The four Bowen brothers first operated the mill on land that they acquired in one of Georgia's land lotteries. By 1849 they were producing skeins of coarse yarn used in osnaburgs (grain sacks). The factory became known as Bowen's Mill, and the surrounding area as Bowenville, with one of the brothers, William, serving as the community's first postmaster.
After the mill burned in 1851, the Bowen brothers forfeited their business. The next owner was William Amis, a businessman and state legislator from Coweta County. The Civil War (1861-65) began before Amis was able to make the mill operational. The mill buildings survived the war, and in 1866 Amis reopened, naming the mill Carroll Manufacturing. By 1880 he had sold it to a group of four businessmen. One of the new owners, Arthur Hutcheson, took charge of the mill.
Hutcheson, an Irish-born merchant with a store in Palmetto, devoted the rest of his life to the mill community.
By Hutcheson's death in 1895, the mill property extended for more than 1,300 acres. The textile mill housed 5,000 spindles and employed, in addition to the residents working in the surrounding mills, about 240 workers. Fewer than 1,000 people lived in the mill community, which was renamed Banning so that the post office would not confuse Bowenville with other similarly named area communities.
In 1921 the mill acquired new owners and another new name, Banning Cotton Mill. The new owners hoped for the prosperity of the Hutcheson years and updated the mill by adding a rubber plant facility.
In an effort to revive the factory during the late 1950s, Banning manufactured carpet yarns and became affiliated with carpet manufacturers in Dalton. By the 1960s, without the capital to make required modern improvements, production at the mill began to decline. Banning closed its doors for good in 1971, approximately 130 years after its opening.
In the twenty-first century Banning is remembered with great affection, and many are proud to be associated with the heritage of the mill community. Atlanta businesswoman Patricia Brown purchased the crumbling mill and surrounding property in the 1990s. Through her efforts and through historical documentation performed by students at the University of West Georgia Public History Center, Banning Mill should once again come to life.
James C. Bonner, Georgia's Last Frontier: The Development of Carroll County (Athens: University of Georgia Press, ).
Carroll County Times-Georgian, Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition, 1945-1971, August 12, 1971.
Joe Cobb, Carroll County and Her People (n.p., n.d.).
Memoirs of Georgia, vol. 1 (Atlanta: Southern Historical Association, 1895), s.v. "Hutcheson, Arthur."
Arden Williams, Georgia Humanities Council
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.