A hundred years ago this was a flourishing town of over 2500 people. It was home to the first fully functioning electric lumber mill east of the Mississippi River and the largest single full-time unit producer of shortleaf yellow pine lumber in the U.S.
Sumter Lumber Company’s mill near Livingston, AL burned and the company relocated to Kemper Co. Mississippi.
This new mill site was originally named Bogda Station which was the name of a nearby creek.
There was already a town and sawmill there established by Mr. Cochran and Mr. Harrington. The post office was opened on April 22, 1905.
The name was changed to Electric Mills on June 10, 1911 because of the uniqueness of this new lumber manufacturing process. The slabs, sawdust, planning mill chips and other waste had to be disposed of, so the production engineers decided to fire a boiler with them to produce steam to power the electrical generators.
The town of was incorporated in 1913.
The town, owned and controlled by the company and occupied solely by its employees and their families, possessed many conveniences and community privileges that would be credited to a much larger town. All dwellings and other buildings are lighted by electricity which is furnished by the mill at no cost.
The town had a school, union church,
community house, men’s club,
barber shop, shoe shop,
laundry/cleaner, pressing club,
35 bed hospital that performed surgery,
a movie theatre, commissary,
pharmacy, meat market, soda fountain,
2 hotels, ice plant, service station,
auto garage, dairy, playground,
athletic field, and depot with 4 passenger trains daily.
There was a school, church, hospital, hotel, and movie theatre for the colored folks as well.
My maternal grandparents were Mr. and Mrs. E. A. Temple. “Big Daddy,” as Mr. Temple was called by the grandkids, moved to Electric Mills before it was Electric Mills. The town was originally called Bogda Station. He worked for Harrington & Cochran Lumber Co. where he ran the store and the post office and kept the books.
Sumter Lumber Company bought the mill and town site and built the new mill in 1912. It was reported to be the first fully functioning electric lumber mill east of the Mississippi River. My grandfather served as postmaster, store manager, accountant, and auditor for the company. After the mill closed, he and Mr. Fred Hughes, the first manager, bought the town site, the lake, and the surrounding woods. Later my grandfather and grandmother bought Mr. Hughes’ portion.
My grandfather died in 1958, and my grandmother continued running the town serving as mayor, marshal, doctor, judge, advice giver, and whatever else was needed until her death in 1985.
This picture was taken at the Bogda Station store before Electric Mills was built.
My grandfather E. A. Temple is on the top step. His wife Pauline Temple is on the right. Her sister Virginia Edminston Welborn is on the lower right.
Electric Mills will forever be a special place for my family and me. I killed my first deer and my first turkey there. I remember fishing in the lake with Mr. Wilson who always caught more fish than I did.
This website is dedicated to those memories.
Lee H. Thompson, Jr.
P. O. Box 26, Mooreville, MS 38857-0026