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Little if any table ware was made, but crocks for the dairy, jars for household purposes, and jugs were made in abundance. The surplus beyond the neighborhood demand was peddled from wagons which visited the country stores or the individual buyers.

Many of these little establishments endure to the present day, and the figure of the potter's wheel is intelligible to thousands who have seen the fashioning of the clay. There were eight manufactories of gunpowder, and two salt works. Six thousand pounds of paper were made in this year and rope walks were in operation. The distilling of ardent spirits was an important industry, and in the production of turpentine and varnish the state easily led. In the value of all manufactures, the state ranked seventh.


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This rank in manufacturing was lost with the succeeding decades as agriculture assumed greater importance. In the East, where there was more wealth, and communication with the outside world was easier, reliance upon foreign goods became more pronounced; but until it is safe to say that a majority of the people in the Middle and Western counties dressed chiefly in clothes of domestic or local manufacture, lived in houses furnished by the local cabinetmaker, rode in vehicles made within the state, and used implements made in the neighborhood.

Lincoln County had been settled principally by Germans, Scotch-Irish, and Swiss, many of whom had mechanical ability. Michael Schenck, a native of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, who had prospered in his new home, determined to build a mill. Some of the machinery was purchased in Providence, Rhode Island, and was hauled by wagon from Philadelphia. Other parts were made by Schenck's brother-in-law, a skilled worker in iron. The first dam did not hold and it was necessary to rebuild it lower down the creek.

A contract with a local workman for the construction of additional machinery is in the possession of one of the Schencks' descendants. All the above machinery to be complete in a workman-like manner. And the said Beam is to board himself and find all the materials for the machine and set the machinery going on a branch on Ab. Warlick's land below where the old machine stood; The said Schenck and Warlick are to have the house for the machine and running gears made at their expense, but said Beam is to fix the whole machinery above described thereto; the wooden cans for the roping and spinning and the reel to be furnished by said Schenck and Warlick; all the straps and bands necessary for the machinery to be furnished by said Schenck and Warlick.


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  • In consideration of which the said Schenck and Page 47 Warlick are to pay to said Beam the sum of thirteen hundred dollars as follows, to wit: three hundred dollars this day, two hundred dollars three months from this date, one hundred dollars six months from this date, and the balance of the thirteen hundred dollars to be paid to the said M.

    Beam within twelve months after said machine is started to spinning. In testimony whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals, the day and year above written.

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    The mill was prosperous, and John Hoke and James Bivings bought a share in The firm erected a larger mill of three thousand spindles, the Lincoln Cotton Factory, on the South Fork of the Catawba, about two and a half miles south of Lincolnton. Attached to this mill was an annex, which made various articles from iron. Wagons came from a distance of a hundred miles to secure yarn, and the mill continued in successful operation until burned by an incendiary in On the site the Confederate government erected a laboratory for the manufacture of medicines, and Page 48 twenty years after the war a cotton mill again began operations.

    Coarse yarn for neighborhood consumption was spun here by negroes. Nearly all of them were slaves, belonging to the mill owners, or to their neighbors, though a few free negroes were employed.

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    White labor was substituted in Apparently the first application of steam to the industry was at the Mount Hecla Mills at Greensboro about The machinery for this mill was shipped from Philadelphia to Wilmington, then up to Cape Fear River to Fayetteville, and was hauled across the country Page 49 by wagon. When wood for fuel grew scarce, the machinery was moved to Mountain Island, where it was run by water power. Soon after E. Holt, one of the most successful manufacturers the state has known, built a mill on Alamance Creek.

    Finding difficulty in disposing of all his yarn, he began between and the manufacture of coarse, colored cloth known as "Alamance plaids.

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    To-day, throughout central North Carolina, "Alamance" is almost universally used as a synonym for the coarse ginghams on the shelves of the country merchants. Other mills were built by him and his sons, and the family is prominent in manufacturing at the present time.

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    In Francis Fries, a descendant of a Moravian minister, who had had some experience in cotton manufacturing as agent of the Salem Manufacturing Company, began a small wool business. To this was added dyeing vats Page 50 to color the cloth woven by the farmers' wives, and later spindles and looms were added.


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    • Other mills had been built during the decade, and in twenty-five establishments were reported to be in operation. The total number of spindles, however, was only 47,, with looms. During the next twenty years the number of establishments increased, though the spindles decreased. In , 39 mills with 41, spindles and looms were reported.

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      It is noteworthy, however, that only nine of these establishments were in the Eastern counties. The increase in cotton consumption is probably due to more regular operation. Many of the early mills ran only a part of the year. The water power was often imperfectly utilized, and the mill was necessarily Page 51 stopped when the streams were abnormally high or low. Often the mill was stopped when the neighborhood demand was satisfied. Commercial organization was lacking. Little attempt to secure more than a local market seems to have been made. Instead of selling the whole product to a distributing agent, each mill was its own distributer and depended chiefly upon local demand and upon accidental outside consumers.

      A third difficulty was the fact that the operatives were such only incidentally. Upon Deep River in Randolph County, where five mills were built before , conditions were somewhat peculiar in this respect. These mills were in a section where the Quaker influence was strong. Slavery was not wide-spread 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 farmers' daughters gladly came to work in the mills. They lived at home, walking Page 52 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. Twenty years ago throughout that section one might find the wives of substantial farmers or business men who had worked in the mills before the Civil War. Some married officials of the mills. In many localities, however, there was difficulty in securing the necessary labor, arising not so much from the feeling that such labor was degrading, as on account of the confinement and the necessary subordination. The people had been accustomed to out-of-door life for generations.

      Life was simple, and discontent with the loneliness of the farms had Page 53 not assumed its present proportions. To work indoors seemed too great a sacrifice. The spirit of independence was strong in the rural population. They felt themselves as "good as anybody," and disliked to take orders. They did upon their own farms labor of the same sort, and much that was more unpleasant; but this was done for themselves. Both men and women worked for wages for their more prosperous neighbors, but their position was not distinctly menial.

      They were not so much working for that neighbor, as they were working with him, assisting him and his family. Such workers were not considered servants, but ate at the family table, and occupied rooms in the house. Working in a mill under overseers seemed to many a sacrifice of independence, and any curtailment of personal liberty was resented.

      Full text of "The Climax madisonian (Richmond, Madison County, Ky.): "

      On one occasion, the attempt to prevent operatives from looking out of the windows, by painting the glass, would have resulted in a general strike but for the restoration of the clear glass. Further, the large emigration had left many vacant farms, and there was abundant room for all upon the soil. As the state came more and more under the influence of the plantation system the ambition of every farmer, however small, was to become a planter. To go to the mill with the intention of remaining meant the definite abandonment of such ambition, and few were willing to make that sacrifice.

      Yearly she was growing more dependent upon the North and upon Europe, not so much from the decay of the industries already existing as from lack of their expansion. The home manufactures had not kept pace with the increasing wants.