When I think of poultry, I usually think of Northeast Georgia, but this building near the historic West Georgia town of Molena, branded “Jack Pilkenton Turkey Farm”, sent me down a research rabbit hole. I didn’t find any rabbits but instead found millions of turkeys! Mr. Pilkenton raised turkeys on this land, adjacent to the Whiskey Bonding Barn, which he bought and incorporated into the operation in 1951.
Though the town’s website doesn’t mention it today, Molena for a time considered itself the “Turkey Capital of Georgia”. There was even a turkey queen to help promote this fact. It may not have been officially designated by the powers that be, but it was source of local pride and it employed a lot of people.
Louis Lester McCrary, Sr., who began raising the birds on a small scale in 1932, was one of the first to see their business potential, and his family was one of the last to be involved in the business, which was gone from Molena by the 1980s. An article in the 23 July 1970 edition of the Atlanta Constitution noted that the McCrarys were raising as many as half a million birds per year. At least eight families were involved in the industry at some time or another between the 1930s and the 1980s.