Paper Mill at Banning


This image of the paper mill was taken facing Snake Creek. To the right, two metal stacks tower over the mill.
Can you find the stacks on the map below?

According to James Bonner's Georgia's Last Frontier, the paper mill was constructed in 1866 by Kellog & Company. The 1870s Census shows the following employees:


William Vink, white, manager of paper mill, age 60
Henry Bonner, white, age 23

Elila Franklin, white, age 33
Martha Frankling, white, age 11
Henry Holland, black, age 25
Anderson Holland, black, age 23

In 1878, the paper mill was revitalized by Arthur Hutcheson and Col. U.B. Wilkinson. The Carroll County Times reported on May 3, 1881, "Mr. R. Thomas as superintendent and general manager and special partner [of the paper mill]. It is situated on Snake's creek, between one and two miles from Bowenville and two and three miles from Whitesburg. The building is a large frame structure, as good as new, thought built several years ago. It is admirably adapted to the purpose for which it was constructed. The machinery has all lately been repaired and is in first rate running order. The old over shot wheel has been replaced with one of Case's Turbine wheels, which affords ample power for all purposes needed.

The mills are run night and day with a force of about twenty hands. They make at this time only wrapping paper, though at an early day, they will make also newspaper. Their wrapping paper is first class and as Mr. Thomas told us, not withstanding the newness of the enterprise, that he has more orders than he can fill, though the capacity of the mill is about 2,000 pounds per day."

Sanborn Insurance Map, April 1895

This map shows the paper mill running on water, steam, and wood fuel. The lights are electric and there is a sprinkler system in the main building. Although the building was not in use at the time of the insurance survey, the map shows the paper mill employees a night watchman.

The mill must have been up and running again by 1889 as James Bonner's Georgia's Last Frontier lists twenty employees producing twelve tons of wrapping paper a week. Unfortunately, tragedy hit the Banning mill community early June of 1889 when the boiler room at the paper mill exploded. The Carroll County Times reported, "Last Monday night at fifteen minutes before nine o'clock the large rotary boiler situated in the southwest end of the Banning paper mill bursted and the entire building, by the tremendous force of the pieces of the boiler flying in different directions, was blown to pieces and down to the level of the floor a mass of ruins. After looking over the wreck, Tuesday morning, it seemed almost a miracle that all of the twelve hands working in the mill were not killed. Eleven of the twelve persons in the building were hurt, but none of them fatally. The following is a list of those who were hurt: L.A. Thomas, bruised' Coney Thomas, bruised on head; George King, scalded; Chess Thomas, bruised; John Kimball, bruised; Thos. Osmore, shoulder bone broken; Daner Hughes, bruised; G. D. Shearer, bruised; W. T. Adams, bruised; Bruey Adams, gash on face; Zuma Adams, bruised.

At the time of the explosion they were just starting up a new paper machine and all the hands had gathered around it to see it start. This new machine was situated in one corner of the building which was furthest from the boiler and that no doubt is why none were killed. Dr. H. O. Mays, of Atlanta, was soon on the grounds relieving the wounded, then soon came Dr. G. W. Wallis and Dr. J. N. Brown, who ministered relief to those who were suffering. A large piece of the boiler after passing through the entire building sped its way on taking of the top of a tree and plowing a great hole in the hill some two hundred yards from the mill. Four other pieces of it going in different directions carried destruction with them in their track. The loss had been variously estimated from $5,000 to $25,000 but in our opinion $8,000 will cover the loss as it is thought that the machinery is not much damaged. We were told this large boiler, used for steaming rags, etc., was an old one..."

It seems the paper mill had a run of bad luck as James Bonner claimed another fire broke out in 1891 and 1909, finally destroying the business.