Edward Lee McClain was from Greenfield, Ohio. He was a young man who invented and patented a hinged horse collar and subsequently turned his idea into a sizeable business.
McClain's company, The American Pad and Textile Company, or simply the pad factory, in later years, entered into the manufacturer of sports clothing for the outdoorsman, camping equipment, caps, life preservers, rubber rafts for the military and even molded plastic Jayne Mansfield hot water bottles in the 1950s.
He had business ventures that went far beyond the corporate limits of Greenfield, including a plant in Wellston, Ohio. This plant was used for a coal mining company called the Wellston Rich Run Coal Company. The company owned and operated a number of mines in Jackson County, Ohio.
McClain was also involved in the Sun Novelty Works Company. In 1890, it began as a joint venture with the Waddell family and manufactured a variety of wooden items such as coffee mills and wooden rattraps. Sun was later sold to a group of investors and moved to Columbus.
In 1905, McClain started a company in Louisville, KY for the manufacture of showcases and wooden office interiors. The Crescent Manufacturing Company was sold during World War I and used to support the war effort.
As his horse collar business grew, McClain outstripped his manufacturing capabilities in Greenfield, and in 1911 opened a plant in Chatham, Ontario Canada, followed by a plant in Chillicothe in 1914. This growth continued into the 1920s, but as horses gave way to horseless carriages, McClain began to convert production to other items including cushions for the automobile industry.
McClain's contribution to our community was his involvement in the American Textile Company or ATCO.
Afraid that he would not be able to secure enough cotton cloth for his collar business, McClain, in 1903, purchased 600 acres near Cartersville, GA and began construction of a plant to manufacture cotton drill cloth. To care for his work force, McClain built an adjacent collection of about a hundred neat wooden bungalows, and the community of Atco, GA was born.
"...McClain came to Cartersville in 1903, the result of his search for "the most perfect cotton mill location in the world." He had advertised in an Atlanta newspaper for a tract of land stating the advantages the site should possess. One of the respondents, a citizen of Cartersville, told him that the place he sought "would not be found short of Heaven", but nevertheless there was a site near Cartersville which would nearly fill the bill. McClain inspected several locations throughout the south, selected Cartersville, and purchased over 600 acres. The mill was to be used primarily for the manufacture of cloth for The American Pad & Textile Company, founded by McClain in Greenfield in 1881, and producing substantially all the horse collar pads used in the United States and Canada..." ~Cartersville Bartow Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of FameThe "Village" also included a community church, a multipurpose building that was used as a general meeting facility and as a school for the village children, recreational facilities including a park, ball field and a swimming pool, and a Clubhouse for social gatherings.
McClain's son Donald ran the company for many years, and in 1928 the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company purchased the facility from McClain and his partners. Goodyear used the mill to manufacture various cloths that are used in the production of modern automobile tires. ~Greenfield, Ohio Historical Society and others.
Many of our families came to the Village to work at the mill after being tenant farmers or sharecroppers. This way of life offered more opportunity for them and their children. Many were young married couples. These were generations filled with hope, an unrivaled work ethic and the belief in the American Dream.
History of the ATCO, Georgia Mill
Summer, 2006, City of Cartersville Newsletter
"Located on the west side of Cassville Road, just a couple miles northwest of Cartersville’s City Hall, is the former American Textile Company (ATCO) mill that dates back to 1903. The company was started by Edward Lee McClain to manufacture cloth for his horse collar pad business that began in 1884 in Greenfield, Ohio.
ATCO was unique among many other mills at that time. Mr. McClain made great efforts to create a community surrounding the plant that would offer his employees a place where they could work, live and play. The company built houses around the mill for the workers. As of 1930, the population of ATCO was 1,562; that did not include an estimated 300 employees that worked at the mill, but did not live in ATCO. In addition to the houses, the village included a church, school, baseball and basketball facilities, a swimming pool, general store, barber shop, beauty shop, tennis courts and a laundry/ice house.
ATCO faced many challenges upon the invention and expansion of the automobile. Therefore, in 1929, Goodyear purchased the plant and village from ATCO for two million dollars to make cotton tire cord. This product was needed for the company’s expanding rubber production that was due to the growth of the automobile industry.
After acquiring the village, Goodyear added 89 homes for a total of 291, but this was still not enough for all their employees; at times, Goodyear employed as many as 1,300 people. Therefore, as with ATCO, housing was distributed by seniority.
The establishment of utilities took place over many years. Electricity was supplied to the mill and village in 1904 using generators powered by coal fired steam boilers. By the late 1930’s, electricity was provided from an outside source, but remained under Goodyear’s control.
In order to preserve the attractiveness of the village, power lines were run underground, but in the late 1940’s, Georgia Power took over and allowed new power lines to be placed on poles. Water was provided to the initial section of the ATCO village merely through the hydrants located in the back yard of each home.
However, indoor plumbing was installed at the point Goodyear added the new section. Water was then provided to the mill and village from a 50,000 gallon water tower that was filled from a well at the mill. Telephone service was available to residents in June 1937, and natural gas was introduced in 1953. Up until the late 40’s, homes were heated using burning coal, however, with the enhancement of electricity and natural gas, the options for heating and cooking expanded.
Goodyear added two beautiful parks to the village. Wingfoot Park offered tables and benches, along with barbecue pits. This park had ample green area with huge shade trees for relaxing. On the west side, there was Goodyear Park that also offered spacious lawns and large trees, but also contained horseshoe pitching courts and volleyball courts. Starting in 1931, an annual Field Day event took place at Goodyear Park. Thousands of people would attend to participate in games and contests, enjoy barbecue, dancing, fireworks and the Miss ATCO beauty contest. By 1950, over 5,000 individuals were attending the annual activity.
The landscaping of the homes, parks and other locations throughout the ATCO village, gave it the reputation of being the most beautiful village in the south. This village stood out from any other. Also, unlike the City of Cartersville and Bartow County, in April 1930, ATCO implemented Daylight Savings Time. This allowed the people in the village to better enjoy the outdoor spring and summer activities.
The village became part of the City of Cartersville on December 2nd, 1957, and the village lifestyle ended around 1958. There were multiple reasons for the change, one of which was the use of the automobile.
People now had transportation to get to jobs outside of the mill. It is also assumed that Goodyear was ready to escape the real estate aspect of their business, since the homes in the village needed improvements due to age.
Many in the community, including the City of Cartersville, believed this mill and village was a piece of history that deserved recognition, therefore went to great efforts to get it noticed by the National Register of Historic Places. The city is proud to announce the ATCO-Goodyear Mill and Mill Village Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 21st, 2005 by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Historic Preservation Division.
The future plans for the building are being discussed at this time; several people are striving to have the building restored as condominiums. The city will update the community as new information becomes available."
Much of the original village still stands, but our mill that survived the Great Depression, the textile strike of 1934 and 2 World Wars, has fallen to today's times and is being torn down.
Our hearts are broken.
E.L. McClain Patent
E.L. McClain Obituary