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May 13, 1901: Covington Mill Begins Operation – Moments In Time

Covington Mill Begins Operation

May 13, 1901

A Newton County Moment In Time

Ten years after the founding of the Porterdale Cotton Mill and mill village, a second textile mill began operation to the north of the Covington square – the Covington Mill and village.

Covington Mills received its charter from the State in April, 1900.  Charter applicants included names still well-known in Newton County today: Thomas C. Swann, William C. Clark, Nathaniel S. Turner, John F. Henderson, Tyra A. Starr, and Oliver S. Porter.

The mill operated 12 hours a day – 6 am to 6 pm, stopping an hour each day for lunch.  For many years, the mill gave a Fourth of July barbeque for employees and their families.  And at Christmas, the mill made sure that each employees’ child in the village had a sack of fruit – which for many was their only Christmas goodie.

Another prominent name associated with Covington Mills was Robert O. Arnold.  Arnold moved to Covington with his wife, Covington native Florence Turner, in 1932 and took a position with Covington Mills.  He was an executive with the company for the next several years, becoming President in 1945, and remaining in that position until the mill was sold to M. Lowenstein & Sons in 1956.

The Arnolds were also widely known for creating The Arnold Foundation, whose philanthropic activities are still felt throughout the county today.

The Covington Mills, together with the Bibb Manufacturing Company in Porterdale, operated all during the Great depression of the 1930s, and actually sustained the economy of our area during that period.  But the Covington Cotton Mill actually started operation when T.C. Swann’s daughter, Olive, pushed the button to turn on steam to operate the mill at 10:30 am on May 13, 1901.  Today – a Newton County Moment In Time.

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