Wilkerson Mill (from Old Mills of Mystery)
By Lila (Hargis) Rhyne, June 7, 1988
Wilkerson Mill is located about one mile upstream from the Owen Cochran Mill on Little Bear Creek. This mill is probably one hundred years old or older. Before it was called Wilkerson Mill, many people referred to this mill as Bearden’s Mill. Mr. Bearden was one of the earliest owners of the mill. Mr. Bearden was a great uncle of Jack Thompson who owned and operated the mill for fifty hears. Wilkerson Mill was owned and operated by the Thompson family and relatives for about 75 years. One outsider did own the mill during this time span. Mr. V. W. Denton owned the mill for 10 years. People were envious of Mr. Denton because he generated his own power from Little Bear Creek to electrify his home. Nobody else in the area had electricity.
The present water wheel on the mill was purchased by Jack Thompson in 1937. He saw an ad in the Market Bulletin for a steel water wheel located in Hartwell, Georgia. A mill in Hartwell was closing and had put the water wheel up for sale. Jack Thompson and his sons went and got the wheel and took it apart piece by piece. They numbered each part of the wheel so they would know where every piece when they put it back together. This is the second wheel and the first steel wheel the mill ever had. There was a wood wheel prior to the steel wheel.
The mill was used until the late 1960’s. The mill has had two owners since the Thompson family owned it. The present owner is Gene Griffith who is restoring the mill with the help of some Amish families from Pennsylvania. Perhaps with the correct preservation, this mill will be around for future generations to enjoy. Photos below are from Lila's report. Hover on the photo for captions.
HISTORIC MILLS OF CHATTAHOOCHEE HILLS