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

 

 

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Former Porterdale resident looking to collect memories of the mill town in good old days

By JAY JONES
jay.jones@newtoncitizen.com

PORTERDALE — Prentis Ollis has many fond memories of his childhood in Porterdale including walking barefoot across the old steel and wood bridge that crossed the Yellow River. The feeling of the summer sun bearing down on the creosote lumber is one of his lasting memories of his hometown.

Ollis, retired and living in Hull, near Athens, is now sharing his memories of Porterdale on a Web site he hopes can be a place for others to share their thoughts, photos and recollections of the old mill town.

Ollis, 71, said he created the Web site dedicated to Porterdale to fill the existing gap in information about the town. While working on his hobby of maintaining genealogy Web sites, he kept meeting people who had a connection to Porterdale, but knew very little about the town itself.

“I decided that one should make an attempt to share memories of a ‘showplace community,’ of its time and place in our history,” he said.

Located at http://home.earthlink.net/~porterdale/porterdale/index.htm, the Web site is dominated by a picture of the Porterdale Mill on the Yellow River. The site offers different sections for general history but also recollections of current and former residents and photographs of historic structures in Porterdale, including the house where Ollis was born.

Also included on the Porterdale Web site are Ollis’ own recollections of life in Porterdale. With his travels during 27 years in the U.S. Air Force, Ollis also includes his encounters with people across the globe who have connections to Porterdale.

Porterdale was owned and operated by the Bibb Manufacturing Company for most of its history. Bibb provided nearly cradle to grave services for the workers who resided near the three mills in town. Ollis admits that the pay was low and work conditions not the best for workers at the time but he pointed out that Bibb provided people a chance to survive.

Ollis said the time of the town’s height as an economic power in the region during the decades of the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s, it offered an almost idyllic way of life that he hopes to preserve with the Web site.

“I think one would have had to experience Porterdale in its hey day to truly understand any description that one may provide,” said Ollis. “I have traveled around the world, been in all 50 states, on every continent, except Australia and Antarctica. I have lived in about 30 different locations, and not one comes close to the memories of my life in Porterdale.”

Ollis said he has only worked on the site for a few months, but has already been in contact with about a dozen people interested in contributing to the site. He said he’s looking for anything to add to the site, childhood memories, photographs, historical information about certain buildings or any other information concerning Porterdale to make his site complete.

“All memories of Porterdale would be appreciated, but my immediate goal to collect those memories from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s,” he said. “Our numbers in the first group are dwindling and there is not much time to collect and document this history.”

Two items that Ollis is looking for in particular are any pictures of the old Porterdale steel and wood bridge. Another sought after photograph is that of a wading pool on the grounds of the old Porterdale "grade school" that Ollis said his grandfather built 1920s.

For more information, or to submit material for Ollis’ Web site, contact him at porterdale@earthlink.net. Items can be mail to Ollis at Prentis L. Ollis, 2372 Crabapple Hollow Road, Hull, GA 30646. A pre-paid, self-addressed enveloped would be appreciated for items you wish to have returned.

The City of Porterdale maintains an official Web site at www.cityofporterdale.com.