Skip to main content

Eagle & Phenix Records

Identifier: MC 13


  • Other: 1995
  • 1828 - 1979

Biographical / Historical

The city of Columbus, Georgia was founded in 1828 at the Falls of the Chattahoochee, which was the highest point of navigability on the Apalachicola/Chattahoochee river system. The Falls of the Chattahoochee generated water power for burgeoning mills, both textile and grist, as well as providing an excellent method for transporting raw materials to the mills, and for moving finished goods from the mills (along with bricks made from the local clay, and other products made in Columbus and the surrounding region). Later the river provided the hydropower to generate the electricity for powering mills and for other uses. The city also served as an entrepĂ´t for goods moving up the river above the Falls, or to inland points in both Alabama and Georgia. According to Lynn Willoughby's Flowing Through Time: A History of the Lower Chattahoochee Valley, the textile business in Columbus, Georgia began in the 1840s with the establishment of several mills along the river, including John H. Howard and Josephus Echols's Coweta Falls Factory. Soon to follow were William Brooks' Variety Mills, which operated both a saw-mill and a textile mill; John G. Winter's Palace Mills which operated a grist mill and a machine shop. Winter also opened the Rock Island Paper Mill at about the same time. The Columbus Iron Foundry opened in 1847 and in 1853 reorganized as the Columbus Iron Works. The last two mills established before the Civil War were the Howard Factory and William H. Young's Eagle Mill. Just before the War, Young bought the Howard Factory properties and merged its operations into the reorganized Eagle Manufacturing Company to become the second largest textile mill in Georgia with 200,000 spindles. The Eagle Manufacturing Company (along with most of the manufacturing core of Columbus) was burned during the closing days of the Civil War. The company renamed itself the Eagle & Phenix Manufacturing Company to reflect its rebirth from the ashes of the war. By 1869 it had rebuilt its Mill # 1 and in 1872 Mill #2 was built. The Boiler House and the Administration buildings were built in 1878; in 1885 Mill #1 had additions built to it and in 1886 the Machine Shop was finished. The business went bankrupt in the 1896 and went into receivership. It was bought in 1898 by G. Gunby Jordan, with W.C. Bradley as a major investor, who served on the board of directors until 1915. The business emerged from bankruptcy with yet another name, the Eagle & Phenix Mills. Around 1904 the company incorporated the Girard Cotton Mills in Girard (later Phenix City), Alabama, as a separate business. A new textile processing operation, as well as a warehouse, were established there. The records for the Alabama operations were kept separately in some cases and were jointly kept with the Eagle & Phenix Mills in others. [Processore's note -- The records were filed together during the processing of this collection. Records which include the Girard Mills are identified in the descriptions.] The Eagle & Phenix Mills kept this name until it was bought in 1947 by Fairforest Company, a subsidiary of Reeves Brothers, a New York based textile corporation. It operated as the Eagle & Phenix Division of Fairforest from 1947 until 1980 when Fieldcrest bought the company. This collection is processed as if it were one entity, even though it operated under several names. It was legally known as the Eagle Manufacturing Company (early 1850s-1866); the Eagle and Phenix Manufacturing Company (1866-1898); and the Eagle and Phenix Mills (1898-1947). From about 1904 through about 1935 it also operated a wholly owned subsidiary, the Girard Mills across the river in Girard, Alabama. In 1947 the company was bought by the Fairforest Company, which was itself a subsidiary of Reeves Brothers. In 1979 it was bought by Fieldcrest and finally closed its doors shortly afterwards. In 2003 the W.C. Bradley Company bought the remaining buildings and real estate of the Eagle & Phenix Mills. These properties were repurposed as luxury condos and other commercial and residential spaces.


36 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Related Materials

Wallace P. Culpepper Collection (MC 54)

G.Gunby Jordan Collection (MC 12)

Columbus Museum of Arts and Crafts Collection (MC 9)

Processing Information

It is important to note that the survival of the various types of documentation across the nearly 140 years of its existence is very uneven. There are large gaps in each of the series. T he minutes of the Board of Directors, for example, is virtually complete for the period from 1898 through 1947 and virtually non-existent for the period before that. The same disparity holds true for most of the other series. There has been significant physical damage to many of records, especially the large bound volumes. In those cases where missing information can be inferred, it is added in brackets. Where information about numbering of materials is intact, it is mentioned in the descriptions. An example of this it the use of a "Catalog" number applied to the paper wrappings of many of the volumes. If the wrapping survived and still had the "catalog" number it is noted in the finding aid. There are other labels which have been associate with many items. If they are extant, they noted.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Columbus State University Archives and Special Collections Repository

4225 University Ave
Columbus Georgia 31907 United States