Photos by Scott B. Thompson, Sr.
The village of Jewell exists around an expansive open green defined by a few, widely spaced buildings, and along the Warrenton Road (Georgia Highway 16) on both sides of the Ogeechee River. The village lies in two counties, Warren and Hancock, separated by the Ogeechee River. The site is situated near an old Indian trail from the east to the west which crossed the river about a hundred yasds below the present bridge (on Highway 16). There were many rocks in the river at that point which afforded a crossing over the river even at flood staged The rocks were blasted out of the river in later times. On the West stde of the Ogeechee the town surrounds a green, planted at one time with elms which later died. Today the green is grassed and defined by a dirt road
Facing the -green are a small two-story frame school house on a granite foundation. Built ca. 1871 by Daniel A. Jewell, it has a gable roof with brackets. The principal facade faces north. The entrance is on the center line of the north elevation; a box return gable pediment is over the door. On each side is a window with 6/6 lights. The second story, north elevation, has one window centered over each of the first-story windows, and a double window in the center with pointed arch lintels. On the interior there was a classroom downstairs with meeting hall over the latter reached by winding steps. The benches, the blackboard, the platform, and old stovepipes are still in place. The present use is as a community house for the two churches.
Baptist Church: 1871 Norman Gothic style. Faces north. Main entrance through tower (north) end. Pilasters and pointed windows (some double like the schoolhouse). Present use: church. Condition: good. ..
Methodist Church: ca. 1841-45. Original location at Rock Mills Community, moved to Jewel! in 1894. Wooden, Gothic style. Five-side south end. Square steeple, pointed windows. Present use: church. Condition: good.
Ashley Jewell Residence: Wood, Victorian Queen Anne, Gingerbreadstyle house. Faces west. Late 19th Century. Two stories and attic. Fishscale trim. Present use: residence. Condition: good.
Baptist Church, Jewell ca. 1870
Methodist Church, Baptist Church, School
Ashley Jewell House
Rock Mill Methodist Church. ca. 1841
The district of Jewell, Georgia, is significant as, the remains of an early Georgia mill village. Its architectural features-date from the 1840s to the latter half of the 19th Century. Nearby are the sites of a textile mill, grist mill, and an iron,foundry. The town of Jewell is located on an old Indian trail, which crossed the Ogeechee River a few hundred yards from the present bridge.
The town of Jewell has been known by various names. In the early days of its development, it was owned by the Shivers family and tradition has it that it was called "Shivers." The Shivers family, headed by Jonas Shivers, came to Georgia from Virginia and lived in Hancock and Warren counties, Georgia, in the late 18th Century.
Jonas' son, William Shivers (1783-1852), was the proprietor, not only of the site where Jewell is located, but of Rock Mills, about a mile and a half north, on the Ogeechee, where the William Shivers home place (known as Rock Mill) still remains. One site was also known as Shivers,Mills, 1826-1835. Mr. Shivers had a grist mill at the Rock Mills, and later built a thread mill, as well as a large store to supply the mill workers and their families, at Shivers.
After William Shivers' death in 1852, his administrator sold the Rock Mill Factory (known in public advertisements simply as the "cotton factory") at Shivers to Thomas Neal of Warren County in November, 1853. This tract included nine acres surrounding the mill site on the Warren County side of the river. Neal sold the same to Thomas Windsor on July 15, 1856, and on February 20, 1857, Windsor, of Baldwin County, sold the site and nine acres jointly to Daniel Ashley Jewel! (late of Massachusetts and New Hampshire) and Simeon C. Bodfish (late of Connecticut) for $3,500. In April, 1857, Jewell and Bodfish bought 105 acres across the Ogeechee in Hancock County to add to their enterprise. A year later, June 15, 1858, Bodfish sold his half interest in both locations to Jewell, and the firm was dissolved. Jewell then became sole owner of the Rock Manufacturing Company.
In 1858, Jewell and Bodfish (and after July 6th, Jewell alone) had advertised that they had repaired and added new machinery at the mill and that cotton and wool manufacturing was once again underway. They could supply yarns, wool and cloth.
Under the sole operation of Daniel A. Jewell (1822-1896), the community became a burgeoning textile center. A two-story school house was built on the green by Jewell about 1871. During his ownership, homes were built, many on the highlands on both sides of the river, continuing the standard mill houses, built of heart pine and mortised-and-pegged construction, which had been built for the mill workers beginning in the 1840s.
The Walter Dickson house is an example and is one of the two oldest houses standing in Jewell. D.A. Jewell, a Massachusetts native, had come at age 25 (ca. 1847) to Milledgeville, Georgia, the state capitol, and had married there in 1849 Mary Ann Shea. In the mid-1850s, he operated D.A. Jewell and Company, a wool-manufacturing firm, and this was his occupation just prior to the purchase of the Rock Factory. He moved to Jewell (then called Rock Factory) by 1859, for he was living there in 1860.
During the War Between the States, while the town was still known as Rock Factory, a company known as the "Ogeechee Minute Men," was formed in 1863, with Jewel! himself, a Northerner, asking the state's adjutant general for weapons. Tradition has it that federal soldiers came through the town in 1864 after reaching Shoals on the Ogeechee, a few miles to the south, but did not burn the mills or the town due to seeing the masonic symbol on the mill's chimney. (This stone was later salvaged and is now located at Call away Gardens, Pine Mountain, Georgia.)
The William P. Haynes Lodge of the Free and Accepted Masons had been formed at Rock Factory in 1864 and was chartered in 1865, shortly after the end of the war. It was dissolved in 1946. A Baptist church was organized there in 1869 and the brick edifice was built ca. 1871 on the green, also sponsored by Mr. Jewell. It is the oldest brick church building in the Washington Baptist Association.
The wooden Methodist church was built about 1841-1845 at Rock Mills, and was moved to Jewell in 1894. It had been previously known as the Rock Mills Church. Today it stands on the northwest side of the green. The name of the town remained Rock Factory until approximately 1869-1870.
An act of the legislature in 1872 incorporated the town as Jewell's Mills, and maps after this date are the first to show the new name. Later, the name became Jewell 's, and later Jewell, as it remains today. The U.S. Post Office at Jewel!'s was established in 1873 with Mr. Jewell as the postmaster, later to be succeeded by his son.
During the first decade after the Civil War (1866-1876), the mill resumed operations, as evidenced by the surviving Factory Accounts book for the entire period. The mill operated six days a week except for holidays (usually Thanksgiving, Christmas, and sometimes July 4th), or when the water was exceedingly high or low, thus hampering production.
Changes in equipment also caused several down days during this decade. Produced during these years were jerseys, jeans, and yarn. By 1876, jerseys were being made in cotton and wool. In 1876, the mill complex also included flour and saw mills, and by 1880, there were 3,000 spindles for cotton and 150 for wool, with 50,000 pounds of cotton being processed per month. D.A. Jewell died in 1896 and was buried in the town that not only bore his name, but bore the results of his hard work and benevolence. His wife, who died the year before, is buried there also.
The town of Jewell has been connected with a number of the South's great textile families. Fuller E. Call away, later president of the Call away Mills of LaGrange, Georgia, married Jewell's granddaughter, Ida Cason (for whom Callaway Garden was later named) and eventually helped members of the Jewell family to move to Chickamauga, Georgia, where their descendants are still involved with the cotton mills.
D.A. Jewell, Sr.'s sole ownership of the mil! continued until 1875, when his son-in-law, Colonel W.L. Bowen, acquired partnership with him and the name was changed to Bowen-Jewell Company. Metal "coins" were minted for use by mill workers during this period.
Eventually, D.A. Jewell, Jr. (1860-1935) became the family partner with Colonel Bowen. Sales were made in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Jewell, Jr., built a bag plant there, alternating weeks supervising the plants at Jewell and Chattanooga. Gordon Lee of Chickamauga, Georgia, began developing springs in his area and sold land to Jewell, Jr., for a mill, where ca. 1902 he built a finishing plant.
After several decades of dual mills, Jewell, Jr., sold the Georgia site around 1922 to the Gant Brothers, who ran the Glen Raven Mills of North Carolina. In 1927 the mills at Jewell were completely destroyed by fire. Today only the mill's foundation remains on the banks of the Ogeechee.
A street of mill houses, known as "Smut Row," paralleling the Warrenton Road, were cleared in the 1960s to make pastureland. Many of the present-day residents of Jewel! are descendants of the original mill families. They have carefully preserved the remaining houses and are interested in seeing that the character of the town remain unchanged.
Historical material from National Register of Historic Places Inventory Form.