At first, services of all kinds were supplied by the mill owners. The tradition of paternalism was strong in the Georgia’s 19th– and 20th-century cotton mills, and mill owners wanted their workers to be content even though wages were low (management did not want to see strikes or unions). In the case of the Athens Manufacturing Company, Robert Bloomfield was a very engaged mill owner; according to Henry Hunt, a man who was born in the factory’s village in 1871, “Bloomfield visited every house and knew every man, woman, and child that lived in his village by their first names.”
For his workers, Bloomfield supplied housing and groceries (the cost of which were deducted from their paychecks). He also supplied holidays for watermelon season and Christmas. In the realm of human services, Bloomfield also provided some care for the sick and a seasonal school to teach children the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic.