Archive for January, 2009


January 31, 2009


From “The Maxi Page,” The Randolph Guide Senior Adult Newspaper Supplement, published November 26, 1980

The Cedar Falls Factory (“Sapona Cotton Mills”) and Covered Bridge, ca. 1940.

The first textile factory on Deep River was built at Cedar Falls. A group of Asheboro lawyers and businessmen began to promote development of such a factory in 1828; “The Manufacturing Company of the County of Randolph” was incorporated by the state legislature in February 1829. The Elliott family of Asheboro provided their grist mill site on the river to encourage investment, but the stockholders were unable to raise enough money to start construction until 1836. A wooden building housing 500 spindles was erected and powered by an overshot water wheel. The company was re-chartered in 1846 so that a new brick mill building could be built. At least two walls of this 3-story structure survive today.

In 1860 the mill operated 1500 spindles and 38 looms. producing both yarn and sheeting material. The company was one of the first in the state to use a brand name, “Cedar Falls,” on all its products. George Makepeace, a Massachusetts native, and his son, George Henry, were both superintendents of the mill during the nineteenth century. Governor Jonathon Worth one of the original 1829 incorporators, was president of the company at his death in 1869. His brother, Dr. J.M. Worth, became president and reorganized the company in 1877. At the same time Orlando R. Cox resigned his elected office of Sheriff of Randolph County to become general manager of the Cedar Falls Manufacturing Company.

On the steps of the Cedar Falls office: unknown, Orlendo R. Cox, Fletcher Cox, unknown, ca. 1890.

By 1884, under Cox’s leadership, the mill had grown to include 2,144 spindles, 30 looms and 90 employees. About 1890 he built his large Victorian home on the hill overlooking the mill; in 1895 he built a second factory, the “Sapona Manufacturing Company,” downstream from the original mill. Cedar Falls’ best-remembered period of management began in 1939, when Dr. Henry Jordan, brother of Senator B. Everett Jordan, bought the village. In 1978 Jordan’s heirs sold the property to Dixie Yarns, Inc.


January 31, 2009

Columbia Manufacturing Company, April 1886. Courtesy of Henry Bowers.



From “The Maxi Page,” The Randolph Guide Senior Adult Newspaper Supplement, published January 28, 1981


The beginnings of Ramseur go back to the year 1843, when John Allen and Henry Kivett built a saw mill at a river settlement known as “Allen’s Fall.” In 1843 these two men and three partners began building the necessary capital to organize a cotton mill; in March 1848, with the addition of seven more partners, the Deep River Manufacturing Company was incorporated. By 1850 their brick factory was in operation with 14 looms, 400 spindles, and 6 carding machines. Eight houses had been built for the workers.

The company was subsequently sold to G.H. Makepeace and Dennis Curtis of Franklinville, who operated it until October 1879. At that time three investors from outside Randolph County acquired the property: J. S. Spencer of Charlotte, who became president; A.W.E. Capel of Montgomery County, who became superintendent, and W. H. Watkins, former sheriff of Montgomery County, who was secretary-treasurer of the corporation. Capel and Watkins moved to the village and assumed influential roles in community life. The factory was reorganized as the Columbia Manufacturing Company and the village renamed Ramseur after one of Watkins’ comrades in the Civil War.

In 1894 Capel, Watkins and Spencer founded the town’s only other industry, the Alberta Chair Works. Watkins and Capel were commissioners when the town was incorporated in 1895. Watkins donated property for the sites of the Masonic lodge and local school. Watkins, called the “leading spirit and guiding genius” of Ramseur, died in 1919, but the company continued under the ownership of his son-in-law, Fletcher Craven, and under his grandson A. W. Craven. The small firm weathered the Depression but ultimately could not compete with the giant textile firms which emerged after World War II. The size of the workforce dwindled to 135 workers by 1961; Columbia Manufacturing Company was finally closed in December 1962, and its assets liquidated in January 1963. However, the economy of the town had diversified to such an extent that the economic consequences were slight.

Today the Ramseur plant of Burlington Industries is the largest single textile employer in Randolph County. Portions of the original factory building presently house a furniture assembly operation. The structure has not been disfigured by subsequent additions and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

(Demolished in 2005—more on that later).


January 29, 2009


From “The Maxi Page,” The Randolph Guide Senior Adult Newspaper Supplement, published April 29, 1981.

The Enterprise Manufacturing Company, ca. 1890.

The wooden factory was replaced circa 1915.

Coleridge was the home of the Enterprise Manufacturing Company, the southern most cotton mill built on Deep River. Its construction in 1882 was the final link in the chain of Randolph County’s water-powered textile industries which had begun to be forged in 1836. The company was organized by H.A.
Moffitt, an Asheboro merchant, and Daniel Lambert and James A. Cole, prominent citizens of southeastern Randolph. The original structure was a two-and-one-half story wooden building housing 800 spindles and 26 workers. The facilities of the corporation included a wool-carding mill, saw mill, and flour mill.

The surrounding village was known first as Cole’s Ridge and then as Coleridge, after James A. Cole, who in 1904 sold a majority interest in the company to his son-in-law, Dr. Robert L. Caveness. By 1917 it was said that “R. L. Caveness is at the head of practically everything in Coleridge,” and it was under his influence that the brick mill facilities were built. The factory (built in the 1920’s) is of utilitarian design with Tudor Revival entrance towers. The company store, bending mill, and warehouse (all built circa 1910), and the company office and Bank of Coleridge (built in the 1920’s) were all constructed in the Romanesque Revival style. Caveness also directed the town’s only other industry, the Coleridge Manufacturing Company, which made parts of bentwood chairs.

The Concord Methodist Church was built in Coleridge in 1887. Just behind the church building was located the Coleridge Academy, which included a room for the Masonic Lodge. The academy was formed in 1890 from two smaller schools, and closed in 1936. The Bank of Coleridge was founded in 1919, opened a branch in Ramseur in 1934, and moved there in 1939. The Enterprise Roller Mill, grinding wheat with steel rollers instead of stones, was the first roller mill in Randolph County. Its “Our Leader” flour was
very popular in the area. Dr. Caveness remained personally involved in the operation of the mill, although he tried to return to his medical practice in 1922.

The Enterprise Manufacturing Company Store

In 1959 the mill boasted 6,000 spindles and 150 employees, manufacturing cotton or knitting yarn and twine. In 1951, Dr. Caveness died and the business immediately began to decline. His heirs sold out to Boaz Mills of Alabama in 1954, and in 1958 the mill was closed and the equipment sold off. The buildings have since been used as warehouse space.

The village was Randolph County’s first historic district, and has been placed on the National Register or Historic Places. Its 1970 nomination stated that “the chief appeal of this site is as a picturesque example of a riverside mill seen in one of North Carolina’s oldest manufacturing sections.”

These illustrations can be found in the Randolph County Public Library’s collection of historic photographs, .

They were previously used to illustrate portions of Randolph County: 1779-1979, the county bicentennial book.


January 28, 2009

As part of my architectural inventory survey work, I not only wrote histories of Randolph County and Asheboro, but of all the 19th century Deep River mill villages.  Those thumbnail histories were not published in the final book due to lack of space, and all of them now need to be updated to reflect the last 30 years of local history.  But I’ll be reprinting them here because for many of them, those 1980/81 articles are the only histories available.


Published  2-25-1981, in “The Maxi Page,” the Randolph Guide Senior Adult Newspaper Supplement.

Worthville Mill entrance

Worthville Mill entrance

Worthville was founded in 1880 by Asheboro businessmen John Milton Worth, his son and son-in-law, and John H. Ferree of Randleman. Dr. Worth had previously taken over management of the Cedar Falls mill, and was familiar with the textile business before forming his Worth Manufacturing Company.

The mill was located at a site on Deep River known as Hopper’s Ford. The firm wove sheeting and bags, and employed 125 workers. After 1886 the firm was closely associated with the factory and village of Central Falls, acquired by Dr. Worth’s company in that year. In 1895 the Worthville factory was the larger of the two, employing over 200 persons, while the Central Falls operation employed 125.

Worthville Mill window detail

Worthville Mill window detail

Worth’s heirs sold out to Riverside Mills, Inc., in 1913, which was in turn sold to Leward Cotton Mills, Inc. At this or some other presently-unknown point, the two mill villages were separated once again. Leward Cotton Mills, a partnership between J. Stanback Lewis and Wiley Ward, two Asheboro businessmen, took over operation of the Worthville plant. They continued the careful stewardship of the Worthville community which had been a special concern of Dr. Worth. Circumstances forced the temporary closing of the mill daring the Depression, but it soon  reopened. The village was sold to Erlanger Mills of Lexington in 1948, and to Fieldcrest Mills of Eden in 1964.

Individual houses were sold off and the factory was closed in 1975 by Baxter, Kelley, Foust of South Carolina, the owners at that time. In late 1980 the mill buildings were acquired by Asheboro businessman Stuart Love, who plans to manufacture upholstery and mattress stuffing.

Despite the ups and downs of its past, Worthville remains a very well-preserved Victorian mill village.

Howgill Julian’s Fulling Mill

January 27, 2009

A fulling mill illustrated in Theatrum Machinarum Novum, 1661

An advertisement in the Southern Citizen, published in Asheboro on December 9, 1837, announced that the Fulling Mill belonging to Howgill Julian was for sale.

The ad states that the mill was located “near the mouth of Polecat Creek, four miles above the Cedar Falls cotton factory.”

Between the time of Howgill Julian’s first purchase in 1830 (DB18:284) and his last purchase in 1861 (DB23:243), hundreds of acres of Deep River property passed through Julian’s ownership. Most of it appears to be located on the north side of the river between Polecat and Bush Creeks, and interestingly, adjoins the location of the Whetstone Quarry (I’m indebted to my fellow historian Warren Dixon for pointing out that the Whetstone Quarry is apparently located today somewhere on Randolph County tax parcel #7764893536, presently the site of the City of Randleman’s wastewater treatment plant).

Howgill Julian’s Fulling Mill was evidently located on a tract of 107 acres that Julian purchased from Tobias Julian on October 13, 1830. The tract description begins “on a Maple at the mouth of the Creek… then runs North and East to a branch, then “down the said branch to the mouth at the river… thence crossing sd. River… thence up sd. River on the W. bank… thence E. crossing sd. River to the Beginning.” So the fulling mill could have been located alternatively on Polecat Creek, Deep River or “the branch,” presumably Trogdon’s Branch which enters Deep River from the North opposite Worthville near the present-day bridge carrying NCSR 2122 across the river. At any rate, it was downstream of the Whetstone Quarry.

It may be that the sites of both the Whetstone Quarry and the Fulling Mill now lie under the waters of the Worthville mill pond, which impounds water just below the mouth of Polecat Creek.

The Worthville mill dam still stands just northwest of the site of the former bridge which carried NCSR 2128 across the river, just to the East of the Worthville cotton mill, originally known as the John M.Worth Manufacturing Company, and built in 1880. The mill at Worthville was built at a site know before the Civil War as “Hopper’s Ford” (See the entries at p. 128 of my survey book, entries R:48 and R:49).

By the way, a Fulling Mill was necessary to clean and thicken the weave of woolen cloth. Woolen cloth is a relative rarity in Randolph County today, but the presence of a woolen mill indicates that in the 19th century there were not only handweavers producing enough cloth that a mill could be profitable, but that farmers kept sufficient sheep to produce the wool needed to weave the cloth.  At a fulling mill, woolen cloth was washed in a nasty-smelling combination of boiling urine and fuller’s earth, to remove the natural grease from the wool; then the cloth was beaten in troughs by wooden hammers lifted and dropped by a water wheel.

This is the only Randolph County fulling mill of which I’m aware… do you know of others?

Randolph Hospital II

January 24, 2009
Randolph Hospital Postcard circa 1940

Randolph Hospital Postcard circa 1940

I discovered one more postcard view of the original Randolph Hospital building before 1945, and I just had to share it, since the original is one of my favorite Randolph County buildings.

In my first post about the hospital I mentioned the relationship of the old building to the new addition, and last week I took a few pictures of that.

Original Wing undermined by Loading Docks

Original Wing undermined by Loading Docks

But as I said, the McCrary Wing added in 1951 really changed everything, and the postcard is a good comparison.   The monumental stairs were destroyed and the main entrance and lobby was reoriented to the original ground floor level.  The crest on top of the original center block was partially re-used, but the most geometric sections of the Art Deco design were not replaced, along with the plaque inset into the front of the steps.  This simplification of the original 1920s/Chrysler Building-style Art Deco reflects the refinement of the style into the more streamlined “Art Moderne” of the late 30s and 40s.

Original entrance

Original entrance

1950 Revision

1950 Revision

But I especially wanted to call your attention to the end of the County Home post where I spoke about the Decline in Pride in Front Yards.  Sadly, the hospital now ranks right up there with the worst of them.  Even when the 1951 wing was altered the relationship of the building to Fayetteville Street, lowering the entrance and moving it closer to the street, yes, but still the building largely retained its monumental position atop the ridge between Fayetteville and Ward streets.  Its ‘front yard’ was landscaped in a park-like setting, with maple trees that framed the building.  The front entrance remained the primary entrance, and the semi-circular ambulance driveway along the south end of the building was retained until a new emergency room was built decades later.

Yard with Maple Trees replaced by Parking Lot

Yard with Maple Trees replaced by Parking Lot

Since the 1970s the primary entrance has been hard to find; the McCrary Wing entrance still LOOKED like where to go, but it was locked; the real patient/visitor entrance was hard to find on the North Side, and the western Emergency Room entrance on White Oak Street was adopted as the primary street address but only provided a circuitous route to the patient lobby and cafeteria.  The new 2008 entrances to the Cancer Center from Fayetteville Street and the Outpatient Center on the north provide two more monumental entrances to confuse the casual visitor.

Cancer Center and Outpatient Entrance- from the northeast

Cancer Center and Outpatient Entrance- from the northeast

Emergency Wing from the west

Emergency Wing from the west

It’s interesting that the hospital has now spent about 30 years running away from its original Fayetteville Street entrance, only to end up with a new Fayetteville Street entrance (indeed, there are now 4 major entrances on 3 out of four sides of the hospital’s block of streets).  I believe this just goes to show that logical orientation is determined not by the needs of an institution, but by the expectations of the public.  Citizens passing by on Fayetteville Street, the de facto main street of Asheboro, expect the hospital to be entered from that street.  I am glad that the building is once again responding to public expectations, especially since the hospital additions constitute, along with the 2002 county courthouse, the only Class-A office building design and construction in Asheboro since the 1960s.

Fishing in Deep River, 1922

January 23, 2009

Here is an anonymous letter to the editor dealing with what the writer believes is the unappreciated patriotic history of Bell’s Mill and the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.

It’s something I found while reading the September 28, 1922 edition of The Courier, published then in Asheboro once a week.

What interests me more than the over-wrought history is the author’s description of recreational fishing and picnicking in the ’20’s; it has been a while since a net or a seine was standard equipment for fishing on the Deep.

That’s why I’ve coupled it to the above photograph, also probably dating to the 1920s or 30s, which has lost any identification other than it came out of a handful of snapshots I bought in an Asheboro second-hand store.

The photo at least can serve to illustrate this happy, long-gone day at Walker’s Mill.

Here is a transcription of the article (typos corrected):

Fishing in Deep River.

Some days ago quite a number of the people in the community of Walker’s Mill, on Deep River, met at the mill for a day’s fishing. It was one of those days that come occasionally in life that makes us feel glad that we are permitted to be present. The day was lovely, and there was that unmistakeable evidence of hospitality and good will among the entire number present that caused those of us out of the community to know that we were welcome. Some time near 12 o’clock the ladies began to fry fish as they were brought in from the men handling the seines. This was kept up till near three o’clock, when they quit fishing, after having caught more than two bushels of fish, some of them weighing as much as six pounds.

Under a table groaning with other good things to eat, and then piled up with fried fish, it was all that any human could ask.

In looking around the place I was told by one of the citizens there that this place was once known as the Bell Mill. It then quickly dawned on me that this was the place where Cornwallis marched his army the next day after the hard-fought battle at Guilford Courthouse. The effect of which was to break down the English power in our state, subdue the Tories and was the blow that broke the chain of tyranny which bound our country to England. For a month the American people had been in breathless anxiety. Cornwallis had sought eagerly a trial by battle with Gen. Greene, but after this he avoided any other conflict with the American army.

I would not help but compare in my mind, the happy and peaceful spirit which characterized the social gathering on that day, with the troublesome times, which the people must have undergone, when there was encamped on the very same ground that well-trained and dangerous foe to American freedom, the British army under control of the skilled and brave Lord Cornwallis.

It was a pleasure to be with these people on the day first referred to, and to know that they have in their veins the very same blood that marked their ancestors as people of pure patriotism, unsullied devotion to liberty, and unyielding opposition to every form of tyranny. The Bell old mill has been replaced by an up to date roller mill, which is now owned by Mr. Will Coletrane, Mr. Routh, and I think one other.

May the people of that section live long and happy, and again meet at their annual fishing place.


The “County Home”

January 22, 2009

From The Courier, Asheboro, North Carolina, June 8, 1922:

“The new county home which has been under construction for the past few months has been completed. The home is built on the land which the county commissioners purchased of Mr. R.J. Hopkins, a mile outside the corporate limits of Asheboro on the highway leading from Washington to Atlanta. The cost of the buildings are $28,000, heating $4,100, plumbing and water $3,000. The farm cost $8,500. The total cost of the new county home is $43,600.

Superintendent N.H. Ferguson and his family together with the old inmates of the county home moved about the middle of May. There are fifteen white and five colored inmates. The entire equipment, bedding, and everything used is new. The cost of the furniture, etc., has not yet been estimated. Randolph County can boast of having one of the best county homes in North Carolina. It is modern and up-to-date in every respect. This is the second county home that Randolph County has ever had. The old location was purchased between 1860 and 1870. The old location was purchased by Governor Jonathan Worth.

Governor Jonathan Worth, who as a representative in the legislature from Randolph County in 1854 and ’56, introduced a bill providing for the erection of a penitentiary in North Carolina and for every county to have a county home. There was a great deal of dissatisfaction over this but it soon became so popular that Dr. [sic- “Dr.” John Milton Worth was the Governor’s brother] Worth’s fight in the legislature resulted in his election as the governor of North Carolina.

Randolph County within a few years after that arranged for the purchase of the old location and the erection of the first county home. The influence which probably prompted Gov. Worth to use his influence in the legislature was a visit of Dorothy Dixon [sic- Dorothea Dix] to North Carolina, who went about in the interest of humanity recommending the caring for criminals and unfortunate people. Up until that time there had never been any fires in the jails of North Carolina, and Judge Tourgee, who was presiding in this district, ordered that fires be built in the jails for the comfort of the prisoners.

Randolph has needed the new county home for many years.”

This article is priceless for its contemporary description of the County Home, a building which has only been progressively less respected as time has passed.

My 1978 survey and 1985 book did not include the County Home because it was then barely 60 years old, even though it had (and still has) great architectural interest.

To speak to a few of the writer’s historical non sequiturs: Judge Albion W. Tourgee was one of North Carolina’s most famous (back in the day, they would have said ‘notorious’) Reconstruction Era carpetbaggers. A New York native who served with the Union army in the South and later settled in Greensboro, he served as a Superior Court Judge for the Piedmont district and actually wrote North Carolina’s first Code of Civil Procedure. It may well be true that Judge Tourgee first ordered that the cells of the Randolph County jail be heated. Why this historical tidbit merited inclusion in this article is unclear, unless the writer somehow conflated the county jail and the county home, even though they had always been separate.

The claims about Gov. Jonathan Worth’s central role in reforming the system of poor relief seems more suspect. I have not found in published contemporary legal books any revisions of the poor laws from the 1854-56 session of the legislature. Worth’s “influence,” as a member of the House of Commons at that time, would have been minimal compared to his service as wartime Treasurer and as Governor from 1865-68. Worth was removed as Governor by the military supervisor of the Carolinas, and his political enemy W.W. Holden was installed as governor. The Constitution of 1868, written by men such as A.W. Tourgee, was passed almost immediately upon Worth’s removal from office, and it did make some substantial changes to the “poor law.”

Worth would have been very supportive of the relief of indigent people, as this had been for hundreds of years a central concern of all Quakers. As Governor, in fact, Worth faced unprecedented numbers of needy constituents who had been beggared by the war, and had to deal with distributing donations sent to the state for their support. “Finding it impossible to attend to the proper dispensation of the donations committed to my charge for the use of the indigent of this State,” Worth wrote to A.U. Tomlinson on May 15, 1867, “I obtained the consent of…the ministers of the four principal churches in this city, to take the labor off my hands. All that has been committed to my charge, they have control over.” [Correspondence of Gov. Jonathan Worth, 1909, quoted in Randolph County, 1779-1979, p. 92] Tomlinson, of Bush Hill, had complained that Worth had “overlooked” the needy of Randolph County; the harassed Governor responded that “There has been neither carelessness nor improper discrimination in the distribution of this bounty—but for want of proper information… If Randolph has been overlooked it must be attributed to the failure of the authorities to report its needs…”

Indigent relief had in fact been considered a function of local county government since the constitution of 1777, when “An Act Providing for the Support of the Poor” was passed by the General Assembly. The Act was later codified as Chapter 89 in the Revised Statutes of North Carolina (1837), and as Chapter 86 of the Revised Code (1855). The revisions of 1868 were codified as Chapter 88 of Battle’s Revisal (1873).

From 1777 to 1846 seven “Wardens of the Poor” were elected by “the freemen… of every county” meeting together at the courthouse on Easter Monday. The Court of Wardens were charged with the “maintenance of the poor,” and from 1817 could support them through the imposition of a Poor Tax, which the County Justices could levy. In 1831 the Justices in each county were authorized “when they deem necessary” to buy land and to “cause to be erected poor houses and other out buildings for the… support of the poor.” The Wardens were responsible for the oversight of the Poor House, but its actual daily operation was “annually let out to the lowest bidder;” that Overseer of the Poor was employed to “superintend the business… and to do all such matters and things as they may deem expedient, for the promotion of the said Poor House and the comfort of the poor” (sections 12 & 13, Revised Statutes, p. 471).

In 1798, the Wardens were first charged with the care of aged and infirm slaves whose owners had failed to provide “food, raiment and lodging” for them. Any citizen could report that “a slave is in a suffering condition,” and the Wardens would investigate, provide for the indigent slave, and charge the owner (section 19, ibid).

After 1846 the county Justices appointed the Wardens of the Poor, and were authorized to pay them for their services. The Constitution of 1868 transferred all these powers to the newly-created County Commissioners, but their responsibility to provide for the “maintenance…comfort and well-ordering” of the poor remained substantially the same (Battle’s Revisal, Ch. 27, section 24, p. 275).

From an architectural standpoint, the 1922 county home is an interesting example of a transition from the boxy turn-of-the-century Craftsman or “American Foursquare” style of residential design, to the Bungalow style. The plan of the complex of buildings is the familiar service wing-and-hyphen “plantation house” design that goes all the way back to English Baroque examples, and was first seen in America in the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg.

Originally situated on a hilltop and oriented toward South Fayetteville Street, the complex presented a familiar, comfortable and even upscale façade that ran counter to the traditional parental admonition, “you’ll send me to the Poor House.” The main block has a residential face and a two-story porch that makes it look like a more modern version of the Coffin-Makepeace House in Franklinville. The whole composition is reminiscent of that house, in fact, as the Makepeace House also originally had service wings connected to the main block by porch hyphens.

The complex is still owned by Randolph County, and currently used for surplus property storage. It is afflicted with the same vague and almost always untrue “it’s full of asbestos” curse that doomed so many other 20th-century institutional structures, such as the Ramseur Elementary School. It is also suffering from the late-20th century disease afflicting both homes and institutions, the loss of pride in its entrance yard. In this case, the semicircular drive has been closed, and the impressive oak grove between the County home and the railroad track has been repurposed to house recycling bins and dumpsters. The lower-class residential downscaling of the facility is complete from trash to chain link fencing, defunct vehicles, and cast-off upholstered furniture on the front porch.

The Whetstone Quarry

January 21, 2009

A Greek Whetstone quarry,


In The Woodwright’s Companion (UNC Press, 1981), Roy Underhill quotes a hundred-year-old report by an obscure geologist L. S. Griswold, “Whet Stones and the Novaculites of Arkansas,” Annual Report of the Geological Survey of Arkansas for 1890 III (1892), which describes North Carolina whetstones as the standard to evaluate those in Arkansas.

“On the Salisbury Road in Randolph County, near Deep River, is a bed of similar kind [to McPherson’s Quarry in Chatham County], highly valued by the inhabitants” (The Woodwright’s Companion, p. 63).

On “the 29th day of the 8th month in the year of Our Lord 1796,” Levy Pennington of Randolph County sold to George Mendenhall of Guilford County, “for the Sum of Twenty Pounds Hard Money,” 20 acres of land on Deep River “Including the Whetstone Quarry” (Deed Book 8, Page 402).

George Mendenhall was the founder of the Guilford County village of Jamestown in 1800, and owned a number of mill sites and properties in the Piedmont, including at one time the future site of Franklinville. Mendenhall’s heirs sold a partial interest in the tract to a Robert Parrish of Philadelphia, PA, in 1811 (DB 12, Page 301), and another partial interest to Stephen Gardner in 1813 (DB13, Page 271).

The 20-acre whetstone quarry tract was cut off from Levi Pennington’s original tract, sold by his heirs in January, 1805, to William Watkins (DB11, Page 127). The larger parcel was described as 135 acres “in the fork between Pole Cat and Deep River… except a whetstone quarry which has been before supposed to be 20 acres…”

By drawing out the metes and bounds descriptions from these deeds, it appears that the whet stone quarry was (and should still be) located on the north bank of Deep River approximately 3600 feet upstream from its junction with the mouth of Polecat Creek.

If anyone has ever been there, please let me know!

Solomon Hendricks’ Powder Mill

January 20, 2009

1816 Powder mill in Orange County, NY .

One of the great sources of Randolph County history is Bill (William T.) Auman’s work on the region during the Civil War.

Two published samples of his work are “Neighbor Against Neighbor: The Inner Civil War in the Randolph County Area of Confederate North Carolina.” (North Carolina Historical Review 61 (January 1984): 59-92), and “The Heroes of America in Civil War North Carolina,” (co-authored with David D. Scarboro in the North Carolina Historical Review 58 (October 1981): 326-64).

Unfortunately his magnum opus, “North Carolina’s Inner Civil War: Randolph County,” his 1978 Masters Thesis
at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, remains unpublished, but a copy is in the Randolph Room collection at the Asheboro Public Library.

The treasure trove of archival letters, diaries, government reports and military records that Bill found and mined 30 years ago will yield jewels of local history for generations to come.

For example, on page 87 he recounts the arrival in Asheboro of a 60-man cavalry unit under the command of Lt. William A. Pugh. Pugh and his men were detailed from Raleigh on Feb. 1, 1863, to assist Col. Henry Steed, the commander of Randolph County’s Home Guard, the 63rd Militia Unit. Pugh’s mission was to hunt down deserters, but Bill’s analysis shows that “much of their conduct was every bit as barbaric as any attributed to the deserters” (p.89).

Auman quotes a letter from N.W. Ayers to Governor Zeb Vance, dated March 10, 1863 (p.93, quoting the original in the Z.B. Vance Papers in the Division of Archives and History). Lt. Pugh’s men “burnt the Little Powder mill of Solomon Hendricks—They sent 2 or 3 men to act as deserters & try to get some powder, & as soon as Hendricks showed a willingness to sell to them in that capacity, they destroyed his works—”

This sole reference to what was once a vital need in rural Randolph- gun powder for firearms- led me to start some research which still isn’t complete.

Solomon Hendrix (sic), aged 74 years old, is listed as resident #423 in the Census of 1860. His initial purchase of property occurred in December, 1838, when he was granted 100 acres by the State of North Carolina, located on Mill Creek adjacent to Craven, Trogdon, Free and Lowe (Deed Book 23, Page 67). In 1865 Solomon Hendricks sold 80 acres on Mill Creek to Elizabeth Allred, noting that he had previously conveyed part of the tract to his son John Hendricks, and that it adjoined the 150-acre tract of Tobias Hendricks (Deed Book 33, Page 147).

It’s not yet clear what the relationship between Tobias and Solomon Hendricks was, nor the relationship to Samuel Hendricks, the first Hendricks to be found in the county deed records. Tobias Hendricks was granted 150 acres on Mill Creek (adjoining Joseph Hendricks, Craven, Aston, and “the Mine” in 1799, after entering the grant application in 1793 (Deed Book 9, Page 56). Samuel Hendricks began to acquire property on Mill Creek in 1796, continuing until 1815 (Deed Books 6, Page 216; 8, Page 34; 9, Page 87; 12, Page 217; 23, Page 165; 24, Page 199).

Analysis of the deed records shows that the Solomon Hendricks property lay somewhere near the head of Mill Creek, a tributary of Deep River which begins in the vicinity of what is now called Iron Mountain. A deed record of Samuel Craven, apparently a neighbor of Hendricks, indicates that the original name of Iron Mountain may have been “Trogdon’s Mountain” (Deed Book 30, Page 272). The Craven property adjoined Solomon and John Hendricks to the west; to the south lay the aforementioned Joseph Hendricks and “the Mine” property. The Mine is without doubt the iron mine which supplied the Bush Creek Iron Works during and before the Civil War (to be the source of another entry here soon).

Anyone out there know anything else about Solomon Hendricks’ Powder Mill?