Franklinville Civil War Trails Sign

Here is the final wording submitted to the Civil War Trails committee for the sign approved by the TDA to be erected at the Franklinsville Mfg. Co.:

Deep River Cotton Factories

Randolph County’s anti-slavery and anti-war sentiments as well as its support for the confederate cause can be seen in the antebellum factories which lined Deep River.  To your right is the Franklinville Manufacturing Company, built in 1838 by Quaker abolitionists, and the oldest standing water-powered textile mill in North Carolina. Downstream were the Island Ford and Columbia factories; upstream were Cedar Falls, Union, and the Freeman and Oakdale factories near Jamestown.

During the war, the Franklinville and Cedar Falls mills were operated in partnership, spinning cotton yarn and weaving sheeting which was cut and sewn into uniform underwear, then distributed to North Carolina troops by the State Quartermaster.

The local factories organized and equipped a volunteer troop known as the “Randolph Hornets” (Company M, 22nd N.C. Regiment), headquartered at nearby Middleton Academy. The sites of the Academy and Bush Creek Iron Works are a short walk up the riverside rail trail.

The heart of Franklinville dates to the antebellum period, including “underground railroad” activist Elisha Coffin’s home (1835), the mill (1838/1851), Hanks Masonic Lodge (1850) and homes of factory workers and supervisors.  The graves of veterans, including Lt. Elisha Horney, a mill owner’s grandson killed at Gettysburg, can be found in the hilltop Methodist cemetery.

SIDEBAR: Nearby Bush Creek Iron Works was the only iron foundry operating in the county during the war.  Ore mined 2 miles southwest at Iron Mountain was cast into “pigs” in a charcoal-fired furnace and forged by water-powered trip hammers into bar iron.  The high-quality iron was reserved for special projects such as propeller shafts and machinery for coastal ironclads.


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