One hundred years ago this was home to the first fully functioning electric lumber mill east of the Mississippi River. Sumter Lumber Company owned the mill in the town whose population exceeded 2,500 during the 1920s and 30s.
One hundred years ago this was home to the first fully functioning electric lumber mill east of the Mississippi River. Sumter Lumber Company owned the mill in the town whose population exceeded 2,500 during the 1920s and 30s.
While researching his family’s history, a Tupelo area man has produced a documentary about when the small Electric Mills community in Kemper County was a bustling town centered on the first electric mill east of the Mississippi.

Mooreville’s Lee Thompson has always been interested in his family history but started serious research about three or four years ago into the place his grandparents called home. His work morphed into a passion to produce a record of the all but disappeared community that has resulted in a roughly two hour documentary and a website that features pictures, videos, a brief history of the community and blog posts.

“Electric Mills will forever be a special place for my family and me,” Thompson said. “I killed my first deer and my first turkey there. I remember fishing in the lake with Mr. Wilson who always caught more fish than I did. My website and this documentary are dedicated to those memories.”

Thompson drew on his background and experience from his wedding and event videography company.

Electric Mills is a once burgeoning town of 2,500 at its peak that has dwindled to small community of less than 50 people after the mill closed.

Thompson’s grandparents on his mothers side, Pauline and E.A. “Big Daddy” Temple, lived there when it was still Bogda Station. He said he worked for both lumber companies that ran the town as store manger, post master and bookkeeper.

According to his research, Thompson said it was the site of the first fully functioning electric lumber mill east of the Mississippi River and the largest single full-time unit producer of shortleaf yellow pine lumber in the U.S.

The mill was relocated to Kemper County after the Sumter Lumber Company’s mill near Livingston, Ala., burned.

The new location was known as Bogda Station, named after a nearby creek and was already the site of a sawmill built by the Harrington and Cochran Lumber Company.

The post office would open on April 22, 1905, and the town changed its name to Electric Mills six years later on June 10, 1911, and would be incorporated two years later in 1913.

“They renamed it because of the uniqueness of this new lumber manufacturing process,” Thompson said.

The mill went electric when production engineers developed a way to utilize certain material waste from the saw mill that included slabs, sawdust, and planing mill chips. Production engineers decided to fire a boiler with these items and other waste that needed to be disposed of to produce steam to power the electrical generators.

Thompson’s grandfather would go on to buy a significant portion of the land the town once sat on after it was abolished in 1942. He continued to serve the small community until his death in 1958 when his wife, Thompson’s grandmother, took over as “mayor, marshal, doctor, judge, advice giver, and whatever else was needed” until her death in 1985.

Thompson said that he has put a lot of time and money into this project and is proud that he has something to show for it.

“I put a lot of my own resources into this project,” he said. “It was a lot of work but I am really glad to tell the stories of these people and places that have been a big part of my life and I hope that people can watch this documentary and learn something.”

For more information on the documentary, which runs just under two hours, or to contact Thompson visit his website electricmills.org.