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Poole’s Mill Historic Area  

Nomination for a Historical Marker

One of the chief goals of the Historical Society of Forsyth County is to preserve the county’s historic structures. And perhaps the county’s most beloved historic structure, Poole’s Mill Bridge, is located in one of the most historic settings in the area. It naturally follows, then, that the Historical Society would nominate the site for a Historical Marker.

On March 31, 2000, the Georgia Historical Society, the organization that administers the Georgia Historical Marker Program, met and approved Poole’s Mill for a marker. At the present time, the marker is being cast. A tentative date for its dedication has been set for August 1, 2000, with representatives from the Georgia Historical Society, the Historical Society of Forsyth County, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, and the Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Department expected to participate.

Narrative from the Nomination

The history of Poole’s Mill which follows was submitted as a part of the nomination for a Historical Marker:

When one associates history with Forsyth County, that individual usually thinks of Poole’s Mill Bridge, only one of two structures in the county currently included on the National Register of Historic Places.

The bridge, however, was secondary in historical significance to the mill nearby, for the mill was the center of agrarian activity. Known by three names---Welch’s Mill, Scudder’s Mill, and Poole’s Mill---the mill operated for over a century on the banks of picturesque Settendown Creek in northwest Forsyth County.

The mill for which the site is named was constructed circa 1820 with slave labor by Cherokee Chief George Welch. Forest Wade in Cry of the Eagle declared the dimensions of Welch’s structure to be 45 feet high, 40 feet wide, and 60 feet long. The use of pulleys in its operation enabled the overshot water wheel to power both a grist mill and a slash-type sawmill.

Chief Welch might have continued to run the mill for years had not the lottery system in 1832 and the Cherokee Removal in 1838 limited his time as a miller. At the time he was dispossessed, the U.S. Government appraised his entire holdings at $12,500.00 with the mill valued at $719.50.

When the lands of the Cherokee nation were awarded to white settlers in the Gold Lottery of 1832, land lot 436 in the Third District, First Section of Forsyth County---the lot on which Welch’s Mill stood----was drawn by John Maynard of Jackson County. Then in 1833, Jacob Scudder, a brother-in-law of Chief Welch, purchased the property from Maynard for $250.00.

George Welch (born ca. 1798, died 1849) married Margaret Ann Jones in 1919. Records of historian Don Shadburn suggest that Margaret Ann Jones was the younger sister of Jacob Scudder’s wife, Diana Jones Scudder.

Scudder owned and operated the mill, then known as Scudder’s Mill, from 1833 until 1868, when he conveyed the title to his grandsons. Scudder passed away two years later---in 1870. A short distance from the site, Scudder and his wife Diana were buried off the Old Federal Road in Diana’s Chapel Cemetery, which was on the land known in recent years as the “Blueberry Farm.”

Following Scudder’s death in 1870, the mill was purchased by Dr. M.L. Pool (b. 1825, d. 1895), the son of Major Benjamin and Matilda Pool and husband of Lucy Caroline Mangum Pool. Hence the area came to be known as Poole’s Mill, and this designation remains to the present.

The addition of a cotton gin to the milling operations in 1920 was popular with Forsyth County farmers. But shortly thereafter, King Cotton suffered plummeting prices and farmers turned to the chicken industry for their livelihoods. The structure was finally abandoned in 1947 and burned by vandals in 1959. Foundation stones are all that remain today---a testimony to a way of life in a bygone era.

Fortunately the covered bridge on the same land lot (436) did not experience the same fate as the mill. However, the erection of the bridge, as related by Dr. Pool’s grandson, Vell Pool Fowler, illustrates a shaky beginning to what has proven to be an enduring structure. A flash flood in 1899 washed away the simple wooden bridge, which had probably been constructed under a county contract, and , according to court minutes, a millwright named John Wofford received the county contract to build another. Heart poplar was sawed at the mill and Wofford set about boring holes for the wooden pegs. Discovering that he had miscalculated and that the pegs and holes did not match up, Wofford took the easy way out: He purchased a gallon of corn whiskey and departed the county. Bridge-building was then placed in the hands of a more responsible person, for Bud Gentry received the assignment for the completion of the span. And finish the job he did---by boring a new set of holes---in 1901.

The bridge was constructed by Town lattice design, so called called for Ithiel Town, who patented the plan in 1820. Planks pegged together at 45 degree angles are fastened at intersections. Approximately 5000 holes and 1680 wooden pegs are required for each hundred feet of a bridge of this type.

Pool’s Mill Bridge went through a second period of uncertainly in the 1980’s when it collapsed into Settendown Creek. Responding to public outcry, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners came to the rescue by placing the beloved structure on supports until it could be rebuilt.

Recently, through the efforts and concern of the County Commissioners and the Parks and Recreation Department, the scenic area containing the bridge and shoals has been converted from private ownership to county-owned Poole’s Mill Bridge Park. Dedicated April 3, 1997, the park offers county residents the opportunity to picnic, hike, and reminisce. Once a bustling section, Poole’s Mill is now a tranquil setting for reflecting on “the good old days.”