Articles by Lisa Russell

What’s so Special about Chicopee?

Lost Mill Towns of North Georgia is my favorite. My third book in my lost North Georgia series got lost in Covid-19. I wanted to focus on some things in that book and include more images and stories. The first focus is Chicopee. The Johnson & Johnson Corporation established this progressive mill town in 1927. Though a latecomer to the mill village, it set a new standard in construction, cleanliness, and character.

Chicopee was so different from most of the mill villages built in North Georgia in the Mill Village era. Most mills town homes built during the “New South” ushered in my Henry Grady in the 1880s and 1890s were rudimentary wood constructions that were built quickly with the bare necessities, A few forward-thinking mill owners built with brick. They built their mill towns with care and deliberate design, like Chicopee Village in Hall County near Gainesville, Georgia. The evidence is in their survival today.

In the split image below, you can see two houses, though not the same, you can see how the construction lasted almost 95 years. The home on the left is just after its construction, about 1927. Its new owner, Malachi Mills, a local musician and American Idol contestant, photographed his home on the right. Malachi grew up near the mills (no pun intended) and lives in one of the Johnson & Johnson mill homes in Chicopee. I am sure he spends hours rehearsing in his beautifully redecorated mill home. The interior structure is strikingly similar to the original.

Image on the right by Malachi Mills
Original House Plans for Chicopee

Chicopee was Clean

Besides building a company village, Johnson & Johnson built a community based on good health and cleanliness. They employed a community designer to place the homes on winding roads with various floor plans. Sanitary lifestyles ruled Chicopee. A guidebook listed the rules for living in village homes.

The Village Handbook

Household Regulations

Keep washbasins, bathtubs, and water closets clean. (Special brushes are provided for this purpose.)

Keep your cookstoves and iceboxes clean.

Keep walls and ceilings clean in every room.

Keep porches clean.

Keep screens in windows through the summer.

Report at once any trouble with the lights or plumbing.

Keep grass on lawns cut, and the ground around the house clean and free from rubbish.

Do not allow garbage or ashes to collect upon the premises. Put them in the cans provided for this purpose. These cans will be collected and their contents disposed of daily without charge.

Do not waste water and electric current. Turn off all electric lights, water faucets and electric stoves or heaters as soon as you are through with them.

Follow all directions of visiting nurse when she makes her regular inspections of the premises.

Village Regulations

Keep sidewalks swept.

Help to keep all streets, parks, and playgrounds clean. Do not scatter papers.

Never park an automobile in front of a fire hydrant.

Do not tamper with fire hydrants or the village telephones.

Do not damage trees, shrubs, roadways, or any other public property

Cows, mules, horses, and goats must not be kept upon the property and household pets must not include a vicious dog or any other animal which can menace or annoy your neighbors

Know where your children are and what they are doing when not in school or in charge of a director at the playgrounds.

Use village telephones to instantly report an outbreak of fire.

Report immediately to the trained nurse in every case of sickness.

Report all public nuisances, disturbances, and violations of the law to the Department of Public Safety.

Use village telephones to report accidents.

They furnished the town with modern homes, medical care, churches, stores, and other necessities to create a self-contained community. This was necessary for these former farmers who had left the farm with little money and no transportation. They pushed the company propaganda that they lived in “the model textile village of the world reminded residents,” where “every available expenditure and preparation [had] been made for [their] comfort and happiness.” (“The Workers of Chicopee: Progressive Paternalism and the Culture of Accommodation in a Modern Mill Village”).

Chicopee had Character

The company looked different from the traditional cotton mill of its day. Some say it looked like a college campus. The village that would accompany the progress mill would also have a different character. Johnson & Johnson extended the paternalism culture when Robert Wood Johnson walked the fields that would be Chicopee and imagined the village. Historian James J. Lorence wrote in the Georgia Historical Quarterly, “The Chicopee experiment was the personal project of Robert Wood Johnson, who envisioned a highly productive enterprise rooted in management acceptance of responsibility for the well-being of the workforce as well as a firm commitment to the premise that good labor relations constituted good business” (“The Workers of Chicopee: Progressive Paternalism and the Culture of Accommodation in a
Modern Mill Village”).

The village newspaper, The Chicopee News, published from 1928 through 1934, reinforced company policies and community solidarity. According to Lorence, “A prominent feature of the paper was the regular front-page editorial filled with homilies containing moral lessons ‘for all of us.’ It addressed such issues as community spirit, ambition, personal sin, honesty, and self-assurance, counseling “faith in yourself.” In the wake of the early depression, for example, the paper advised villagers to avoid transience, urging them to “make whatever changes are needed within yourself” and “find success in your own hometown.”

Like most mill towns, paternalism waned. After WWII, men and women came home with more opportunities and began moving out of the mill villages. Owners relinquished ownership of the homes to the current residents or landlords who no longer followed the J&J rule book. This is where the mill villages got lost. The poorly built mill homes of other mills suffered from neglect and were often torn down – they disappeared or they became low rent homes. Few survived, but Chicopee did.

Chicopee Continues

Most North Georgia mill villages have melted into the past or are kudzu-owned. Chicopee survived because of the brick design and construction care, cleanliness standards, and character standards infused by Johnson & Johnson. On a recent drive through the old mill town, the carefully planned curved roads wound around homes that were cared for and streets cleaned. The old place showed its age, but someone was still trimming the community areas. There are groups trying to keep the place alive. I noticed websites that were raising money for the community. Businesses like Left Nut Brewing Co. thrive in the old mill area across the street. There is still life in Chicopee. There is something special about Chicopee.

Taken at Birth: Stolen Babies, Hidden Lies, and My Journey to Find Home: A Book Review

Not knowing your history leaves you rootless. Jane Blasio dug into her hidden history, found her roots, and is now planted. Jane writes her story in Taken at Birth: Stolen Babies, Hidden Lies, and My Journey to Find Home. She worked with TLC as an investigator on the TLC Docu-Series, Taken at Birth. The series was interesting, but I wanted to know more about Jane. Her book fills in the blanks but leaves you wanting a little more. However, that is the nature of Jane’s story.

Author Jane Blasio

This story begins and ends in North Georgia in and around the town of McCaysville, Georgia. Jane Blasio digs around the town, trying to find documents and truth about Dr. Thomas Hicks. The paths she takes us down are dusty and confusing, much like the pig trails of North Georgia. These were pre-GPS days, and she often found herself lost, but the twist and turns were all part of a bigger plan. Jane did more than find out that Dr. Hicks sold her for $1000; she helped many others with their exact origin.

Jane exhumed the awful truth about Dr. Hicks and his black-market clinic. Then she helped other stolen Georgia babies find their roots. The TLC program starts with Jane’s story but meanders through the lives of other Hick’s babies. I wanted to know the rest of Jane’s story and her book delivers.

In Taken at Birth: Stolen Babies, Hidden Lies, and My Journey to Find Home, Blasio takes us on a road trip from Akron to Georgia several times. We are along for the ride from her first visit to McCaysville in the 1990s to her final destination.

Her book focuses on her decades-long hard, scrabbled search. Imagine Jane looking in dusty windows in a small, suspicious southern town. She pried up truth from a community that did not like to share but protect its secrets. Picture her trying to ask the townsfolk questions. At the end of the book, Jane rethinks the early days of her search:

 “If I had to do it over again, I’d drive into McCaysville and walk right into that small diner and ask all the right questions, make all the right moves, and eat my breakfast without worry. I’d roll that town up and put it in my pocket as though it were mine.” (211)

She found peace and danced upon the graves of those who had robbed her. Her dancing was not vengeance. She had left that to God. She danced with joy, for she knew what she had gained in this process. You will enjoy getting to know Jane. I know I did. Her writing left me feeling like I had met a long-lost friend.

I connected with Jane on many not-so-obvious levels. We both grew up near Lake Erie and were born in the 1960s. Here are some differences. I was born in Buffalo in Children’s Hospital. Dr. Hicks handed the four-pound Jane out the back door of his black-market clinic. I knew one side of my extended family, but knew nothing of my father’s side. I still long to know my bio grandmother, but Jane never knew either side of her family. In my teens, I moved to North Georgia, found God and found home. Jane came to North Georgia in her 20s to find her home and also found God. She discovered a legacy of faith and knew that someone had prayed for her to come home.

Jane gained more than the knowledge of her parentage. In her brief but affecting final chapters, she finds her people. In a GPS-deprived search, Jane made many wrong turns before but winded up exactly where she was supposed to be. She found a family she thought was hers for years until DNA proved her wrong. Jane found a woman with no relation to her who loved her like a daughter. “Carlynn taught me so much, but mostly she loved me and held me like a mother holds her daughter and tells her it will be all right. I had never known that before her” (214). Her biological nor her adoptive mom was incapable of loving her that way. Her journey was like a lost day on a red clay and gravel road with many unexpected stops.

She found her bio family after the detour. DNA proved it. She began sprouting roots in North Georgia when she found pieces of her family. The sound of the large wind chimes in Suches at her family home keeps bringing her back to her roots. Her language is matter-of-fact but also lyrical. Ernest Hemingway said of memoir, “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” Her northern raising gave her concrete words, but her Southern soul is lyrical. Listen to these words:

Blasio writes:

 “The invitation to visit here was a gift to me, and I listened as the breeze lilted through the chimes, as though it had as lightly upturned chin, gently challenging them to sing to me, to sing a new song. As the sun disappeared and the chimes kept on, the challenge was fulfilled with a serenade that stretched across those fields, rolling for some distance.” (168) 

She lost a great deal on her trips back and forth from Ohio to Georgia, but that was the price of passage. She admitted walking away from important relationships, including her relationship with God. Jane was on a journey – her authentic path. She became rooted and grounded. As her Georgia family was always there, so was her God. She was looking for one thing, but found so much more.

For a first published memoir, this is a remarkable success. Jane’s story will help others in ways she will never know. A mentor told me that when I write from my head, it connects to the mind. When I write from my heart, I will connect to another heart. This line connected my heart to Jane’s:

I found where I belonged. It took the journey of searching, not the actual DNA, to find who I am. I’m a child of God. He knows my name, and He placed me in this world. He knew where I should be and who I belonged to all along. I’m His.” (213)

Jane Blasio’s Taken at Birth: Stolen Babies, Hidden Lies, and My Journey to Finding Home reads clear and true. I must warn you: it will leave you wanting more. I want to talk to Jane and ask her for the rest of the story. Maybe – she needs to write a sequel,

Get your copy today

The Haunting of Allatoona Pass

While writing Lost Towns of North Georgia and Underwater Ghost Towns of North Georgia, I came across a late 1800 Atlanta newspaper article about sightings of phantom soldiers on trains going through Allatoona Pass. I do not like to include myths and folklore in my books because I need evidence. I figured if the credible Atlanta newspaper could print this story, I could write about in my books. So, here is one of the very few ghost stories in my books:

The Haunting of Allatoona Pass
The night was soaked with an inky darkness just seven years after the Civil War as the steam engine powered through Allatoona Pass on its way north. Just as the engine entered the pass, the W&A Railroad conductor noticed a soldier sitting on the top of the car. He climbed up into the darkness to collect the fare. The conductor walked toward the figure. Steps away, it disappeared. The soldier had melted into the night.

Allatoona Pass 1888

The disconcerted conductor reported to the engineer, “He was dressed in a soldier’s uniform.” Leaving the engine in the fireman’s hands, the W&A engineer investigated. A thick layer of clouds covered the moon; the cool night left a mist in the air. Through the fog, the engineer saw a figure sitting on the top of the third car.

The engineer advanced on top of the train, his attention focused on the man sitting on his train. Sweat trickled down the engineer’s back. He locked eyes with the gray shadow man. As he neared the transparent figure, it faded and then disappeared. The engineer searched the entire train and looked everywhere someone might hide. He climbed back on the top of the train and there the man was, sitting again on top of the train.

This time, the engineer marched in a quick step toward the ghost, but it disappeared again. The engineer walked back to the engine of the speeding train. Before he descended, the engineer glanced over his shoulder to glimpse the soldier back in his place. Cold air caused the engineer to shiver before he returned to relieve his fireman. The conductor kept watch and reported that the mysterious figure remained on the train for a few more miles, and then he was gone.

Perhaps the specter was reenacting this scene on the southbound train about to go through Allatoona Pass. Ghost stories are just symptoms of what lies beneath the surface, what came before and what refuses to leave.

Allatoona Pass has a reputation. It’s haunted. The unnatural cut into the mountain was the pass for nineteenth-century trains. The untracked bed follows along a sinking shore that secrets the drowned town of Allatoona. Phantom seekers claim to hear the ghost train and see specter soldiers on board. Walking through the pass today, you often hear the ghostly sounds of the trains on the repositioned tracks and wonder if they might be from another time or a current train in the distance.

Allatoona images

The pass and the lost town of Allatoona have every reason to be haunted. The Battle of Allatoona Pass—a forgotten battle won by fake news and in defense of some bread—destroyed the trackside town. This pointless battle made a few heroes but ruined a town that was later drowned and lost forever. Residual energy disturbs the pass and the shores of Lake Allatoona, but the scariest story began and ended on October 5, 1864.

Read more about the Battle of Allatoona Pass in my books:

Lost Towns of North Georgia
Lost Towns of North Georgia
Cover Underwater Ghost Towns of North Georgia
Underwater Ghost Towns of North Georgia

Sample Chapter of “Lost Mill Towns of North Georgia”

Sample Chapter of “Lost Mill Towns of North Georgia”

I hear them. And I want you to hear them too. We ignore them or just half listen to their stories. We drive by their homes in the mill villages before decay has hidden its history. If you stop long enough, you might notice them. Repurpose or decay hides the mill village towns of North Georgia.

Driving along and you might see a lonely stack or two, and down the road
you look into the past. You might see a neat row of similar yet dissimilar
homes still teeming with life next to a long-abandoned textile mill. A heavy pall surrounds the mill towns of North Georgia because the southern textile mill is dead.

The textile mill era, with accompanying mill villages, is over. What
started in the late nineteenth century slowly dissipated after World War II, ending before the twenty-first century. The communities built around the company have disappeared. No longer does the local manufacturer supply and maintain low-rent housing, medical facilities, sporting events and a company store. For a time, paternalism made sense, but the world changed.
The southern “Daddy” had to let the children go.

Chapter 1 tells the story of the textile mill era in North Georgia. This
summary is the big picture, the puzzle all put together. The other chapters
are the puzzle pieces. This is a micro-focus on each county with mill villages.

The mill towns included in this book had to meet specific criteria. It would have been impossible to include every mill in North Georgia in this book. The focus is the mills with accompanying towns. In most cases, the town and the mill are one entity. Some mill villages remain silent because the records could not be found.

Fulton and Greene Counties were originally included here but were
removed for space reasons and because they were different that the mills in
the true North Georgia area. I placed some of these chapters on my website,
along with interactive maps of the mill locations.

The South came to the Industrial Revolution party a little late, but North
Georgia mills worked hard and contributed to industrial growth. When it
was quitting time, and the silent whistle blew, the worker went home to start something new. Instead of allowing the mills to melt into the ground and disappear, some are creating new spaces from the rusty past and fading paint of old mill buildings.

The past is calling out to us. The mill workers want to tell their stories.
They have so much to say. They can teach us about perseverance and
struggle. We learn that management lost that fatherly feeling to stretch and wring out their laborers until they cried out. Can you hear them?

I can hear them. Listen. They punctuate their southern accents with
mispronunciations and colloquialisms. What some would call uneducated,
I call North Georgia culture—I respect that. Hear the stories of hardship.
The North Georgia farmers and sharecroppers went to the mills for a steady
paycheck. They were weary of the hardscrabble farm living.

Listen to the children speaking in the images of a social photographer.
Early photographs gave voice to the little ones working in the dangerous
mills—sad stories of children working as young as eight to add pennies to
the family till.

Cheer for the local teams of the Southern Textile League, supported by
most of the mills in North Georgia. A baseball game on a Saturday afternoon
generated community and good will. All the single ladies dressed in their
best, with their eyes on the prize of a textile ballplayer.

Notice the sounds of silence. The clackety-clack stops as the mill shuts down in the midst of union strikes. At some mills, you will hear gunshots in the uprising of 1934. You hear a governor’s command call out the National Guard to quiet the uprising. They go unheard and back to work. They lost, but paternalism crumbles nonetheless, and the community of the mill villages fades away.

As the world changed in the 1960s, so did the textile industry. The shaky
world of mill paternalism fell apart, and mill owners dumped the villages
as world economies shifted. Textiles could be made cheaper somewhere
else. The door slammed on the southern cotton industries, and the industry
outsourced their legacy to other countries.

My purpose is simple. I want to tell the story of this unique period in
the voices of the people who lived and worked in the textile mills of North
Georgia. The backstory is important, but the microphone is open to hear the
mill people themselves.

Please connect with me:

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Lost Towns of North Georgia

Lost towns cover

When the bustle of a city slows, towns dissolve into abandoned buildings or return to woods and crumble into the North Georgia clay. The remains of many towns dot the landscape—pockets of life that were lost to fire or drowned by the water of civic works projects. In 1832, Auraria was one site of the original American gold rush. Cassville was a booming educational and cultural epicenter until 1864. Allatoona found its identity as a railroad town. Author and professor Lisa M. Russell unearths the forgotten towns of North Georgia.Order your copy now on

The stories of Lost Mill Villages in North Georgia were too big for one book. I deleted several chapters. If you are interested in Georgia stories, I will send them to you. Sign up below:

Ghosts of Glen Holly

Ghosts of Glen Holly

Rising from the red clay-stained waters of Lake Allatoona, Glen Holly teases a few times a year. When the water retreats, a home place appears. War, fire, nature and water have finished their work to dismantle the mansion. Gone are the vineyards, orchards, and gardens, but the Cooper family has kept the legacy alive. Out of miry shadows, lost history materializes.

Mark Anthony Pope III wrote the comprehensive book, Mark Anthony Cooper: Iron Man of Georgia. Pope’s book paints the landscape of the Cooper story. His cousin Barry Wright, III focused on the details and his great-grandfather in John Paul Cooper: Georgia Giant in the Revival of Cotton during the Early 1900s. Wright’s work and his generous gift of sharing his family papers add living color to the sepia past.

Wright remembers his childhood visits to Glen Holly. His grandfather, Frederick, told tales of the family patriarch, “The Old Major,” and his eccentric Uncle Eugene and Aunt Rosa. He then introduced his grandson to Glen Holly.[1]

Mark Anthony Cooper built Glen Holly on a hill upriver from The Etowah Manufacturing and Mining Company. Eugene Cooper, Mark Anthony’s only surviving son described Glen Holly in an 1885 Atlanta Journal article: “Glen Holly was beautiful place, nestled on the ragged crags overlooking the sparkling, laughing waters of the Etowah.”[2]

Decades later, the US Army Corp of Engineers built a dam to impound those laughing waters, covering the remains of Etowah and Glen Holly. Sherman did his best to erase the manufacturing town. Two fires obliterated the family home. Fire, war, and water may have suppressed this Bartow treasure, but the Coopers continue to conjure the ghosts of Glen Holly. 

Wright walked Glen Holly with his grandfather and took a canoe to the “island” as a teen. But it was not until he grew up and received a box of family papers and photographs that he understood, “I got a sense of the house, orchards, gardens, outbuildings as actual history. For the first time, my family history was real.” Wright continued, “The descriptions and conversations I’d read in the letters and accounts now made absolute sense.” Trips to Glen Holly woke his mind: “I could see The Old Major cultivating his apple orchard, including two varieties named for Cooper. I imagined Uncle Eugene planting the dozens of peach trees his nephew, John Paul Cooper, had bought him.” Wright stirred up the past and shadowy stories of Etowah and Glen Holly have found new life.[3]

I got a sense of the house, orchards, gardens, outbuildings as actual history. For the first time, my family history was real.

Barry Wright, III

In 2012, Wright paddled toward Glen Holly with his daughter in a small canoe and kayak. In the winter, the Lake Allatoona is low and he could see what remained of his family’s home place. He found chimney brick scattered on the red clay knoll and much of the stone wall that surrounded the property remained albeit submerged in most places.

Wright picked up pieces of the past—glass, china, and something dated and special. Wright reported,” One fragment, the spout of a glass pitcher, had the date 1838 still intact and showing.” The Cooper family kept their past intact by recording their history. Besides the mounds of correspondence, documents, and images—they had their stories. Wright’s visits to Glen Holly and hours of research prove the family stories are true. In the process of rediscovery, they summoned the ghosts of Glen Holly.[4]

When Mark Anthony Cooper left his political career to build an iron business and establish the town of Etowah, he picked a prime piece of real estate in town to build the Cooper home place, Glen Holly. He built up the river away from the noise of the Iron Works. The Etowah River was in view and watered his orchards, vineyard, and gardens. Outbuildings that served as smaller homes for family members surrounded it. A stone wall that survives under the waters of Lake Allatoona surrounded the centerpiece, the home,.

Remnants of the rock wall surrounding the Glen Holly home place during low water

[1] Barry Wright, III, Email Interview, January 2019. 

[2] Eugene Cooper, “The Cartersville American has this about the burning of Major Cooper’s residence,” The Atlanta Constitution, July 10, 1884, 

[3] Barry Wright, III, Email Interview, January 2019.

[4] Ibid.

Since there are few pictures of Etowah, we rely on records of past residents. J.W. Joseph described the town as having a boardinghouse and twelve dwelling houses. There were two hundred acres of farmland and four acres of vineyards. There were private log homes.

The private residence for the owners, Stroup and Cooper, were located up the river at a distance from the mills, to get away from the noise of machinery.[1]

Cooper’s furnace worked forty-five weeks a year and produced up to thirty tons of pig iron each week. The price of iron at the time was brought up to twenty-five dollars per ton. In modern terms, Etowah Mining Company would have grossed about $21,000 per week. Once one of the busiest places in the entire South, Etowah grew into an industrial town with hundreds of workers and included slave labor.

Originally constructed in the late 1830s by Moses Stroup and his father, the iron furnaces were the early industrial parks of Bartow (then Cass) County. In1847 Georgia congressional representative Mark Anthony Cooper and a financial partner, Andrew M. Wiley, purchased the furnace and many related businesses from Moses and worked together to build Etowah.

The manufacturing town grew to two thousand people at its peak and contained a rolling mill, flour mill, carpenter shop, foundry, spike and nail mills, a hotel and workers’ homes. Etowah had a spur track connecting to Western Atlantic Railroad (W&A) that Cooper financed himself.[2]

The railroad had an engine called Yonah. It not only shipped freight to Etowah Crossing—Yonah played a role in the Great Locomotive Chase during the Civil War.

The products made and shipped from Etowah were pots or hollow ware, tools, cannons, spikes, nails, pig iron and other molded or rolled iron. The rails for Cooper’s beloved railroad were first manufactured in Etowah. Cooper was selling products worldwide. Georgia did not have a market for iron, but he diversified and sold other products.

Etowah always struggled financially. Cooper said the flour mill was profitable. The Cooper mills produced flour in a five story flouring mill. By 1849 was producing fine flour. Cooper’s flour was touted as the finest flour—“fit for a queen.” In fact, Major Cooper sent several barrels to Queen Victoria. Later, he received a letter from the Queen’s secretary saying, “The flour had arrived in good condition and Her Majesty had enjoyed the bread made of it and thanked Major Cooper for his kindness.”[3] The Old Major priced his flour for profit as he undercut local markets selling at cost.[4]

According to the 1988 article in North Georgia Journal, Etowah had it all. David wrote, “The thriving little town had a combination school and church; a boarding house; a bordello; a bank; a post office; a brewery; a company store; and log houses for the workers and their families.” [5] In 1852, Etowah had a population of 1,832. This may not seem very large, but the county seat, Cassville, was the largest settlement, with a population in this same year of 1,794. Mrs. Roe Knight interviewed Francis Adair interviewed in 1930 and left this verbal picture of Etowah:

They then lay the land off into streets, lots, and localities. A few of the more important structures which immediately went up were: The Church, school house, President’s office, bank, boarding house, and several large stores. The chief boasts of the town, however, were the railroad turntable and the post office.

Francis Adair

 Mrs. Knight mentioned a barrel factory with a usual daily output of 250 to 300 barrels. She spoke of a brewery and mentioned an iron warehouse connected to the railroad line, constructed to store all the pig iron produced when it was not profitable to sell it.[6]

Taking Care of His Own

Cooper was a benevolent man; he cared for the workers and the families in Etowah. The lost town had log cabins for the workers, a company store, and a school/church. His iron did not sell well in Georgia, but he had a product that sold well in New York markets. He started making hollow ware for cooking and built a five story flour mill. He had to diversify to keep his workers paid. He was concerned for them, but not in a judgmental way. Proof remains he tried to help them leave at least one vice behind.

The Coopers found an old wine label in the papers. Besides iron, flour, cornmeal, and produce, the Old Major made wine. Mark Anthony Cooper imported German grapes and a German winemaker. Mark Cooper remembers his grandfather’s wine press in a 1958 family document. He says the wine press stood across “a little hollow from the springhouse.” He details someone made the old wine press of wood and had two stories. Cooper remembers, “There was also an enormous screw, or helix, used in the press to squeeze the wine out of the grapes. As I recall it, this was made in the Works, and it was approximately four or five inches in diameter, and quite long. I don’t recall the length-some seven or eight feet, I would say”.[7]  Mark A. Cooper explains:

The wine press was on the side of the side of the hill, the grapes were brought in on the uphill side into the second story which was made of wood, where the actual press was. Down below were barrels, enormous ones. My grandmother has said some of them were six feet across. I seem to remember seeing the hoops of some which would be a little smaller than possible 4 or 5 feet, though that’s been a long time ago. [8]

Mark A. Cooper

Cooper continues to describe the spring house that housed the wine press:

The spring house comprised an open court, with a curing stone staircase going down into the spring, which was encased in as tone curb, or whatever you call it, and which flowed through a hole in that burb, across a channel cut in flagstones, into the spring house proper

In this, there were two long stone troughs with spring water in them, possibly eight inches deep. These troughs were probably two or three feet across, the sides being made of one piece of stone, and they were probably six or eight feet long. This took the place of a refrigerator.[9]

He wanted to keep his men away from using corn liquor or white lightning. Mark A. Cooper says, “This never was very successful.”[10] Catawba wine was just not the same as the hard core moonshine for the hard-working men of the Etowah Iron Works.

In some ways Cooper was a mystery, The New Georgia Encyclopedia tried to explain the man,  “A believer in temperance, he opposed the prohibition laws that dominated political discussion in the last years of his life.” [11] Maybe he felt wine was better than white lightning. Perhaps Cooper was not a legalist and knew respect won people and love—not laws.

Mark Anthony Cooper had an unwavering faith. A faith he passed down to his children and grandchildren. He did not touch alcohol or tobacco and was faithfully married to his wife Sophronia for 56 years. So, when he built his company town (Etowah) why did he make wine and have a bordello in Etowah? His great grandson explained, Mark Anthony Cooper was about peace and letting others live their lives.[12]

 He wanted to create community among his workers, so he was not judgmental. Cooper, however, provided opportunities for others to find faith.  He built a church and introduced revivals and special meetings to his community. Mark Anthony Cooper was a leader in local Baptist associations and even help start the Southern Baptist Convention at the time of the War Between the States. Cooper’s deep faith caused him to love his family and his employees and not judge them.

Cooper fostered loyalty among his workers, but also among other entrepreneurs. On the brink of bankruptcy in early 1850s, thirty-eight friends helped him and by the end of a decade he had repaid his debt. In 1859-1860 he created a one of a kind memorial to those thirty-eight friends who helped him save the Cooper Iron Works. This Friendship Monument moved around, but is currently in downtown Cartersville next to the former depot.

Cooper was an industrial giant in North Georgia in the early 1800s, bringing the railroad to the region and advocating industrial growth.  Although he left “King Cotton” behind to mine the minerals in Bartow County, he was the founder and presiding officer of the organization that became the Georgia State Agricultural Society in 1846. Cooper invested heavily in Confederate bonds and did not want to appear to doubt the legitimacy of the Confederacy. That decision would cost him and leave him destitute when his iron works were destroyed as a byproduct of the Civil War. [13]


Civil War played an important role in the life of Etowah and Glen Holly. When war came to North Georgia, the Cooper family lost more than the manufacturing village of Etowah. They lost all their wealth and two sons; Frederick and Thomas died from wounds suffered in battle.

Cooper bet on the Confederates. He sold the Iron Works and then invested in the Cause. He took the proceeds of the sale and sunk it into Confederate bonds. At the end of the war, he was destitute.

Union soldiers did not invade Glen Holly or destroy the Cooper mansion. They preserved the family cemetery. His two Confederate officer sons were buried there under the enormous magnolia trees. Mark Anthony and Sophronia continued to live in their home until Sophronia died from pneumonia in 1881. Uncle Eugene and Aunt Rosa remained unmarried and served as their parent’s caretakers.[14]

The Union soldiers could not find the Iron Works as it was not a usual location for a large manufacturing town nestled in the hills – hidden from view. The local lore says that a resident of German descent showed Sherman’s soldiers where Etowah was located. Years later, during World War I, the Bartow County citizens turned those Germans into the authorities.

According to Cooper’s great-grandson, “Mark A. Cooper was crossing the river when the troops destroyed the rolling mill, the flour mills, and the other facilities and buildings.” The Federal Army not destroyed his Iron Foundry, but they flung the friendship monument into a well. Glen Holly, Cooper’s home on a little knoll near the Etowah River and away from the Works, remained unscathed.[15]


Glen Holly had a fire in the 1850s, but the blaze that finally brought Glen Holly down was on July 4, 1884. A chimney fire devoured the Major’s “curious and valuable relics” from his vast life. His son, Eugene, had a flair for the dramatic as evidenced by the story he wrote for the Atlanta Journal. He wrote, “The fire caught from the burning soot in one of the chimneys, and made such rapid program before it was discovered that nothing of any value was saved.”  He explains that Major Mark Anthony Cooper lost many books and important documents, but the fire erased even more. The article continues, “It has been for 30 years the home of the most generous hospitality, and there are thousands of Georgians who will remember pleasant hours spent there.”[16]

After the fire, without his wife, the widower was without a home. Cooper moved into a building on the property that belonged to one of his workers. Less than a year later, Mark Anthony Cooper died in Glen Holly in Hezekiah’s house with his unmarried children Eugene and Rosa (and other family members) at his side.[17]


After the fire and Mark Anthony’s death, Glen Holly was abandoned and fell into disrepair. John Paul Cooper wanted to preserve something of the past.

The Etowah Iron Works property left the Cooper’s hands during the Civil War, but they were still interested in preserving the old furnace stack. John Paul Cooper writes to a Mr. George H. Aubrey in 1916, “I have not given up the hope of buying the old furnace stack near my property on the Etowah River.” Georgia Power, even at that early date, wanted to dam the Etowah River and flooding Etowah Village and Glen Holly.[18]

Aubrey, an attorney, responds to Cooper that he felt there was little chance that he could purchase the stake. He says, “The Munfords and some of their friends have created a little summer colony in the gap, close to the old furnace stack, building cottages, etc, and I doubt their willingness to part with anything at that point.”[19]

Cooper continues his correspondence with another letter stating: “I hope the Mumfords won’t be obdurate. I will accommodate my plans to those of the summer colony. I feel sure there would be no cottages built within the space I would wish to enclose.” He wanted to enclose the furnace for historical preservation and make improvements like growing grass. He offered the Mumford the use of his spring on his land and will clean it up for them to use.

The next letter from Aubrey conveys Mr. Mumford’s response to Cooper’s request to preserve or buy the old furnace. Mumford said, “No.” Aubrey let Cooper know that he was in poor health and things could change.[20]

Family correspondence shows a variety of caretakers, log poachers, vandalism and the things they tried to do to protect their home place.

In a series of letters between Walter, Frederick, and Mark describe what was happening to the property. In August 1929, Walter G. Cooper, an Atlanta historian, writes to Frederic and asks, “Can you tell me whether the road to Glen Holly from the railroad bridge, or from Cartersville is passable? Is there a tenant on the place?”[21] Walter had not been to the property since his mother’s funeral in 1915. One month later Walter writes again, “I went to Glen Holly yesterday.” He continues, “We had not serious trouble until we got to the little spring where you turn off the main road about a quarter of a mile from Glen Holly. There it was so marshy that we had to park the car and walk the rest of the distance to the home place.”

Walter describes his run in with a poacher who had set up a portable sawmill on the property: “There was no one in sight when we passed but as we were eating our lunch at the home place a large man with a long beard, apparently 65 years old, rather rough looking, came by and went around the house. I asked him if he would have lunch with us, but he said no and went on.”[22]

The home place upset Walter as he told Frederick,

I was made very sad and somewhat shocked to find the home place overgrown with young trees, 10 or 12 feet high and covered so densely that we could not even see the foundations of the old house until we had threaded our way through the trees from the front stone steps. The whole place was more or less covered with undergrowth, so that even the road that approached the house was obscured.

walter Cooper

Walter continues to describe the condition of the cemetery. He said it was difficult to get there, but once there the large magnolia had blocked the excessive growth of weeds. He shares his discovery of bootleggers had been on the property; he explained that revenue agents had cleared them out. He thought this location would make a great resort once Georgia Power built the dam across Mount Moses and Mount Leroy.

Frederick finally responds to his Uncle in October. He was grateful for the tip about the sawmill and lawyer cousin Aubrey “was on it”. He explained that getting a caretaker at Glen Holly was difficult, “The is no attraction there for a responsible man, because the land in its present condition does not warrant farm; and it would be quite expensive to put a responsible man there on full-time pay.”

Ten years later, Uncle Walter wrote to his nephew Frederick once again about the dam. Walter writes, “In the Engineers Report they suggested build a dam 80 feet high in the Etowah River between Mount Moses and Mount Leroy, about ¾ mile from Glen Holly.” [24] He suggests a cement wall be built around the cemetery. Walter reminds Frederick that the condition of Glen Holly has deteriorated, entering the homesite and gravesites impossible. Frederick replies to his uncle, “We have intentionally let he road into the place become practically impassable because we were subject to a very undesirable sort of trespass there, as long as access was easy.” [25] One decade later, it would no longer be an issue.


The next phase in Glen Holly’s life was the dam construction. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started work on the Allatoona Dam project in 1941, but World War II halted all work. Once the project resumed in 1946, they identified several sites to be at risk of being covered by the rising waters. The old village site of Etowah was ground zero for submersion. Glen Holly’s and the Village of Etowah were mostly on the northeast side of Allatoona Dam and not entirely around the Cooper furnace which stands today.  Several other sites also fell victim to rising waters. Among those were the Allatoona Pass rail community, Abernathyville or Old Macedonia, two iron furnace sites, mining sites, several cemeteries including the Cooper family cemetery and Glen Holly, home of Major Mark Cooper. 

 By 1949, the dam was complete, and the waters poured into Etowah. While pieces of the town survived the Civil War and fire did its work, water finished the job. Water covered the remnants, including Glen Holly and the family cemetery.

The Cooper family had to go to court and fight for proper re-internment of the graves. They required certain things be done including placing a copper plate at the new graves in Oak Hill Cemetery. The U.S. Corp moved Sophronia and Mark A Cooper along with family members. It encased three children who died young in high-quality iron caskets made in the at the Etowah Iron Works. These caskets were once attributed to the patriarch and matriarch, but the iron caskets belonged to three of their children who died young. The large iron casket may contain two children.

The government took its time to place the copper Cooper memorial at Oak Hill. In true government fashion, they blamed the delay on a “copper shortage.” Simple words on the memorial explain what happened at Glen Holly:

In Memoriam

This family cemetery containing eleven graves was removed from Glen Holly in 1949 to permit construction of Allatoona Dam and Reservoir.

Erected by Corps of Engineers.

In true Cooper fashion, loyalty to friends was important. Jim Knight’s property was in the impoundment area. The Cooper tried to help Jim keep his property. They wrote several letters to government officials pleading Jim’s case. They clarified that they were not concerned with Cooper’s property, but were concerned for Jim Knight . After a failed letter-writing campaign, the Army Corps took Knight’s property for the reservoir.


These words appear on a board on a hiking trail at the Cooper’s Furnace Day Use Area:

“Since the ironworks at Etowah were too valuable to the Confederacy to be left intact. Federal troops set them ablaze along with much of the surrounding town. It was a fatal blow. Industrialist Mark Cooper lived on at his home ‘Glen Holly’ until 1885, but Etowah would soon be shrouded in the mists of time and forgotten by most.”  

This plaque was near the old iron furnace stack John Paul Cooper wanted to buy and preserve for history. John Paul could not purchase the furnace, but they preserved it.

In family lore, the Coopers passed down many stories about the eccentric Uncle Eugene. When Glen Holly was in ruins, and Eugene still lived in one building on the property, he would go out every evening and blow a long “spirit horn.” A spirit horn was an old Southern tradition that was supposed to chase away the ghosts. The Coopers may have felt haunted with all the lost surrounding Glen Holly.

While this fit Uncle Eugene’s personality, most believed it was fiction. In the 1970s, in the barn attic of Woodhaven, John Paul Cooper’s home, a long spirit horn was found. Eugene followed in an ancient southern tradition of blowing the long trumpet to chase away the ghosts of Glen Holly.[26]

Ghosts of Glen Holly Present remain on the land as the water recedes once a year to reveal the old home place and its antebellum past. But it does not end there. While fires burned many family documents and valuable books, the past haunts and requires something more.

Ghosts of Glen Holly teach us to live a life worthy of remembrance. The Coopers moved about North Georgia and left their legacy in education and industry. John Paul and Alice Allgood Cooper helped establish Darlington Schools. Hattie Cooper created and nurtured Shorter College. Shorter College (now University) named a few buildings for the Coopers. A Cooper started the Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta. Several industries, were born and sustained by John Paul Cooper. The family is full of historians, both amateur and professional.

The story continues. The Cooper descendants are still adding to communities of Bartow and Floyd. The Ghosts of Glen Holly refuse to slip away quietly.


A Monument to His Friends Erected By Mark A. Cooper. Cooper Family Papers, n.d.

Bob, Andrew. “The Lost City of Etowah.” Backroads Georgia, Summer 2005, 29-32.

Cooper, Eugene. “The Cartersville American has this about the burning of Major Cooper’s residence.” The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta), July 10, 1884, 528.

Cooper, Frederick S. “Letter to Walter G. Cooper.” Atlanta. Last modified May 2, 1938.

Cooper, Frederic S. “Letter to Walter G. Cooper.” Atlanta. Last modified October 8, 1929.

Cooper, John Paul. Letter to Mr. George H. Aubrey. Cartersville, GA: John Paul Cooper Family Papers, 1916.

Cooper, Mark A. “Letter to Walter G. Cooper.” John Paul Cooper Family Papers. Last modified September 17, 1929.

Cooper, Mark A. “Mark Anthony Cooper’s Remembrance of The Old Major.” John Paul Cooper Family Papers. Last modified 1958.

Cooper, Walter G. “The Old Etowah Iron Works.” Dixie (n.d.), 41-44.

Cooper, Walter G. Letter to F.S. Cooper on September 16. Rome: John Paul Cooper Family Papers, 1929.

Cooper, Walter G. “Letter to Frederick S. Cooper.” Rome: John Paul Cooper Family Papers, 1938. Last modified January 6, 1938.

Cooper, Walter G. “Letter to Frederick S. Cooper.” Rome. Last modified April 28, 1938.

Cooper, Walter G. “Letter to Mr. F.S. Cooper August 16, 1929.” John Paul Cooper Family Papers. Last modified August 16, 1929.

Davis, Jr., Robert S. “Trace Elements of A Vanished Empire: The Story of the Community of Etowah.” North Georgia Journal, Spring 1988, 31-34.

Parker, David B. “Mark Anthony Cooper (1800-1885).” New Georgia Encyclopedia. Last modified August 21, 2013.

Russell, Lisa M. Lost Towns of North Georgia. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2016.

Russell, Lisa M. Underwater Ghost Towns of North Georgia. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2018.

Wright, Barry. John Paul Cooper: Georgia Giant in the Revival of Cotton During the Early 1900’s. Washington: Gorham Printing of Centralia, 2017.

Wright, III, Barry. Email Interview. January 2019. 

[1] Lisa M. Russell, Lost Towns of North Georgia (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2016)

[2] Russell, Lost Towns

[3] A Monument to His Friends Erected by Mark A. Cooper, (Cooper Family Papers, n.d).

[4] Robert S. Davis, Jr., “Trace Elements of A Vanished Empire: The Story of the Community of Etowah,” North Georgia Journal, Spring 1988, 33.

[5] Davis, Jr., “Trace Elements of a Vanished Empire,” 33

[6] Russell, Lost Towns, xx.

[7] Mark A. Cooper, “Mark Anthony Cooper’s Remembrance of The Old Major,” John Paul Cooper Family Papers, last modified 1958.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Mark A. Cooper, “Mark Anthony Cooper’s Remembrance of The Old Major,” John Paul Cooper Family Papers, last modified 1958.

[11] David B. Parker, “Mark Anthony Cooper (1800-1885),” New Georgia Encyclopedia, last modified August 21, 2013,

[12] Barry Wright, III, Email Interview, January 2019. 

[13] Parker, “Mark Anthony Cooper.”

[14] Barry Wright, III, Email Interview, January 2019. 

[15] Russell, Lost Towns, 84.

[16] Eugene Cooper, “The Cartersville American has this about the burning of Major Cooper’s residence,” The Atlanta Constitution, July 10, 1884,

[17] Barry Wright, III, Email Interview, January 2019. 

[18] John Paul Cooper, Letter to Mr. George H. Aubrey, (Cartersville, GA: John Paul Cooper Family Papers, 1916).

[19] Cooper,” Letter to Mr. George H. Aubrey.”

[20] Ibid.

[21] Walter G. Cooper, Letter to F.S. Cooper on September 16, (Rome: John Paul Cooper Family Papers, 1929).

[22] Ibid.

[23] Walter G. Cooper, Letter to F.S. Cooper on September 16, (Rome: John Paul Cooper Family Papers, 1929).

[24] Walter G. Cooper, “Letter to Frederick S. Cooper,” Rome: John Paul Cooper Family Papers, 1938, last modified January 6, 1938.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Barry Wright, John Paul Cooper: Georgia Giant in the Revival of Cotton During the Early 1900’s (Washington: Gorham Printing of Centralia, 2017).