In September of 2007, I wrote about Preston Born, who was the last home milk delivery person in the Atlanta area. A Crier reader informed me that Born has recently discontinued delivery service to homes.
He continued his delivery service to homes through 2017, which marked one hundred years since the locally well-known R. L. Mathis began their milk delivery. Born will continue to deliver milk to businesses and schools.
Since writing that article in 2007, I’ve learned there were many dairies in DeKalb County and a large portion of those were in Chamblee. According to A Century in North DeKalb: The Story of the First Baptist Church of Chamblee, there were 200 dairies in DeKalb County. DeKalb County was the largest producer of Grade A milk in the south and had more dairies than any other Georgia county.
A map of Chamblee dairies in 1939 shows thirty-three dairies. The Pierce Certified Dairy, W. O. Pierce Dairy, and P. E. Pierce Dairy were located on both sides of North Peachtree Road, between North Shallowford Road and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. Irvindale (previously P. E. Hyde Dairy) and Chatham Dairies were located across from the railroad tracks. A dairy on Hardee Avenue is identified as Camp Gordon Dairy. Many of the people of Chamblee were employed as dairy hands and dairy truck drivers and the milk products were delivered to Atlanta.
Former Chamblee Mayor “Dub” Brown told of living and working at the Brown family dairy farm in an oral history recorded in October 1987 at DeKalb History Center. His family owned dairies along Buford Highway in Chamblee. Brown’s parents, two sisters, and two brothers all worked on the dairy farm.
He said among the many dairies that existed in Chamblee, when he returned from service in WWII, only Pierce, Irvindale, and Tuggle Dairies were still in business. Brown went on to own Brown Auto Service in Chamblee for sixty-two years and was mayor of Chamblee for 18 years.
James W. and Mattie Azilee Eison Donaldson owned a dairy farm along what is now N. Shallowford Road, across from Pernoshal Park in Dunwoody. Their son, W. T. Donaldson shared the story of the family dairy a few years ago. He was born in the family home that sat along what was then known as Donaldson Road.
The Donaldsons also delivered their milk to Atlanta, because everyone living nearby had their own cow. When Mr. Donaldson was old enough to drive, he would deliver milk in a Chevrolet pickup truck. He woke up early enough to make his deliveries before attending Chamblee High School. W. T. Donaldson served in the Pacific during World War II.
Another Dunwoody dairy was owned by the Kirby family and sat on their property along Chamblee Dunwoody Road where the Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage is located today. Sue Kirby Jameson wrote in her memoirs that the dairy business saved the family during the years of The Great Depression.
Thank you to the folks of The Chamblee History Project for sharing some of their wonderful dairy photographs. The next Chamblee History Project meeting will be held at IDEA Gallery, 5346 Peachtree Road, Chamblee, on Monday, Feb. 26 at 7 .pm. Contact Amanda Mellies at amandamellies@ reagan.com for more information about this group’s work to preserve Chamblee’s history.