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.
RANDOLPH COUNTY MILL VILLAGES: Worthville
Published 2-25-1981, in “The Maxi Page,” the Randolph Guide Senior Adult Newspaper Supplement.
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.
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.