Archive for the ‘Franklinville’ Category

Franklinsville Manufacturing Company: A Pictorial History

June 22, 2009
Franklinsville Manufacturing Company

Franklinsville Manufacturing Company

(This was partially written years ago as part of a walking-tour brochure of Franklinville, but I revised it recently to put a better face on the rather sad present condition of this historic factory, which is now Randolph County’s 3rd designated historic landmark.)

The 140-year story of the Franklinsville Manufacturing Company has one of the best-documented visual histories of any North Carolina cotton textile factory.  Portrait photographs of stockholders are known dating from the mid-1850s, the same time a professional artist, David L. Clark, lived in the community and left an extensive written account (although none of his sketches have been found).  A daguerreotypist is listed in the 1860 census, and F.L. Ellison operated a photography business in the community during the latter 1800s.  At the turn of the century, both Hugh Parks, Jr., the mill owner, and George Russell, the mill superintendent, were amateur photographers.  Their work is now indistinguishable, as the oldest Franklinville photographs all descended among members of the Parks and Makepeace families, who were related to both Parks and Russell.  Approximately the time of the 1923 sale of the Franklinsville Manufacturing Company to Randolph Mills, Inc., George Russell compiled a an extensive written and photographic history of the mill in identical scrapbooks, one kept by him and one given to Hugh Parks, Jr.  The Parks scrapbook descended to Carrie Parks Stamey, the middle daughter of Hugh Parks, Jr., and was copied in 1985.  Mrs. Stamey also possessed a number of unique individual photographs, which were also copied at that time.  The George Russell scrapbook descended to Margaret Williams of Franklinville, and was given to Mac Whatley in 1987.  Most of the following pictures come from those scrapbooks, although various individual views are used from other sources now found in the Whatley collection.  The quoted passages are taken from the written history of the Franklinsville Manufacturing Company as found in the scrapbooks and compiled from the original corporate records, the location of which are now unknown.


Faith Rock. The power of water falling over a series of stone ledges in the path of Deep River is the whole reason manufacturing grew up at the place which became known as Franklinsville. As the river flows from Guilford County through Randolph County its level drops some five hundred feet. As it reaches Franklinville it strikes a huge stone outcropping known as Faith Rock and turns, creating a dogleg bend in the river. In 1782 Faith Rock was the site of a Revolutionary War confrontation between the pro-British Colonel David Fanning, who chased the Whig Andrew Hunter along the ridge and into the river. Soon after the spot was recognized for its industrial potential, and several speculative owners purchased land around the falls before the site was developed as a mill seat.


Coffin’s Mill on Deep River. Flour milling is Franklinville’s oldest activity. Tradition credits construction of the first mill to Christian Moretz (or Morris) in 1801. The 2 ½-story frame building shown here was about 30 x 30 feet in plan, and housed a wooden water wheel that powered three mill stones and a minimum of flour-processing machinery. By 1802 Morris was being taxed for the operation of a large cotton gin, and he also operated a saw mill and wool carding machine. The availability of such a variety of products and services led to the formation of a lively rural trading community even before Elisha Coffin bought the property in 1821. Much if not all of the building pictured must dated from the time of Coffin’s ownership, as the oversized twelve-over-twelve window sash are appropriate to the 1830s. The southern wall of the Boiler House is visible in the left background. In 1912 the Franklinsville Manufacturing Company replaced the antique grist mill with a greatly-expanded modern operation which used steel rollers instead of stones to grind the grain. That three-story “Roller Mill” opened in 1913, operated until 1990, and burned in 1992.


Elisha Coffin (b. 11-23-1779, d. 5-22-1870). Elisha Coffin was born in the New Garden section (now Guilford College) of Guilford County. He was the son of Quaker emigrants from the island of Nantucket who moved to North Carolina in the late 1760s and early 1770s, and both his father and grandfather had served as crew members on whaling voyages to the Arctic. Elisha Coffin learned the trade of a miller and millwright, buying and building a number grist mills in Guilford and Randolph. For 60 years Coffin’s family of Nantucket Quakers served as the liberal backbone and conscience of Piedmont North Carolina, spearheading the fight against slavery. The very year Elisha Coffin purchased the mill on Deep River, he and his father assisted nephew and first cousin Levi Coffin, “the President of the Underground Railroad,” in transporting escaped slave Jack Barnes to freedom in Indiana. Coffin ran the various mills on Deep River until 1838, when he allowed the new Randolph Manufacturing Company corporation to purchase the operation as an adjunct to textile manufacturing.


Island Ford Manufacturing Company, built 1846. No photograph or drawing of the original Randolph Manufacturing Company mill is known, but the Island Ford mill half a mile downriver was built 7 years later by Elisha Coffin, George Makepeace and a very similar group of investors. The two mills probably looked much alike, although the Island Ford mill was built of wood while the Franklinsville factory was of brick. (The two-story weave shed in the foreground was added to the Island Ford mill in the 1850s.) Construction began on the Franklinsville factory in the summer of 1838, and spinning and weaving operations started in March, 1840. The monitor roof effectively gave the mill four usable floors; in the Franklinsville factory it appears that this was used as the “dressing room,” where hot starch was applied to warp yarns. It was there that the fire started which destroyed the building on April 18, 1851.


Franklinsville Manufacturing Company. 1874. Samuel Walker, Agent. The west side of the mill, with all the employees lined up for the camera. A ladder leans against the gable roof. A Greek Revival-style bell cupola covers the northern gable peak, while a chimney stack rises from the southern end. Lighter-colored brick are clearly visible up to the level of the second floor joists, marked by cast iron tie-rod ends; this indicates where the original 1838 walls were found to be solid enough to build upon. There are at least forty workers posing on the ground, three on the tall ladder, and one sitting in a third-floor window. From March 21, 1859, the Franklinsville Manufacturing Company had been a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Cedar Falls Company, under the supervision of George Makepeace. Ten looms designed to weave seamless cotton bags were installed in April, 1872, and ten more were installed in July, 1874. George Makepeace having died in December, 1872, the mill was now under the management of Samuel Walker.


George Makepeace (b. 9-19-1799, d. 10-9-1872). Makepeace learned the textile industry in small mills around Wrentham, Massachusetts, on the Rhode Island border not far from the birthplace of the textile industry in Pawtucket. Makepeace was hired by the Franklinsville company to install the machinery and train the workers. He was en route to Randolph County on December 25, 1839, when his daughter Lucy was born in Petersburg, Virginia. For many years Makepeace was one of the region’s only skilled experts in textile manufacturing, consulting with mills all around the Piedmont and training the next generation of North Carolina’s textile management. During the Civil War the Cedar Falls Company under Makepeace’s management was the largest integrated textile manufacturing operation in the state, processing raw cotton into yarn, cloth, and clothing. In 1862 he reported that the Company “had been furnishing the State Government for the past year with a large amount of its manufactures for the use of the Army and is now under contract to supply fifty thousand shirts and drawers for the army.”


Franklinsville Mfg. Co. (1876). Taken from the northwest, with the northern gable end clearly visible, although the sun reflecting off what appears to be a metal roof is hiding the bell cupola in its glare. The lighter-colored brick of the original first floor is still visible, as are the two chimneys at the south end. Wooden board sidewalks are provided across gulleys and muddy tracks. There are approximately 35 people posing on the ground, and at least two looking out of third-floor windows. The factory had undergone three ownership changes in the previous two years. The Cedar Falls Company had sold the mill to the Randleman Manufacturing Company on July 28, 1875, but less than a year later, on the Centennial day of July 4, 1876, the partners Hugh Parks, Benj. Moffitt and Eli N. Moffitt bought the property for $24,500. Hugh Parks was then the Mayor of Franklinsville and the primary owner of the Island Ford mill downstream. “At this time the mill was a three-story brick building, 40 x 80 feet, with picker room, 34 x 40 feet, built of stone and some distance from the main building. The mill was then equipped with twenty looms for weaving seamless bags, and the necessary preparatory machinery. The only bag made then was a 16 ounce bag, branded ‘Franklinsville,’ which had both double warp and double filling. Hugh Parks and Benj. Moffitt took charge of this mill at once, keeping James F. Carter, Overseer of Carding; Nathan A. Fergerson, Overseer of Spinning; and Jesse P. Arledge, Overseer of Weaving. It was only a short time until Hugh Parks put in Matthew Sumner [as] Superintendent, who was also Superintendent of the Island Ford Manufacturing Company.”


Stockholders of the Franklinsville Manufacturing Company, 1876. On January 26, 1877, the three partners formed a corporation, contributing $30,000 of capital in shares valued at $500 each. The first stockholders meeting was held March 28, 1877, at which Hugh Parks was elected President, Benj. Moffit Secretary- Treasurer, and Eli N. Moffitt, director. The new capital was used to modernize the mill’s equipment.


Franklinsville Mfg. Co. (1883). Hugh Parks, Sr., Pres. Benj. Moffitt, Sec. & Treas. Baling Room Completed. The factory has undertaken a major expansion in the intervening 7 years. In July 1879 the old throstle spinning frames were replaced with ring spinning frames purchased from and erected by the Lowell Machine Shop. A spooler was installed at the same time. In February, 1880, new railway heads, drawing frames and speeders were erected, and in December 1880 and January 1881 a new picker and eighteen cards were installed. A two-story addition was built to the mill in July 1882. Called the Wheel House or Engine House, this wing was much more elaborate architecturally than the old mill, having brick quoins at each corner and gothic-style hood moldings over doors and windows. The wing provided space for a new water wheel and the first steam boilers and engine, which were installed and started for the first time on November 24, 1882. The smokestack for the boilers is visible at the south end of the Wheel House. At some undisclosed time the 1850’s gable roof was replaced by a flat roof with paneled brick parapets. This was undoubtedly done to qualify for insurance protection by one of the Factory Mutual insurance companies based in New England. The Factory Mutual companies had determined that the wooden trusses of gable roofs were fire hazards, and promoted replacement by flat roofs built with “slow-burn,” or solid tongue-and groove decking, construction. The one-story Baling Room housed the printing, sewing, baling and shipping operations of the mill. The Baling Press was operated by the rope-drive pulleys punched through the walls of the mill and separate Baling Room wing. A new picker, eight more cards, a spooler, a warper, and ten more looms were also installed at this time. This new equipment heralded the weaving of the first 14-ounce bags, having a double warp and single filling. The new product was branded “Parks,” in honor of the company’s President, Hugh Parks.


Group Employee Picture, Franklinsville Manufacturing Company, ca. 1885. The group is assembled in the mill yard between the oil or waste house and the mill, facing the company store, where the photographer stands. Oil for lubrication and lamps was housed in a separate building from the factory, as were rags and cotton waste used for cleaning.


Franklinsville Mfg. Co. (1886). Taken from the southeast, with the 1838 stone Picker House in the foreground. The Wheel and Engine Houses are still just two stories, and it is obvious that the boilers are fired with wood. Four different weights of seamless bags were now made in the mill, the increase having been made possible by the addition of a slasher, which made lighter weights of yarn suitable for weaving by strengthening them with starch. “In February 1884 the first slasher was put in, which was known as a hot air slasher and was made here in the mill. It was in March of the same year when the first single warp bags were made. They were a 12 ½ ounce bag branded ‘Chapman,’ and an 11 ounce bag branded ‘Dover.'” These products proved popular, and increased the demand for bags beyond the mill’s capacity to spin lower counts of yarn. Therefore, in 1887, a 17×40 foot addition was made on the west side of the Picker House, “and five new Lowell spinning frames and a new spooler were added, and the manufacturing of Chain Warp began, by use of the Circular Mill.” In October 1888 the Baling Room was expanded and the first cylinder slasher was installed. By 1893 the demand for seamless bags was such that ten more looms were installed, and in 1894, as the orders for single warp bags increased and those for double warp bags lessened, it became necessary to add two more cylinders to the slasher. The first self-feeder and opener was installed in the Picker House in February, 1896.


Franklinsville Mfg. Co. (1892) Hugh Parks, Sr., Pres.; Benj. Moffitt, Sec. & Treas. Tower Completed. The most obvious new feature is the brick tower positioned at the northeast corner of the original building. “Up until 1892 all the roving and yarn were carried in bags, up and down the steps, by boys; but after the tower was built and the elevator installed, the task was made much lighter.” A separate tower for stairs was another requirement of the Factory Mutual companies, as the old open stairways inside the mill could act as chimneys during a fire. Besides new stairs and an elevator, the tower also supported a wooden water tank feeding the new sprinkler system. Even though the scrapbook label clearly states that the above picture dates to 1892, when the tower was completed, it appears that it actually dates to 1895, as a third story is obviously present atop the 1882 Wheel and Engine House. “In 1895 the third story was built on the engine room; and two new Hopedale twisters were put in, replacing the old ones, for making selvage for bags and twine for hemming.”


Employee Group Picture, ca. 1895. The employees are assembled in front of the stair tower, facing the company store.


Smoke Stack. Built 1897. “In October 1896 J.E. Duval started the first dynamo in this mill, and then tallow candles and kerosene lamps became a thing of the past.” But the boilers and draft stack of 1882 proved inadequate to handle both the increased production of the mill and the new technology of the 1890s. “In 1897 a new engine room, 19×36 feet, an addition to the boiler room and a new smoke stack were built, and a new boiler and engine were installed and started on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1897, by Benajah T. Lockwood of Providence, R.I.” The double door under the shed roof led into the boiler room. The steam engine was located in the wing to the left of the door. The dynamo was evidently a D.C. generator, as the subsequent 1920 turbine boiler powered the first AC generator. “The old No. 1 Keeler boiler was sold and delivered to Kersey-Carr Company on February 23, 1921.”


1897 Franklinsville Mfg. Co. Corliss-type steam engine. The original steam engine installed by the Franklinsville Manufacturing Company in 1882 had been purchased from the William A. Harris Company of Providence, Rhode Island. Harris had worked with the original George Corliss company before starting his own factory, and specialized in large mill engines using the highly-efficient Corliss valve gear. The original engine had a 14″ diameter piston with a 36″ stroke; its flywheel was 11 feet in diameter. On July 29, 1897, the Franklinsville company ordered a new engine having an 18″ piston, 42″ stroke, and 13-foot flywheel designed to carry a 24″ leather belt to power the mill’s lineshafting. After installation the engine was used continuously until December 23, 1920, after which the mill was renovated for electrical drive. On July 21, 1921 the engine was sold and removed to C.R. Preddy of Builder’s Sash and Door Company of Rocky Mount, N.C. On April 5, 1933, it was again sold and moved to Williams Lumber Company of Wilson, N.C. Williams Lumber was bought out by Stevenson Millwork in 1965, and the engine operated until that business was liquidated in 1972. It was disassembled and stored in a field in Smithfield until 1977, when it was purchased by Shell Williams of Godwin, N.C. Williams moved the engine to his home on U.S. 301 in northeast Cumberland County and re-erected it on a concrete block foundation. It was located there in 1995, and identified from the original W.A. Harris records now in the possession of the New England Museum of Wireless and Steam. Inside the upper half of the flywheel is faintly visible, in red paint, “Franklinsville Mfg. Co., Franklinsville, N.C.”


Unloading Water Wheel (1909). The mill’s original power undoubtedly came from one or more wooden water wheels, probably of the breast (or “pitch-back”) type. The type of “new” water wheel installed in 1882 is unknown. In the major expansion of the mill of 1899, a 44-inch Leffel turbine wheel was installed and started August 14, 1899. The dynamo which provided lighting in the mill was run by this wheel until 1901, when a separate steam engine was installed for that purpose. In 1909 the old water wheel and water house was torn out, and a 285-horse power horizontal turbine wheel was installed by D.J. Heiston and Jake Lindemuth of the S. Morgan Smith Company of York, Pa. After conversion of the mill to electric drive in 1920, the turbine was used as back-up power for emergency pumps until about 1940. The wheel housing visible on the railroad car still exists in place under the mill, although the runner wheel appears to have been removed.


Seamless Bags made by Franklinsville Mfg. Co., 1901. “The double warp bags were discontinued this year, as the demand was for a single warp and single filling bag; this required more slashing, and a new two cylinder slasher was installed in August, 1901. This year the brands were changed; the 16 ounce bag was branded “Atlantic;” and the 14 ounce bag, “Lone Star.” In 1915 the corporate secretary wrote, “Some months ago Hugh Parks, Jr., saw the destiny of seamless bags, and after visiting Baltimore and New York, decided that the best thing to do was to make a complete change and to manufacture sheetings instead of bags. It was decided to build an addition (52×73) to the weave room and install 160 looms, for weaving sheetings, and the necessary preparatory machinery. In January, 1916, all the bag looms were thrown out; and the last bag was woven by Arthur Ellison on January 30, 1916. Arthur Ellison gave up his position in the weaving room January 30, 1916; when Hugh B. Buie was put in charge of the room. The last bags (22 bales) were shipped November 16, 1917 for the account of Amon Green & Co., Baltimore, Md., to Carleton Dry Goods Co., St. Louis, Mo. These bags were sold April 19, 1915.


Franklinsville Mfg. Co. (1913). Benj. Moffitt, Pres. Hugh Parks, Jr., Sec.-Treas. Taken from one of the wooden bridges which crossed the head race, this view looks northeast toward the south sides of (from left to right) the Picker House (now two stories); the Baling House (in the center, now also two stories and housing the slasher, the drawing-in room, the warper room, and spooling); the main mill; the Wheel House (now three stories); the Engine House (one story); the Boiler Room (one story, but having a gable roof with clerestory). The shed porch on the far right belongs to the new Roller Mill, out of sight.


The Franklinsville Mfg. Co. Roller Mill, circa 1920. Built in 1912 and put into operation in 1913, the roller mill made Excelsior brand flour. Later the Excelsior brand was limited just to whole wheat flour, and the new Dainty Biscuit brand was given to more refined white flours. Its drive wheel shared the head race water with the cotton mill until conversion to electric drive.


Construction of the Feed Mill, 1936. This is a detail taken from a larger view from Faith Rock across Deep River, looking northeast. A major expansion of the roller mill operation in the late 1930s provided for increased sales of chicken, rabbit, horse, mule, goat and hog feeds. The terra cotta tile silos were built for wheat storage. The three-story 1899 wing of the cotton mill and the one-story 1915 weave shed are visible in the center of the picture.


Expansion of the Card Room, circa 1944. During World War II John W. Clark received special permission for extensive remodeling and repair of the 100-year-old facility. Steel girders and I-beams recycled from other buildings were used to create a new support structure for the mill, completely independent of the exterior brick walls. The Opening, Picker and Card Rooms were expanded into the court yard between the old wings by bulldozing the intervening hills.


The “Upper Mill” area of Randolph Mills, Inc., circa 1950. Taken by Aero-Pix of Raleigh, this aerial photograph shows the entire complex of the Franklinsville Manufacturing Company. The original mill, as expanded in 1899, is at left center; the Baling Room wing to its right and the Picker House just about that. Across the road is the 1884 Company Store, then serving as the machine shop. Directly above it is the 1919 Power House and Smokestack (125 feet, 2 ¾ inches of radial brick on a fifteen-foot-deep foundation of crushed stone and concrete, demolished about 1975). Heading west from the Power House is a house used by the company as a hotel, now the site of the company garage. From there to the dam was the original location of the company stables and barn, and the cotton gin. On the opposite side of the head race just below the dam is the Peanut House; across the road from there is the Chicken Hatchery; adjoining it is the antebellum residence of the President of the Company; then the Feed Mill and Roller Mill.


Franklinville Methodist Cemetery

May 24, 2009

Franklinville M.E. Church Cemetery, ca. 1900; taken by George Russell?; author’s collection.

On this Memorial Day weekend I am speaking to the good people attending the Homecoming Services at the Mount Tabor United Methodist Memorial Chapel in Jackson Creek, and in a few days I’ll post pictures of that interesting little church and cemetery.

Appropriately, Memorial Day was originally (in 1868) begun as a way to honor the Yankee war dead, as family members “decorated” their graves with flowers. I’m offering here my favorite historic photograph of a cemetery, to illustrate the MASSIVE changes that have taken place over the past hundred years in our attitudes about honoring the dead. (The name wasn’t changed to Memorial Day until 1882, and for historical completeness I will note that Confederate Memorial Day in North Carolina occurred each May 10th, the anniversary of the death of Stonewall Jackson).

This photo shows the Franklinville Methodist Church Cemetery, part of the original 1830s village. It now crowns the hill top across from my home, the Coffin-Makepeace House, built originally by Elisha Coffin and for generations the home of George Makepeace family (for a thumbnail sketch see http://macwhat.googlepages.com/franklinvilleresidences – someday I’ll have a much longer post).

The “Factory House” in Franklinville was in full operation by March, 1840 [ Southern Citizen, 21 January 1840]; also in operation by that time was the Franklinville Methodist Church. On August 14, 1839, Elisha Coffin deeded a 1.64 acre tract to Phillip Horney, Alexander S. Horney, Elisha Coffin, Bethuel Coffin, and J.M.A. Drake, “Trustees for the Methodist Episcopal Church…who shall erect thereon a house or place of worship.” [Deed Book 24, page 190, Randolph County Registry]. The Quarterly Conference of the Randolph Circuit was held in the Franklinville Church on March 2, 1840, the church having been rapidly completed over the winter.  The congregation was five years old before a cemetery became necessary.  The oldest known burial is that of William Arnold (1786-1844), just east of the brick cemetery.  That grave, however, was not included in “half an acre laid out for a burying ground” deeded from Elisha Coffin the Phillip Horney, Alexander S. Horney, Benjamin F. Coffin, John M. Coffin, John Miller, John Hendricks, Joshua Pool, Trustees of the Franklinsville Methodist Church, on November 2, 1844.  The next oldest known burial is that of “Marcara” McCuiston Coffin (1778-1845), wife of Elisha Coffin.  Mrs. Coffin’s grave was specifically included in one-quarter of an acre deeded by Elisha Coffin to members of his family on July 5, 1848, and now known as the “Brick Cemetery”.

The Brick Cemetery, enclosing the grave of Marcara McCuiston Coffin, the Horneys, and the Makepeace family.

The Brick cemetery (a 4-foot-tall brick wall about 15 by 30 feet) isn’t visible in the historic photograph, but it is an example of the first rule of pre-20th century cemeteries: they were all enclosed with walls or fences, to keep out the horses, cattle and swine which ranged free across the landscape up to the time of the enclosure votes of the 1890s. The “Stock Law” votes reversed the ancient custom of stock ranging free on the ‘common lands,’ and thereafter livestock were required to be kept inside their owner’s fence. The wooden pale fence that still enclosed the entire Franklinville cemetery in 1900 is visible in the upper right background, and was the only part of the cemetery that was maintained by the church; by the 1920s it had been removed.

Maintenance of a cemetery has always been the responsibility of the “owner,” but the conception of who owns a cemetery has changed during the 20th century. At the time of the photograph, Franklinville residents would have said that the family of the deceased owned the plot that their loved one was buried in. Therefore, it was the family’s responsibility to keep the plot properly maintained. This picture shows us what proper maintenance looked like in the 19th century: 1. Each burial plot is individually marked with both headstone and footstone; 2. Each burial plot is properly mounded with dirt, to hide the inevitable sinking of a plot as the coffin and its contents decomposed; 3. The marble markers are kept clean and polished; 4. No weeds or grass are allowed to desecrate the surface of a grave.

At least once a year, but especially around Decoration Day, families would assemble in the cemetery to whitewash the fences, straighten the stones, repair or replace wooden markers (since only the wealthy could afford store-bought marble and granite), haul in extra dirt to top off the mound, and hoe out the invasive grass and weeds. That grew into a tradition of returning to the old family church for Homecomings and Dinners on the Ground, a tradition of country churches all over the South now coupled to Mothers Day or Fathers Day instead of Memorial Day (now more the starting gun for summer vacation than for remembering our war dead).


Franklinville Methodist Cemetery, May 24, 2009. Taken by the author from the same position as the historic photo above. The camera position is just off the southwest corner of the brick cemetery, looking west from the driveway separating the brick cemetery from the Victorian section of the grave yard.

As Americans became more mobile in the 20th century, families no longer lived in the community and attended their traditional family church. Gradually the church itself began to assume responsibility for maintaining the cemetery, and maintenance by committee revolutionized the look of country cemeteries. The first and the biggest change was in the grass- or actually, in the end of the complete and total lack of grass. Modern cemeteries are maintained, a great expense in time and energy, in the same fashion as 20th-century lawns came to be maintained- as open monocultural fields of non-native perennial grass. This resulted in shaving away of the mounds of dirt above each plot, and the loss of all footstones, so that lawnmowers didn’t have to negotiate these hazards. (Such things aren’t allowed on a golf course, so obviously they shouldn’t be allowed in a cemetery- right?) And as push mowers became riding mowers, and as riding mowers became bigger and bigger, even headstones were considered hazards. (This is why modern “memorial parks” require headstones flush with the ground, so mowers can ride right over them), and examples of these can be found right beside the brick cemetery).


More and more, headstones in cemeteries are considered obstacles to traffic, and only certain approved types of markers are allowed. The cast iron, painted wood and pottery markers that many Randolph County cemeteries once sported are long gone (some of the pottery markers have been preserved in museums, ironically).

Another change began in the 1980s, as shrinking small engine technology produced light-weight string trimmers (a/k/a “weed eaters”). This has also been deadly to tombstones, especially the oldest slate and soapstone markers, stones which were chosen because they were soft enough to be easily carved in the days before mass-market marble and granite. In any contest between soft stone and weed eater, the centripetal force of the nylon string will win. Early string trimmers ran between 3000 and 5000 RPM; 21st century trimmer commonly turn 10,000 or more RPM.


The result is ancient monuments being worn away where the base meets the ground surface, until they look like sharpened pencils. Then the weakened stones become even more vulnerable to riding lawnmowers driven like bumper cars.

There are of course people who argue against treating historic cemeteries like golf courses; the National Park Service recently hosted a national conference about cemetery preservation (http://www.ncptt.nps.gov/index.php/cemetery-landscape-preservation-workshop/ ). But even well-meaning people can go off track: I think of a large church cemetery north of Franklinville which raised money to sandblast its collection of headstones. It cleaned the mildew and moss off the marble, making them pearly white in the sun. But sand-blasting eroded the carving so that many markers are now almost impossible to read. Discolored marble can best be cleaned with a mild abrasive hand cleaner, a plastic bristle brush, a bucket of water, and some effort. Lichen and mildew can be killed by brushing a Chlorox solution on the stone.

I know of no historic cemetery which has been ‘restored’ in the way buildings have been, but it’s not impossible. We would just have to recover an appreciation for what our ancestors considered respect to the dead and responsibility to our ancestors. Instead we homogenize our cemeteries to remove all of their historic character.

NOTE:  Here is a blog showing the ongoing restoration of the old First Presbyterian cemetery in Greensboro, now the back yard of the Greensboro Historical Museum.  It is a fascinating read, and just the kind of thing I wished to see above.  The restoration company, Stone Setters Gravestone Repair [ http://www.stonesetters.biz/index.html ] are doing fantastic work.  I wish I had the money to set them loose on our Franklinville Methodist cemetery! (August ’09)

Coffin’s Mills

May 21, 2009

Coffin’s Mills, 1912, from the George Russell album of Franklinsville Mfg. Co. Author’s Collection.

Flour milling is Franklinville’s oldest activity. Since at least 1801 the falls of the river there powered a grist and saw mill which had in turn nurtured a small community of shops and houses. In 1821 those mills were acquired by Elisha Coffin; from him the settlement took its name, “Coffin’s Mills,” and became the site of one of North Carolina’s oldest textile factories.

That’s Franklinville history in a nutshell, but the answers to the basic “who, what, when and where” questions of the town’s founding are all more complicated.

The first person known to have held title to the site of Franklinville was Jacob Skeen, who in 1784 received it as a grant from the State of North Carolina [See Randolph County Deed Book 2, p.136 (State to Jacob Skeen, 2 Nov. 1784) and Book 4, p.108 (Skeen to daughter Jane, 23 Sept. 1790)]. In 1795 Skeen’s daughter and heir, Jane Safford, and her husband Revel Safford, sold the 400-acre tract to George Mendenhall, who in turn sold it to Benjamin Trotter, both of whom could recognize good mill real estate [Book 17, p.226 (Jane & Revel Safford to George Mendenhall, 9 Sept. 1795) and Book 8, p.401 (Mendenhall to Benjamin Trotter, 28 July 1797)]. Both men were millers, but it is unclear whether they made any use of the site, and their intentions may have been purely speculative. Mendenhall owned the substantial mill on Deep River now known as Coletrane’s Mill, and he seems to have acquired sites for other mills as investments. In 1801, Trotter sold the property to Christian Morris; that deed refers to “Benj’n Troter of Randolph County and State of No. Carolina (Miller).” [Deed Book 8, p.441 (Trotter to Christian Moretz, 15 Oct. 1801)].

Either Mendenhall or Trotter could have been the first to utilize the property as the site of a grist mill. Local tradition, however, states that the first mill at the site was built by the 1801 buyer, Christian Morris (or Moretz), a member of the German community in northeastern Randolph. [J.A. Blair, Reminiscences of Randolph County, 35 (Greensboro: Reece & Elam, 1890)].

Whether or not Morris built the first mill, by 1802 he was being taxed for the operation of a large cotton gin (verbal shorthand for ‘engine’). Invented by Eli Whitney in 1793, the unpatented invention spread quickly around the South, and Randolph County had five gins subject to taxation the year Morris erected his machine. [“Return of the Cotton Machine for the Year 1802,” in Randolph County Miscellaneous Tax Records, C.R. 081.701.5, North Carolina State Archives]. Morris’s was one of the larger machines, featuring 30 saws designed to pull the cotton fibers from the seeds. Since Morris also operated a wool-carding machine and saw mill at the mill, it appears that the site rapidly acquired the characteristics of a rural trading community. At the tiny frame mill a farmer could have his corn and grain ground into flour, have his timber sawed into lumber, gin the seeds from his cotton, and have the wool from his sheep carded for his wife to spin into yarn.

Morris died about the year 1812, and his extensive property holdings were divided among his children by the county court. Morris’ oldest son, John, received the mill tract, but since he had moved to Lincoln County, North Carolina, someone else must have run the mill until it was sold to James Ward in 1818. [Deed Book 14, p.124 (John Morris to James Ward, 2 April 1818)].


Elisha Coffin, taken about 1855.

Elisha Coffin (23 November 1779 – 22 May 1870) was a son of Nantucket Quakers who moved to the New Garden community (now Guilford College) in the 1770s. In 1816 he purchased a mill site on the Uwharrie River (Deed Book 13, Page 127), but soon sold that and purchased the Deep River mill from Ward [Deed Book 14, p. 531 (Ward to Elisha Coffin, 25 Dec. 1821)]. Owner and operator of several other mills in Guilford and Randolph Counties mills, Coffin was also a farmer, merchant and politically active Justice of the Peace. He organized a group of investors under the name of “The Randolph Manufacturing Company,” with the aim of building Deep River’s second cotton factory. [Southern Citizen (Asheboro), 3 March 1838], and ambitiously named the small community to honor Jesse Franklin, then the governor of North Carolina. It continued to be known locally, however, as “Coffin’s Mills on Deep River” until the name “Franklinsville” was officially recorded in the town’s 1847 legislative act of incorporation. [Chapter 200, Private Laws of 1846-47, ratified 18 Jan. 1847]. Coffin sold his property in 1850 after pro-slavery interests took control of the factory (Deed Book 28, Page 479), and purchased 345 acres on Richland Creek (Deed Book 28, Page 480) from Thomas Lucas—probably the mill site now known as “Kemp’s Mill.” He eventually moved back to Guilford County, ending his career as proprietor of the “College Mill” at New Garden.

Much if not all of the building pictured must dated from the time of Coffin’s ownership, as the oversized twelve-over-twelve window sash are appropriate to the 1830s. It is probable that the original windows were closed only by sliding wooden shutters, as in the Walker/Nixon mill and Dennis Cox mill. The dormer window lighting the attic floor is even later, probably added around 1880. The steeply-pitched roof of the building provided space for grain storage, and the north-facing lucam in the gable allowed wagons to be unloaded between the cotton factory and grist mill, and the grain sacks hoisted into the attic. An earlier photograph suggests that the lucam might have been remodeled, and could have been enclosed originally as at the Walker/Nixon mill.

The 2 ½-story frame building shown above is the smallest, and probably the oldest, Randolph County grist mill in any surviving photograph. The photographer is looking northeast, at the western and southern walls of the building. The grist mill shown here was about 30 x 30 feet in plan, and was situated about 75 feet west of the river and 25 feet from the south wall of the cotton factory boiler house and smokestack. At that location the building was sitting approximately 15 feet above the level of the river, and judging from the water level of the race the water wheel under the shed must have been a “pitch-back” style breast wheel. The flowing water would have hit the buckets of the wheel somewhere between 10 and 11 o’clock, causing the wheel to rotate counterclockwise. The shed roof to the right (or southern end) of the building covered the water wheel, and to its right, out of frame, was a sash sawmill. The head race is dry while the crew rebuilds it, but the mill operates even without the water power. The smaller shed roof to the left, at the northwest corner, is attached by piping to the vertical steam boiler visible at left, and exhaust steam spraying out of the pipe just above the jib boom crane indicates that the engine must be running.


1885 Sanborn map (the 1888 map is identical). The boiler and engine house of the cotton mill is just to the north.

According to the 1885 Sanborn Insurance Company map of Randolph County, the mill was heated by an open grate fireplace and lit by candles. It featured three “run” of mill stones on the first floor, with a “smutter” machine and “bolting chest” on the second floor. From this we can reconstruct the entire operation of the mill. A farmer delivered his harvest to the base of the north wall, where the windlass in the lucam hoisted the grain into the attic, called by millers “the sack floor.” From there the grain dropped by gravity to the “bin floor,” where the grain was cleaned and stored in large wooden bins. The smutter and bolter
mentioned by the insurance agent were on bin floor, and were the minimum machinery required to produce high quality flour. A smutter is an enclosed fan which cleans the raw grain by blowing mold, rust, fungus and dirt particles off the kernels. A bolter is an inclined, revolving wooden cage covered with silk; flour conveyed into the bolter was sifted by the silk, with the smallest particles falling through the silk at the high end to make the finest quality flour, the next grade through the silk in the center called the “middlings,” and the coarse bran collected from the bottom as breakfast cereal and animal feed.

To start the grinding operation, a wooden chute was opened to funnel grain from the bin floor to the “stone floor,” where it fell into the “hopper,” held in place by the four-legged “horse” atop the “stone case,” a circular wooden frame enclosing the working pair of millstones. From the hopper grain vibrates into the “shoe,” a tapering wooden trough through which the grain is fed into the stones. The turning upper stone, or “runner,” does the grinding work against the fixed “bed” stone. The ground meal or flour worked its way to the center or “eye” of the bed stone, where it was channeled through a spout into a bin or bag on the “meal floor,” at ground level, or conveyed back to the sack floor for bolting or further storage.

Grist mills with just one or two stones were considered “custom” mills, because they ground to the personal specifications of the farmers who patronized the mill. What the farmer brought in (wheat, rye, barley, oats or corn) was what he got back, in a different form (flour, meal, bran), less a portion retained by the miller as his fee (the toll”– no money changed hands). The bolter was another step in refining the finished product, and allowed the miller to collect an additional toll. A “merchant” mill had three or more “run” or pairs of stones and operated year-round, packaging the flour in 100-lb. bags and 196-lb. barrels for sale to the general public. Although a single pair of stones could be used to grind any kind of grain, one stone was usually reserved for grinding wheat and one for corn, and the stones were furrowed in a way that worked best to grind each type of grain (no one bothered with 5-lb. Bags then!). Many mills used an expensive “buhr” stone imported from France for grinding the best quality white flour, while corn could be ground on American granite or sandstone. In a merchant mill, the third stone was sometimes used to clean grain or de-hull oats, barley, or buckwheat; but by 1885 it is likely that the third stone was being used to regrind the middlings, producing higher quality flour. That procedure was called “new process” milling, and it was developed to compete with the new “roller mill” technology developed in the late 1870s which used grooved porcelain or toothed steel rollers to pull the grains apart rather than grind them. Roller milling was the biggest technological change in the milling process in 2,000 years. The invention of roller mills not only outmoded grist mills, but caused a complete shift in the types of wheat that were produced by American farmers.

In 1912 the Franklinsville Manufacturing Company replaced this antique grist mill with a greatly-expanded modern roller grinding operation. That three-story “Roller Mill” opened in 1913, operated until 1990, and burned in 1992. When their picture above was taken in 1912, the gang of men were building wooden forms for the concrete walls of the new roller mill head race, or “forebay.” At least eight of the fifteen men in the photo appear to be African-Americans; they are not the ones white shirts, vests and ties. At this time the only jobs in or around the factory for black workers were the ones requiring heavy lifting, usually in the mill “yard,” loading and unloading wagons or managing the 500-pound bales of cotton in the opening room. Here the construction crew digging and forming up the new race appear to be entirely or predominately black.

Randolph Manufacturing Company Interior

January 17, 2009
Randolph Mfg. Co. Interior

Randolph Mfg. Co. Interior

Before we leave the east end of Franklinville, here’s my only interior view of the 1895 Randolph Manufacturing Company mill.

It’s the spinning room, but the weave room boss, Oliver York, is the mustachioed gent second from the left.   Mr. York must be visiting for the photographer, either George Russell, the superintendent of the upper mill, or “Jack” Parks (Hugh Parks Jr.), the son of the mill owner, both of whom were amateur photographers at the time.

The spinning room ran the length of the 2nd floor of the longest section of the building, between the stair tower and the river.  The weave room was on the first floor, below, as was common in every factory (looms vibrated, and hundreds of looms running in sync vibrated enough to shake a building down, unless they were situated on the lowest floors).

The spinning frames were manufactured by the Lowell Machine Shop, one of the oldest makers of American textile machinery.  The company began as the in-house machine shop of the Merrimack Mfg. Co. in Lowell, Mass., and later merged with the Saco Mfg. Co. of Biddeford, Maine, to become Saco-Lowell.   These are “ring spinning” frames, a technology invented in the 1820s but not embraced by manufacturers until the 1850s.  Early spinning frames used revolving “flyers” to draw the yarn out into thinner and thinner lenghts, and to build cones on a bobbin, and were called “throstles” because the high-speed whirring sounded like birds.  Ring spinning replaced the flyer with a tiny steel ring, or “traveller,” which slipped over the yarn and created a drag when it ballooned out while spinning.  Doffing full bobbins and replacing the travellers were common jobs in the spinning room.  The buggies in the foreground are full of bobbins.

The machinery is being powered by a system of overhead shafts and pulleys, connected by ropes on the far end to the water wheel and steam engine, and by leather belts to the actual spinning frames.  Hanging from hooks along the center row of wooden columns are metal fire buckets full of sand.  The mill had its own electric dynamo from its construction in 1895, but the single clear light bulbs hanging from individual wires throughout the room are almost lost among all the power shafts and pulleys.  Sprinklers and humidification pipes aren’t yet visible, but would be installed by World War I.

The amount of lint on the floor gives an idea how dusty a spinning room always was, but nothing can show the usual high noise level of the spinning room, or the even more deafening sound of the weave room.  At the time of the photo, obviously, the room would be quiet– all the machinery has stopped, shown by the fact that the pulleys aren’t blurred by motion.

Joe Dan Hackney House

January 16, 2009

I said a week or two ago that I’d share photos of the Joe Dan Hackney House as part of my Island Ford photos, and I almost forgot.

It was a beautiful house with a two-tiered, two-story porch like a number of others around Franklinville, and probably built by the same carpenter or group of carpenters. Those homes include: the Benner (Lewis Curtis) house on the same side of the river; the Horney-Parks house (now destroyed); the Dennis Curtis/ Joe Buie house; the Makepeace house. Of all of those, the Hackney house is most similar to the Curtis-Buie house on West Main Street at Buie lane.

Joe Dan Hackney was a local character, and everyone in Franklinville when I moved there had a story about him. As a change of pace, I’m sharing partial transcripts of some of my oral history interviews that mention him.

  1. From a conversation I had with Clyde Jones, Henry King, and Carrie Parks Stamey in 1981:

CJ: the Benner house (the Lewis Curtis house)… and the Joe Dan Hackney house were quite similar to one another. The Hackney house was well taken care of. It was a beautiful place. Mr. Joe Dan Hackney was a drummer during the Civil War, and he’d get up some afternoons in his balcony and get his drums out, and you could hear him all over this town beating those drums. He was a preacher, a talker, but not an ordained minister. He’d hold services over there, get a little bit out of line on his issues, and get called down.

HK: The Hackney house was the first house on the left after you crossed the steel bridge; Hobe Long lived in it when I came to town.

CJ: When I was growing up Mr. Hackney lived over there, and he had a stable and barn back in there with some horses and cows, and I think he done some farming. I don’t know that he ever worked in the mill. And he probably picked up some money from preaching. The only church I remember Mr. Hackney preaching in is now the community building [i.e., the old First Baptist Church].

CS: I know he handled baptisms, down there just behind the lower dam; I saw him from the meadow. I was sitting up along the railroad tracks and saw him baptize a whole lot of them down there in the river. So he must have been ordained…

 

  1. From a conversation I had with Belvin and Dorothy Curtis, 1997:

Belvin: Used to be a two story house down here – Joe Dan Hackney house. It had a veranda up there. Come out of a evening and beat drums. Man you could hear that thing all over. Had prayer meeting, us boys would go over there. He’d beat his drum just to be beating it I reckon.

Dorothy: It was dry one summer, and they had prayer meeting and he’d walk over in town. Course they’s a bridge down here then, and he’d go over to the church ever evening. They’d meet about two o’clock, and they’d pray for rain. And one day he went and carried his umbrella when he went. And they wasn’t any clouds up there; but when they come out of church they all went home in the rain.

Belvin: Pouring down rain.

Dorothy: He’s buried up there in the Baptist cemetery. He wasn’t a preacher.

Belvin: He’s good as one though. Yes sir. I don’t know what he done. I never did hear of him working in the mill.

Dorothy: I guess he’s retired from something, but I don’t know what.

Belvin: You could hear him blow his horn. Me and Elvin, Tate Williamson, Hook Rich(?). Have prayer meeting, we’d set with him. That house’s put together with pegs. It had a two story porch.

Dorothy: Joe Hackney’s had a front porch that went all around on his.

Blevin: Hoag(?) Long lived down there and let the thing catch afire. Go up here at the highway, go down the there road apiece. They’s trailers down there. Get off the highway, get on that dirt road and go straight, you’ll go where it used to be, right straight across that other old road. It was close enough you could see it easy from across the river. Joe Dean Hackney lived there a long time. All the houses were around here.

  1. From a conversation with Homer Patterson, 1997:

Now, when we lived over here [bleacher pond hill], now I’ve set there on that porch many a time in dry weather, and old man Joe Dan Hackney would get his drum and come out on that little upstairs porch over yonder and beat his old drum and pray for rain. Yeah, Joe Dan Hackney, I can remember him mighty well; he’s buried over here at the Baptist Church. Seems like he blew on a horn, too, I know he beat on an old drum, and prayed for rain. If it did rain, I just don’t remember whether it did or not. His was a big old house, we’ve been there many time on Sunday evening when me and Momma we lived over there in the country; we’d go over there and see Mr. Hackney and his wife. It had a porch all the way round there and one of those old wooden swings that set on the floor; I used to go over there and get in it and swing backwards and forwards. Miss Hackney, she’d go back in the house, back in a room in there, and come out with a stick or two of candy, and give us some candy. They was good people. All back in there below the house, it’s grown up today, but back then there was land to be farmed back down in there. Who farmed it, I just don’t remember about that. But I know Joe Dan Hackney and his wife had, I don’t know where it was two boys and a girl or three boys and a girl… I don’t know as I ever seen ere one of them boys. They left from around here and went over round Charlotte. One got killed when a train run over him in Charlotte, and it seems like there was one or two left. But their daughter married this man out here in Ramseur up above Service Distributing where that great big tree just come down in the storm, it blowed over and hit that house there and tore it up some. That’s the old John Ward place, and their daughter married John Ward. It’s been all worked over now since the storm and the tree hit it. That’s where the Hackney’s daughter lived, and she looked just like her mother.

When you went over here and crossed the steel bridge the road curved around and went up a terrible steep old rough hill right there; went up across there and around this away, and on down and there was a big hollow and another bridge down there, there wasn’t no creek, just where rain water would come from back up in yonder from the old Prevo place down through by Belvin Curtis’. I’ve been over that old bridge many a time, but they finally tore it down and filled it in, you know. Then it went right straight through there between the Hackney house and the Grose house over here. Daniel Grose, Gladys’ husband Phillip Grose’s daddy, was raised over at that place. So then it just went on down the road like it does now, on by Pumpkinville, down and around, cross that branch, and on out. I don’t know if I ever heard the name of that branch; I’ve been meaning to ask Burnice Jones about that. There’s a branch somewhere back in there that runs into the river that they call the Upton branch; I remember hearing them call it, said that’s the Upton branch, you know. I don’t know where that come from, whether it’s back up here or down in there somewhere. The Lewis Curtis house up on the hill there, it’s still standing now. I guess that’s who grandpaw Moore bought that land from over yonder. I guess he did. There was a fellow lived there, a Luther fellow owned that house, don’t know if he had it built or nothing about that. Way on out there, back in here from Cabbage Head’s place somewhere, was the old gold mine, they called it.

And this house that sits right down back behind the Walls, that was the house there that old man Parks had that his colored folks lived in, that waited on him. They was Allreds. Two of them: John Allred, and Dosie Allred. They’re both dead now. Dosie’s place is still standing, but John’s place caught afire and burnt down. Back down on the other side of where the Walls have put a trailer. Velma Ausley and her husband lived in it several years.

 

FAITH ROCK

January 14, 2009


Location: Franklinville, south side Deep River, looking east from the SR 2235 bridge. The concrete storage silos of the former roller mill are to the left.

Rising out of Deep River several hundred feet upstream of the site of Elisha Coffin’s grist mill and textile factory is Franklinville’s major geological landmark, a huge bluestone outcrop known as Faith Rock. It was the setting for one of Randolph County’s most legendary Revolutionary War incidents.

While taking a wagon of produce to trade for salt at the Pedee River market on May 2, 1782, local resident Andrew Hunter was captured by the notorious Tory guerrilla leader David Fanning. Facing immediate execution, Hunter made a desperate escape. In Fanning’s words, Hunter “sprung upon my riding mare, and went off with my saddle, holsters, pistols, and all my papers… We fired two guns at him; he received two balls through his body but it did not prevent him from sitting the saddle, and make his escape.” [David Fanning, The Narrative of Colonel David Fanning (Spartanburg: The Reprint Company, 1973; pp. 59-62.]

Enraged, Fanning plundered Hunter’s home, holding his pregnant wife hostage for the return of the horse, “a mare I set great store by, and gave One Hundred and Ten guineas for her.” [ibid.]  However, Fanning’s guerrilla band was forced to release Mrs. Hunter and ride out to join the British evacuation of Charleston, South Carolina.

But Fanning risked a final return to Randolph on September 5, 1782, solely in an attempt to recover his mare. The incident at Faith Rock must have occurred at this time. Hunter “was riding the Bay Doe, on the high ground south of Deep River, and not far above the …ford; but found they were heading him in that direction. He then turned his course up the river, but they were there ready to receive him. The only alternative was to surrender, which would be certain and instant death, or to make a desperate plunge down a precipice, some fifty feet high into the river. He chose the latter… It was such a daring adventure that his pursuers… stopped short, in a kind of amazement, and contented themselves with firing two or three pistols after him. As there was no level ground at the bottom of the descent, he plunged right into the river… sometimes swimming and sometimes floundering over rocks, until he found a place where he got out on the north side and made his escape.” [E.W. Caruthers, Revolutionary Incidents And Sketches of Character Chiefly in the “Old North State.” Philadelphia: Hayes and Zell, 1856; pp. 280-281.]

Fanning left the country in frustration on September 22, neither recovering his horse nor gaining revenge.

The incident at Faith Rock is the only event of the Revolution in Randolph County that has received extensive historical examination. In the years after the war, the exploits of Colonel Fanning were investigated by some of North Carolina’s earliest historians. One of these was the Rev. Eli Caruthers of Greensboro, a portion of whose 1856 two-volume history of the Revolution was quoted above. Judge Archibald DeBow Murphey, legal tutor of Governor Jonathan Worth, extensively researched “the Adventures of Colonel David Fanning” and some of his notes were published in the North Carolina University Magazine in 1853 (Vol. II, pp. 72-80).

On May 31, 1847 the Salisbury newspaper Carolina Watchman published “Incidents of the Revolution in North Carolina,” an extensive account by Alexander Gray of Randolph County written in the form of a letter to Professor A.M. Henderson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Gray, a retired General of the War of 1812, was the county’s largest slaveowners and one of its first historians.

Gray may also have been the anonymous author (“76” is the only signature) of the earliest known account of Andrew Hunter’s escape from Fanning, published in The Southern Citizen, Asheboro’s local newspaper, on August 24, 1838 (and reprinted in the Greensborough Patriot on August 10, 1844). Entitled “Fanning’s Mare,” the short story is more self-consciously literary than the later historical accounts, but it shares with them the name of Fanning’s horse: “He called her Red Doe, from her resemblance in color to a deer.”

All of the earliest accounts agree that the name Fanning’s mare was “Red Doe,” although Carruthers without explanation changes the name to “Bay Doe.”   For more than 150 years thereafter, the name “Bay Doe” has been the preferred name of Fanning’s mare.  Here’s one possible explanation: “Red” is not an accepted name for equine hair color; “chestnut” or “sorrel” is the proper term for a horse with an all-reddish coat, mane and tail.   The shade usually considered “bay” is a bright red hair coat, also called “blood bay.”  “Bay,” however, is a generic term for coats that vary from light reddish brown to dark mahogany brown, but always with black “points” (mane, tail, feet or legs).   (For more on equine genetics, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equine_coat_color ).

So the name “Bay Doe” tells us that “Red Doe” was not only bright red, but bright red with black “points.”

Local wisdom in Franklinville has always repeated the claim that Bay Doe’s hoof prints can still be seen, embedded in Faith Rock.  The truth of that, as well as the likelihood that any horse and rider could jump off a 60-degree slope into a river normally as shallow as Deep River, must be left to the opinion of visitors.

Several generations of Eagle Scouts have established and maintained a rough trail from the Andrew Hunter footbridge in Franklinville, up to the top of the rock.  In this 21st-century, there are said to be “geo-caches”  stashed around Faith Rock which game-players may discover with their GPS locators.

Crafford’s Path or Crawford’s Road

January 12, 2009

Here’s a 1947 aerial photo taken high above the Lower Mill and Island Ford. The Island Ford road leads from the steel bridge southeast out of the bottom of the photo; Mulberry Street (now Academy) T’s into Main Street just above the end of the dam. At one time the two roads were connected by a ford which crossed the river diagonally through the site of the dam.

In 1782 Andrew Hunter was bringing a wagon of salt back from Cheraw when he was captured by David Fanning and his men. The road he was following was a trail south from the Great Indian Trading Path to the Pee Dee River, known locally as Crafford’s Path, or Crawford’s Road.

Crawford’s Path left the Trading Path near Climax and Julian, roughly following NC22, the ridge road, crossed Deep River at Island Ford, and went south across US 64. It could have followed SR 1004 (known variously as Pleasant Ridge Road, Holly Spring Road and Erect Road) all the way down to Jugtown Pottery, but to get to Cheraw it would have needed to turn southwest toward Seagrove somewhere, but I don’t know where.

This route is confirmed by what few ancient deed references I have been able to come across, and by the 1771 Collett map.

The first mention I’ve found is in a grant of land on Bush Creek waters from Lord Granville to Robert Willson, 30 Jan. 1750. “The Crafford Road that goes to the Pee Dee River” ran through the property, which Willson sold to William Ellis, and Ellis sold to Semor York in 1782 (see Deed Book 2, Page 45).

Next comes the will of William Cox, probated in 1767: “I give to my five sons… two tenths of the land and mines and tools, Equally Divided, lying on Crawford’s Road on the Round Mountain.”

A 1789 from Hodgins to Mincher Littler (Deed Book 4, Page 11), references land “on Richland Creek on the Crafford Road.”

County court road dockets (13 Sept. 1793, published in the Randolph Geneaological Journal, (Vol.IV, #1, p. 44) mention “Crawford’s Ford on Deep River” (and the “road to Duncan’s Ford”), along with adjoining property owners Allred, York, Kivett, and Samuel Trogdon.

An 1807 deed from Cox to Lane (Deed Book 11, Page 231), conveyed property “on Cox’s Mill Creek by Deep River waters and both sides of Crawford’s Old Road.”

The source of the name “Crafford” or “Crawford” is yet unknown, but the 1820 Randolph County tax list records that a Sarah Crafford owned 130 acres on Sandy Creek in Captain Cole’s district, valued at $200.


Randolph Manufacturing Company III

January 11, 2009

The 1895 Randolph Manufacturing Company was one of Randolph County’s most visually impressive Victorian mills.

This view, taken from the hilltop front yard of the Dave Weatherly House, shows the north front of the factory.

The plan of the building is that of a block-E, where the center cross is the stair tower and the top and bottom lines are wings that extend over the head race on brick arches.

The Wheel House is that of the original Island Ford factory, located under the smokestack to the far left.

One of the most interesting features of the factory is the wooden bridge over the race to the main stair tower entrance.

The body of water directly in front of the mill is the “Bleacher Pond,” providing water for bleaching, printing and dyeing processes.

The aerial photo below, taken in the 1950s, shows the factory after numerous 20th-century additions. The stair tower has been removed, and the entire hollow center of the “E” has been filled in. An expanded weave room extends west to the steel bridge; the bleachery, print works, fleece napping, and sanforizing process are contained in the new wings to the east that replaced the old cotton warehouse.

Only the 1950s-era wings east of the smokestack survived the 1984/85 demolition of the rest of the building.

Island Ford

January 10, 2009

Island Ford in Franklinville was an important ford on the prehistoric trade route south from the Great Indian Trading Path to the Pee Dee River at Cheraw, S.C. The trail, known as “Crafford’s Path” or “Crawford’s Road,” left the trading path near Julian and meandered south to cross Deep River upstream from the site of the Randolph Mfg. Company.

Braxton Craven, born in the Buffalo Ford area but raised as an orphan by George Makepeace of Franklinville, wrote that the natives called the Island Ford “Threntauna.” See Braxton Craven, “Randolph in Olden Times,” Evergreen, Vol. I, No. 5 (May, 1850).

Craven was the President of Trinity College, and The Evergreen was his rather self-conscious attempt at a literary fiction magazine. “Randolph in Olden Times” is part of a series titled “Fabulous History” which included Craven’s “Mary Barker” and “Naomi Wise” novelettes.  Many of the facts given are notoriously unreliable; for example, 1688 is given as the date of Quaker settlement in the Holly Spring area!

If authentic, “Threntauna” would be the only known record of any Indian language place name in the Franklinville area.  Indian names are hard to come by in eastern Randolph– settlers came in the 1730s and 40s, and the Indian names weren’t recorded (Not even Deep River has a certain aboriginal name– many sources argue it was called ‘Sapona,’ but Lawson calls the Yadkin ‘Sapona’ and doesn’t have any name at all for the Deep).

The village of Island Ford was situated on the hill above the ford where Mulberry Street (now Academy Street) ran south down the ridge toward the river. The geography of the area has been so altered by the hands of men over the past 200 years that it is difficult now to decipher the prehistoric lay of the land. My study of the area has me believe that the actual ford lay just in front of, or under, the Lower Mill Dam. I believe this is so because the south bank of deep river is a steep bluff in all but a few spots in the Franklinville area. The area at the south end of the dam appears to be a place where the ford could have climbed the bank and followed the trail south toward Ogle’s Creek.

The post card above shows the area about 1900, with Franklinville to the upper right (the farthest white building is Hanks’ Masonic Lodge, on its original 1850 site. Next to it on the left is the track of the “Factory Branch” of the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railway, built into Franklinville in 1884. Farther left is the river road between Upper and Lower Mills, and then the river.

What appears to be a long, narrow island at the lower left is actually the bank of the head race from the dam, built around 1846. No real island is visible in the area today; stone rubble in the river regularly snags driftwood, accretes a sand bar and sprouts trees, but nothing like the Island at Cedar Falls is present.

The photograph below shows the same area during a flood in the early 20th century. The impoundment behind the Lower Dam was called “Marengo Bay” by early local historian Cornelius Julian (perhaps a reference to the 1800 victory that eventually made Napoleon the ruler of northern Italy). The dam was no more than a dozen feet high, and funneled a good bit of the river through the head gates of the power canal running diagonally across the foreground.

The photograph below shows the modern view of the head gates and the dam, which washed out in a spring flood in 1984.

Here is a detail of the dam profile, showing the stone rubble core capped by concrete.

Island Ford Steel Bridge

January 9, 2009

In 1901 the Virginia Iron and Bridge Company of Roanoke received a contract to build a three-span iron bridge across the river in Franklinville at Island Ford. It is shown above circa 1950 between the weave room addition and the Lower Dam.

The bridge was a gift to the citizens of FV by mill owner Hugh Parks, and was maintained for 68 years by the Town. It was demolished in 1969 in preparation for an expansion of the Lower Mill weave room, which never occurred due to the subsequent death of John W. Clark.

The bridge was more than 350 feet long, and spanned the river in five sections. Three were steel trusses about 85 feet long, with two shorter approach links that spanned the head race on the south and the opposite approach from South Franklinville. The horse and buggy in the first picture above are sitting above the stone pier at the junction of trusses two and three.

In comparison to modern bridges, it was of surprisingly light construction, as is evident from the photograph below. The lady is standing on the east side of the bridge at the junction of two spans. The west end of the Lower Mill is in the right middle ground. The wooden deck and safety railings were the parts of the bridge most subject to deterioration.

A modern view of the site shows that the four stone pillars which anchored the ends of each iron span are still in place, though overgrown with vines. The concrete footing in the river to the left of the abutment in the center is the foundation of the weave room addition to the Lower Mill which was built in the mid-1950s and demolished, along with the rest of the building, in 1985.