The Social Organization of New Manchester, Georgia

Kevin Whitehead

Social Organization of New Manchester
• The citizens of New Manchester had little to differentiate themselves. Most of the citizens worked in the mill and lived on the surrounding hills in small houses with gardens and livestock. The owners of the mill lived in Roswell and visited once a month. A number of slaves lived in the area but did not work inside the mill.

• Sweetwater Creek forms in Paulding County and travels through Cobb, Carroll, and Douglas Counties along its 35 mile route. • The creek was named after a Cherokee village around springs that attracted animals and the natives. • Aboriginal inhabitation dates back as far as 1400 A.D.

• The factory would be built on land lot #929, district 18, section 2. • The lot was originally owned by Phillip J. Crask in 1832. • The lot was auctioned 5 years later on the Campbell County courthouse steps to John Boyle for $12.50. • Recognizing the prime location for a water-powered mill, the lot was sold to Charles J. McDonald for $500 in 1845. • In 1849, Sweetwater Manufacturing Company opened for production of spinning cotton into cloth for shipment to Atlanta. • In 1858 the developing town and mill was renamed, New Manchester, after the factory town of Manchester, England.

Development of New Manchester
• Sweetwater Creek is featured on maps printed in 1830. • New Manchester rarely appeared on maps due to the close proximity of Sand Town on the Chattahoochee. • New Manchester appears as “Sweet Water Town” by William T. Sherman in the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.

Town of New Manchester
• During operation of the mill, New Manchester had a population of around 350 residents. • The town was on the west bank of the creek focusing around the mill spreading toward the Jack’s Hill area.

Layout of New Manchester
• Sweetwater Factory Road ran parallel to the creek from Ferguson’s Mill to the town. • The factory store was located just north of the mill. • The hills behind the mill were dotted with houses and farms that were inhabited by the mill workers. • The brick pit used for the production of brick was located north of the mill on the opposite side of the creek. • The town also included a tavern, hotel, warehouses, and a post office inside the factory store.

New Manchester during the Civil War
• The factory of New Manchester began to manufacture exclusively for the Confederate army at the outbreak of the Civil War. • The mill manufactured cloth for a variety of war material as well as leather for shoes and belts. • Men of New Manchester joined the Infantry, Artillery, and Calvary as well as reserves and militia units. They fought with men from Campbell, Carroll, Forsyth, Fulton, Cobb, and Heard Counties. • The manufacturing at New Manchester made the town and factory a target to the Federal Army.

War in New Manchester
• New Manchester was targeted along with the Roswell Mills after the battle of Kennesaw Mountain and the withdrawal of the Confederate army across the Chattahoochee. • 2 Federal regiments, the 1st Kentucky and the 14th Illinois under Major Haviland Thompkins arrived in July of 1864 and found the factory running at full capacity for the war effort. • The citizens and workers were placed under house arrest and then deported out of New Manchester. • The mill and store was doused in kerosene and torched causing total destruction.

New Manchester After the War
• After the deportment of the civilians and workers of New Manchester, the town never revived. • Few returned to New Manchester but most finally settled in Carrollton, Villa Rica, Douglasville, Lithia Springs, and Atlanta. • Douglasville became the county seat after New Manchester and Campbellton faded due to the railroad being built further south in Fairburn. • The land on which the mill was located was selected for a golf course in the 1920’s but the depression saved it. • The area was dotted with stills and a dancing pavilion and fish cabins were built adjacent to the ruins.

The Factory at New Manchester
• • • • • • • The factory was 48 x 120 feet. Constructed with bricks produced across the creek. Employed around 150 workers. Built by mostly slave labor. No slaves worked inside the mill. Contained 6000 spindles and 90 looms. Production of yarn moved down inside the factory. The raw cotton or wool would start on the top floor and move down until the finished product was loaded onto wagons at the bottom floor.

The Factory

West Face

The Factory

West Face with Water Entryway from Millrace

Archeology within the Factory
• Archeological research was conducted in 1993 by Dr. Morgan R. Crook, Jr. assisted by Norma J. Harris. • An 8’ x 10’ test pit was excavated at 12” intervals in the southeast corner of the factory. • Stratum A produced mostly modern artifacts. • Stratum B produced machinery parts from the destruction of the mill. • Stratum C was mainly charcoal and rusted unidentifiable metal. • Stratum D was a thin 1”-2” layer of ash. • Stratum E produced machinery parts, random metal, and a piece of kaolin. • Stratum F was a layer of ash and charred wood.

Archeology within the Factory
• Due to treasure hunters and the collection of metal for World War II only small scrap metal was found within the test area. • The glass fragments found show evidence of the fire that destroyed the mill. • Charred linen was found in multiple stratums possibly showing the type of linen manufactured by the factory. • No personal items were found in the excavation possibly indicating that no personal items were brought into the factory. • The town was placed under house arrest immediately upon the arrival of federal forces possibly inhibiting the rescue of items from the factory. • Federal soldiers may have stolen personal items out of the factory prior to setting the fire.

The Millrace
• The 1,525 foot long millrace was dug and lined using slave labor. • The millrace diverted water out of the creek toward the factory. • A spillway just before the factory could divert water back into the creek to stop the machinery for repairs. • Most of the millrace is still underwater preventing archeology. • The island formed by the millrace was used for fish camps and a dancing and dinner pavilion during the 1920’s.

The Millrace
R. In the background is the island formed by the millrace

L. The spillway that diverted water back in the creek.

• All bricks used in the construction of the factory and town were produced across the creek. • The brick workers were slaves and the park is in possession of a brick with fingerprints of a slave fired into it. • The bricks were loaded onto wagons after being fired and taken to the bridge at Ferguson’s Mill then back south to the construction site.

Brick Pit
Due to the heavy wagons making trips to and from the pit, the roadbeds are easily recognized.

Archeology of the Brick Pit
• If archeological research was done at the brick pit one might expect to find shovels and other ground breaking implements as well as the firing pit. • Brick fragments are very easy to find and still lie on top of the earth under leaves.

New Manchester Factory Store
• Operated by the Humphrey family. • The store was a three story brick structure with the first floor being the store, the second floor being storage, and the third floor being apartments for the owners of the mill. • The store mainly sold goods using credit. Mill workers would have what they bought deducted from their pay creating a lifelong attachment to the mill.

New Manchester Factory Store
The mill store was located about 50 yards north of the factory.

Roads of New Manchester
• New Manchester contained many roads that connected the structures. • The main road was the Sweet Water Factory road. • A road ran from Ferguson’s Crossing, about ¾ mile north of the town to the Chattahoochee, then east to Atlanta. • Other roads ran west to Campbellton and Villa Rica, and north to Salt Springs (Lithia Springs). • The main road veered behind the store to accommodate supply wagons.

New Manchester Factory Store
The factory store stocked a variety of items from food to home-use goods.

Roadbeds of New Manchester
R. The store was located in the dug out area to the left.

L. Brickpit road.

Archeology of Roadbeds
• Artifacts that can be expected to find can tell us the modes of transportation used by the town. • Parts of horse-tack can tell us the quality of the equipment the people use. • The more worn roads show more traveled routes which were probably the main road and the roads out of the town toward Atlanta.

Foundation of a bridge near the mill.

Springs and Horse Wells
• The picture shows the only spring listed on maps of New Manchester. • This spring is just south of the store and was probably a horse well. • Archeological findings of horse equipment or posts could confirm these assumptions.

Boiler House
• A boiler house stood outside the south wall of the mill. • The house held machines that pumped warm air into the mill. • Excavation here might find pieces of machinery and charred wood.

Boiler House

According to park personnel, no excavations have been done at the boiler house.

Houses of New Manchester
• A look at social organization of a town can start at the residences in which the citizens lived. New Manchester had very little social organization as only a very few held positions of authority within the town. Town laws were developed and discipline was handed out by executives of the mill. The executives lived in mansions in Roswell, Georgia and upon visiting New Manchester they lived in the upper floor of the town store. Most citizens lived in small houses with personal wells. They grew crops and raised livestock and bought whatever else was needed from the store.

Archeology at House Sites
• No major excavations have been done at the house sites of New Manchester. • Roadbeds are visible leading off main roads to hilltops where piles of bricks may be found that were used for the chimneys of the houses. The manager’s house was on top of the first hill overlooking the mill.

Manager’s House
The greatest evidence of social organization in New Manchester is in the location of the mill manager’s house. The house was on the hill overlooking the mill so that he was within short distance of the mill if there were problems or anything else that needed his assistance. Most people had to walk up down steep hills to get to the factory but one walk down hill would arrive the manager to the mill.

Manager’s House
One could reason that upon excavation of the manager’s house, artifacts showing his status might be found. Because he made more money than the everyday worker meant that more valuable and more costly items might be found. Imported china would be a good artifact to support this case. Others might be better bones (meaning better cuts of meat) in his refuse heap or the presence of more horse related equipment showing that he owned more horses than others.

Manager’s House
L. Road to the manager’s house. The mill is just out of view on the left.

R. Brick probably from the chimney of the manager’s house.

More House Sites
• Another house site, possibly the Saunders house stood about 300 yards west of the mill at the present site of the visitors center. A road ran from that house east to the main town road. • More prestigious families of New Manchester were the Fergusons and the Alexanders, both who owned and operated mills before the civil war. • A number of ferries existed along the creek and the Chattahoochee. Some of these ferries were operated by Indians who leased the property from DeKalb County. Excavations of these houses might uncover late age Indian artifacts to verify this claim.

Saunders(?) House Site
R. Road from the Saunders(?) house site to New Manchester.

L. Saunders(?) house site.

Slaves of New Manchester
• There were before the Civil War aproximately 100 slaves living in the town. • The slaves worked in the brickpit and in the farms of the mill workers as well as domestic duties for the workers. • No evidence suggests that slaves worked inside the mill. • Slaves would have been the lowest class of citizens of New Manchester with little rights.

Slaves of Ferguson’s Mill
• Angus Ferguson owned a grist mill, a bridge, and gardens around his house overlooking his mill. • His slaves remained with him after the war, took his last name, and continued to work the mill after Angus was too old to do so. • Upon the slave’s death they were buried in the Ferguson family cemetery. • The post-war actions of the slaves and their burial shows New Manchester as incorporating slaves as citizens, not only property.

The Love Family
• About 1 mile south of New Manchester the Love family, a free black family, owned a large tract of land between the creek and the Chattahoochee. • We do not know how the family gained their freedom but we do know that they were a respected family. • Records show that a D.K. Love, a son aged 18, enlisted in the New Manchester militia, becoming a black Confederate. • It would be hard for an archeologist to determine the Love family as being a free black because they lived like most of the whites in New Manchester.

In a small town like New Manchester, an archeologist would have little to go on to determine the social organization of the town. The town vanished on, July 9, 1864 and the area has been treasure hunted and foraged for 143 years. If the mill proprietors lived in New Manchester there might have been more to go on. A survey of Roswell, which was a much larger town, would bring in more information on a mill town. Three classes existed in New Manchester before the Civil War, the slaves and poor whites, the mill workers, and the mill bossmen and the other mill operators. Excavations of houses might tell of the general wealth of the occupants by finding rarer artifacts. Artifacts such as imported china, quality buttons, jewelry, and silverware would be excellent to find. Further excavations need to be done at Sweetwater Creek State Park not just on the mill, but at the store and the numerous house sites in the surrounding area.

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