, to have kept away from it.

That year automatic sprinklers were put in the brick warehouse, a Mr. Wheelock being in charge of the work.  The new Baptist Church would be begun that summer, the market house received its first coat of paint, many new houses were built in South Trion – but Mr. W.H. Penn killed a 172-pound deer in the woods nearby.

Everyone has heard about the eels.  They came in 1894 and the first known of them was when the mill stopped.  Upon investigation it was found that the wheels were slogged with eels, on migration up the river.  Mr. Myers says that it was early one morning during the first high water in the fall, the first rise after the first white frost.  The people who saw it hardly believed it so they had pictures made, to prove it to others.  Three wagonloads of these eels were hauled away by Mr. Wooten and Mr. Worthy before the mill could resume work.

Mr. Tom Nunn and Mr. John Bradley was added to the police force in 1894.  

The present school was begun on February 6, 1895 and completed the following June 5th.  Five days later the first day in the school was conducted with 140 pupils present and the following teachers: A.W. “Gus” Shropshire, C.K. Henderson, Misses Carrie Hill and Mattie Espy.  This building began as one room and has grown into the present grammar school building.

The large Smith-Vale Fire pump was placed in operation on March 13, 1895.  The Ice Factory began in May of the same year (1895) and the first ice was sold on June 23rd.  The following year the Trion Echo said of the plant”: “One of the most magnanimous deeds of the Trion Company is the erection of a splendid ice plant, the products of which during the summer months add untold comfort to the people of the place.  They make 1,000 pounds per day of a very fine quality of chemically pure ice, the very low price of which places it within the reach of all.  It is shipped to the neighboring towns at 50 cents per hundred and is cut up and sold at the factory where you can buy 17 pounds for 10 cents or 8 pounds for 5 cents.

Mr. H.C. Smallwood, clever and accommodating, manipulates the machinery.  Mr. Smallwood is 42 years old and came to Trion in 1875.  He lives in and believes in Trion, In 1875. He took him a wife of the daughters of Trion, and has eight interesting children, all of whom are enthusiastic Trionians.

The first soda fountain was put in operation on July 17, 1895 and was located in a 12×12 wood building about 100 feet north of the present store building.  The first ice cream had been made by Miss India Henderson, of Augusta, and sold from a little wooden shed at the end of the bridge.  Miss Mackie Tate learned the secret and by adding a few ideas of her own soon had a nice business.  Fresh fruits and berries, rich cream, plenty of sugar, no substitutes for anything, soon made her product well-known.

Volume I, Number 15, of the Trion Echo (July 10, 1896), featured the lives of some of the best-known people in the community and these we would like to quote:

It is a peculiarity of Trion that when people come here to live they are settled for life.  There are some families living here now that came to this place during the war.  Mr. Wiley Davis has the honor of being the “oldest” inhabitant.  Mr. Davis came to Trion when the first cotton mill was being erected.  For a number of years he worked in the weaving department as a section hand, and is now chief of police.  He makes his home with his son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Pennington.

Mr. J.P. Moore has been one of the leading citizens of the place for about 25 years.

One of the company’s most faithful employees is Mr. William T. Webster.  He has been a citizen of Trion since 1869.

Of the Blair family, none lives here now except Mrs. Mahala Rose and Mrs. A.W. Hughes.

Mrs. Susan Cochran came to this place during the war.  Her children grew up here and have married and all moved away except Mrs. A.M. Chandler.

Mrs. Mary A. Land has been a resident of Trion for twenty-nine years.  Three of her daughters, Miss Susan, Mrs. S.J. Williams and Mrs. A.F. Williams, still live here.

Mr. Thomas Dedmon, one of our best citizens, moved to Trion in 1878.

Misses Minerva and Lizzie Stewart have lived here 29 years.

John Lively, a Confederate soldier, and one of the best men, has been a citizen of this place for a number of years.

Happy-hearted Jim Wooten, the singer, has been a citizen of Trion about sixteen years.

One of our most valued citizens is Mr. T.A. Fallis, who has lived here about seventeen years.

Jolly George Carroll moved here about fifteen years ago. 

Anything like a mention of the citizenship of Trion, would not go at all if the name of the clever Amos Alexander was not mentioned.  He has served the company here long and faithfully.

Mrs. Sallie Mullinax, Mrs. Mary Clark and Mrs. Belle Smallwood, with their mother came to Trion about the year 1870.  The three sisters grew up and married here, and have each been widowed.  Trion is still their home, and their children are growing up, with every promise of good and substantial citizens.

Many others who merit, claim time and space, are crowded out of this number   In fact, some of our most substantial citizens are, for want of facilities on our part left out.  Very sorry that this state of affairs exists.  We have to say that Trion’s paper shall ever be ready to recognize Trion’s people.

A.W. Hughes was born in Franklin County, Georgia, April 8th, 1844, and was raised a farmer and a blacksmith.  He moved to Trion  in 1867, ran the blacksmith shop for about 8 years and for the last 16 years has been the general overseer of machinery about the Factory.  In August 1868, he married Miss E.C. Blair.  Four children have blessed their union; he is a member of the Baptist Church, is a mason, an Odd Fellow and a Red Man.

S.T. Buchanan, overseer of the spinning department was born in Abbeville South Carolina on February 5, 1867.  At the age of 13 he went into the Piedmont Cotton Mills.  In 1892, he was offered the position as overseer in Trion; he had married a Miss Poole the year before.  A pleasant little family of a wife and two children, gladdens his home in South Trion.

G.W. Hutchens was born in Richmond County, Georgia in February 1856.  His first experience in a cotton mill was in Granitville, South Carolina.  He came to Trion in 1889 to take charge of the carding department in the factory.  In June 1867, he was married to Miss Mattie Fortner.  One daughter grown into lovely womanhood, in 1893 married Mr. G.T. Myers of  this place, than whom a more pleasant and popular man, and a better friend to the common cause of humanity does not exist.  Mr. Hutchens is a fine carder, popular and is a good citizen of South Trion.  He is a mason and belongs to the Odd Fellows.

C.H. Orr was born in Tunnel Hill and was raised on the farm.  Eight years ago, he moved to Trion and entered the service of the company and for a season weighed and marked cotton.  He then worked with the blacksmith for awhile.  When the company put in the electric plant, he helped to put up the dynamos and took charge of them and ran them awhile.  He then went into the engine room under John Steel, for eighteen months, when he took charge of the work which he has managed since.  He married Miss Laura Anne Shamblin of Broomtown, Alabama.  A bright little group of children, two boys and two girls, bless his home.  He is a member of the Christian Church, belongs to the order of Odd Fellows and Red Men.  Charley is a good fellow, and we predict for him a prosperous career.

Mr. N.H. Coker came to Trion Factory right after the close of the late war, arriving on Saturday afternoon, May 20th 1865.  He entered the employ of Marsh & Allgood on Monday and has been in their employ ever since.  He has held the office of Justice of the Peace for twelve years.  He has also held the office of Mayor in Trion for three terms.

He was a charter member of the first board of councilmen for the town of Trion.  He was also a charter member of Trion Lodge, F.&A.M..  He is a member of the Methodist Church, having held as many as five different official position at one and the same time in the church.

In his younger days he met, loved, wooed and won Miss Amanda McKeehan and married her in 1857.  Several children blessed their union.   After the death of his first wife, he married Miss Eliza Todd.  All who know him know that his heart is right and just and has a love for humanity.  His good impulses are quick to respond to the worthy and good.

Clever, openhanded, freehearted Joe Coker was born in Trion in January 1868, and has grown up with the place.  It is not certain what would happen to the place, the people and the different fraternal Orders of the town if he should go hence.

The are other sketches of Dr. R.Y. Rudicil, Dr. W.P. Henry, the Honorable Wesley Shropshire, Rev. J.G. Hunt, Mr. H.H. Arrington, Rev. W.A. Milner and then of the leading business houses in Summerville.  Lack of space prevented our [the original author] giving them all.

In Volume I, #1, of the Trion Echo, there is a memoriam for the Marsh Lodge on the death of a fellow member, W.K. Moore.  He was born November 10, 1841 in Greenville, SC.  He moved to Alabama in early life, entered the Confederate Army in the 55th Alabama regiment.  He made a brave, faithful soldier and was third sergeant in his company, was eight months a prisoner of war at Fort Douglas.  He moved to Trion Factory in November 1867, and has been a trusted and faithful employee of Trion Manufacturing Company since that time.  He was a consistent member of the Methodist Church.  For several years he was a member of the town council of Trion, and Mayor Pro-Tem, also a member of the school board of Trion School.  He was a Mason, Red Man, Eastern Star, Pilgrim Knights and Burial Union.  He is probably best known at this time as being the correspondent for the Summerville newspaper until shortly before his death.  It was from his weekly columns that many of the facts in this history were secured.

An interesting report on illiteracy by J.M. Coker appeared in 1897, showing 508 children, 107 of whom were over 10-years-old and could not read.  49 of those over 10-years never attended a public school, 19 who never attended any school.

The following year, the women of the community got out a special issue of the Chattooga News, and asked Mr. Green Berry Myers to write a history of the Trion Company for them.  He had come here to work in 1868 and was now Secretary and Treasurer of the company and also Post Master.  His ancestor, Edward Jackson, is buried in one of the oldest known graves in this section, recently marked by the Sons of the American Revolution.  Jackson was a Revolutionary soldier who would not quit fighting when the war was over and so was sent from his home to this more remote section by his relatives.  He was killed just north of Trion when his team ran away with a wagon.  The Myers family history can also be found in the Walker County History by Alfred J. Sartain.”