Continuing to showcase bygone places, Bartow County resident Lisa Russell penned her third book in the “Lost” series: “The Lost Mill Towns of North Georgia.”
“I was fascinated by Cassville, Georgia, and wrote a book proposal about this ‘lost’ town,” said Russell, a part-time instructor of communication at Kennesaw State University and an English professor at Georgia Northwestern Technical College. “That was the beginning of writing my first book with History Press, ‘Lost Towns of North Georgia.’ The book was divided into sections: Lost Mining Towns, Lost Ancient Towns, etc. My second book was suggested by History Press to cover the Drowned Towns in more depth. Thus ‘Underwater Ghost Towns’ became a hit — lots of people wanted to know what was under those lakes.
“Lake Allatoona was the only lake that actually had named towns along with lost graves,” she said, adding her second book drew a lot of interest, leading to podcast interviews, such as with Georgia Network News, and being a guest on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “Power Play” — a documentary on Georgia Power’s history. “My latest book is from the first book, The Mill Towns. My third book in the ‘Lost’ series is the longest, most researched, most pictures and my favorite. ‘Lost Mills Towns of North Georgia’ [is] about the textile mill era.”
After publishing “Lost Towns of North Georgia” in 2016 and “Underwater Ghost Towns of North Georgia” in 2018, The History Press released “Lost Mill Towns of North Georgia” April 13.
“Lisa Russell is a professor, researcher and writer who has captured countless stories from north Georgia that give a fascinating look into our region’s past,” said Trey Gaines, director of the Bartow History Museum. “We have enjoyed working with Lisa over the past several years as she has researched stories connected to Bartow County. Attendees to the lectures she has given at the museum have enjoyed her presentations and have left having learned something new about the area.
“We are excited about her new book on lost mill towns since, once again, her book will include stories from Cartersville, namely from the Atco village. The history surrounding Atco continues to be one of the most talked about topics in this area, and we look forward to having her speak on the book soon,” he said, adding the BHM’s gift shop carries Russell’s books, which patrons can purchase once the museum reopens to members and the general public, June 13 and 20, respectively.
In researching for “Lost Mill Towns of North Georgia,” Russell found the Bartow History Museum’s archives and Gaines to be a wealth of information. Conducting his master’s thesis on Atco, Gaines spearheaded an oral history project of the village from 2003 to 2005 to collect and preserve its past.
Established in 1904, the village’s mill and housing was initially operated by American Textile Co., which made fabric for horse collar pads. Goodyear later purchased the mill complex in 1929 to manufacture tire cord. Situated nearly 2 miles northwest of downtown Cartersville, the complex contained a mill, housing, elementary school, church and numerous amenities, such as a swimming pool, general store and youth organizations.
The city of Cartersville annexed the property in the late 1950s, according to the submission to the National Register of Historic Places, which the area was named to in October 2005. After which, Goodyear started selling the Atco homes to private owners.
Among Russell’s chapter about Bartow County is an excerpt from an interview Sandy Moore, archives assistant for Bartow History Museum, conducted with Grady Jack Bryson Jr., whose family relocated from the Echota Mill Village to Atco in 1946.
“He felt that Atco had the better mill village: ‘I might add that of all the places we had ever lived, the Atco village with its amenities was the finest thing we had ever seen in our lifetime up to that time,” he said. “… The village itself was like a little city within itself.
“We had our own policeman on each shift, we had a policeman that policed the village, we had a recreational director; we could go to the mill offices and check out softball bats and softballs, everything but the gloves. We could get all the stuff. We had a program for the kids in the summertime. If we had a little injury, we would go to the nurse’s station at the mill, get doctored up and go right back to what we were doing. We just had it good.”
Further details about Russell and “The Lost Mill Towns of North Georgia” can be obtained on her website, www.lisamrussell.net, or on Facebook, www.facebook.com/LostTowns.
By reading her latest book, Russell wants people “to understand the mill era, learn about these mill towns and see what the owners did to the people and what they did for them.”
She added, “The book explains the reason why unions really never caught on in the textile mills. And touches on what happened to the textile industry and might it ever come back. I want them to just understand.”