Archive for the ‘mill villages’ Category

A Family Tradition: Working more than 175 years in North Carolina’s Textile Industry.

May 28, 2020
Franklinsville Mfg Co. 1874

The Franklinsville Factory, as rebuilt after the 1851 fire.

The textile mill started by the original Franklinsville stockholders in 1838 wove its first yard of cotton sheeting in March 1840 and its last yard sometime before Easter 1978.  During that 180-year span the mill not only wove millions of yards of cloth but trained thousands of workers in the craft and technology of spinning and weaving, The skills learned and used by those workers spread all over North Carolina to a degree that became invisible and unrecognized.

When I first became interested in Franklinville in 1978 I met Margaret Williams, the always helpful and voluable clerk at the Franklinville Store Company. Margaret and her sister Katherine Buie (the retired Town Librarian) were lifelong residents and between them knew everything that went on in the mill village. They welcomed me, encouraged my curiosity about Franklinville, and let me spend many hours with them, talking and asking questions, being directed to other residents who’d know more, and looking at their many photos of the mill and community.

Margaret Buie Williams

Margaret Buie Williams on duty at the Company Store

In that situation, as is common with oral history, they toldme more than I knew I needed to know, more than my ability to assimilate. Thankfully I was able to record some of those conversations, and looking back at them thirty years later, I’m able to make connections and recognize many things I was too overwhelmed to understand at the time. One such is the fact that Margaret and Katherine’s own family, the Buies, were and are one of primary examples of how family traditions of textile work have shaped the economic development of North Carolina.

The Buies were among the 350 Scots who emigrated to North Carolina with the so-called Argyll Colony in 1739. An Archibald and Daniel Buie were with that group, as was my own ancestor Alexander McKay, all settling on the Cape Fear River between Cross Creek and the Lower Little River near what was then known as Campbelltown and now is Fayetteville.

In 1788 on Big Juniper Creek in what is now Moore County, a John Buie was born, son of Neill, grandson of John, and probably grandson of Archibald, though the exact 18th century connections for us all have become obscured. Lots of Scots came to America to start a new life, and records show a number of John Buies.

But Margaret Buie was the historian of her family, and her contribution to the book “The Family Buie: from Scotland to North America” (1980) shows that her great-grandfather was John A. Buie, born 7 April 1812 in Moore County (now Lee County). A tailor by profession, he married Mary Jane Campbell (b1822) and had at least seven children.

Spring Lake/ Manchester

Spring Lake, the former Manchester, flooded during Hurricane Florence.

The 1860 census of Cumberland County shows that John Buie and his family were living in Manchester, a mill village named after the great manufacturing city of northern Britain. All of Buie’s children, ages 6 to 19, were listed as “factory operatives” by the census taker, and must have worked in the Little River Manufacturing Company, which was the focal point of the village of Manchester. It is not clear what jobs the children may have had, but it was not uncommon for children as young as 6 and 8 to work as sweepers and doffers in a mill. Coincidentally another John Buie, born in North Carolina, is listed as a “Manufacturer” in the 1850 census of Prattville, Alabama, home of a large cotton mill and cotton gin factory. Several of his children were also listed as “Operatives,” showing that factory work was a Buie family tradition well before the Civil War.

The Manchester factory was one of three new Cumberland County mills authorized by the legislature in January 1841. By 1850 there would be seven factories ringing Fayetteville, making it the largest manufacturing community in the state. Little River is a tributary of the Cape Fear River, big enough to power a small mill capitalized at $35,000 while the nearby factory on Rockfish Creek was valued at four times that. The railroad from Fayetteville to the Deep River coal mines in Chatham County passed through Manchester, but the community has today vanished inside the town of Spring Lake just east of Pope Army Airfield at Fort Bragg.

Boys doffing a slubber at Cherryville Mfg. Co.

The Little River mill and all but one of the other Cumberland mills would be burned by Sherman’s troops in March, 1865, and it wasn’t rebuilt until 1869.  The destruction of their home and workplace must have caused the Buie family to relocate to Randolph County, where the  mills had all survived the war. [When James Buie died in 1934 his obituary stated that he had lived in Franklinville for 69 years, indicating that the family moved from Manchester in 1865.] The 1870 census shows John Buie and wife Catherine living in Franklinsville, 66 miles west of Manchester, where he was again occupied as a tailor. Their children Matthew G. (“Gib”), John A., Catherine E. (Kate), Nancy and William all lived at home and all but youngest worked in the cotton mill there.

Card Room (1916).

Card Room Hands (1916). James Buie sits in the center.

It was usual for children in a mill to start with the most menial jobs, such as sweeping up cotton dust and lint, or oiling the machinery. Older boys and girls could “doff,” or remove full bobbins of yarn from a spinning frame (while it was running) and load empty bobbins in their place. Such jobs gradually gave young employees knowledge of the various manufacturing operations, and they could be put to work in the specialized ‘rooms’ of equipment. The mill had a hierarchical structure, with sections of each room under the supervision of “Second Hands,” who reported to the Overseer or “Boss” of the Room, who reported to the Superintendent of the Factory; who reported to the owners and stockholders.

Weaving Room Hands (1916). Hugh Buie stands in left foreground.

Weaving Room (1916).

It isn’t known what jobs the Buie children may have done in the Manchester factory, and the Franklinville employee records are fragmentary so far back, but it is clear that they grew up working in cotton mills, and became good at mill work. Jane and Lettie worked in the Weave Room; Catherine (known as Kate), Nancy (Nannie) and John Allen Buie never married, and lived together into the 20th century, all working standard wage jobs in the mills.

M.G. Buie
Overseer of Spinning, 1882-1883
Overseer of Weaving, 1882-1912
Died October 10, 1912

Their brothers William, James and Matthew Gilbert (“Gib”), however, all became higher level supervisors in various departments. The early career of William, the youngest brother, is not known but in 1900 he was listed as the “Boss Weaver” of the Lower Mill. He held that job for 55 years, indicating the stability and job security enjoyed by skilled technical workers in the early industry. His son Lacy Buie served as Chief Engineer of the factory at Cedar Falls, and other children worked in factories in High Point and Hamlet.

James Buie 1915

James Buie
Overseer of Spinning, 1877-1882.
Overseer of Carding, 1882-1923.
Died June 13, 1923.

James Buie House

James Buie House, 159 Rose St., Franklinville

In 1870 James was working in the mill as a machinist, but in 1877 at age 23 he was made Overseer of the Spinning Room at the Upper Mill; he transferred to the position of Overseer of the Card Room in 1882, a job he remained in for the next 43 years.  When James went to the Card Room his brother Gib was made Overseer of Spinning, but he only held that job a year until he was made Overseer of the Weave Room, perhaps the most important supervisory position in the mill under that of Superintendent. Gib Buie served as “Boss Weaver” until 1916, when his son Hugh Buie took over that job. Hugh had been a loom fixer in the mill when he was promoted to Second Hand in the Weave Room in 1912. Hugh had tried jobs outside the mill- in 1903 he was running a store and livery stable in Franklinville- but obviously the pull of family connections in the mill brought him back into the dynastic structure of the factory. When he died in 1934, Hugh Buie was both Overseer of Weaving and Foreman of the Finishing Department.

Joe T. Buie
Book-Keeper, 1912-1923.

Gib Buie’s other children also had careers in the mill. His son Joe became the mill book-keeper and office manager; daughters Jane and Fannie worked as weavers, and Blanche and Mattie were Drawing-In Hands, hooking the warp yarns through the heddles and reeds to create weave patterns. Fannie left the mill to marry George Russell, then the Chief Engineer of the Upper Mill, and later its Superintendent.

Hugh B. Buie, Overseer of Weaving, 1912-1923.

Hugh Buie’s children included my friends Katherine, the original Franklinville Librarian, her sister Margaret, who married Clyde Williams and worked in the Company Store. Youngest son Mack Buie was working in the Lexington Silk Mill when he was drafted in 1942, and son Charles (1906-1960), began working in the Montgomery County mill town of Capelsie by the time he was eighteen years old. He became Superintendent of the Aileen Mills in the nearby town of Biscoe, and ultimately was President of Spring Mills there. His son Charles Jr. in 1967 opened Charlescraft, Inc.- originally making kitchen towels, dishcloths and potholders, but gradually diversifying into polyester and blended industrial yarns. Today the family-owned and operated company is one of the country’s best-known manufacturers of high-performance flame-resistant and cut-resistant yarns and fabrics, spinning Aramid fibers such as Kevlar and Nomex for commercial and military applications.

Drawing-In Hands (1916).
Miss Mattie Buie
Miss Ellie Martindill
Miss Blanche Buie.

So a North Carolina family which started to earn a living in textile trades in Cumberland County in the 1840s, then moved to Franklinville in the 1860s, has remained heavily involved in the state’s textile industry ever since. I’m not sure if there are other North Carolina families who can match this record of service, but certainly the Buie family of Franklinville can be proud of one of our longest traditions in the state’s textile industry.

 

Plague and the Pest House

April 15, 2020

Pest House patientI am writing this from my home in Franklinville, NC, in the midst of COVID-19 self-isolation. For most of America, home isolation is designed to “flatten the curve”- to impose community isolation measures that slow the spread of infection and keep the daily case load at a manageable level for our existing health care resources.  In my case, it’s to protect me in the wake of my recent heart surgery, and keep me from the risk of pneumonia on top of asthma and post-anesthesia breathing issues.

All this was getting underway as I entered the hospital, and ten days later was in high gear in North Carolina, with public schools and university classes cancelled or forced online; public libraries, museums, historic sites and non-essential businesses closed; restaurants and bars reduced to drive-through and take-out service, if at all; and Americans all over the country urged to practice ‘social distancing’ by not meeting in groups or religious services, wearing masks and gloves, and maintaining a six-foot distance from one another.

Pest House isolation

As I write this, these measures have had some success when adopted early, as in San Francisco, but have failed to stem the tide of infection in cities such as New York and Philadelphia. They seem to be helping in North Carolina, despite vocal opposition from a minority who consider any such restrictions overwrought, bogus, or unconstitutional.

It has been accepted in modern America that the fall of every year brings the onset of ‘flu season,’ and persons susceptible to lung problems are urged to get prophylactic flu shots developed to take the edge off last year’s version of the flu. People die every year from complications of the flu, and, like gunshot victims and automobile accidents, are accepted as part of modern life.

Pest House Dr McCoy

I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer!

The current pandemic, affecting virtually every country on earth, is different because it is NOT last year’s flu, but something new, and the traditional flu meds don’t seem to be working. It is also different because our national ability to respond to this kind of crisis has been nibbled away by lack of funding, or crony capitalism, and simple complacency.  Even though 2019 was the centennial of the worst pandemic in modern history, we came to believe that such things just didn’t happen any more, that modern medicine and modern technology could whip up a vaccine at the same speed Dr. McCoy could cure the malady of the week in one episode of Star Trek. This is not the case as a look at the history just underneath our present day will show.

Pest House Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever in New Orleans

When I first moved to Franklinville I interviewed a lot of people about the history of the community, and one of the first things I learned was that, while life wasn’t exactly cheap, death was always just around the corner. Families were large, but would have been even larger without the regular deaths of young children from incurable diseases such as mumps, measles, whooping cough, and polio.  At any point of the year, ancient adult diseases such as smallpox, yellow fever, typhus, cholera, typhoid fever and tuberculosis might flare up and take friends and family away with little or no warning.

Pest Gleason_cooling_board_ad_reduced

Death was so common, and so accepted, that there was a rote process for dealing with it. In the weave room of the Lower Mill, I was told, a 3×6-foot wooden tabletop was stored in a rack over the windows- the “Cooling Board,” the community catafalque. When someone died, the cooling board was taken to their house and set up in the largest room, to clean and embalm the body and hold the coffin for the wake. After the funeral, the cooling board was taken back to its rack in the weave room.

Pest House Burlington KY

A mill village, an urbanized community with houses set closer together than in country living, was especially vulnerable to communicable disease. While Franklinville had its own doctor, it had no hospital, and indeed, there was no hospital in all of Randolph County until the 1920s.  What Franklinville did have was its “Pest House,” short for ‘Pestilence House.’

Pest House London 2

London Pest-House, St. Giles Cripplegate

As community health-care facilities, ‘Pest Houses’ date back to medieval times. Daniel Defoe in A Journal of the Plague Year, states that in 1165 London “it was a great mistake that such great city as this had but one pest-house.”

londonrem

In fact, many if not most North Carolina towns and counties of the early 20th century had their Ppest Houses. A look through contemporary state newspapers of the time shows that Wilmington spent $350 building a frame pest house 50 feet long by 20 feet wide. Charlotte in 1914 built a new one with ten rooms “divided into male and female compartments.”  High Point, Lexington, Concord, Gastonia, Asheville, Alamance County, Durham, Oxford, Raleigh and New Bern all budgeted for the operation of their pest houses, paying cooks, cleaners, wood choppers, and guards for both day and night shifts during peak periods of operation- which at the time were chiefly during smallpox epidemics.

Pest House Lynchburg VA

Lynchburg, Virginia Pest House

So common were the annual outbreaks of small pox that Raleigh in April 1899 voted to change the name of its Pest House to the “Raleigh Small Pox Hospital.” Said the city Superintendent of Health, “The people of Raleigh are now, I believe, ready for compulsory vaccination. It has been shown in other places- Charlotte and Rocky Mount have used it to good effect…. At Charlotte, one man was put in jail for refusing to be vaccinated, and at Rocky Mount, two were sent to the roads.” [i.e., the county jail road maintenance gang].

Pest House lysolMiss Kitty Caviness, a retired teacher, first told me about Franklinville Pest House, which was in the hollow between her house and the Lower Mill. It was a small cabin or “fever shed” with beds, and if the illness was something that could endanger the whole village, the patient was taken there under quarantine.  I never saw the building; as far as anyone could remember, the Franklinville Pest House was last used during the “Spanish Flu” epidemic of 1918-1920.  “It smelled like sulpher,” said Miss Caviness, and undoubtedly this was due to the common practice of the time of disinfecting the air by burning sulpher in open pans in each room.

Pest House wardI’m told that Randleman also had a Pest House, perhaps shared with Worthville, and this may have been a feature of all the Deep River Mill villages.  Universal vaccination for communicable deadly diseases gradually did away with the need to isolate patients from their neighbors, but the sudden rise of the “Spanish Flu” in 1918 brought them back into wide use for a few years- and triggered a movement to build community hospitals in rural areas.

More on this in a separate entry.

The Power of Water: Hurricane Florence in Randolph County, September 2018

July 24, 2019

Hurricane Florence from space- NASA.

People often ask me why we don’t have a Randolph County museum. The short answer is that a decent museum would cost a lot of money and need staffing, neither of which the county wants to sponsor. Even private efforts take a lot of time just trying to raise money for one exhibit, as the following story will show. This is the text of a grant application I wrote to the NC Humanities Council last fall seeking to get the right to host a Smithsonian Institution travelling exhibit on “WaterWays.”  It would have been a great way to jump start a museum gallery and major exhibit in Randolph County, specifically in Franklinville, as the text indicates. It was tied to the amazing display of water power we all witnessed in September 2018 as Hurricane Florence blew through the area. Like 12 out of the other 14 applications I wrote last year, it was denied with a one paragraph letter. But the application is a bit of modern history that I am proud of writing.

Franklinville footbridge across Deep River, Sept. 18, 2018 (Tom Allen).

Preface

Recent events have underscored the fact that North Carolina cannot ignore the impact of water on human activity. According to radar estimates from the U.S. National Weather Service the slow passage of Hurricane Florence during the weekend of September 14-17, 2018 dropped 8.06 trillion gallons of rain on the state. That’s almost enough water to completely fill Lake Mead, the reservoir behind the Hoover Dam in Nevada.

When the Florence floodwaters peaked in Randolph County that Monday about noon, the Cedar Falls and Franklinville communities had water at or near the 500 year flood level- yet 160 year-old mill buildings and 140 year-old railroad bed were “high and dry.” Being just 30 miles from the source of the river, those communities were fortunate: as high as the waters rose, the flood actually came and went in less than 24 hours. By Tuesday the cleanup was underway in Randolph County, but the same hurricane waters wouldn’t find their way back to the Atlantic for at least a week.

Drone shot of the Deep River at the Upper Mill, Franklinville, showing the mouth of Walnut Creek where it enters the River. (Tom Allen)

Over three days Hurricane Florence put about six inches of water into rain gauges in Franklinville, where the average annual rainfall is 46.6 inches. That more than a month’s worth of rain fell in those 4 days was not in itself catastrophic: the greatest single day total in state history was the 21.15 inches of rain that fell on the town of Highlands in Macon County on July 29, 1879. Communities in Craven, Carteret and New Hanover counties received more than 30 inches of rain from Hurricane Florence, and then over the next ten days were forced to cope with even more water flooding down the estuaries of the Cape Fear toward the sea.

Florence floods Englehard, NC.

While it lasted, the blocked roads and flooded parks along Deep River attracted hundreds of spectators, looking out at scenes not seen in more than 50 years. One of the most common questions was “Why did they ever build a factory beside a river? That was stupid!” The vivid answer was in front of them, but 21st century residents have become so divorced from their history that the lesson was invisible. The river was the entire reason these mill communities came into existence: to harness the power of flowing water.

The Upper dam during Florence- the head of the dam is about 35 feet above the grist and cotton mill a quarter mile downstream. (tom Allen)

Head

To calculate the power of a river, we need to know the height it falls from source to exit point (the ‘head’) and the amount of water that travels down the stream channel in a given period of time (the flow rate). How much water is in a river depends on the land area which slopes toward the river; the drainage basin or catchment area describes the area that collects surface water and channels it toward a single discharge point into the ocean. The flow rate varies with both the amount of water in the channel, and the slope of the channel from point to point.

Deep River alone is 125 miles long; its twin the Haw River begins in northeast Greensboro and flows through Alamance, Orange and Chatham counties for 110 miles. The Deep and the Haw converge at Mermaid’s Point near Haywood in Chatham County, where they form the renamed Cape Fear and flow an additional 80 miles to meet the ocean at Bald Head Island.

The Deep, the Haw and the Cape Fear estuaries together make up the largest watershed in North Carolina, containing 27% of the state’s population. The name Cape Fear comes from the 1585 expedition of Sir Richard Grenville, and marks the southernmost tip of Smith (now Bald Head) Island. It is the fifth-oldest surviving English place name in the U.S (after Roanoke, Chowan, Neuse and Virginia.) Spanish explorers had named it ‘Rio Jordan’ in 1526, and the English tried renaming it the Charles River (1664) and the Clarendon River (1671), before reverting to the original name.

The Deep and Haw Rivers unite at Mermaid’s Point to form the Cape Fear River, which enters the Atlantic Ocean at Southport.

Deep River heads in a spring near a runway at the Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, elevation 925 feet above sea level. In 202 miles the water merges with the Atlantic Ocean.

It leaves Guilford County below Jamestown, where the reservoir lake level is maintained at a constant elevation of 675 feet from there to the Randleman Dam. After the dam, the river’s elevation is 600 feet at the US220 bridge in Randleman; at the Old Liberty Rd. bridge at Central Falls, it is 575 feet; at the lip of Cox’s Dam it is at 560 feet; and it descends to 500 feet by the time it reaches the Loflin Pond Bridge at Cedar Falls. Water flows over the Upper Dam at Franklinville at 475 feet; the Lower Dam at 450 feet; and at the US 64 bridge just below the mouth of Sandy Creek the water level sinks to at 439 feet.

The US Geological Service monitoring station at Gabriel’s Creek, the river’s only flow monitor in Randolph County is located just upstream of the Brooklyn Bridge in Ramseur, where the water is 425 feet above sea level. The drainage area above this point includes 349 square miles. From there the river continues to fall gradually; reaching 420 feet at Buffalo Ford; 400 feet at the Coleridge Dam; and 325 feet at the Moore County line just north of Howard’s Mill.

At Gulf in Chatham County the water level is 270 feet; at Moncure 213 feet; at the Buckhorn Dam at Lockville, where the Deep meets the Haw River to form the Cape Fear, the level has sunk to 160 feet above sea level. The drainage area above this point now encompasses 3,157 square miles. At Fayetteville the river elevation reaches 213 feet; at Lumberton 131 feet; until at Wilmington it is just 38 feet above the ocean. Southport, where the fresh water of the river reaches the Atlantic, is less than 15 feet above sea level. More than 9,000 square miles of North Carolina, 17% of the state’s total land area, drains into the Atlantic through the mouth of the Cape Fear.

Trash backs up behind the bridge at High Falls in Chatham County during Florence.

Flow

The power of flowing water is measured in cubic feet per second. The US Army Corps of Engineers maintains a gauge at Gabriel’s Creek near Ramseur that has been operating continuously since 1985, and can be checked in real-time on the internet. This monitoring station can record floods of up to 26 feet above normal river level, and discharge rates of up to 20,000 cubic feet per second. The median daily flow at the Gabriel’s Creek usually finds 60 cubic feet of water flowing downstream every second. The daily flow varies according to drought and rainfall; in 1943 the lowest recorded flow was just 6.5 feet per second at the meter; the largest flow in the last 60 years was 2,410 cubic feet per second in 1960.

Whiteville, NC.

The night of September 16, 2018 saw records broken at the Gabriel’s Creek station: both the flow and the height of the river exceeded the operational limits of the monitoring devices. The US Geological Survey Service estimates that the river that day crested at more than 31 feet above flood stage, with an estimated discharge of 32,000 cubic feet per second.

Power

The theoretically available power from falling water can be expressed as Pth = ρ q g h, where

Pth = power theoretically available (W)

ρ = density (kg/m3) (~ 1000 kg/m3 for water)

q = water flow (m3/s)

g = acceleration of gravity (9.81 m/s2)

h = falling height, head (m)

Fayetteville Police Dept. camera showing the flood cresting at the railroad bridge over the Cape Fear. The bridge is normally more than 40 feet above the water.

After converting cubic feet to cubic meters, we can estimate that on September 16th the 1,225 cubic yards of water flowing down Deep River, falling 100 feet from the Gabriel’s Creek station to the county line, represented 1,081,553 kilowatts of energy. Since a megawatt is 1,000 kilowatts, the flood waters of Hurricane Florence equaled a thousand megawatts, or a gigawatt of energy flowing through Randolph County; gathering force and heading into eastern North Carolina.

For scale, a gigawatt is enough electricity to power 700,000 homes, and in 2017 there were just over 62,000 housing units in Randolph County. Using another scale: a single modern nuclear reactor can generate about 1 megawatt. The largest nuclear installation in the United States, with multiple reactors, generates 4,000 megawatts. This means that, if harnessed to generate electricity, the 2018 flood waters of Hurricane Florence flowing down just one North Carolina river, would have equaled the output of a million nuclear reactors.

A sobering fact: since record-keeping began in 1901, Hurricane Florence is only the third highest flood peak on Deep River, slightly below Hurricane Hazel of 1954, and far below an unnamed storm in September 1945, when the peak flow at Gabriel’s Creek was estimated to have reached 43,000 cubic feet per second, or nearly 1.5 gigawatts of energy leaving the county.

This was the reason mills were located along rivers. The power of falling water, harnessed mechanically, can do the work of many men and many animals- even many nuclear power plants.

Franklinville Industrial History is powered by Water and Steam 

The new S. Morgan Smith waterwheel being delivered to Franklinville Manufacturing Company in 1909.

Our community’s history has been intertwined with the power of the river from its very beginning, and still today Deep River powers local businesses.  A large part of Franklinville was included within the National Register Historic District in 1985, and dozens of structures dating from antebellum times still stand in the town. Our new branding motto is that “History Lives Here.” But when we consider the community’s relationship to the river, we might just as well say “History Works Here.”

When Deep River ran free toward the sea, shad, herring and sturgeon were commonly caught here.  Fish such as these lived their lives in the ocean, but came upstream to lay their eggs in freshwater rivers and creeks. About halfway between Island Ford and Sandy Creek, an aboriginal fish weir, used to funnel fish into woven baskets, can still be seen at low water.

A medium-sized Atlantic sturgeon caught in the Pee Dee River in 2017.

Prehistoric native Americans left the Deep River area before settlers began to arrive and record Indian names and legends, but geography can hint at their travel patterns. From Bush Creek to Sandy Creek on either side of Franklinville the river drops sixty feet in a series of rapids and shallows that created two crossings used by natives for hundreds or thousands of years. At the lower (downstream) crossing known as Island Ford, “Crawford’s Path” ran from the Great Indian Trading Path near Julian South to Cheraw, South Carolina. The “Ellison Road” crossed at the upper ford, branching off Crawford’s Path and running west towards Asheboro, Salisbury and Charlotte.

Settlers began arriving in what is now Randolph County in the 1740s, when the area was part of Bladen County. In 1752 it became Orange County, which in 1771 became Guilford and in 1779, Randolph. The earliest known settler in the Franklinville area was Solomon Allred, who in March 1752 applied to purchase 640 acres “at the mouth of Sandy Creek, including his improvements.” To the West, Herman Husbands in November 1754 entered 402 acres on Deep River “called the Cedar Falls.” In between Hercules Ogle, a blacksmith, received permission to build a grist mill on his property near Solomon Allred in 1759.

The first settler on the actual site of Franklinville was Jacob Skeen, who entered title to 400 acres on Deep River including the mouth of Bush Creek and “his mill seat” in December 1778.  This is the first indication that the obvious waterpower potential of the falls above Island Ford was already being developed, using the kinetic energy generated by falling water to grind corn and wheat, gin cotton, card wool, saw wood, and smelt iron ore. Another miller, Christian Moretz, rebuilt the mill in 1801, and Elisha Coffin, another miller, bought the property twenty years later. The community which grew up around this mill became known “Coffin’s Mills on Deep River,” and later Franklinsville (the final ‘s’ was dropped in 1918). The wheat and corn mill survived until 1913 when it was replaced by a roller process mill. The ‘Roller Mill’ made both plain and self-rising flour, sold under the “Dainty Biscuit” brand name until a year before the mill burned in 1987.

The three oldest cotton textile mill villages on Deep River are Cedar Falls (1836), Franklinville (1838) and Island Ford (1845), all located within three miles of one another. When Franklinville was incorporated by the legislature in 1846 it was North Carolina’s first textile mill community to become a municipality. The original Franklinsville factory was spinning yarn by late 1839, and began to weave cloth in February 1840. Another cotton mill was added at Island Ford in 1846, apparel production lines cut and sewed undergarments for soldiers during the Civil War, and for a time wool spinning and sock knitting took place. Textile production continued in Franklinville until the mills finally closed in 1978.

The mill first installed a supplement to the river’s power in 1883, when a wood-fired boiler began to run a mechanical steam engine. A later 1898 Harris Corliss engine still exists.

Worthville Covered Bridge abutments after the bridge was washed away, 1912

The river was first used to turn an electric generator in Worthville about 1886; Franklinville acquired a generator and put electric lights in the mill in 1895. In 1919 a steam turbine generator station fired by coal began supplying electricity to the entire Franklinville community. Deep River Hydro, headquartered in Franklinville, even today operates low-head hydroelectric generators there and in Coleridge which send electricity to the Duke Energy grid. The cotton mills may have closed in 1978, but Deep River is still powering homes, businesses and industry in North Carolina today.

Pier destroyed at Wrightsville Beach by Florence.

Our Pitch

From the 1770s to the present, Franklinville has been putting Deep River to work. This is why we want to host Water/Ways. 2018 is the 240th anniversary of the first known use of waterpower in our community. 2020 will be the 180th anniversary of using the river’s energy to weave cotton cloth. There is no county history museum or exhibit gallery in Randolph County; several communities have tiny local museums but none has any space appropriate for hosting a SITES display. Hosting Water/Ways would be a huge vote of confidence in our effort to brand Franklinville as the home of history in Randolph county.

Randolph Heritage owns 15 acres on Deep River including the site of the grist mill and 1838 cotton mill. The 1919 Power House located at 1295 Andrew Hunter Road includes a 1400 square foot space with 20-foot-high ceilings that can be configured to house the SITES show and additional exhibits. The Power House is part of a complex of buildings that we plan to configure into a visitor’s center and gallery space to tell the story of Franklinville and its water-powered industry. There are also plans to rebuild the adjacent Cotton Warehouse into four large multi-purpose spaces.

The Power House complex is located on the Deep River Rail Trail, a hiking and biking trail being built on the former right-of-way of the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railway. It also adjoins the Deep River Blueway, a state paddle trail, and a kayak and canoe access point is planned for another part of the Randolph Heritage property. All these points are planned to be connected by a string of wayside signage marking significant points in Franklinville’s relationship to the river—the dams, the head and tail races, the sites of water wheels, wool carding machines, cotton gins, and saw mills.

Local exhibits will make use of the Randolph Heritage collections, which include oral history recordings, archival photographs, historic textile machinery, and historic water wheels and turbines.

We are creating a special collection of Hurricane Florence images, including spectacular aerial drone video of Deep River in flood through Franklinville on Monday September 17, 2018.

A sailboat is shoved up against a house and a collapsed garage Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, New Bern, N.C. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Town of Franklinville and Randolph Heritage plan to construct a series of tours, lectures, events and programs that will allow the visiting public to explore water from both scientific and cultural perspectives. Our purpose here is to begin to reconnect local residents to the value of the waterway, and so give them the ability to be better guides and ambassadors for the heritage of the river. We hope to build a core group of engaged parties who will work together to reclaim, restore and reinvigorate our waterside communities. We will create these programs and activities in collaboration with local schools, 4H clubs, the Franklinville Public Library, the Franklinville Volunteer Fire Department, the Randolph County Public Health Department, and others.

Florence flooding the Cape Fear in downtown Wilmington.

Potential program and event topics include:

*Engaging students water quality monitoring, watershed ecology and environmental stewardship;

*The hydrology of water power, from dam to tail race.

*The power of steam.

*Tours of the Sandy Creek drinking water treatment and the Franklinville wastewater treatment plants

*The history of Busk Creek ironworks and exploring how it used water power to smelt iron ore

*Exploring the local history of alcohol production from moonshining apple brandy to brewing beer

*A fishing tournament at Sandy Creek- discuss what lives in the river, licenses needed, etc.

*How clean/dirty is our river water? Are there toxic legacies in Deep River mud and sediment? Randleman, Asheboro and Franklinville all at times used river water to bleach, dye and finish cotton cloth. Older residents remember when the river would run blue, green, yellow and red, based on what colors were being used upstream.

North Carolina National Guard soldiers sandbagging a bridge near Wilmington.

We believe that hosting Water/Ways will be an appropriate way to open our renovated gallery space and to kick start our campaign to bring the history of Franklinville and Deep River to vivid life. We hope that the Humanities Council and SITES will to partner with us to champion the incredible ongoing story of the power of water in North Carolina.

A Cajun Navy air boat rescuing a family near Kinston, NC during Florence.

The “Factory Branch” of the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railway

May 3, 2019

The Franklinsville Depot, about 1900

The Main Line.

When the Civil War began Randolph County was without any direct rail connections. The North Carolina Railroad had opened in 1856, passing just 2 miles north of the county line and creating the new city of High Point. The Western Railroad to the Chatham coal fields was complete from Fayetteville to Sanford in 1861. In 1862 a proposal was made in the legislature to extend that line through Franklinville and Asheboro, all the way to Winston-Salem, but this never happened.[1]


The Cape Fear & Yadkin Valley Railroad was chartered in 1879 as a merger of the Fayetteville & Western Railroad and the Mt. Airy & Ore Knob Railroad, having plans to build a line stretching from Wilmington through Fayetteville and Greensboro to Mt. Airy. The original proposal was to build the main line up Deep River through the factory villages, but the final route ran directly to Greensboro through Staley and Liberty, with a future branch line to Franklinville.[2]


The original company suffered financial difficulties, went into receivership, and in July of 1883 was reorganized into the Cape Fear & Yadkin Valley Railway. Construction of the track south from Fayetteville finally began in 1883, reaching Bennettsville, SC by the end of 1884. The northern line reached Greensboro by 1884 and Mt. Airy by 1887; the line to Wilmington and the “Factory Branch” to Ramseur were complete in 1890.
The expense of building this network, together with a general financial depression in 1893, forced the railroad into foreclosure in 1894. The line was initially purchased by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and operated under the name of Atlantic & Yadkin Railway. However, the legal and corporate turmoil was only resolved by the North Carolina Supreme Court in 1924, when Southern Railway obtained the line from Fayetteville to Mt. Airy, while the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad retained the southern portion.

The Factory Branch
When the CFYV Main Line bypassed Randolph in 1879, efforts began almost immediately to extend the Western North Carolina Railroad from Raleigh to Pittsboro and on through “the thriving Franklinville section”[3] to Salisbury, “following the old stage road.”[4] The route was surveyed, but the line was never built.[5] In 1883 the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley sought legislative permission to borrow funds to build the factory branch, using “convict labor.”[6]
The Deep River line was approved in 1884,[7] but right-of-way acquisition only began in 1886.[8] The initial plan was to run from “the 85 mile post, about midway between Pleasant Garden and Julian” [the future community of Climax], south about nine miles “to a point about 1 ½ miles from Worthville, as the most convenient point to all the factories.”[9] In 1887 that convenient shipping point took on the name “Millboro,” and for several years that was the literal end of the line.[10]

Uniform Button, Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railway Co.

Controversy arose in 1887 over the CFVYRR’s use of forced labor, at a time when “a great many laboring men of [Wilmington] would otherwise be idle.”[11] The company took pains to assure eastern North Carolinians that convict labor would only be used to complete the Main Line to Mt. Airy, and the branch line to Franklinsville, else “the company shall immediately forfeit all right and claim to work convicts, and they shall be immediately returned to the authorities of the State penitentiary.”[12]

Final extension of the Factory Branch from Millboro was approved in 1889, with survey of the route beginning in June,[13] and construction quickly following, with “four hundred convicts” put to work grading the trackbed.[14] In August a news article announced that “Work on the Millboro & Columbia Branch of the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad is being pushed with great energy by Col. Hick. A new squad of 140 convicts was brought down last Friday and placed in the new stockade erected between Franklinsville and Columbia Factory. The force at present numbers over 400 strong, and additional force is expected… Dirt is being thrown as low down the line as the town of Cedar Falls, and all along the line above that point the work is going on.”[15]

Trestle Toward Cedar Falls (over Bush Creek)

Grading was completed to Cedar Falls by December 1890, with work continuing on the line to Ramseur, “formerly known as Columbia Factory.”[16] In March “The Asheboro Courier says that Franklinsville rejoices over the near approach of the railroad… It would not surprise the Courier to see one of these days Cedar Falls, Franklinsville and Ramseur linking together and consolidating as one big bustling and stirring manufacturing town.”[17] The first train running north from Franklinsville arrived in Greensboro on Monday morning, May 19, 1890. J. M. Ellison, one of the first passengers, said that “Franklinsville people are very proud of the railroad.”[18]

The Franklinville Riverside business district looking east from the Depot

——
1-Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer, 22 Jan. 1863.
2-The Chatham Record, 13 Nov. 1879.
3-Goldsboro Messenger, 12 Feb. 1880.
4-The Chatham Record, 27 Nov. 1879.
5-The Chatham Record, 4 Aug. 1881.
6-Alamance Gleaner (Graham, NC) 25 Jan. 1883.
7-The Chatham Record, 31 Jan. 1884, quoting the Asheboro Courier.
8-The Chatham Record, 10 June 1886.
9-The Chatham Record, 1 July 1886.
10-The Chatham Record, 25 Aug. 1887. Oliver F. Cox was the first “post-master.”
11-The Morning Star, Wilmington, 11 Feb. 1888.
12-Id.
13-The Leader, Jonesboro, NC, 5 June 1889.
14-Fayetteville Weekly Observer, 4 July 1889.
15-The North State, Greensboro NC, 15 Aug. 1889. Forty years later the site of that stockade became the Civilian Conservation Corps camp at Midway.
16-The North State, GSO, 25 Jan. 1890.
17-The North State, Greensboro, 20 March 1890.
18-Ibid, Thursday 22 May 1890.

A&Y Route Maps from the Library of Congress

Mill Power: Steam

November 6, 2017

Harris Corliss

I realized today that there is a major Franklinville anniversary coming up this month. One hundred twenty years ago, on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1897, the “Upper Mill” started up its second steam engine- an engine that still exists, though no longer in Franklinville, and still has lessons for us about powering manufacturing.

P&PC 023

The interior of P&P Chair Company in Asheboro, where the lineshaft down the center of the building was originally powered by a Corliss engine.

Before the advent of individual electric motors to power machinery, finding the energy to manufacture goods involved harnessing natural resources to mechanical processes. The most important requirement was a plentiful source of water, required by steam engines and boilers as well as by water wheels. Whether turned by the force of flowing water or high-pressure steam, a rotating flywheel pulled a leather belt, transmitted through a complicated system of shafts, belts, ropes and pulleys to connect each individual machine to the rotating wheel.

Breast wheel at destroyed Richmond paper mill 1865.

Breast wheel in ruins of Richmond Va. paper mill, 1865

The mill’s original power came from one or more wooden water wheels of the breast (or “pitch-back”) type, the usual form of water wheel usually found in British and New England textile mills. . The entire reason to locate the factory at this spot on Deep River was to take advantage of the potential for water power, so a water wheel had to have been part of the original construction of the mill. The earliest written reference to any Deep River factory wheel comes in 1848, when a reporter mentions the two metal breast wheels installed in the rebuilt Cedar Falls factory, built by the Snow Camp Foundry. The wheel in Franklinville was probably covered at least with a shed to protect it from ice, but it is not clear what, if any, structure covered the water wheel until July, 1882, when the capital stock of the corporation was increased by $20,000 to allow construction of a two-story “Wheel House.” A new water wheel was installed in the basement of the Wheel House at that time, almost certainly some kind of turbine wheel. The original water wheels installed in the Union Factory in Randleman were early turbine wheels, but the low flow of water made them inefficient. For that reason the Union factory installed the first steam engine on the river, by 1881 if not before.

Harris-steam-engine-1911-nameplate-300x147

But water power is another story; this post is about steam, and the first steam boiler started to power the Franklinville factory in 1882. The records of the William A. Harris Steam Engine Company of Providence, Rhode Island (now in the New England Museum of Wireless and Steam) indicates that an 87-horsepower right-hand drive girder frame Corliss-type engine with a flywheel eleven feet in diameter was ordered by the Franklinsville Manufacturing Company on March 29, 1882.

George Corliss

George Corliss

The reciprocating steam valve patented by George Corliss in 1849 allowed for uniform speed and more efficient cutoff of steam, and quickly became the preferred industry standard for large mill engines. William Harris, formerly a superintendent in the Corliss factory, opened his own firm in 1864. Between 1874 and 1899 he delivered 18 engines to North Carolina manufacturers, including one to Randleman in 1881, one to the fomer Island Ford factory in Franklinville in 1896, and one to Cedar Falls in 1898.

william_a_harris

William A. Harris

Corliss engines were the workhorses of manufacturing in America. Franklinville alone, circa 1890, had four– at both cotton mills, the Bush Creek rock crusher, and the Makepeace Millworks. All of the big smokestack industries in Asheboro were powered by corliss engines; yet by 1950, all had been replaced by cheap electricity powering motorized equipment. The Age of steam-powered prime movers, 1880-1940, was barely one man’s lifetime.

UpperMillBoilerRm

Franklinsville Mfg. Co. 1897 boiler room and smokestack

The 1882 Franklinville engine was located in the Wheel House, and a Boiler Room was added to the south of the wheel house, together with a 69-foot-tall brick chimney flue for the boiler, fired by wood. The steam engine operated for the first time on November 24, 1882. An electric dynamo was attached to the water wheel in the fall of 1896, and in October the first electric lights were installed in the mill. (The superintendent noted that “then tallow candles and kerosene lamps became a thing of the past.”)

Harris Corliss 1

1897 FMC Harris Corliss Engine, front view, 1995

In 1895 the mill began an expansion plan which resulted in doubling the size of the factory by 1899. To prepare for that, in 1897 the boiler room was expanded, a taller smokestack was erected, and a new engine house was built to house a bigger 150-horsepower Harris Corliss engine. Evidently satisfied with the performance of its 1882 engine, the mill went back to the William A. Harris Company and ordered a new engine even larger than the old one.

Harris Corliss 2

1897 engine, rear view

Ordered on July29, 1897, the engine boasted an 18” cylinder and a 42” stroke, and provided more than 100 horsepower to the flat-belt pulley on its 13-foot flywheel. A new engine house was built, with granite bed stones anchored in a wheel pit deep beneath the mill. The engine was started for the first time on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, 1897, “by Benajah T. Lockwood of Providence, Rhode Island.” The engine turned continuously until December 23, 1920, when the new coal-fired Power House was built, and electric motor drives were installed in the mill.

Harris Corliss 6

1897 FMC engine, showing steam chest with corliss valve gear, Nov. 2017

The Franklinville engine then began a remarkable journey around North Carolina- remarkable for a machine the size of a box truck and weighing many tons. In July, 1921 it was sold to Builder’s Sash and Door Company of Rocky Mount, where it operated until April of 1933. It was then purchased by the Williams Lumber Company and moved to their mill in Wilson. Williams Lumber became Stevens Millwork in 1965, and the engine continued to run their saw mill and millwork shop until 1971, when the company closed. Scrap dealers disassembled the engine and sold it to someone who moved it to Smithfield, NC, but never set it up. There it was discovered by Shell Williams of Godwin, NC, who used a crane and lowboy to move it to Cumberland County in 1977, where it remains.

Harris Corliss 4

1897 FMC engine, showing governor

November 25, 2017 will be the 120th anniversary of this workhorse machine first coming to life in Franklinville, NC. It powered at least 3 different North Carolina manufacturers for more than 75 years, and could still go on for years more. It is a monument to American mechanical design and craftsmanship, as well as to the manufacturing power that built our modern economy.  A good reason to pause and remember the hard work of all the people who designed it, built it, moved it, operated it, and cared for it for more than five generations in Rhode Island and North Carolina.

Harris-steam-engine-1892

Robert Merriam, of the New England Museum of Wireless and Steam, operating their 1892 Harris Corliss engine.

Notes to Independence Day, 1842.

August 3, 2015

IMG_2397Published in the Raleigh Register, Friday, 15 July 1842–

The Raleigh Register and North-Carolina Weekly Advertiser was published weekly in Raleigh beginning in 1799, and in various formats and title variations to 1852.  Its publisher, Joseph Gales, was a well-known British immigrant who was sympathetic to the French Revolution and Thomas Jefferson.  It was a leading poltical voice in North Carolina, first for Jefferson’s Republican Party and later for the Whig Party.  Gales became one of Raleigh’s leading citizens and advocated for internal improvements and public education.  He privately favored the emancipation of slaves and publicly advocated for the American Colonization Society.  He served several terms as Mayor of Raleigh, and was doing so when he died, 24 Aug. 1841.  His son Weston Gales was editor and publisher of the newspaper in July 1842.

Upper Mill before 1946 (no laboratory, b. 1946)

Upper Mill before 1946 (no laboratory, b. 1946)

“Celebration at Franklinsville, Randolph County”–

The writers had to be specific, as most readers in Raleigh and the rest of the state would not have been familiar with the tiny community, less than 4 years old.  Modern Franklinville is made up of two initially independent mill villages, Franklinsville and Island Ford, separated by about three-quarters of a mile of Deep River.   The original Franklinsville mill village was developed by the mill corporation beginning in 1838, on property adjoining the grist mill on Deep River belonging to Elisha Coffin.  Coffin, a miller and Justice of the Peace, purchased the property in 1821. [Deed Book 14, p.531 (Ward to Elisha Coffin, 25 Dec. 1821)] Coffin was the initial incorporator of the factory, and developed the new town on the slope between his house and the mills.  The community formerly known as “Coffin’s Mills on Deep River” had “assumed the name of Franklinsville” by March 8, 1839.   Officially named to honor Jesse Frankin, a former N.C. Governor and Congressman from Surry County, unoffically Coffin and his anti-slavery family and investors apparently meant to honor Franklin  for his crucial vote to keep slavery out of the Northwest Territory (now Ohio, Indiana and Illinois).  “Franklinsville” was officially recorded in the town’s 1847 legislative act of incorporation.[ Chapter 200, Private Laws of 1846-47, ratified 18 Jan. 1847].  The community surrounding the factory was the largest urban area in Randolph County until 1875.

“The Visitors… amounted to 1200 or 1500”-
The entire population of modern Franklinville is less than 1500;  the 1840 census of Randolph county found the total population to be 12,875 people, so if 1500 people actually attended this event, that would have constituted about 11% of the residents of the entire county in 1842.

OSV Marines 1812

OSV Marines 1812

“The Franklinsville Volunteer Company of Light Infantry”-
The state militia, organized by county and divided into “Captain’s Districts,” had been the foundational political body in North Carolina since colonial times.  The militia had been reorganized in 1806 (Revised Statutes, Chapter 73) to allow “Volunteer”companies raised by private subscription in addition to the official “Enrolled” companies made up of “all free white men and white apprentices, citizens of this State, or of the United States residing in this State, who are or shall be of the age of eighteen and under the age of forty-five years…”   Enrolled companies were known by the name of the commanding Captain, and Randolph County was divided geographically into about 12 Captain’s Districts, which functioned much like modern voting precincts.  Each district had its own “muster ground,” and four times each year were required to assemble and practice military drills.  One of the annual musters was usually also election day, and the men voted by district.

NC Militia Officer 1840

NC Militia Officer 1840

Prior to the creation of the new town of Franklinsville, men of that area of Deep River were considered to be part of the “Raccoon Pond District,” unusual in the fact that it was named after a geographical feature and not after its Captain.  As Captains often changed, making the location of muster fields and districts hard to pin down, this distinction allows to us pinpoint the area of the Raccoon Pond District, even though the pond has over the years silted up and is no longer known as a modern landscape feature.  Raccoon Pond (by the account of Robert Craven and other local residents) was situated at the base of Spoon’s Mountain, south of the modern state road SR 2607 and west of its intersection with SR 2611, Iron Mountain Road.  The Spoon Gold Mine was located in the area later in the century, and probably helped to silt up the pond.  The enrolled militia of the Raccoon Pond District in 1842 was evidently headed by Captain Charles Cox.

IMG_2393
Volunteer militia companies were considered the elite of the citizen army and their members were exempt from service in the enrolled companies.  Because they were organized and equipped by those who could afford to raise their own private company, volunteer companies enjoyed preferential placement in reviews, and were often the last to see actual service.  Volunteer companies also functioned as social organizations, sponsoring dances and suppers to entertain ladies; could dress themselves in elaborate uniforms, and were usually known with impressively martial names such as “Dragoons,” “Light Infantry,” or “Grenadier Guards.”  The “Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry,” formed in 1793, is a unique survivor of this type, and  is known as “North Carolina’s Official Historic Military Command”  They provide an honor guard at special events, funerals and dedications.
http://www.fili1793.com/  The Washington Light Infantry (WLI), organized in Charleston in 1807, is another of these old original militia units, named in honor of George Washington.

Independence Day OSV 2

Independence Day OSV 2

Technically, light infantry (or skirmishers) were soldiers whose job was to provide a protective screen ahead of the main body of infantry, harassing and delaying the enemy advance. Heavy infantry were dedicated primarily to fighting in tight formations that were the core of large battles.  Light infantry sometimes carried lighter muskets than ordinary infantrymen while others carried rifles. Light infantry ironically carried heavier individual packs than other forces, as mobility demanded that they carry everything they needed to survive.  Light infantrymen usually carried rifles instead of muskets, and officers wore light curved sabres instead of the heavy, straight swords of regular infantry.
The name “Franklinsville Volunteer Company of Light Infantry” was evidently a cumbersome mouthful, as it was officially reorganized in 1844 as the “Franklinsville Guards.”  See the Session Laws of the General Assembly of 1844/45:  The legislature went into session on 18 Nov. 1844, and Henry B. Elliott of Cedar Falls was accredited to represent Randolph County (Senate District 35).   (Thurs. 11-28-44) “Mr. Elliott presented a Bill, entitled A Bill to incorporate the Franklinsville Guards in the County of Randolph, which was read the first time and passed.” (p57). The Bill was passed a second time by the Senate on Monday 2 Dec. 1844 (p78); and passed and third time, engrossed and ordered to be sent to the House on Tuesday 3 Dec. (p84).  The House of Commons received the engrossed bill and a note “asking for the concurrence of this House” on 23 Dec.; it was read the first time and passed that day (p277), and was passed the final time on Jan. 1, 1845 at 6:30 PM. (p652).

Alexander S. Horney, circa 1870.

Alexander S. Horney, circa 1870.

Captain Alexander Horney”-  
Alexander S. Horney (26 March 1815 – 19 July 1891), was the son of Dr. Philip Horney (1791-1856).  Both sides of his family, the Horneys and the Manloves, were well-known Guilford County Quaker families. Like Elisha Coffin, Dr. Horney may have been forced out of communion with Friends by his marriage to Martha (“Patsy”) Smith (?-1871).  The small wooden factory which opened at Cedar Falls in 1836, was owned in partnership between the Horneys and Benjamin and Henry Elliot, father and son lawyers. Alexander S. Horney married the daughter of Elisha Coffin; their son Elisha Clarkson Horney was mortally wounded at Gettysburg.  Their daughter Mattie married Robert Harper Gray, the son of General Alexander Gray.  Robert Gray was the captain of the Uwharrie Rifles, a volunteer company raised in 1861 in the Trinity area.  He died in service in 1863.  Alexander S. Horney served as chairman of the county commissioners for many years after the war.

Muster Ground?

Muster Ground?

the area skirting the North side of the Factory”-
This must refer to the company muster ground, but I think that the writers must have meant the area to the East side of the factory, which was (and is) a level area of bottom land.  The area to the north would not have provided more than 50 feet of manuvering space.  Franklinville is sited on a penninsula bordered on the South by Deep River, on the east by Sandy Creek, and on the West by Bush Creek.  The land rises toward the northwest from the floodplain of the river, where the mills were located which provided the economic backbone of the village, together with their ancillary warehouses, storehouses, and barns.  On a level about ten feet above the mill to the north were located the company store and company boarding house; to the south and across the mill race were the homes of the miller and company president.  North of the store on a terrace about fifteen feet higher was the “Cotton Row,” housing built by the mill for the workers.   About ten feet higher still, and trending northwest up the hillside, were located the larger homes of tradesmen, craftspeople and professional men such as Dr. Phillip Horney.  The lots higher up the hill had been sold privately to friends and family members by Elisha Coffin, promoter of the factory and owner of all the acreage around the mill.   Lots for public institutions such as the school, meeting house, cemetery and town hall were located near the top of the river-front arm of the hill, with stores fronting the road leading north toward Greensboro.   At the crest of the hill was situated Elisha Coffin’s own house, surrounded by its community of “dependencies”—office, kitchen, smokehouse, well house, icehouse, dairy, animal sheds, stable, barn, and servant houses.

George Makepeace circa 1850

George Makepeace circa 1850

the Grove fronting the residence of Mr. Makepeace”-

George Makepeace (1799-1872) was a textile manufacturer and millwright born in Norton, Massachusetts.  He and his brother Lorenzo Bishop Makepeace had been owners and operators of a cotton mill in Wrentham, Massachusetts, which failed in the mid-1830s.  Lorenzo Makepeace was hired to work in a factory in Petersburg, Virginia, and Elisha Coffin may have heard from him about the availability of George Makepeace during his trip “to the North” on company business in 1838. Makepeace and his family were on their way to Randolph County when his daughter Ellen was born in Petersburg, Virginia, on Christmas Day, 1839.  As a skilled expert in textile technology, Makepeace was much in demand around the Piedmont.
The location of Makepeace’s residence in 1842 is unclear, as he rented from the factory corporation.  Given the description of the Coffin house as being “on the opposite hill” from the Makepeace house, I am assuming that one of the homes on the east side of Walnut Creek is indicated.  It could have been one of the three mill houses on the hill south of the modern Quick Check, or it could have been the Lambert-Parks House at East Main St., which at some time also became the residence of A.S. Horney.

Summer gowns 1840

Summer gowns 1840

unknown Franklinville girl, circa 1850.

unknown Franklinville girl, circa 1850.

The Young Ladies, all dressed in white, were arranged in a line”-

The majority of the employees of the factory were women and children, as one important reason for founding the factory in this age was to provide for the social welfare of widows and orphans who had no “breadwinner” to pay their room and board.  Though even at this early date women who worked in cotton mills of England were considered debased and lower class, the “mill girls” of New England had a reputation for being intelligent, well-educated and virginal.  Even Charles Dickens was shocked at the difference between the mill girls he met at Lowell, Massachusetts, and the slovenly illiterate workers he knew from the British workhouses.  The good character and morality of the workers along Deep River was one of the important selling points for the antebellum factory owners in attracting residents and new employees.

Mill Girls from the Weave Room

Mill Girls from the Weave Room

The historian Holland Thompson, whose mother worked in the mills in Franklinsville, and whose grandfather Thomas Rice was a contractor who built the factories and covered bridge, wrote: “Upon Deep River in Randolph county… the Quaker influence was strong. Slavery was not widespread and was unpopular. The mills were built by stock companies composed of substantial citizens of the neighborhood.  There was little or no prejudice against mill labor as such, and the farmer’s daughters gladly came to work in the mills.  They lived at home, walking the distance morning and evening, or else boarded with some relative or friend near by.  the mill managers were men of high character, who felt themselves to stand in a parental relation to the operatives and required the observance of decorous conduct.  Many girls worked to buy trousseaux, others to help their families.  They lost no caste by working in the mills.”  [Holland Thompson, From the Cotton Fields to the Cotton Mill.  MacMillan, 1906]

As the primary product of the factory was white or unbleached cotton “sheeting,” it is probable that the factory provided the raw materials for the dresses and the flags.

Regimental Flag 2nd Cavalry

Regimental Flag 2nd Cavalry

“beautiful white Flag”-

It was a tradition for young women of the community to design, sew and present to the militia company a banner which would identify the company when in formation with the battalion.  They usually were embroidered with inspirational and patriotic slogans or mottos.  In 1861 a group of young ladies presented a similar silk banner to the Randolph Hornets, organized by the Cedar Falls Company to represent both Cedar Falls and Frankinsville.  The banners mentioned in this article have been lost, but the Hornets banner is preserved in the Asheboro Public Library.

folk art Quilt

folk art Quilt

IMG_2389

presented… through James F. Marsh”-

In 1842 James F. Marsh (1920-1902) was evidently the “Agent,” or business manager, of the Cedar Falls Company.  He was newly wed, having married Mary Ann Troy (1825-1856 on January 27, 1842.  That made him a son-in-law of Franklinsville company President John B. Troy.  Marsh founded a business turning wooden bobbins for the factories in Cedar Falls in the later 1840s. The relationship of James F. Marsh and merchant Alfred H. Marsh  of Asheboro is unclear.  Genealogists state that James F. Marsh was the son of Robert H. Marsh of Chatham County, who has no apparent relationship to Alfred Marsh.  But Alred Marsh seems to have treated like a son, whatever their relationship.  JA Blair says that the original Cedar Falls partners were Benjamin Elliott, Henry B. Elliott, Phillip Horney, and Alfred H. Marsh.  James F. Marsh became a Director of the company in 1847.  Marmaduke Robins lived in the former Alfred H. Marsh house in Asheboro, originally containing 52 acres. Sidney Robins says the ell was added to the house for the wedding of “young Jim Marsh” (Robins, Sketches of My Asheboro.)  The county issued a Peddler license in 1845 to “Marsh, Elliott & Co.” (Randolph County 1779-1979, p43).  Alfred H. Marsh was listed as “merchant” in 1850 & 1860 censuses of Asheboro; he signed on to the 1828 Charter for the Mfg Company of the County of Randolph; was a Trustee of Asheboro Female Academy, 1839 (Southern Citizen, 6-14-39).  James F. Marsh moved to Fayetteville around 1850 and was involved in a number of businesses, including a wholesale freighting business with his father in law, a steam boat line on the Cape Fear, and supervising construction of the Fayetteville and Western railroad.

Coffin's Grove today, at 722 West Main Street, Franklinville.

Coffin’s Grove today, at 722 West Main Street, Franklinville.

proceeded to [the stand at] MR. COFFIN’S Grove, on the opposite hill”-

Mr. Coffin’s Grove was and is at the top of the hill leading up from Walnut Creek, known as Greensboro Road and West Main Street.  His house, built about 1835, is now my house.  There was an extensive grove of large oak trees, dating back to the 1770s, on the crest of the hill between the house and the school and meeting house across the street.  Only two oak trees survive from the grove; 3 have died since I came to town in 1978, and the depressed spots in the yard where several others stood can still be seen.   When the property became the home of the Makepeaces, residents began to refer to the “Makepeace Grove,” and the Courier newspaper in the early 20th century still mentions the church having entertainments and ice cream socials in the Makepeace Grove.

Elisha Coffin, circa 1860.

Elisha Coffin, circa 1860.

Coffin's House, with part of the oak grove, circa 1940.

Coffin’s House, with part of the oak grove, circa 1940.

Elisha Coffin (1779-1871) was a member of the well-known Quaker family of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts.  His father had emigrated to North Carolina after beginning a career in whaling, and married Hannah Dicks, the daughter of a Quaker preacher.  In North Carolina Elisha’s sea-faring father became a miller, and Elisha too learned to follow that trade. In 1807 he married Margaret McCuiston, also perhaps a miller’s child, and also something worse: a Presbyterian.  Such an alliance was not sanctioned… Elisha was disowned “for marrying out of Unity.”  He was never again officially a Friend, but never does he seem to have strayed far from their influence.  This seems to have been especially true in regard to the Friends’ testimony against negro slavery.  During the ‘teens and ‘twenties Elisha was several times a delegate to the meetings of the North Carolina Manumission Society, an organization which sought to gradually “manumit,” or free, slaves.  At times he took a more active role, according to Levi Coffin, Elisha’s first cousin and the so-called “President” of the Underground Railroad.  While he was engaged in purchasing the Franklinville property in the fall of 1821, Levi writes that Elisha, his father and his sister smuggled an escaped slave named Jack Barnes from Guilford County into Indiana, trailed all the while by Levi and the angry slaveowner.
Coffin was presiding Justice of the county court in 1833 and 1834, and was involved in several schemes for the improvement of transportation and education.  When pro-slavery investors Led by Hugh McCain took control of the governing board of the Franklinsville factory in 1850, Coffin sold his home and property to George Makepeace, superintendent of the cotton mill.  See Deed Book 28, pages 479 and 483.  Coffin bought what is now known as “Kemp’s Mill” on Richland Creek about 5 miles south of Franklinville.  See Deed Book 28, page 489.  His son Benjamin Franklin Coffin lived not far away.  Elisha Coffin subsequently seems to have turned back towards the Friends of his youth; in 1857 he sold his rural Randolph County mill and moved back to New Garden in Guilford County, the community of his birth.  See Deed Book 30, page 515, Randolph County Registry, and Deed Book 37, page 670, Guilford County Registry.  There he ran the college grist mill until his death in 1871.

Fife Drum OSV

Fife Drum OSV

led by their Band of Musicians in the front”-

Milita companies of the time would have had boys playing fife and drums, which were used to keep up a marching rhythm and beat.  In a light infantry company, orders were sent by bugle or whistle instead of drum, since the sound of a bugle carries further and it is difficult to move fast when carrying a drum.  There were many tunes written and performed by fife and drum bands.  “Huzza for Liberty” by George K. Jackson (1796) was rousing song used by militia men on marches.  Old Sturbridge Village, which recreates the period of the 1830s and 1840s New England, maintains such a band for regular performances. See the following:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPd3L5QJQT4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlBasZfmD2I

Fa sol La Mi

Fa sol La Mi

the Sacred Harp

the Sacred Harp

a Hymn was read and sung”-

For a hymn to be “read and sung,” it would have been done in an ‘a cappella’ call-and-response manner, as in shape-note singing. In that style of singing a Song Master “sang the notes” pitched to his set of tuning forks; then “read out” the words to the group, line by line, with the group alternately responding by singing the hymn, line by line. The practice of singing music to syllables designating pitch goes back to about AD 1000. Shapes to indicate the tone of a note were developed in New England, and used as early as the 1698 edition of the Bay Psalm Book (first published in 1640 and the first book printed in North America).  They were designed to facilitate community singing at a time before hymn books, and for people who could not read standard musical notation. The system that became most popular in the South was the “Sacred Harp” tradition (first published in 1844) of four shapes — triangle-oval-square-diamond–  corresponding to the “fa-sol-la-mi” syllables of the C-major scale.  After 1846 a seven-shape notation grew in popularity.

The familiar hymns of today were just beginning to be sung in the 1840s.  One of the earliest known printings of the tune for “Amazing Grace” is an 1831 shape note hymn book published in Winchester, Virginia.   It is titled “Harmony Grove” in The Virginia Harmony and is used as a setting for the Isaac Watts text “There Is a Land of Pure Delight”.  The modern “Amazing Grace” text was not set to this melody until the 1847 Southern Harmony, where the tune was called “New Britain”.

For this occasion, I assume that a ‘patriotic’ hymn was the order of the day.  “America the Beautiful,” now widely considered as the American patriotic hymn, was not published until 1910.  “Chester,” written by William Billings (1746-1800) of Boston and first published in 1771, was unofficially considered the national hymn of the American Revolution, so I offer it in this place:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqQrWKfLNcw

Minister OSV

Minister OSV

a Prayer delivered by the Rev. MR. HENDRICKS”-

Hendricks must be the person previously referred to as “the Chaplain,” but the “Rev. Mr. Hendricks” is something of a mystery. The “Preacher in Charge” of the Franklinsville Methodist Church from its creation in August 1, 1839 until his transfer in 1847 was T.R. Brame.  A John Hendricks was one of the named Trustees of the Franklinsville Methodist Church when Elisha Coffin deeded them land “for a burying ground”, on November 2, 1844.

John Hendricks (1796-1873) was listed as living in Franklinsville (adjoining Elisha Coffin, Leander York, Philip and Alexander Horney) in the census of 1840. In 1817 he was to married Nancy Macon (1800-1853), daughter of Gideon Thomas Macon of the Holly Spring area.  Their son Thomas Alston Hendricks (1823-1879) was one of the 15 initial stockholders of the Island Ford mill in 1846.  Thomas A. Hendricks md. Permelia Johnson, 1 March 1845, and his bondsman was Dr. Alfred Vestal Coffin.  The census of 1840 lists 15 residents of his home, 5 of whom worked in manufacturing.  This indicates that he may have operated the factory’s boarding house, although the 1850 census lists 12 family members by name.  That census lists John Hendricks occupation as “carpenter” and his son Thomas as “manufacturer.”

The tombstone of Nancy Macon Hendricks in the Franklinsville Methodist cemetery reads “Nancy/ wife of Rev. John Hendricks/ born March 30, 1800/ died March 18, 1853.”  There is no other record of John Hendricks as a recorded minister.

Fife Drum OSV2

Fife Drum OSV2

A National Air was then played by an excellent Band”-
Our current “National Air” or anthem is of course The Star-Spangled Banner, but it probably was not the song played in this position on the program.  President Woodrow Wilson ordered first ordered the SSB to be played at military and naval occasions in 1916, but it was not designated the national anthem by an Act of Congress until 1931.   Before that time, “Hail Columbia” had been considered the unofficial national anthem.  The words to “Hail Columbia, Happy Land!”   were written in 1798 by Joseph Hopkinson (son of Francis Hopkinson, composer and signer of the Declaration of Independence), and set to the tune of “The President’s March,” a tune composed by Philip Phile for President George Washington’s inauguration.  ‘Hail Columbia’ is still used as the official song for the Vice President of the United States of America.

Independence Day OSV

Independence Day OSV

The Declaration of Independence was read”-

[Of course this was the whole point of the day, reminding the crowd of the founding of the country 66 years before.]

Norfolk Guards QuickStep Sheet Music

Norfolk Guards QuickStep Sheet Music

after Music” the Orator spoke-

Whether vocal, instrumental or military, there is a wealth of American Independence Day music that could be inserted here.  “The Liberty Song”, written by Founding Father John Dickinson in 1768 and set to the music of William Boyce’s “Heart of Oak” was perhaps the first patriotic song written in America. The song contains the line “by uniting we stand, by dividing we fall…”  Others written in the 18th century were “Ode for the 4th of July” and “Ode for American Independence” (1789).  “The Patriotic Diggers,” published in 1814 was popular in the period. If it was another ‘patriotic hymn’ read and sung, “The American Star” is a good possibility because it is one of the few non-religious songs published in the original Sacred Harp hymnal (#346, 1844 ed.).  The first publication of the song was in an 1817 collection entitled The American Star, which was inspired by the War of 1812 and also included the first printing of the Star Spangled Banner.   White and King’s “The Sacred Harp” was first published in 1844, but it was based on William Walker’s “Southern Harmony” (1835).

Henry Branson Elliott, circa 1850

Henry Branson Elliott, circa 1850

“the Orator Henry B. Elliott”-

Henry Branson Elliott (11 Sept. 1805- 14 Jan. 1863) was one of the most progressive figures in antebellum Randolph County.  His father Benjamin Elliott (1781- 27 Feb. 1842) had been Clerk of Superior Court and the commanding Lt. Colonel of the enrolled militia.  Elliott graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 1826 and did post-graduate work at Princeton (Mrs. Laura Worth, History of Central Hotel, August 1940).  The Raleigh Register noted on March 14, 1837 that “Messrs. Elliott, Horney and others have been for some time actively engaged in erecting a Cotton Factory at the Cedar Falls on Deep River… we understand they are making rapid progress, and likely to get the machinery into complete operation some time during the prssent spring.”  By mid-June the 500-spindle factory  was making “superior quality cotton yarn” for sale to hand weavers. (Southern Citizen, 17 June 1837).  In November 1838 the Elliotts purchased the ownership interest of the Horneys, who had invested in the factory in Franklinsville (Deed Book 22, Page 89), and in December of that year they sold a one-quarter interest to Alfred H. Marsh, an Asheboro merchant, and their son- and brother-in-law.   Elliott was elected to a term in the state Senate in 1833, and campaigned across the state in favor of the first public school referendum in 1839.  He served as Clerk and Master in Equity in 1841 while Jonathan Worth campaigned for Congress, and in 1842 was elected to replace Worth in the state Senate.  In the Senate Elliott served as chairman of the committee on the State Library, and of the committee “on the subject of a state Penitentiary,” a state-funded prison which was proposed as a progressive alternative to the stocks, pillories, and whipping post.  Of his service in the Raleigh Register noted that “Mr. Elliott, of Randolph, is one of those industrious, hard-working members, who, though qualified to shine in debate, seldom occupies the time of the house in displays of that kind, but is content to pursue the even tenor of his way, in discharging the not less useful, but less attractive, duties of a thorough business committeeman.” (Greensboro Patriot, 18 Jan. 1845, quoting Raleigh Register).  Elliott continued to own and operate the Cedar Falls factory until a series of financial reverses in the 1850s.  He moved his family to Missouri in 1859, and in the census of 1860, his occupation is listed as “Tobacconist.”

Mark Antony's Funeral Oration for Caesar (c) Hartlepool Museums and Heritage Service; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Mark Antony’s Funeral Oration for Caesar (c) Hartlepool Museums and Heritage Service; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

As a candidate for the state Senate, it was natural for Henry Branson Elliott to agree to speak to such a crowd, even at short notice (the speech was “hastily prepared”).  As a graduate of the state university and of Princeton, Elliott would have been familiar with preparing and delivering classical orations as a normal and typical part of the educational process.  Even in modern classrooms the oratorical model is still used as a persuasive model for argumentative papers.  The text of Elliott’s speech is unknown, but its format would have been clear to every educated man in 1842.  Any classical oration consists of six parts:

Exordium: The introduction
Narratio: Which sets forth facts of the case.
Partition: Which states the thesis of an argument
Confirmatio: Which lays out and supports the argument
Refutatio: Which examines counter arguments and demonstrates why they aren’t compelling.
Peroratio: Which resolves the argument and makes conclusions.
[http://www.public.coe.edu/wac/classicalessay.htm ]

Orations were a staple of antebellum Independence Day celebrations.  One of the most famous was delivered by the lawyer Francis Scott Key (1779-1843), in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol on the 4th of July, 1831.  The author of the poem “The Star Spangled Banner” addressed a city divided by the policies of President Andrew Jackson and counseled moderation and a focus on the history of the day.  “The spectacle of a happy people, rejoicing in thankfulness before God and the world for the blessing of civil liberty,” said Key, “ is no vain pageant.”
Another historically significant oration took place on the same day at nearly the same time that Elliott was speaking in Franklinsville.  Horace Mann (1796-1859), educator and statesman delivered the annual oration at Fanueil Hall in the city of Boston, on July 4, 1842.  Mann broke with the traditional oratorical expectation that the speaker would glorify America, and instead stressed the importance of educational reform and the principle that effective self-government depended on a well-educated populace.  Mann’s oration runs to 44 printed pages, printed as part of a July 4th tradition that began in 1783 and continues to this very day.

https://archive.org/details/orationdelivered00mann

Shape Note Choir

Shape Note Choir

A patriotic Song was then sung  by a Choir of Ladies and Gentlemen selected for the purpose”-
As distinct from the hymn “read and sung” by the entire crowd, this was apparently a group concert performance.  I submit that the appropriate ‘patriotic song’ here would have been “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”, also known as “America”, which served as one of the de facto national anthems of the United States during the 19th century.  Its lyrics were written by Samuel Francis Smith, and the melody used is the same as that of the national anthem of the United Kingdom, “God Save the Queen.” The song was first performed in public on July 4, 1831, at a children’s Independence Day celebration  in Boston. It was first published in 1832.   Interestingly for the anti-slavery background of the Franklinsville crowd was that additional verses of an Abolitionist nature were written by A. G. Duncan in 1843.  Jarius Lincoln, [ed.] Antislavery Melodies: for The Friends of Freedom. Prepared for the Hingham Antislavery Society. Words by A. G. Duncan. (Hingham, [Mass.]: Elijah B. Gill, 1843), Hymn 17 6s & 4s (Tune – “America”) pp. 28–29.

$10 gold piece

$10 gold piece

the following Resolutions were offered”-

A resolution is an official written expression of the opinion or will of a deliberative body, proposed, considered under debate and adopted by motion.  To modern politicians resolutions have become a rote and usually pointless part of the parliamentary process which merely states something obvious and has no legal impact or meaning.  But in antebellum America the process of considering a voting upon a resolution, even as simple and seemingly pointless as this one thanking the speaker for his address and the village for its hospitality, was a vital and important part of the Independence Day celebration.

Why?  Because the Declaration of Independence itself was actually  the Resolution of Independence, ratified by the Continental Congress in 1776 as a public statement by the 13 American colonies expressing their consensus that they were now independent of the British Empire.  What became known as the “Lee Resolution” was was an act of the Second Continental Congress first proposed by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia on June 7, 1776.  Jefferson’s draft of a formal declaration was presented to Congress for review on June 28. Lee’s resolution was actually adopted on July 2, 1776; Jefferson’s edited Declaration for final signing on July 4.
The process of adopting the sense of the assembly in the form of resolutions was a reminder to all attending of the process and procedure of democracy.  Even though the civics lessons were part of formal schooling, going through the formal process of proposing and adopting resolutions was a tangible reminder, at least annually, of the mechanics of government.

IMG_2391by John B. Troy, Esq.”-

Likewise, appointing a committee to complete additional business of the meeting was a another part of formal parliamentary procedure.
John Balfour Troy of Troy’s Store (now Liberty) was the grandson of Revolutionary War hero and martyr Colonel Andrew Balfour.  He made an extensive investment in the founding of the Franklinsville factory and was elected President of the company.  Troy was a Steward of Bethany Church near Liberty, built on the site of the former “Troy’s Camp Ground.”  His son-in-law  James F. Marsh was already on the program; his other son-in-law J.M.A. Drake was one of the founding Trustees for the Frankinsville Methodist Episcopal Church.  James Murray Anthony Drake (ca. 1812-?) was a lawyer and married Eliza Balfour.  Drake later served as county jailer and operated a hotel in Asheborough.

IMG_2383John R. Brown”-
Apparently this was John R. Brown (17 Jan. 1811 – 30 October 1857), son of Samuel Brown (1762-1843), both residents of the Holly Spring Friends Meeting community.  Brown was one of the 15 signers of a petition to the Randolph County court dated January 8, 1842, which attested that William Walden and his four sons, “free persons of colour” and residents of the county, were of good character and were recommended to be allowed to carry fire arms.  [Randolph County, 1779-1979, p. 73.]

IMG_2394
Wm. J. Long”
William John Long received a degree from UNC Chapel Hill in 1838; born in Randolph County in 1815, he was the son of Congressman John Long of Long’s Mills, north of Liberty.  A lawyer, he served as a member of the General Assembly in 1861.  He died in Minneapolis, MN in 1882.   His brothers were James Allen Long (1817-1864) UNC AB 1841, a “journalist,” and John Wesley Long (1824-1863) UNC AB 1844, MD, Univ. PA.

Dinner on the grounds

Dinner on the grounds

A large number set down to a sumptuous dinner, prepared by MR. HENDRICKS, and many others shared the hospitality of the Citizens of the place.”-
With 1500 people in attendance, I am assuming that perhaps only the invited guests who took part in the program were fed by Hendricks (perhaps in his boarding house?)  Everyone else would have scattered all over town.  There is no indication that there was a massive outdoor barbecue or “ox roast,” but that is a possibility.

the upper Mill, circa 1875

the upper Mill, circa 1875

The Factory building is a large and imposing brick edifice.”

The three-story factory was modeled on the typical “Rhode Island Plan” factories of New England.  It must have been imposing to the visitors, as it was larger than the courthouse or any church in the county.  Both the factory and the Coffin mansion were built of brick made in the village.  The foundations of the factory, and the “Picker House” where bales of cotton were opened, were made of stone quarried from the bluff at the mouth of Bush Creek.  No larger factory was built until the Cedar Falls mill was remodeled in 1847, and the “Union Factory” (now Randleman) was built in 1848.  The Island Ford factory (1846) and the Columbia Factory (Ramseur, 1850) were about the same size.

Boston Mfg Co.mill at Waltham, Mass., shows the type of  dormer windows used on the Franklinsville factory.

Boston Mfg Co.mill at Waltham, Mass., shows the type of dormer windows used on the Franklinsville factory.

“between the dormant windows”-
This is an archaic form of the word “dormer;”  referring to the small windows which lit the fourth or attic floor of the mill.   In 1806, the British House of Commons paid for repairs to the slates, “valleys and flashings to dormant windows” of Dr. Stevens’s Hospital (Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. 61, p755)
Accounts of the April, 1851 fire that destroyed the factory noted that the fire began on this floor of the mill, in the “Dressing Room.”  The dressing machine (later called the “slasher”) was a machine that brushed hot starch, or “sizing,” on the cotton yard which was to be used as warp in the looms.  The liquid starch was then dried by hot air or steam, meaning that a source of heat had to be present.

Folk Art flag

Folk Art flag

a white flag…upon which was painted a large Eagle… protector… of industry”-
The American Eagle was perhaps the most common motif in early American political art.  Early labor unions often portrayed an Eagle draped in or “guarding” a flag and gear wheel, to indicate that America protected and supported its nascent industries.

Temple of Venus and Rome

Temple of Venus and Rome

“the lamp of freedom… the sacred altar of liberty… more favorable auspices…”-

The flowery language of the final two paragraphs was a very common peroration or exhoration in public speech of the time, and might even have been copied from Henry B. Elliott’s oration of the day.  All of the images were intended to invoke the history, mystery and splendor of Imperial Rome, very familiar to the audience from school lessons.  “Taking the auspices,” for example, referred to the process which a civil priest, the Augur, interpreted signs and omens from the observed flight or internal organs of birds. The Roman historian Livy stresses the importance of the Augurs: “Who does not know that this city was founded only after taking the auspices, that everything in war and in peace, at home and abroad, was done only after taking the auspices?”  The general sense is all that omens indicate a bright future for the United States as long as the present generation respects previous generations such as those who signed the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence in Charlotte in 1775, or Herman Husband of Liberty and his fellow tax protestors who fought the War of the Regulation at Alamance Battleground in 1771.

 

Independence Day, 1842.

July 30, 2015
John Lewis Krimmel, "Fourth of July Celebration in Centre Square", 1819. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

John Lewis Krimmel, “Fourth of July Celebration in Centre Square”, 1819. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Raleigh Register, Friday, 15 July 1842, p2.

COMMUNICATION.

FOR THE REGISTER.

CELEBRATION OF THE 4th of JULY.

MR. EDITOR:— the undersigned, having been appointed a Committee, to prepare for publication, the Proceedings of the late Celebration of the 4th of July at Franklinsville, Randolph Co., respectfully solicit a small space in the columns of your useful and widely circulated paper.

The Visitors commenced collecting at an early hour, and continued coming in until 12 o’clock, when the number amounted to 1200 or 1500.

The Franklinsville Volunteer Company of Light Infantry, commanded by their efficient Captain, ALEXANDER HORNEY, was drawn up on the area skirting the North side of the Factory, and was carried through many manoeuvres evincing the skill of the Officers, and exhibiting the thorough discipline of the Men. The Company then marched to the Grove fronting the residence of Mr. Makepeace, and formed a straight line. The Young Ladies, all dressed in white, were arranged in a line facing the company, about 8 paces distant. A large and beautiful white Flag, with the inscription “Franklinsville Light Infantry,” on one side, and the American Eagle with the Latin motto, “E Pluribus Unum,” on the other , was presented to the Captain by the Citizens of Franklinsville, Cedar Falls, and those in their vicinities, through JAMES F. MARSH, accompanied by some appropriate remarks, which elicited an appropriate response. The whole assembly then proceeded to MR. COFFIN’S Grove, on the opposite hill, in the following order: The Military Company, led by their Band of Musicians in the front, were followed by the Chaplain, the Orator, and the Reader of the Declaration. To these succeeded the Young Ladies marching two abreast; then came the remainder in perfect order and decorum.

On reaching the stand, the company being comfortably seated, a Hymn was read and sung, and a Prayer delivered by the Rev. MR. HENDRICKS. A National Air was then played by an excellent Band. The Declaration of Independence was read by JAMES F. MARSH, in an audible and impressive manner; after Music, the Orator HENRY B. ELLIOTT, rose and delivered an Oration, which, for its classic purity of style, originality of sentiment, happy illustration, and ease and gracefulness of delivery, is seldom surpassed by efforts thus hastily prepared. A patriotic Song was then sung by a Choir of Ladies and Gentlemen selected for the purpose; after which the following Resolutions were offered by J.B. TROY, Esq.

1St, Resolved, That the thanks of the audience by tendered to Mr. Henry B. Elliott, for the appropriate and patriotic Address delivered by him.

2Nd, Resolved, That the Visitors render to the citizens of Franklinsville their grateful acknowledgments for their kindness and liberality in providing them such simple accommodations.

Both of which were unanimously adopted. It was then moved, that a Committtee of two be appointed to prepare the proceedings of the day for publication and forward the same to the Raleigh Register, with a request for the other papers of the State to copy; whereupon, John R. Brown and Wm. J. Long were appointed. The company then separated.

A large number set down to a sumptuous dinner, prepared by MR. HENDRICKS, and many others shared the hospitality of the Citizens of the place.

The whole scene was quite flattering to the pride of our County. The Factory building is a large and imposing brick edifice. Between two of the dormant windows, was extended a white Flag, upon which was painted a large Eagle that seemed, while it guarded with uplifted wings our stars and stripes, also the protector of this important branch of American Industry.

The unanimity of feeling that seemed to pervade the bosoms of all who were present, was truly gratifying. Our people, though firm and inflexible in their political tenets, yet when occasion demands, can bury the hatchet of party warfare, and unite heart and hand either to breast the storm of adversity, or to share with liberal generosity the genial breeze. It is fondly hoped, that this laudable effort will serve to encourage our Citizens, ever to pay a tribute of respect to this glorious anniversary.

And why should they not? If to Mecklenburg belongs the distinguished honor of originating the first Declaration of Independence, to Randolph* must be awarded the meed of applause for giving to the Regulators, a small but gallant band, to who is now accorded the imperishable renown of giving the first impetus to the ball of the Revolution. The lamp of freedom lighted up by them at the sacred altar of Liberty has continued to burn with fervor and glow with brilliancy, while many, kindled under more favorable auspices, have long since ceased to flicker in the socket.

JOHN R. BROWN. )

                                    ) Committee

WM. J. LONG.         )

July 5, 1842.

_______

*Randolph embraces in its Territory, that portion of Guilford, in which the celebrated Harman Husband resided.

 

Independence Day, 1842 (Part 2).

July 29, 2015
Recreated 1830s Fourth of July Celebration at Old Sturbridge Village, Mass.

Recreated 1830s Fourth of July Celebration at Old Sturbridge Village, Mass.

1842: One hundred seventy three years ago; a lost world that is oddly similar to our own….

It is Monday, July 4th, 1842, and John Motley Morehead has been Governor of North Carolina for 18 months.  A fellow cotton mill owner, Morehead is well known to those in Franklinville, and has probably already visited there.  He lives in Blandwood Mansion in Greensboro and is related by marriage to General Alexander Gray of Trinity, the wealthiest man in Randolph County.

John Motley Morehead

John Motley Morehead

Morehead is a member of the Whig party, and the Whigs are firmly in control of the politics of Randolph County, and of North Carolina.  Their hero is Henry Clay, congressman of Tennessee.  Whig party members are progressive proponents of government taking an active role in economic development or, in the terminology of the times, “internal improvements.”  They lobby for the creation of corporations to spin and weave cotton and wool, develop iron, copper and gold mines, and to build plank roads, canals and railroads.  North Carolina, in fact, was in 1842 the home of one of the largest railroad networks in the world.  The Wilmington and Weldon Railroad was built due north from Wilmington to Weldon on the Roanoke River near the state line.  When completed in March 1840, it was at 161.5 miles long, the longest railroad in the world.  A month later the Raleigh and Gaston line was completed running northeast from Raleigh, making Weldon a railroad hub. The Seaboard & Roanoke (east to Portsmouth, VA) and the Petersburg & Roanoke (north to Petersburg, VA) soon followed.  It is now possible to buy a ticket in Raleigh and take the train, with numerous stops and changes, all the way to New York City.

Central Georgia Railroad 1840s

Central Georgia Railroad 1840s

The Erie Canal

The Erie Canal

John Tyler is President of the United States, the 10th man to serve in that office.  Tyler, a Virginian, is not held in high regard by the Whig party rank and file.  Vice President just 15 months ago, he succeeded President William Henry Harrison in April 1841.  General Harrison, a hero of the Indian Wars and the oldest man ever elected President, caught pneumonia during his inauguration and died barely a month later.  He was the first President to die in office.  In the contentious “log cabin and hard cider” campaign of 1840 General Harrison beat the highly unpopular incumbent Martin van Buren.  Van Buren had been Andrew Jackson’s hand-picked successor, but he had the bad luck to take office in March 1837 just as the “Panic of 1837” sabotaged the economy.  Private speculators who bought land trying to capitalize on the railroad boom lost everything when the bubble burst; businesses failed and unemployment was widespread.  Even worse, state governments had borrowed heavily from foreign banks to finance construction of new canals, turnpikes and railroads, and without those tolls and fees they found themselves unable to pay their overseas creditors.

President William Henry Harrison

President William Henry Harrison

President Martin van Buren, 1837

President Martin van Buren, 1837

In the summer and fall of 1841, Michigan, Indiana, Arkansas, Illinois and Maryland all defaulted on their payments to London banks.  Florida and Mississippi defaulted in March 1842, and Pennsylvania and Louisiana would soon follow suit.  In June treasury agents in London were unable to sell U.S. bonds despite the fact that the federal government had completely paid off its national debt six years earlier.  Parisian banker James (Jakob) Rothschild sent word, “You may tell your government that you have seen the man who is at the head of the finances of Europe, and that he has told you that you cannot borrow a dollar, not a dollar.”

James (Jacob) Rothschild, head of the Paris branch of the family bank.

James (Jacob) Rothschild, head of the Paris branch of the family bank.

Anger over the defaults renewed America’s negative attitudes toward Britain, the country’s original enemy. State politicians were outraged at the thought of imposing additional taxes on citizens already in the depths of a financial depression, just to honor commitments to European bankers.  The governor of Mississippi proposed to repudiate the debt to “the Baron Rothschild… the blood of Shylock and Judas flows in his veins.  It is for this people to say whether he shall have a mortgage on our cotton fields and make serfs of our children.”  [Note: Mississippi still has never paid that debt.]  An Illinois legislator named Abraham Lincoln called for Federal assistance to the western states, “in the midst of our almost insupportable difficulties, in the days of our severest necessity.”

President John Tyler

President John Tyler

President Tyler refused to intervene.  After all, it was those Democrats Andrew Jackson and his minion Van Buren who had promoted all this speculation and unwise public investment.  Congress twice attempted to ease credit by voting to re-establish a central bank for the country, and twice Tyler vetoed the bills, leading to the resignation of almost all of his cabinet in September 1841.  Tyler was burned in effigy outside the White House.  Charles Dickens, who arrived in Washington in March 1842 on his first tour of the United States, wrote that the President looked “worn and anxious, and well he might, being at war with everybody.”

Charles Dickens, 1842.

Charles Dickens, 1842.

And apparently financial conditions were going to get worse.  A decade earlier Congress had promised to reduce federal tariffs on foreign imports and exports. Those tariffs had been designed to protect the infant industries of the Northern states, but rankled the agricultural South who wanted free access to the huge British demand for cotton.  The date for reduction had been fixed by the law: June 30, 1842.  But with incomes reduced by five years of depression, tariffs now account for 85 per cent of federal revenue, and any reduction in the tariffs would require big cuts to the federal budget.  Just before the deadline, Congress passes a bill to temporarily preserve the tariffs, and provide aid to the West.  But Tyler, sympathetic to southern cotton interests, vetoes it.  A London newspaper reports, “The condition of the country is most appalling.  The treasury is bankrupt to all intents and purposes.” [All quotes come from the best work on this subject, “America’s First Great Depression: Economic Crisis and Political Disorder After the Panic of 1837,” by Alisdair Roberts (Cornell Univ. Press, 2012).]

The Royal Mint, London, 1842.

The Royal Mint, London, 1842.

Panic in New York 1838

Panic in New York 1838

So why, in the midst of this depression and governmental breakdown and international credit crisis, was the tiny new town of Franklinsville hosting what might be the biggest celebration in its history?

Merrimack Mfg Co Lowell 1841

Merrimack Mfg Co Lowell 1841

The simplest explanation is to look at Franklinsville as a little outpost of New England in the countryside of North Carolina.  The tariffs had been designed to promote and protect the industrial revolution in the United States, and it just so happened that its birthplace was in New England. The tariff that protected a cotton mill in Massachusetts also protected the cotton mills in North Carolina- what few there were.  Randolph County Whigs, in particular, had little love for the plantation cotton economy, and its exploitation of enslaved African labor.  The local economy was built on production of wheat and corn, and these were not export items.  As early as 1828 Randolph County Whigs had proposed building a cotton mill, but not until 1836, after the tariff was in place, did investors build the first small factory at Cedar Falls.

That first mill had started with cotton spinning equipment inserted into the grist mill of Benjamin Elliott, a former Clerk of Superior Court.  With the financial support of Dr. Philip Horney and his son Alexander, and under the management of his son Henry Branson Elliott, the tiny new factory at Cedar Falls made “bundle yarn” which was sold at the Elliott store on the courthouse square in Asheboro.

The Franklinsville Factory, as rebuilt after the 1851 fire.

The Franklinsville Factory, as rebuilt after the 1851 fire.

The “Randolph Manufacturing Company,” organized in March, 1838, built on the successful experiment at Cedar Falls.  Located at “Coffin’s Mills,” the site of Elisha Coffin’s wheat, corn, and saw mills and cotton gin about 2 miles downriver from Cedar Falls, the new factory was built on a New England plan.  For example, after being chartered by the legislature, it was operated not as a loose partnership but as a corporate body of stockholders-  the first corporation ever to conduct business in Randolph County.   Second, it was designed using a completely new scale.  The three story, 40 by 80-foot “Factory House” was the first building built in the county textile manufacturing purposes, and was probably one of the first ten in the state.  It was also one of the first brick structures in the county, and was certainly the largest building in Randolph County when completed.  Finally, the cotton mill would have the first looms in the county, weaving cloth where Cedar Falls could only spin.  The Franklinsville factory thus was the first “integrated” manufacturing operation (the first to manufacture cotton in all stages “from bale to bolt” of woven cloth.)

That it still made good financial sense to build the Franklinsville factory even after the Panic of 1837 took hold shows that the Randolph County economy was different from the rest of the South.  None of this investment would have been possible without the protection of the tariff; otherwise the American market would have been flooded with British cloth and yarn, made and imported more cheaply than the small local factories could compete with.  The Asheboro newspaper reported that “Since the commencement of their works but one short year ago, a little village has sprung up at the place which has assumed the name of Franklinsville, embracing some eight or ten respectable families.  A retail store of goods has just been opened here on private capital.  And the company have now resolved to establish another one on part of their corporate funds.” [Southern Citizen, 8 March 1839.]

Samuel Slater Spinning Frame 1790s

Samuel Slater Spinning Frame 1790s

In 1840 Benjamin Swaim, the editor of the Asheboro newspaper Southern Citizen, reported that he “had occasion to visit Franklinsville last Monday, which gave us an opportunity of viewing the Work.  It appears to be going finely.  The Factory House, (a very large brick building) is nearly completed; and they are putting up the Machinery.  It is expected they will commence spinning in a few weeks – by the first of March at furtherest.  Success attend their laudible enterprize.” [Southern Citizen, 21 Jan. 1840.]

A letter from a Randolph resident to his son in Texas (LF William Allred to son Elijah Allred), written in July 14, 1843 but perfectly capturing the lingering spirit of the times of a year earlier, wrote that “produce is plenty and market low Owing I believe to the Bad economy of Our Government Rulers for ever since the contest has raged so high about Moneyed Institutions that people is afraid to engage money on account of the Scarcity of that article; Before that Embarasment, I thought this Old Country was Improving verry fast; the two Cotten factories one at the Cedar Falls and the other at Coffin’s Mill, now called Franklinville, they Manufacture vast quantities of Cotton thread and Cloth and sells thred at ninety cents for five pounds and cloth from eight to ten cents per yard.”

Hatbox with Rising Sun wallpaper motif from the 1840 log cabin campaign

So, while times seemed dark for much of the country, times in the new town of Franklinsville were looking sunny, and the owners and stockholders had arranged to celebrate the success of their risky investment.  It is a short news article, but it has much to say about the times, and perhaps about our own.

Denver Allred on Worthville

August 31, 2014
Denver Allred

Denver Allred, at home in Worthville, from the Courier Tribune, September 3, 1984.

One of the reasons I started this blog is that, having collected information on Randolph County history for more than 40 years now, I find that I’ve reached the point where I can’t remember everything I’ve found out.  I have have files I haven’t opened in a quarter century, and while I vaguely remember things people have told me over the years, I forget the specifics.  Here is an example.

In preparing the next post here, on mill village boating, I knew that at some point the Worth Manufacturing Company, owners of the mills in Worthville and Central Falls, operated a cotton barge on the river between the two mills.  But how did I know that?  Where did I find that out?

Happily my son Vlad has been helping me reshelve and clean out my office, which has gradually become the place where all the stuff goes when I won’t let him throw something away.  Able to open the farthest file cabinet again, I found a file labeled “Allred, Denver (Worthville).”  Inside was a surprise, an affidavit I made for Denver in 1985, which I had completely forgotten.  

I was in law school at the time, not yet a lawyer but already a notary, and as part of an investigation into the “navigability” of Deep River, I was asked by Ed Bunch (already a lawyer, and in solo practice) to interview Denver Allred about this question.  [The legal question was whether the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had jurisdiction over Deep River; federal law says that they regulate electricity produced on “navigable” waters.  FERC prevailed; that’s why the Randleman Dam Authority has to pay the low-head hydro operators along the river for the 8 million gallons a day diminution of the flow of the river.]

The Worthville mill pond was briefly drained of water when the cleanout plug failed.  From the Courier Tribune, June 19, 2013.

The Worthville mill pond was briefly drained of water when the cleanout plug failed. From the Courier Tribune, June 19, 2013.

This is a lesson in itself regarding history, when the historian himself can’t remember the daily details of his own life 29 years later.

Here is the document.  Afterwards, I’ve added from my notes in the file the parts of my conversations with Denver on other topics, who was a wealth of information. [He was the father of Worthville historian Becky Bowman, and I use her book on Worthville regularly.  Maybe she could add a lot here!]  I don’t think I ever tape recorded my conversations with Denver, but I might have, and have forgotten even that.  I have a lot of tapes stored away that I haven’t fully transcribed, especially if they weren’t all about Franklinville.

Affidavit

According to my notes, I spoke with Denver Allred on February 1, 1985, from 1:00 to 3:30 PM.  

He told me he was “the oldest man in Worthville.”  He was born in Gray’s Chapel, but his family moved here in 1903.  He said he went to work in the mill when he was ten years old, carrying drinking water to the hands in the spinning and carding room.  He did lots of other jobs, for every company that ever owned the mill.  More women worked in the mill than men; women were weavers and spinners, and the men’s did maintenance work, heavy work.

[The photos marked “Proof” are historic photographs of Worthville restored by photographer Darrell Dennis of Patrick Springs, VA, and available for purchase on his website: http://pictures.embarqspace.com/# .  He has done a great job restoring these old photos, so buy copies from him directly!]

[The photos marked “Proof” are historic photographs of Worthville restored by photographer Darrell Dennis of Patrick Springs, VA, and available for purchase on his website: http://pictures.embarqspace.com/# . He has done a great job restoring these old photos, so buy copies from him directly!]

 

He started working for Hal Worth, when Hal Worth lived in a house at the ballfield.  He worked for J.D. Williamson, who bought the mill from the receivers after the bankruptcy.  He worked for Wiley Ward, who took over after the Depression, when the town was in bad shape, he said he’d take up the financial slack if the town would dis-incorporate.  He worked for Fieldcrest, until they made him retire at 65.  Then he worked some for Baxter-Kelly-Foust after they bought from Fieldcrest.  He was an electrician, a fixer, a bricklayer, and worked once for Simon Varner, a contractor.   

The Worth house was torn down and rebuilt into a house near the cemetery, near the house Cicero Hammer lived in.  The second house across the road from the cemetery.  His wife’s father built the house we were talking in- had it built, by Cicero Hammer’s father, in 1885.  Cicero Hammer, the congressman, was raised in Worthville.  His father was a preacher, and built houses.  

Worthville_Mill_dam_Deep_River

He said the mill in Worthville ran on two turbine water wheels and a Corliss steam engine with more than a hundred horsepower.  It had an eight-foot flywheel and ran the shafts with a 30” leather belt.  He ran the Worthville turbines until they shut it all down.  They were still using the same old turbines.  The belts didn’t work as well as electricity, but it worked.

The mill back then mainly made “Hickory” sheeting and cottonade; most of it went to South America.  They made some seamless bags from waste cotton- sweepings and etc.  The bag looms would weave the bottom in them when they were through; that was sort of a curiosity.  A gadget would flip up, weave the bottom, and flip down.  The bottom was like a selvage, where they could cut the bags apart.  Most of the looms were Stafford looms; Draper looms came later.   

Stafford Bag Loom

[The standard Stafford looms were installed in July, 1915 (Bowman, p. 90) and junked and replaced with automatic Draper looms in August 1937. See Bowman, p. 166.  These first Stafford loom replaced in part the seamless bag looms that had been used since the 1880s.  The Franklinville factory was the first to manufacture seamless bags in North Carolina, starting in 1872.  Their looms were made by the Lewiston Machine Company, Lewiston, Maine, as were the original ones at Worthville.  Stafford also made bag looms, as seen here, but I believe Worthville was out of the bag business by the time they installed Staffords.]

J.A. Williamson was Secretary-Treasurer of the mill after Ervin Cox bought it from the receiver.  Mr. Williamson put in Stafford Automatic Looms; that was a curiosity too.  They used 6 or 8 shuttles stacked up in there; the loom would stop and change shuttles all by itself.  That was the curiosity.  People would come see that work.  Before that, the weaver had to change shuttles, start the loom up by hand.  The weaver had to put in a new quill and restart it.  The filling yarn was on the quills.  

This was the standard loom made by the Stafford Company, of Readville, Mass., after 1900.

This was the standard loom made by the Stafford Company, of Readville, Mass., after 1900.

The Worths here paid the best on the river.  Ramseur was a good town and all, but they just didn’t pay the money that they did up the river here. Weavers were paid by the cut, by the length of cloth on the roll. They’d fold the cloth up in bolts, put a big sticker on it- a Big Game Rooster.  Put it in big packing boxes lined with waterproof paper.  There was a big cheat in that.  They’d fill the bolts full of clay and tallow to make it weigh more.  Clay and tallow put on by a finishing machine.

Cotton came to Randleman or Millboro on the railroad.  They sent it to Central Falls to have it dyed; they dyed the raw cotton; dyed it every color of the rainbow.  Dyed it for yarn for shirting, checks and plaids, and cottonades (that was like gingham).  

It was Mr. Williamson’s idea to run the cotton barge between Mill #1 and Mill#2.  It took the raw cotton down, and the dyed cotton back up.  Then they’d spin it in Worthville.  Williamson brought the idea from Roanoke Rapids, where he was from.  The barge stopped before the first world war.  It quit when the mill company went broke.  

[From Deed Book 159, Page 11: The Worth Manufacturing Company was duly adjudged bankrupt by U.S. District Court on OCtober 30, 1913.  The auction of valuable assets held at Worthville on December 9, 1913 listed “one motor boat.”  C.J.Cox was the high bidder for the property, Mill #1, 57 “tenement houses,” all the machinery and cotton in process.]

The park was “down below the cemetery”, with a concession stand that made and sold ice cream and rented row boats by the hour.  There was a motor boat for rent, too.  But the cotton barge landing was down the river from the park, below the dam and covered bridge.  There was a foot walk across the river until the covered bridge washed out in 1910 or ‘11.  He saw the old covered bridge wash away.  Hopper’s Ford was where the foot bridge was, and that’s where the new bridge is now.  

Worthville Dam with bridge abutment

This bridge abutment on the north side of Deep River was evidently used by both the covered bridges and the steel bridge, all of which were washed away by high water.

[The Worthville covered bridge washed away in the storm of March 15, 1912.  G.E. Hill recalled when a new concrete bridge was under construction in 1939 that he left the mill that morning for his home on the opposite side of Deep River.  “An early spring rain had caused the river to rise to such an extent it appeared dangerous… Mr. Hill was on the bridge when it washed from the piers and when the the structure broke in the middle, Mr. Hill… was dragged from the waters before it was too late…”  Bowman, p. 201.]

The Central Falls dam backed water up to the site of the new bridge.  The barge landed just about where the bridge is.  There was a dock built on a canal, about a hundred feet from the river.  It was a flat-bottomed barge run by a gasoline engine.  There was a cab with a man on top to steer- two men operated it.  They’d run excursions on Sundays, so we could ride to Central Falls and back for a dime.  It was a big Sunday attraction.  One time some courting couples were on it, and a gar fish jumped out at them and scared everybody.  

When the river was up, the water was swift.  The boat would get away from them, and run onto the back.  Once it ran on the rocks and stuck.  They got men from the mill to pull it off on a long rope; Williamson was the boss, directing the operation.  The rope broke and everybody fell except one man.  “Why didn’t you fall, too?” Williamson said.  It was ‘cause he wasn’t putting out!

[The photos marked “Proof” are historic photographs of Worthville restored by photographer Darrell Dennis of Patrick Springs, VA, and available for purchase on his website: http://pictures.embarqspace.com/# .  He has done a great job restoring these old photos, so buy copies from him directly!]

[The photos marked “Proof” are historic photographs of Worthville restored by photographer Darrell Dennis of Patrick Springs, VA, and available for purchase on his website: http://pictures.embarqspace.com/# . He has done a great job restoring these old photos, so buy copies from him directly!]

Mr. Williamson had the first car in town- a big old Buick side-cranker.  When he drove it they’d wear dusters, goggles and hats.  Williamson got the telephone lines laid from Millboro to Worthville and into Randleman.  He was a big man.  So was Hal Worth.  Ervin Cox, who bought the mill from the court.   He owned both places, Worthville and Central Falls; lived at Central Falls.  He built Cox’s Dam, between there and Cedar Falls.  Whoever ran the mill- their politics would sway a lot of people.

The superintendent lived in that big house on the hill.  The first post office was in the Boarding House, below the standpipe- the two-story house on the right.  There was a mail slot in the door to the basement.  The Dowdys lived in the house across from him.  They later went to High Point, started Mann Drugs.  The school was where the Methodist Church is now.  The Union Church was near the office and the store, and the mill.  The Madison Williamson house was right there, too.  It burned in the early 1900s.  There was one big boarding house up behind the stand pipe.  There were three or four others at first.  During the first war, a Dorsett ran a boarding house, ran 3 shifts.  They’d change the sheets on the beds, and another shift would come in and sleep.  

There was lots of entertainment.  Joe Giles, a farmer, would have big corn shuckings, and have all grades of stuff to eat- pie, cakes, chicken stews.  If you shucked a red ear, that meant you could kiss the girl beside you.  He had four children, one boy.  He lived at Franklinville, married and lived at the Fentress place- his wife was a Fentress.  He was a slasher man, put the starch and sizing on the warp.  The Slasher Man was paid most of any machine operator- that was a big responsibility.  His brother Reuben also worked up here; was the Master Mechanic at Worthville.  John Bray was another Master Mechanic; he was a powerful fiddler.  

Lots of people played music then.  Charlie Ward; he was a powerful fiddler and guitar player.  He’s 90; he’s in Asheboro in the rest home.  Mark Johnson, he was a Worthville banjo picker, and a farmer.  He was some relation to Daner Johnson, the banjo man.  It was a special treat to hear Daner Johnson play.  He played anywhere and any time he took a notion.  Nep Johnson was his brother; lived up on the edge of Randleman; was a farmer and auto mechanic.

From the announcement of the annual Worthville Reunion, to be held May 3, 2014, in the  Courier-Tribune, 5 April 2014.

From the announcement of the annual Worthville Reunion, to be held May 3, 2014, in the Courier-Tribune, 5 April 2014.

Ches Thrift’s Pickling Pear Tree

February 1, 2010

[Chess Thrift, date unknown, from Robins, Reminiscences of My Asheboro.]

Researching and writing local history often runs up against the veil of Time, which is often much more of an iron, not a lace, curtain. We have no real idea of the aboriginal name of Deep River, for example, and no real way to ever find out. Agricultural history is another area where information was such common knowledge it was seldom written down. One of these days I’ll write here about Greeson Wheat, our once-premier local variety of winter wheat. But here’s the story of one adventure in identification: Chester Thrift and the Pickling Pear Tree.

For many years my way to and from work took me past an elderly and not-very-healthy-looking tree growing on the north side of Old Cedar Falls Road in Asheboro. For most of the year it was nondescript and virtually invisible, but for a couple of weeks in late March it sported a striking cloud of white blossoms; and I confess I ignored it because I thought it was yet another Bradford Pear, that darling of 70s and 80s landscapers. I call them lolly-pop trees, because they have that perfect shape for preschool artists; they’re pretty twice a year, when they flower and when the leaves turn red in the fall, and they are sterile so they never have fruit. Bradford Pears are originally native to Korea and China, grow really fast, and rarely live more than 25 years without limbs splitting off. Plant a real tree, people, not Bradford Pears.

But then one September I noticed the tree was raining hundreds of mottled yellow fruits the size of ping pong balls.

The first time I stopped to investigate this phenomenon, I discovered that what I thought were yellow crab apples were actually some kind of pear: exquisitely sweet, miniature round pears profusely dropping from a scrawny, thorny tree. I never knew there were such things, and when I investigated, I found that the tree shouldn’t exist. Only wild pears have thorns, I discovered; they taste bitter and are only used to provide the rootstock for the usual named varieties: Bosc, Seckel, Keifer, etc. Because, like roses and apples, all of the historic named varieties of these plants are perpetuated by grafts, so that each Old Blush rose and each Macintosh apple is literally a clone of the ancient original of that name.

My tree on Old Cedar Falls Road was too elderly to tell if it had once been grafted; it had been cut back and pruned repeatedly, and had sprouted out time and again from an old stump. I asked the neighbors, but that intersection was in transition, and no one knew the story of the tree, but they did know its name: The Pickling Pear Tree.

Another gap in my knowledge revealed: I’ve seen plenty of pickles from cucumbers; I’ve heard of pickled peppers, pickled beets, pickled eggs; pickles from watermelon, okra and crabapples—lots of odd things, but never pears. But there it was on the internet: not just one but many recipes for pickling pears [http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0,pickle_pear,FF.html ], especially Seckel pears, which are usually considered the smallest variety of pear (about the size of a tulip blossom). The end result was a sweet, spicy dessert treat that I’m told people ate like candy.

The whole point of pickling, historically, was to preserve perishable food so that it was available in some form during the winter months. Without refrigeration or freezing, drying and canning were the best ways to make the glut of the summer vegetable and fall fruit harvests last until the next year. Pickling can be accomplished by anaerobic fermentation using salt or salty water, which is how beef and pork were pickled to feed sailors on long voyages. Fruits and vegetables are usually pickled by marinating them in vinegar, often with added herbs like garlic, mustard seed, cloves and cinnamon, which have antimicrobial properties. Any kind of pear could be pickled, but larger pickles required peeling and slicing, which makes the finished product fragile and mushy, and reduces the shelf life. So these tiny bite-sized pears would have been the perfect size to core and pickle like crab apples.

It was only by chance that I found out anything more. One day while talking with Miss MacRae, an elderly teacher I had known since elementary school, I mentioned my pickling pear tree. “I don’t know about that tree,” she said. “People used to have pickling pears, used to put up quarts and quarts of them. But the only one around here who had pickling pear trees was Ches Thrift. He had apples, pears, peaches, all sorts of trees in his garden. He had a pickling pear tree.”

What little I knew of Chester Thrift (c.1853-1929) came from Sidney Swaim Robins, the first boy from Asheboro to go to Harvard, back before World War I. When I went to Harvard he was still living in Wayland, Massachusetts, and several times I went to dinner with Sidney at the instigation of Marion Stedman Covington, his cousin. Sidney was the author of a number of books, most of them related to his profession as a Unitarian-Universalist minister. His little book, “Sketches of My Asheboro, 1880-1910,” (published by the Randolph Historical Society in 1972) is an invaluable source for anyone interested in the daily life of 19th century Asheboro. “…’Chess’ Thrift was a mighty cook, often sent for to help in putting on and serving banquets. You often saw him around with white cap and apron, dressing the part of a chef. For a considerable time he served as major domo for Hal M. Worth” [p.37]. “Cooks were known and appreciated in Asheboro. It seemed that each one had a special receipt and routine to be famous for. And of course they ran loose in the branch of famous desserts. I have spoken of Chester Thrift as a famous cook (I wondered if Chess cakes were named for him), and I guess there were as many well-known ones among the colored people as among the whites. In fact, they had the more professional cooks anyhow” [p. 40].

An unpublished source has even more information. Walter Makepeace Curtis (1867-1955 ) was born in Franklinville and served as the President of Greensboro College in the 1940s.  His grandfather, George Makepeace, lived in my house. In 1940 Curtis wrote his autobiography, a manuscript copy of which was given to me by his daughter Marion Moser.   On page 9 of the manuscript, Curtis writes:

“One of my Negro friends during my boyhood days was ‘Ches’- Chester Thrift. He worked for my uncle, G.H. Makepeace, and I often saw him when I was with my cousins, which was a good deal of the time. Ches was also frequently at my home. He was easily amused, and his laugh was hilarious. He would often lie down on the floor and roll over several times with uncontrollable laughter. Ches was a good cook and was famous for his cakes. He was often called upon to bake cakes for weddings, and years later when his home was in Asheboro, scarcely a wedding occurred there without cakes furnished by Ches. Years later when my oldest daughter graduated at Greensboro College, Ches, then an old man, was there. Lucy had sent him a commencement invitation and he came up from Asheboro, bringing with him cakes which he make especially for the occasion. Lucy invited her classmates into our home, Ches served, and all present had a good time. Ches preached occasionally, but I never had the pleasure of hearing him. His hobby was educating young Negro girls who never could have gone to school without his aid. A large number of girls were recipients of his generosity.”

I discovered even more in a circa-1913 Courier note entitled “Uncle Chester Thrift Gives Interesting Item of History.”

“Uncle Chester Thrift, one of the town’s oldest and most respected colored citizens, was in The Courier office last week and told of some interesting bits of old history.  Uncle Ches went to Franklinville last August, where he lived in childhood.  His mother, Annie Thrift, belonged to Isham Thrift, who lived where the hotel now stands [the Grove Hotel, or “The Teacherage,” stood facing Deep River in Franklinville just north of what was the Randolph Mills Office building].  Aunt Annie took her two sons, Solomon and Chester, to a secluded place there each Sunday morning to pray.  The place then used for her ‘prayer spot’ is now the site on which Franklinville’s new M.E. church stands [built 1912].  Uncle Chester feels very kindly toward the church and feels it was built on holy ground.  It would be well if more of the mothers in this day and time would take time to teach their sons to pray.”

And my final discovery was his obituary, published in the Greensboro Daily News on December 24, 1928:

HEART ATTACK CLAIMS “UNCLE” CHES THRIFT /  Former Slave Negro Had Been Servant to Many Prominent Families/ RESPECTED BY WHITES.

“Asheboro, Dec. 23.– ‘Uncle’ Chester Thrift, ancient, honorable and much beloved negro man of Asheboro, died in his home here last night from a heart attack.  He was a familiar figure on the streets, and was out yesterday afternoon greeting his white friends, and carrying a large split basket that he always had with him.

“Uncle” Chester was born about 75 years ago in New Orleans, he and his mother being bought in Louisiana by Isham Thrift of Franklinville Township, and brought here just prior to the Civil War.  After the war was over and the negroes were freed, Chester’s mother lived with the Makepeace and Curtis families of Franklinville until Chester was 15 or 16 years old.  When Chester was just a boy, he went into the homes of the Worth and McAlister families of Asheboro, serving them almost continuously until his death.  He was the servant of H.M. Worth for more than twenty years on a stretch.  He also served the families of Curtis, Foust, Penn, Kelly and McAlister of Greensboro, and the Worth families now of Durham.

“He was one of the most expert cooks North Carolina ever produced, especially being noted for his cakes, persimmon puddings and pies.  He was an authority on cooking possum.  He has probably baked more wedding cakes than any other cook, his services being in demand in many cities of the state when a fine meal was to have been prepared.  His cakes and persimmon puddings have been sent all over the United States.

“Uncle Chester was one of the few of the old school, and was a welcome visitor in any home in Asheboro, or elsewhere where he was known.  He was deeply religious and philosophical, and gave much sound advice to the younger generation, both white and colored.  He lived in North Asheboro [north of Salisbury Street and east of Fayetteville Street] in a comfortable little cottage that was kept immaculately clean, and was nicely furnished with things that his white friends had given him.  At Christmas times “Uncle” Chester was the recipient of loads of gifts from his innumerable white friends.  He went home last night with a load that had been given him while he was down town.  He lived alone, with the exception of a negro boy that he furnished a room for company.

“Funeral services will be held Christmas day at two o’clock and interment made here [Asheboro].  Services will be in charge of the local negro Odd Fellows, of which he was a member, together with his white friends.  He had always requested that he be buried three days after his death, as the Saviour rose the third day, and he expected to.  The third day now falls on Christmas.”

That’s quite a tribute, especially for a black man in the 1920s, published in an out-of-town newspaper.  There’s no doubt Chester Thrift was one of the most respected members of the entire Randolph County community.

I can’t say that my Cedar Falls Road pickling pear tree was actually one of Chester Thrift’s pickling pear Trees. But it was someone’s, because fruit trees only survive if someone grafts new ones before they die. That’s why, last fall, I got some water sprouts from the tree and sent them off for grafting. This spring, I’ll be able to plant my own Pickling Pear Trees at the house where Chester Thrift once worked for G.H. Makepeace, and when I do, I’m calling them Ches Thrift’s Pickling Pears. You can’t tell me I’m wrong.