A Southern Town's Past and Future
Railroads and Farming
In 1873, the town of Central was established as a train headquarters where engines were changed. The town was named for its central location between Atlanta and Charlotte. Central rapidly filled with dispatchers, conductors, engineers, porters, and other employees of the Atlanta and Richmond Air-Line Company. The Morgan Mercantile Store was one of several in town that sprang up during this era to supply needed merchandise.
Central's boom town period abruptly ended in 1897 when Southern Railway, which had taken over the rail service, moved their headquarters from Central to Greenville. Most of the railroad employees moved with it. Central continued to serve farmers as a place to stop, to have cotton ginned and cornmeal ground. J.N. Morgan's daughter Jessie, who lived in this house until 1994, recalled the customers who were farmers, "You know back in the days of cotton farming, we would run people all through the year, bill them all their supplies and what it would take to live and make a crop, and in the fall, they'd come 'roud to settle up."
The Textile Mill and the Morgan Store
The Morgan Store gained a large new group of customers in 1903 with the opening of the Issaqueena Cotton Mill. Workers' houses were built around the mill, which were just down Church Street from the store. You can see many of these homes, now privately owned, just a block from where you are standing. The mill remains operational.
J.N. Morgan assumed full ownership of the Morgan Store upon his brother's death in 1914, and continued to run it until his own death in 1923. His wife Minnie and daughters Jessie and Jennie then took over the business. For more than two decades they hired managers to run the establishment while keeping the books themselves. When their manager retired in 1949, the sisters decided to close down the store. The building passed through other hands until 1974, when it was razed. Newspaper accounts describe its demolition as a sad day in Central's history. The Morgan Store held an important place in Central's evolution from a railroad center to a cotton mill town.
Discovering Central's History Today
Many historic buildings remain in Central, despite the loss of others, including the old Morgan Store. You can discover the buildings featured here as you travel through town.
The Last Train
by Jessie Morgan
At twenty minutes after nine
We hear a whistle blow
The Crescent glides into our view,
Its coaches all aglow.
Like a shining meteor it
Goes swiftly out of sight
To visit distance cities as
It travels through the night.
Once it was one of many trains
That traveled on this line,
The Pullmans filled with passengers
And diner service fine.
But now, the Southern Crescent is
The only train today
That is left of Southern glory
And price of yesterday.
And soon the time is drawing near
When there will be no train
A golden era passes on
But memories remain.