CEDAR FALLS

RANDOLPH COUNTY MILL VILLAGES: Cedar Falls

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.

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5 Responses to “CEDAR FALLS”

  1. Bill Caswell Says:

    When was the covered bridge at Cedar Falls replaced? I am working on a project to document the former covered bridge of the US and Canada. All the information we receive is made available on our website, http://www.lostbridges.org, for other researchers. I would appreciate any information and pictures of former covered bridges in Randolph County.

  2. Glen DuLac Says:

    June 2014, I bought the old Victorian house, that Mr. Cox built.

    How can I get more info on the structure.

    Thank you, reply, glencsp@yahoo.com

    • macwhatley Says:

      I live in Franklinville so we are near neighbors. You can check out the paragraph on the house in my 1985 architectural history of the county, but otherwise you will just have to do research. I would start with the 3 published collections of Cedar Falls oral history that Henry Bowes and the historical society have done. Deed records won’t tell much, except the chain of ownership. Old newspapers on microfilm might tell more, but are not indexed. Good luck!

  3. Shirley Alston Says:

    Sadie Lane was a Mulato woman that lived there with her husband, George W. Lane, sons and one daughter. I am a great, great grandaughter. I am looking for information on her. She use to wash clothes for the Mill Workers. Does anyone have any information on her. My name is Shirley M. Alston. Sadie Ceola Alston is my mother. Contact me if you have any information. I live in Climax, NC>

    • macwhatley Says:

      Cedar Falls has its own little historical society and museum, and has published several books of reminiscences. Henry Bowers is the head of it; I will see if he has heard of the Lanes. I’m not familiar with them from Franklinville, but based on the surname, they probably came from the Ramseur area. The white Lanes were married into the I.H. Foust family, who were wealthy slave owners. Their house and farm was on Reed Creek.

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