Porterdale Mill on the Yellow River
NAMED for: Oliver S. Porter, Mill Owner

 

 

Mr. Ollis,
 
Let me begin by thanking you for all you are doing to recognize Porterdale's history. I attended the Mill Reunion in November and I'm quite excited about future development. I am also pleased with your efforts to create and continually maintain and update a Porterdale website. I hope to eventually send you some "memories" and additional old photos.
 
In looking at the website today, I noticed that my dad's middle name is incorrect. I think this may have happened as a result of one of the newspaper articles that was printed back in September. Just for the record....B.C. Crowell's correct name is Billy Carl Crowell. He was named for Mr. Carl Jordan, the gentleman responsible for bringing my grandfather,
Guy Crowell, to Porterdale.
 
I am BC's oldest child and I've been working on some family history during recent years. To date it isn't complete; however, I'm forwarding a "Christmas Tale" that I submitted to Milledgeville's "The Union-Recorder" in December 2000. I wrote it at the newspaper's request for "Christmas Memories". I'm pleased to report that it was selected for publication.
 
At this point, I should probably preface the story by identifying my father, uncle, and grandfather. My grandfather, Homer Guy Crowell, Sr., worked in the mill machine shop and in 1929 he had two sons, Homer Guy, Jr. and Billy Carl. He also had a 7 month old daughter, Pauline (Today she is Mrs. William M. Sullivan of Covington). The house and property referenced in the Christmas story were located at 40 N. Broad St.
 
Thank you again for all you are doing to "Keep Porterdale Alive".

Sherrill Crowell Jones
December 10, 2003

 

            Papa Crowell, my paternal grandfather, passed away on August 6, 1978 at the age of 86. Five years earlier his wife of 58 years passed away. With Papa's death his children and grandchildren were confronted with the arduous task of disposing of a lifetime of possessions.

            One item that caught my attention was a small, battered wheelbarrow which was buried beneath an assorted collection of junk near the back of the woodhouse. When it was uncovered and brought out I asked about its origin. My dad approached it, turned it over, sized the wheel and reported that it really belonged to him.

            It seems that the wheelbarrow was one of a pair made by my grandfather for his two young sons. The only difference being the size of the wheel. As Christmas 1929 approached, my grandfather, a man with only a seventh grade education whose income as a cotton mill machinist was barely enough to cover the expenses of daily living, decided to use his skill as a craftsman to create gifts for his boys. After collecting scrap metal and wood he was able to fashion two small wheelbarrows. On Christmas morning 1929, his two sons were delighted when they discovered the wheelbarrows filled with candy, fruit and nuts. My dad still remembers this as one of the happiest Christmases of his childhood.

            After years of play, the wheelbarrows found their way into the woodhouse in the backyard. At one point they were uncovered by a young cousin who decided to experiment with a ballpeen hammer. The one remaining wheelbarrow which belonged to my dad was in desperate need of repair. Its pan was dented with hammer marks, the paint had peeled, and the wooden handles rotted. My husband, who is rather "handy" and enjoys the challenge of repair work, decided to tackle the possibility of restoration. He carefully reshaped the pan, removed old paint, created new wooden handles, painted and polished until the 49-year-old wheelbarrow looked like new!

            On Christmas Day 1978, we tied a big red bow around the freshly restored wheelbarrow and presented it to my dad. Needless to say, there were no dry eyes, but there were some mighty big smiles among family members.

            On August 6, 1979 (exactly one year after Papa Crowell's death), I gave birth to a son, my only child, and much to my surprise on Christmas Day 1979, my dad gave the 50-year-old wheelbarrow to his first grandson. Again, there were damp cheeks and broad grins.

            As Christmas 2000 approaches I think again about this small, now 71 year old treasure, which has touched the lives of four generations. Its existence represents a connection from my grandfather, to my father, to my husband, to my son. Its material value is almost nil, however, its value as a piece of family memorabilia is without price. Hopefully, it will continue to be passed from one generation to another as a gift on Christmas Day. 

Sherrill Crowell Jones

December 2000