Posts Tagged ‘Deep River’

Bridge over Deep River at Dicks Mills

April 13, 2009

Another Bridge petition from the Randolph County records in the State Archives in Raleigh…

This one is for the first bridge across Deep River at what is now US 220 Business in the City of Randleman; before 1868 it was known as Union Factory; at the time of this Petition it was still known as “Dicks Mills.” The “Dicks” of Dicks Mills was Peter Dicks, a merchant of nearby New Salem, a largely Quaker community which grew up in the early 19th century on the old Indian Trading Path.

The petition is undated, so I’ve tried to narrow down its time frame. First and most obviously, it not only has to date to a time before the construction of the Union Factory in 1848-49, but before the death of Peter Dicks in February, 1843. The petition is interesting because it’s not predominantly a local request, like the Dunbar’s Ford petition which was signed by western Randolph and eastern Davidson resident. The 84 signers here include obvious local people like Peter Dicks and his son James, Orlando Wood, Joseph Deveny and other northern Randolph names such as Coletrane, Clark, Chamness, Dennis and Hockett. It also includes several from western Randolph such as Daniel Bulla, Aaron Hill and Phineas Nixon; together with eastern Randolph notables such as Philip Horney, H.B. Elliott, and at least seven southern Randolph Hinshaws. But what really catches my eye is the number of Asheboro merchants and court officials. A.H. Marsh, Joseph Brown, James B. Moss and James Page were all storekeepers; Benjamin Swaim was a lawyer and publisher of the Southern Citizen, the local newspaper; Hugh McCain was the Clerk of Superior Court; Jonathan Worth was a lawyer and Clerk and Master in Equity; and John M. Dick was a Superior Court Judge.

Since only registered voters could sign the petition, it can’t date any earlier than the 21st birthday of its youngest signer. I haven’t checked them all, but James Dicks (son of Peter, b. 1804) and Jonathan Worth (b. 1802) wouldn’t have been legal voters until after 1823 and 1825. The key signer, I believe, is John M. Dick (1791- 1861), a prominent resident of Greensboro who served as Guilford County as a state senator in 1819 and 1829-1831. The only reason I can see that a Guilford County citizen would sign this petition is the fact that he was elected to the Superior Court bench in 1832 [John Hill Wheeler, Historical Sketches of North Carolina; Philadelphia, 1851], and then, as now, Superior Court judges travel from county to county in a circuit. So I believe that the petition was signed during a court session in Asheboro by lawyers and officials whose travel time back and forth to Greensboro would be significantly improved by a bridge in this location.


[From C.R. 081.925.18, “Miscellaneous Road Records”]

State of North Carolina    )

Randolph County        )

To the worshipful the Justices of the Court of Pleas and quarter sessions, Greeting:

We of the citizens of the county aforesaid respectfully show to your worships that a large portion of your citizens of the County now do and long have labored under great inconvenience for want of a good and substantial Bridge over the Deep River at or near Dicks Mills in said County.

Your petitioners, knowing your worshipfull body to be well acquainted with the proposed site and surrounding country would deem it an useless waste of time to attempt to adduce all the many cogent reasonings that might be put forward in support of their petition; however we will just say that this is the rout[e] along which the U.S. mail passes 4 times each week on the rout[e] between Leaksville and Asheborough and is also the main or more direct road for the citizens in the northern part of the County to travel to and from the Court House of the County and also that travelled in passing to and from Fayetteville and other Eastern and Southern markets.

Hence the petition which your memorialists present with Confidence that you will hear and determine and grant such order to be made as in your wisdom may deem right and expedient, and such only would your petitioners even ask.

Wm. HINSHAW        Saml. COFFIN        A.H. MARSH

R. LAMB            Elijah POWEL        Joseph H. BROWN

Dr. George KIRKMAN    Joseph DEVENY        James PAGE

Marsh DORSETT        Orlando WOOD        Jos. LAMB

David E. FRITCHETT    Stephen ALLRED        John SCOTT

James DICKS            Richard RICH        H.B. ELLIOTT

Peter DICKS            Nathan STANTON        G. B. Winningham (?)

Wm. DENNIS        Nathan ELLIOTT        Thomas Thornburg (?)

Mahlon DENNIS        Sam. RICH            Joseph HENLEY

Jonathan LAMB        Enoch ROBINS        J. LAMB

Henry WATKINS        Wiley WALL            Hugh McCAIN

Charles S. DORSETT                        Saml. HILL

Seth HINSHAW                        R.S. MURDOCH

J. B. HINSHAW                        J. HUSSEY

Ezra KIMBALL                        Benj. SWAIM

William CLARK Jr.                        Benjamin HINSHAW

Nathan DENNIS                        James B. MOSS

Alexander CLARK                        John COFFIN

Joseph HODGIN                        Bryant RAGAN

Dougan CLARKE                        Tristram HINSHAW

W.B. LANE                            Joseph LEE

William COLTRAIN                        Joseph McCOLLUM

Nathan HENLEY                        Isaac LEE

Aaron HILL                            Hiram LAMB

Philip HORNEY                        J. HINSHAW

Solomon ELLIOTT                        Jesse HINSHAW Snr.

John McCOLLUM                        John Hockett

Joshua ROBINS                        Wm. CHAMNESS

John ROBINS                        Wenlock REYNOLDS

J.G. HINSHAW                        Daniel SWAIM

Francis REYNOLDS                        Albert LAMB

Job REYNOLDS                        Arthur McCOY

Nathan CHAMNESS                        Wm. DENNIS Jr.

Jesse MILLIS                            Jno. MOSS

William HINSHAW                        Jona. WORTH

Allen LAMB                            Peter W. RICH

Obadiah ELLIOTT Jr.                    P.N. NIXON

Marmaduke VICKORY                    William RICH

Aaron REYNOLDS                        Moses Ritch (?)

James Polk Senr.

Timothy CUDE

Jno. M. Dick




Historical Markers: Sandy Creek Baptist Church

April 10, 2009

Located on the south side of Old Liberty Road (NC 49A), just east of its intersection with the Ramseur-Julian Road, at what is called the “Melancthon” intersection (because it’s just north of the Melancthon Lutheran Church).

Three different churches are clustered together just east of the Sandy Creek cemetery which grew up around Elder Stearns’ grave, now marked by a marble obelisk.

The graveyard itself is located just across the street from the Northeast Randolph Middle School built in the early 21st century.


The oldest church, subject of another post, is marked by this bronze plaque:

Tryon’s Ferry II

February 13, 2009

William Tryon (1729-1788) was Royal Governor of North Carolina from 1765 to 1771, and served as the last Royal Governor of New York.  A professional soldier, he was appointed Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina in 1764, and upon Arthur Dobbs’s death the next year he became Governor.  In 1757 he married Margaret Wake, a London heiress.  He rigidly obeyed the instructions of his superiors and rigorously enforced the dictates of the British government.  He made New Bern the provincial capital, and built there one of the finest governmental seats in the colonies– later called derisively, Tryon’s Palace.

Tryon inherited a province where settlers in the west were becoming progressively dissatisfied with the local officials appointed by the royal government.  Politicians from the numerous yet sparsely-settled eastern counties dominated the few large western counties where the population was booming. Local sheriffs supported by judges appointed by the provincial government had complete control over the “backcountry” regions. Many of the administrative officers appeared motivated solely by their own personal profit, and the entire system was believed to be corrupt. The effort to eliminate this system of government became known as the War of The Regulation, and opposition to the Royal Governor’s administration became known as the Regulators.

Present-day Randolph County was then roughly the western half of Orange County (now eastern Randolph) and eastern Rowan County (now west of Asheboro).  The Sandy Creek community was the home of the most active Regulators, including James Hunter, Benjamin Merrill, Peter Craven, Rednap Howell and Herman Husband.   The Holly Spring community was home to others such as Herman Cox and William Moffitt.  The creation of Guilford County in 1771 (including the area set off as Randolph in 1779 and Rockingham in 1785) was a political strategy to separate “the main Body of the Insurgents” from the rest of Orange and Rowan counties.

In June, 1768 a committee of Regulators met at Thomas Cox’s Mill (on Millstone Creek, downstream about 200 feet from the present Raymond Cox Mill near Buffalo Ford) to demand redress from the government.. At their request James Hunter and Rednap Howell journeyed to Wilmington, met with Governor Tryon, and presented the grievances of the backcountry. Tryon and the Royal Council summarily rejected the various petitions of the Regulators, and demanded that the inhabitants obey the law and pay their taxes. That summer Tryon took a personal tour of the backcountry, listening to the grievances of unhappy settlers but more importantly testing the loyalty of the county militias. (He scheduled musters of the local troops in Orange, Rowan and Mecklenburg counties, where he summoned the men to take the Royal Standard in place of their county flags.) Tryon left Hillsborough on August 17th and arrived in Salisbury late on the 18th—an extremely fast trip on horseback. His return trip was more impressive: the Governor, at the head of the Mecklenburg and Rowan militias, marched as one brigade through the heart of Regulator country on his way to Hillsborough. Tryon spent the night of Friday September 16th at “Deep River Camp,” with no note of how he crossed the river. His show of force overawed the disgruntled backcountry settlers, and put off the shooting war for three more years.

The long-delayed battle finally happened on May 16, 1771, and took 2 hours.  The disorganized Regulators lost to the professional soldier, and Tryon took as many of the ring-leaders prisoner as he could catch. After the battle Tryon and his army moved west, taking a southern route toward the Wachovia Settlement.

They apparently followed the trading path southwest to arrive on May 21st at the plantation of James Hunter on the upper reaches of Sandy Creek, where they burned his house and barns. (Hunter was the husband of Mary Walker, daughter of Samuel Walker, owner of Walker’s Mill)

That same afternoon they arrived at the property of Hermon Husband, who lived on Sandy Creek west of what is now Liberty. Governor Tryon stayed at Husband’s for a week, before leaving and burning everything.

While at the Husband plantation Tryon issued numerous orders, such as one proclaiming that Husband, James Hunter, William Butler and Rednap Howell were to be considered ‘Outlaws,’ meaning they could be shot on sight (Regulator Papers, p. 473).  Part of the delay was due to bad weather, but a larger part were the large numbers of residents crowding into the Governor’s camp to take advantage of his offer of pardon.

On May 26, Tryon wrote to General Hugh Waddell, then camped near the Yadkin, saying “As most of the Inhabitants on the North side of Deep River and many on the South side, in the whole amounting to above thirteen hundred have come into Camp and Submitted themselves to Government… I am to require you to join me as soon as possible with the Forces under your Command at the upper Ford of Deep River, where the Trading Path crosses.” (Regulator Papers, p. 468).

At the same time he sent the Orange Corps down the Peedee/ Crawford Rd. to Harmon Cox’s, where they requisitioned supplies from the Deep River/ Richland Creek Quaker settlements (Regulator Papers, p. 467).  That Corps then marched northwest up the Cape Fear Road (the road which went from Cross Creek toward Salem- the later Plank Road) while Tryon sent an advance party southwest down the Trading Path.

Sunday May 26th found the advance party (“the Rangers”) stopped 2 miles from Deep River by flooded Pole Cat Creek; they made a miserable camp the next two days through heavy rain with nothing to shelter them but tree limbs and bark.

On Wednesday May 29th the army crossed Pole Cat by felling a large log and walking Indian file, taking 5 hours. They camped that night on the northwest bank of Deep River, which was also flooded.  Evidently their bivoack was at the “upper” or Trading Path ford referred to in Tryon’s order (I am assuming the “lower” ford would be Island Ford where the Crawford/ Pee Dee Road crossed).

On the morning of the 30th the army crossed Deep River and moved to camp at “Kaiway” (Caraway). The order book is silent as to how they crossed the Deep, noting only that “The Waggoners to Harness their Horses at break of Day and cross the River immediately after.”

The next day they crossed the Uwharrie “at the ford” and marched to Flat Swamp (now Davidson County) where Tryon’s forces met up with General Waddell’s troops before moving north to Salem.

A busy May in Randolph, 1771—but no definitive evidence on the origin of the name “Tryon’s Ferry.”

My inference, however, is that some kind of ferriage was required to cross Deep River that day in its flood stage, if not for the majority of the army, at least for its wagons of supplies and its artillery. And perhaps, for the Governor of the Province of North Carolina and the Commander in Chief of the King’s Royal Army in Those Parts.

On June 30, 1771, barely a month after he crossed Deep River one way or another, Governor William Tryon departed North Carolina for his new job as Governor of New York.

[NOTE ON SOURCES:  the 1971 NC Department of Archives and History publication “The Regulators in North Carolina: A Documentary History, 1759-1776” (compiled and edited by William S. Powell, James K. Hunta and Thomas J. Farnham) is the source for all of the quotes, dates and transcripts of Tryon and the Regulators given here.  Sadly, no portrait of Gov. Tryon is known; one that was traditionally thought to be him has been shown to be an officer of another regiment.]


January 29, 2009


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

The Enterprise Manufacturing Company, ca. 1890.

The wooden factory was replaced circa 1915.

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

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

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

The Enterprise Manufacturing Company Store

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

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

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

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

Howgill Julian’s Fulling Mill

January 27, 2009

A fulling mill illustrated in Theatrum Machinarum Novum, 1661

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


January 19, 2009
The mouth of Sandy Creek where it meets Deep River.

The mouth of Sandy Creek where it meets Deep River.

Though the American army under Baron DeKalb camped for weeks at Buffalo Ford in the summer of 1780 on its way to Camden, and Lord Cornwallis in 1781 spent several days after the Battle of Guilford Courthouse at Bell’s Mill on Deep River, by and large the official history of the Revolutionary War bypassed Randolph County. Far more active and far more destructive was the guerrilla war which took place in the county between neighbors of opposite political persuasions.

Some extensive military operations were mounted at various times after Guilford Courthouse in an attempt to stop the depredations of the British Loyalist troops. Although little documentary evidence exists concerning the details of the battles with the Tories, it appears that one of the major skirmishes took place in July 1781 at the mouth of Sandy Creek, where several roads crossed at a ford across Deep River.

In the 1980s, Randolph County historian Barbara Newsome Grigg discovered the only records of this battle, contained in pension applications in the National Archives. In June 1832 Congress had passed a bill authorizing pensions for any surviving veterans who could provide proof of Revolutionary War service. All over the country aged vets made their way to county courthouses where they could be deposed by local judges and provide the sworn statements required by Congress. None of the three veterans who recount battling the Tories in Randolph County even lived in the county when they made their statements. All were recounting events from more than 50 years before, so details are sketchy.

For the fully transcribed pension applications of each man, see my entries for November 11, 12, and 13th, 2008.

Henry Morgan (born in 1758 in what is now Randolph County) fought with the state militia from 1779 to 1781. James Morgan was born in Maryland in 1760 but soon moved to the area and first volunteered for service in 1781 in Randolph (his relationship to Henry Morgan is not yet clear). Edward Beeson was in 1834 unclear even about his own birthday (estimated to have been in 1756), and thought he entered military service about the year 1778 in Randolph.

Henry Morgan provides the most detail about the area’s primary battle with the Tories, and even names it “the Battle at the Mouth of Sandy Creek.” James Morgan provides only a brief outline of events. Edward Beeson is very shaky on dates and places, but very good about names and people.

Henry Morgan served with the Randolph Light Horse, under the command of Col. John Paisley, Major John Nalls and Lt. William York. James Morgan was in the Randolph militia under General Butler, Col. John Collier, Captain John Hines and Lt. William York. Beeson, who was apparently in a different unit (“a Company of Foot in the Randolph regiment of militia”), was under the command of General Butler, Colonel Thomas Dougan, Major Robert McCanna, Lt. James Woods, Captain David Brower, and Sergeant William Brown. Beeson served the company as “Ensign”.

Their individual accounts of the summer of 1781 are as follows:

In 1781 Henry Morgan was “engaged in dispersing the tories wherever collected; that he was in three battles, one in July 1781 at the mouth of Sandy Creek in which we & Lieutenant William York of our company were wounded and three men David Brewer [Brower], David McMasters & Joel Benje were killed, & in August after or September we had another battle at Linleys mill in which the tories were defeated, Major John Nalls was killed here & four or five others.” [The third battle was apparently later that summer near Wilmington.]

James Morgan “was called out by Colonel Collier and placed under Captain John Hines & Lieutenant William York and marched down to Chatham county after the enemy, and says at this time he was sent out against a party of Tories and had an engagement with them, and was defeated with the loss of three men killed and two wounded among the latter was his Lieutenant William York, and says they took a good many prisoners during the time he was out in this tour. But how long he was out he cannot say precise, but believes it was seven weeks, or more.–“

Edward Beeson says “Their objective was the destruction of the Tories. Next day, after they left Johnstonville, their place of rendezvous, their Captain and three men were killed by the Tories who waylaid them. The Tories were commanded by Major Rainey, and fired on them from a steep hill on the side of Brush [Sandy?] Creek. After Brower was killed, Woods became Captain and this deponent became Lieutenant. They pursued the Tories about forty miles to Fork Creek and there besieged them in a house belonging to one John Needham. In the morning before they got to Needham’s, their Colonel (Dougan) joined them.

“This deponent was ordered with half of his company to attack the back of the house under the concealment of an orchard, while the rest were to attack in front. This deponent’s company were the first who took possession of the same, those in front having feigned a retreat to draw out the Tories, which accordingly succeeded. Twenty-one were killed, seven at the house, and fourteen at the place where they kept the horses, the Tories having fled there, to where they were concealed on the bank of a Deep River, where Colonel Dougan had himself gone with a detachment, to surprise them if they should be driven from the house.

“They then marched down to… the Brown Marsh near Wilmington, where they again had a battle with the Tories on open ground. They there again defeated them, who being reinforced by the British from their shipping at Fort Johnson, returned and defeated us in return.”

Their combined account of events can be assembled as follows:

After the battle of Guilford Courthouse in March, 1781, the local militia forces in Randolph County were engaged in fighting local Tories. In July, while moving from Johnstonville towards Chatham County, the Whig forces were ambushed at or near the mouth of Sandy Creek where it enters Deep River. Tory forces, perhaps under the command of “Major Rainey” (Raines?) “fired on them from at steep hill on the side” of the creek (the western side of Sandy Creek is a bluff fifty to seventy feet above the water level). Three Whigs were killed, and several wounded. In the Morgan’s company, Henry Morgan and his lieutenant William York were wounded; in Beeson’s company, his Captain David Brower was killed. Henry Morgan says that the others killed were David McMasters and Joel Benje.

If Beeson can be trusted, the Battle at the Mouth of Sandy Creek was followed by another battle on Fork Creek within a day or two (he says it occurred 40 miles away, which would have taken at least a whole day to ride on horseback) which killed 21 Tories and captured a number of prisoners.

This piecemeal account, while historically threadbare, can actually be confirmed by Rev. Eli W. Caruthers, our primary source for Piedmont North Carolina’s Revolutionary War history. More on that later.

Crafford’s Path or Crawford’s Road

January 12, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Randolph Manufacturing Company, circa 1900

January 8, 2009

Since I was speaking about my collection of original unpublished antique photographs of Randolph County, here’s a great one.

This is the back side of the Randolph Manufacturing Company, built in 1895 on the site of the wooden 1846 Island Ford Manufacturing Company. The photo is obviously taken on a cold winter day, probably circa-1900, but nothing much would change from the viewpoint of this picture before 1925. From the position of the shadows, falling down the size of the mill at about an 85-degree angle, the time of day must be around 11 AM.

The camera is looking at the south side of the building, from a position at or near the front yard of the Joe Dan Hackney house. (I have a great picture of that I’ll show one day.)

The Island Ford mill was positioned just under the smokestack. The two-story, 7-window-bay section under the smokestack seems to include original brick basement and the three-bay section is the wheel house of the Island Ford Factory. The 10 windows of that section are a different size than the tall 1895 windows of the expanded mill, and the C-shaped plan of the 1895 structure is added on just to the west end of the Island Ford foundation.

The archway just under the plume of steam is where the tail race water exits from the turbine wheel; originally one or more wooden or iron water wheels would have been located in the wheel house there.

The free-standing brick structure immediately to the right of that section is a cotton warehouse. Directly on the other side of it runs the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railway, and above that is the river road (now East Main Street) winding towards Ramseur. The wooden structure up the hill just above it (about 2:00) is the Lower Company Store, which was later transformed into a community house and movie theater by Randolph Mills.

Across the street from the factory and arrayed on the opposite hilltop are about a dozen mill houses, part of the island Ford mill village which was also situated up and down Mulberry Street (now Academy Street) just out of the picture to the left. The hilltop crowned by the Dave Weatherly House is likewise just out of the frame to the left. Only one of the mill houses on the side still stands, and likewise one on the right side. Both are in poor condition. Just above the company store, and across the street, was the mill owner’s home. At the time of the picture, it was the home of Hugh Parks, who had come to Franklinsville from the Parks Cross Roads area in the 1850s to work as a clerk in the Island Ford Company Store. During the Civil War he became the superintendent of the factory, and after the war he gradually acquired a controlling interest in both factories, and ran them until his death in 1910. Until the 1890s Parks’s house had been the home of Alexander S. Horney, one of the town’s original settlers. A.S. Horney and his father, Dr. Phillip Horney, were partners in the original 1836 Cedar Falls factory with Henry Branson Elliott and his father Benjamin Elliott. Dr. Phillip Horney lived at that time in what we now call the Julian House on West Main Street, the oldest (1819) surviving home in Franklinville.

The identity of the man playing a banjo in the mule-drawn wagon in the foreground is unknown, but his rig is headed toward the Island Ford steel bridge over Deep River, just behind the small house in the left foreground.

To confuse matters, “Randolph Manufacturing Company” was the original 1838 name of the Upper Mill company that took the name “Franklinsville Manufacturing Company” when it was rebuilt after the 1851 fire. To muddy the waters even further, the name of the very first local cotton mill corporation chartered by the state legislature in 1828 was “The Manufacturing Company of the County of Randolph.” The name “Randolph Manufacturing Company” replaced the original name “Island Ford Manufacturing Company” when the new brick building was built in 1895, and continued to be the official name of what locals called simply “the Lower Mill” until the two separate companies were merged into Randolph Mills, Inc., in 1923.