History of High Shoals - Saxon

High Shoals, Georgia

by Henry F. Saxon

HIGH SHOALS, GA - One of the interesting and picturesque locations in Georgia is at High Shoals, in Walton County, sixteen miles from Athens, a mill settlement which contributes largely to the life and prosperity of the state. At High Shoals, there is a cotton mill and a community of splendid people.

High Shoals's Pioneer

The first mill at High Shoals was a small wooden structure and operated by an overshot wheel. It was built in the year 1847 by E.S. Hopping, a former resident of New York state where he followed the occupation of stone mason. Mr. Hopping came south during those years, and he it was who built or caused to be built the first dam and mill house at High shoals, and thus started an industry which today gives employment to 140 or more operatives, and adds its influence to the commercial life of the country.

In later years the building has been added to until today it is a large structure four stories high and carrying on a big industry.

Mr. Hopping lived at this place until the time of his death which occured a number of years ago. He came to be a large property owner in this section and was unselfish in his benefactions. But posterity, it seems, has not been as regardful of his memory as was deserving, for today he lies in an unmarked grave and his last couch is covered with tangled underbrush and weeds, shaded by mulberry trees, about 300 yards from the mill site which he founded more than 70 years ago.

Close by, in the same parcel of ground, it is said the body of his daughter rests; and there is no monument to the man who built so well, except the mill close by, the spindles of which hum with activity, and no requiem but the music of falling waters as they roar and tumble across and down the rocks of the shoals, and the warble of mocking bird lightly clinging to the limb of a tree above the unmarked grave. And I am told there are no relatives or survivors of Mr. Hopping living in this part of the country. The residence built by Mr. Hopping is standing at this time and is shown as "The Frazier House." It is located on a hill top in a beautiful spot.

When the home was originally built there were magnificent surroundings, fountains in the spacious yard, and a deer park. All of this was in the long ago, and today the man sleeps his "long rest" almost unremembered, and in this lonely burial ground there seem to be but two grave stones, neither of which tells a story of who lies beneath.

High Shoals Today

The High Shoals mill today operates 10,000 spindles and more than 140 workers are employed at the plant. The output of the plant is cotton skeins and warps and is shopped to all parts of the country. The capital of the High Shoals mill is $120,000. There are 1,200 shares distributed among the stockholders. Among the stockholders of the mill are ex-Governor Henry D. McDaniel, Mr. W. H. Jones, Mr. E. S. Tichenor, the James White estate, Mr. J. W. Hinton, president of the mill, Mr. H. H. Hinton, and others.

There have been additions to the mill buildings and improvements in conditions and surroundings during the time which Mr. J. W. Hinton has been president of the mill company which are deserving of mention. The "new mill" or the mill as it now stands was built by Mr. Hinton in 1896 after his coming to this section and was elected president. Mr. Hinton has been a valuable factor in the life, activites and moral structure of the town.

Mr. Hinton was born in Newton County, Georgia, in 1847 and moved to High Shoals community January 15, 1886. He was a student at the Georgia Military Institute at Marietta in 1864, from which school he entered the Confederate service. During his enlistment in the Confederate army, Mr. Hinton says he drew his pay for his services, "one pair of coarse socks." Following the close of the Civil War, Mr. Hinton was a student at Emory College in the years 1865, 1866, 1867.

Officers and head operatives at the High Shoals mill today are J. W. Hinton, president; A. E. Horn, superintendent; F. B. Osborn, secretary; W. A. Connell, boss spinner; L. F. Baxter, boss carder; S. G. Connell, boss of the twisting room; W. N. Duncan, boss of the warp room.

Social Life of the Community

The operative's houses at High Shoals are all owned by the mill company, and only within the last few years have the occupants of the homes been charged a rental. Mostly the homes are surrounded by beautiful flower yards and there is plenteous space for vegetable gardens.

The moral and social life at High Shoals is as fine as can be asked for, and the people of the town live a contented and happy life. Particular care is taken that there shall not creep in any marring or blurring to contaminate the high ideals which go to make a community worth while to live in, and the people of the town, led by Mr. Hinton, are jealous of the clean reputation they have attained, and which they anxiously guard. Mr. Hinton has spent the greater part of his life in High Shoals and he is looked up to with a respect and veneration which is a splendid compliment to his integrity. He is a gentleman of most pleasing personality and one with whom it is a delight to talk.

The school at High Shoals is a one-story frame building. The curriculum comprises two grades, there are two teachers, and attendance of pupils is about 100.

There are two churches at High Shoals proper, the Methodist and Baptist. The membership of the Methodist Church is about 200. Preaching here is twice a month, and Rev. Postell Reid is pastor. The Baptist Church has a membership of about 150. Preaching service is had the 1st Sunday in each month, and Rev. Williams is pastor.

Across the river, in North High Shoals, is the Christian Church, with Rev. Parrish pastor, and services here are held every third Sunday. Within the membership of the several churches there are sub-organizations of missionary societies, etc., and Sabbath School exercises are held every Sunday.

The women of High Shoals are a people who believe most intensely in "home making" and they are not aspirant of political honors or prestige. With them, "woman suffrage" is almost a tabboed subject and their attention is sacredly devoted to giving of themselves and to make for the higher aims of life and the things which are really worth while and which count for the greater happiness in life.

Fraternal Associations

The "lodge" life at High Shoals is comprised of Odd Fellow and Masonic bodies. Appalache Lodge No. 163, I.O.O.F., has a membership of 150. Mr. Wes Jenkins is noble grand of the lodge and mr. W. O. Tate is secretary. Officers of High Shoals Lodge No. 297, F. and A.M., are A. E. Horne, worshipful master; J. H. Davis, senior warden; E. F. Anthony, junior warden; and H. J. Horne, secretary. Mr. H. J. Horne is high priest of Mark Chapter No. 151, R.A.M., and Mr. B. H. Lord is secretary.

A most worthy and excellent organization at High Shoals is the High Shoals Burial Association. This organization has a membership of about 750, and has been organized for about twenty five years. It is a mutual association and entirely local. Its object is to see that the affiliated members are tenderly and properly taken care of when comes that time to which all mortals must bow and the last sad rites must be administered.

Incorporation of High Shoals

The town of High Shoals was incorporated as a municipality about in the year 1902, something more than a half century after its pioneer citizen has come to these parts.

Municipal officers of the town at this time are, Hon. A. E. Horne, mayor. Messrs. H. J. Horne, G. W. Allen, W. A. Connell, and L. A. Moser, councilmen.

There is no municipally owned lighting or water system. Water supply for the different homes is had from private wells, and it is said that water from these wells is as fine as is to be had in any part of the country. The health of this section and town is excellent. Lying on high ground as it does, the community enjoys immunity from epidemics of disease and sickness which is a happy condition. The sanitary condition of the town generally is considered very much above the average, and it is claimed that there has not been a case of typhoid fever to originate in the town for a period of thirty years or more.

J. W. Hinton, Jr., son of Mr. J. W. Hinton, president of the mill, is resident physician at High Shoals.

This story would not be complete, and neither does this make it complete were it not told about one of the oldest residents of the place, "Aunt Ella Crow." This venerable woman by her looks belies the years which have crowned her head with the silver threads and is yet active in her daily occupation of tending a warping machine. I was told that she is one of the finest characters in the town and holds the respect and affection of all her fellow-townsmen. Gentle, and unselfish and faithful, she is worth of the highest regards which can be tendered her, and it's a beautiful tribute to her womanliness that she is dearly beloved by those with whom she daily lives and labors.