History of the Cowan Historic Mill

A Return Home to Acworth

John Cowan (top left) went west in the late 1850's to seek his fortune in Montanta's Black Hills. This famous picture shows the "FOUR GEORGIANS" who are credited with founding Helena, Montanta and striking gold at their mine they called the "Last Chance Gulch."

After the Last Chance Gulch discovery, John Cowan returned home to Acworth and built the mill, circa 1870, in order to manufacture flour with friend Tarlton Moore. This three- story mill originally made very high quality flour called "Lynette Flour" and through the generations this mill manufactured flour, textiles and tapestries. The mill ceased operations when it mysteriously burned in 1992.

"The Four Georgians"

As the story goes, John Cowan who was in his 30's, leaves his hometown of Acworth and travels to the Black Hills of Montana with his two nephews Frank and Tom Cowan, John Boring, Bill Palmer and Henry Rusk from neighboring Forsyth County. Together they travel the wilderness looking for gold while they battle Indians, wild animals, weather and other gold-seeking competitors.

After many months of prospecting with nothing to show for all their work, John Boring and Tom Cowan head home. Indians kill John Boring, and Tom Cowan makes it home ... leaving behind John Cowan, Frank Cowan, Bill Palmer and Henry Rusk, thus their name "The Four Georgians."

A $20 Nugget of Gold

John Cowan and his band of prospectors spend the next several years looking for gold in the Black Hills. In the spring of 1864 they reach a tributary of the Missouri River in Montana where a tired and very disheartened John Cowan told his men, "Boys, this gulch is our last chance," and on that very day they found a $20 nugget of gold!

They were overcome by their crazed emotions, driven by their pursuit for gold, and some very bad Indians who chased them away from their digging.

Cowan Builds the "Old Mill"

In a few days when they felt it was safe, they returned to the site at "Last Chance Gulch" and prospected there for the next three years. The "Last Chance Gulch" became one of the largest gold discoveries in the history of the United States. All four men returned to the Acworth area.

Frank Cowan marries and names his daughter Helena, Bill Palmer marries and lives in Cherokee County and Henry Rusk returns to Forsyth County, marries and has seven children. John Cowan returned to Acworth a very wealthy man, he builds the "Old Mill", never marries and becomes a very respected businessman in the Acworth community.