A new sign proclaiming the history of the Fullerville Jail and the former mill community will be dedicated today during a 10 a.m. ceremony, taking away any excuses of ignorance from those who may not know the importance of the building located across from what used to be the green Villa Rica Hosiery Mill, behind a house on the right side of the road coming from the east.
“Come as you are and enjoy this special hour in preserving our history of Villa Rica,” said Perry “Bill” Bailey, who was instrumental in preserving the jail and the community’s history.
According to the marker, the Fullerville Jail served the city of Fullerville from the time of its incorporation until the city’s annexation into Villa Rica in 1956. But the one-room jail is not the original — local lore has it that a wooden jail was burned to the ground in the late 1920s or early 1930s by a prisoner attempting to make his escape, which led to construction of the more sturdy block structure that sits in Fullerville today.
Mainly a mill community during its 45-year existence, Fullerville was bustling with industry that included a cotton mill, a hosiery mill, a company store, several eateries, a lumber yard and a casket company.
Since its annexation into Villa Rica and the later closing of the mills, the Fullerville community was largely forgotten. A few years ago, Bailey, a son of Fullerville who now lives in Alabama, began his quest to preserve the jail and the history of his hometown. He founded the PBB Fullerville Jail Committee in 2008, a group of five people led by local resident Joyce Fain who raise funds for the jail project and shine the spotlight on Fullerville itself.
Bailey’s efforts have led to a fence being installed around the jail building to protect it since its steel door was stolen. A flag pole was erected and U.S. and Georgia flags were donated to fly over it every day. The city is also in the early stages of a trailhead project that will include parking at the jail site. The dedication of the new signage proclaiming the history of the building and the community is the first step in that process.
“Were very excited about it because it will be the last thing we do for awhile, at least until the trailhead goes in,” said Fain, vice president of the PBB Fullerville Jail Committee. “We want as many people as possible there.”
The community also has new sidewalks and the street running into the Fullerville Soccer Complex was renamed Sarah Sauls Drive after one of the area’s most influential late residents.
The city has ordered a new steel door for the jail, using funds raised by the PBB Fullerville Jail Committee. But the door won’t be received for installation in time for today’s event.
Bailey documented Fullerville’s history with his book, “West Georgia Mills and Their People, The Sons and Daughter of Fullerville, Georgia.” Copies of that book, as well as Bailey’s follow-up recipe book, “West Georgia Cooking,” will be available for purchase at the marker dedication and he will sign them on request.
Guests speakers at the marker dedication include Mayor J. Collins, Councilman Rusty Dean, Deputy City Manager Jeff Reese, Bailey, and Sheila Sauls Corn, daughter of the late former mayor of Fullerville and his wife, Cecil and Sarah Sauls.