Remember this picture from an earlier post? It’s called Sibley Mill and was built next to a canal in Augusta GA on a site previously occupied by the Confederate Powderworks.
The Powderworks building was the only permanent structure erected by the Confederates during the Civil War in the year 1862 to solve their gunpowder shortage. It’s length was 2 miles long next to the canal, with raw materials entering in the first of 26 buildings and exiting as gunpowder. They made 7000 lbs of gunpowder per day and had 70,000 lbs leftover at the end of the war in 1865 when the plant was ordered shut down.
Demolition of the building was ordered by the U.S. government but the smokestack was left as a memorial to the soldiers of the Confederacy. By 1880, Sibley Mill had begun with half a million bricks bought from the demolished Powderworks at $5 per 1000. The Mill was designed to resemble the Powderworks with a castle-like fortress appearance. Two towers were built to house a bell and a water tank. The center of each wing building has the colorful coat of arms of the Sibley Family.
Sibley Mill produced fabric. It’s opening yield was disappointing and new machinery was added in 1884. It had 35,136 spindles and 672 looms. Over 2 million pounds of cotton were used in 1883 but eleven years later in 1894, over 8.5 million pounds were used. That’s a lot of cotton.
Some professions of the Mill included:
Millwright (constructed and maintained the machinery)
Spooler (oversaw the new spun cotton put on spools)
Back Tender (treated and dyed fabrics)
Homes were built near the mill for the workers. Several kindred ancestors lived in this part of Augusta. William Washington BARKER and wife Essie Lee INGLET raised their daughter Evelyn Roberta BARKER in the mill house (pictured below) even though they were not mill workers. Records indicate that William’s ancestors were mill workers and the area would have been very familiar to them.
The Mill had it’s ups and downs as a profitable business, changing owners several times. The great depression affected mill operations but by 1977 it was producing denim for Levi-Strauss. The Augusta Chronicle reports on the final chapter of the Mill, “for 124 years, generations of Augustans toiled night and day, but in July 2006 the Sibley’s looms fell silent. The canal authority bought Sibley for $800,000.” The Mill still generates electricity sold to GA Power and ideas for future use of the building include creating student housing for the Medical College of Georgia.