History of Manassas Mill

“One of the most valuable pieces of property in the South”

© KennyDowns 2016

 

            The hiss of steam engines, the clanking of metal, and the noise of hundreds of workers making their way to and from work each day are mental images that are not usually associated with Carrollton, Mississippi, but that was not always the case.  In the mid-1800s, Carrollton was seen by some as the new land of opportunity.  One of these was a doctor whose dreams became a reality when he constructed and operated a cotton mill near Carrollton.  The terms “gigantic” and “mammoth” were used to describe the mill when it was built.  It operated from 1866 through 1893, but this dream that became a reality has since faded into oblivion.

 

Dr. Washington Middleton Stansbury

 

            The operation of a cotton mill in the area of Carrollton, Mississippi, was the brainchild of Dr. Washington Middleton Stansbury.  His family history offers some insights into the origin of this dream. 

 

            Dr. Stansbury was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 9, 1814, to William Stansbury and Ellen Kent Gilder.  His medical talents were inherited from his maternal grandfather,  Reuben Gilder (1755-1794), who had served as a surgeon in Colonel John Haslet’s regiment of Delaware State troops, Continental service, during the Revolutionary War and who after the war, moved to Baltimore, where he established a thriving medical practice.  Dr. Stansbury’s ambitions as an entrepreneur came from his father who was active in general merchandising in the city of Baltimore until his death.[1]   

 

            Dr. Stansbury grew to manhood and was educated in Baltimore. Early in life he became interested in medicine.  He entered the University of Maryland, and there he pursed his studies for several years, graduating in 1836.  He was described as a thorough student, and upon graduation, he began his career as a general practitioner.  Though born and raised in Baltimore, Dr. Stansbury chose Carrollton, Mississippi, as the most desirable location for his new practice.  Just prior to his twenty-second birthday, he moved from Baltimore, Maryland, to Carrollton, Mississippi, and began his practice.  Not long afterwards, he met and married Emily Ayres (See picture), who was born in Kentucky and whom he met when she visited her brother, Treadwell Ayres, a lawyer in Carrollton.

 

            Dr. Stansbury’s choice of Carrollton, Mississippi, may have been due to his relationship to the Middleton family, as suggested by his middle name.  Dr. Stansbury’s maternal grandmother, Eleanor Ellen Middleton Alkin, was part of the Middleton family that started in Maryland.  According to one genealogy of the Middleton family, by 1835 nearly all of the Middletons of Maryland had moved to Mississippi.[2]  While no direct ties were found, some of the family most likely settled in what was then Carroll County, Mississippi, in the town that later became known as Middleton, Mississippi.  Middleton, an extinct town, was located just west of present day Winona, Mississippi.

 

            Dr. Stansbury was considered by many to be a distinguished medical doctor.  He practiced medicine in what is now referred to as the Merrill Building in Carrollton. The success of his practice is noteworthy.  One article found in in the October 25, 1838, Liberty Advocate, featured news of Dr. Stansbury extraordinary skills.  The following report was published:

 

CURIOUS SURGICAL OPERATION. – In the Carrollton Enquirer, of the 6th inst., we read an account of a very singular operation, said to have been performed by Dr. W. M. Stansbury, of Carrollton.  The circumstances, as detailed, are substantially as follows: -- a negro man owned in Carroll County, was wounded in the head by the bursting of a gun.  About eight days afterwards, Dr. S. was sent for to bestow his professional attention.  On examination, it was ascertained that the skull was considerably fractured, “about six lines above the internal angle of the left orbit.”  The trephine[3] was used, and a portion of the bone removed from the brain.  Both lobes of the brain were much injured.  Some days after this, Dr. S. proceeded to a more critical examination of the patient.  On again introducing a probe, the breech-pin of the exploded gun was found lodged in the brain!  The pin weighs 1½ oz.  This was extracted, together with an ounce of the brain; and the patient is rapidly recovering.

 

This affair seems strange to us; but from “the lights now before us,” we cannot disbelieve the narrative.  There are singular occurrences in surgery, as well as in every other science.

 

Dr. Stansbury’s legacy as a noted medical practitioner was carried on by his son, grandson, and great-grandson.   Pictured to the right are his son, Dr. Oscar Stansbury, grandson, Dr. Middleton Pemberton Stansbury; and great-grandson, Dr. Middleton Pemberton Stansbury, Jr.

 

            Dr. Stansbury’s success was not limited to the practice of medicine.  As was common at the time, Dr. Stansbury also operated W. M. Stansbury’s Drug Store.  Medical supplies associated with his practice would most probably have been the main inventory.  However, an advertisement found in the December 3, 1846, Mississippi Democrat, features a remedy for horses offered and sold by O. O. Woodman and sold by merchants and druggist.  Dr. Stanbury’s drug store is shown as a merchandiser of this fine product.

 

 

 

            The Stansburys are listed in the 1860 census for Carroll County, and Dr. Stansbury's occupation was listed as physician. His real estate was valued at $65,000 and his personal estate was valued at $65,000 as well.  All total that would be approximately $3.6 million dollars today.[4] 

 

            Dr. Stansbury’s fingerprints can be found on many of the structures that decorate Carrollton to this day.  His home, Stanhope (Pictured at left), stands as a monument to his talent.  Stanhope was built in the 1840’s but remodeled in 1875 for Dr. Stansbury and his wife.  The design was by James Clark Harris, a prominent architect and builder who built many of the Carrollton landmarks. Stanhope remained in the Stansbury and Sommerville families until 1890 when it was sold to Joseph James Gee.[5]

 

            After Carroll County’s courthouse burned in 1875, the Board of Supervisors of the county appointed a commission to see to the construction of a new courthouse.  This commission was made up of Dr. Stansbury, G. W. Vassar, and J. R. Shackelford.[6] 

 

 

 

            Dr. Stansbury is even credited with having donated the property upon which the Grace Episcopal Church is located in Carrollton.   In the minutes of the Journal of the Forty-Seventh Annual Council of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Mississippi, the following entry is found:

 

Assisted by Rev. Mr. DeHart, I preached in Carrollton on the 16th, and administered the Holy Communion.  The hopes of entertained by our friends a year or two ago, of building a place of worship for themselves, have been much disappointed by the unexpected death of Dr. Stansbury, and the departure of his family for California.[7]  This church was built in about 1885.  Dr. Stansbury also donated the land for Evergreen Cemetery, which is located in North Carrollton, and the place where mortal remains were laid to rest.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Manassas Mill

 

            Dr. Stansbury’s dreams of establishing a factory in the Carrollton area began to take shape in 1860 when he first petitioned the Mississippi legislature for a corporate charter for his new factory, “Carroll County Manufacturing Company.”  Having now created the legal entity under which the company would be operated, he set about the brick and mortar work.  In the June 1, 1860, edition of the Nashville Union and American, the following advertisement is found:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRICKS! BRICKS!! BRICKS!!!

 

SEALED proposals will be received by the Carroll County Manufacturing Company, up till the 14th of June next, for the making and burning of one million bricks.  The contactor having privilege without charge, of using wood convenient to the yard.

 

For further information apply to the undersigned at Carrollton, Miss.

 

                                                            W. M. Stansbury,

                                    President Carroll County Manufacturing Company.

 

Nashville Union and American insert six times daily and send bill to this office. – Carrollton (Miss.) Democrat

 

            In the September 12, 1860, edition of the Mississippian, the following advertisement was found:

 

 

Notice to Contractors

 

PROPOSALS will be received at my office, in the town of Carrollton, Mississippi, until the 20th of September, next, for the erections of a brick building, for the Carroll County Manufacturing Company.  The brick, lime and lumber to be furnished by Company.  Said building to be two stories high, 320 feet long by 138 feet wide.  Specifications and drawings of the plan can be seen by bidders at my office, and other necessary information will be there furnished.

 

                                                            W. M. STANSBURY

                                                            Pres’t Carroll Co. Manf. Co.

Aug 24 ’60-s&w3t 

 

            It is not hard to imagine that the start of the Civil War in April of 1861 perhaps slowed the progress of his plans; it did not halt the project.  Interestingly, on August 1, 1861, the Mississippi legislature was petitioned to change the corporate name of the company from the Carroll County Manufacturing Company to “Manassas Mills.”  It is shear speculation but given that the Confederate forces had defeated the Union force on July 21, 1861, at the First Battle of Bull Run, also known as the Battle of First Manassas, it is not hard to imagine that this victory was memorialized by the name change.  Interestingly, on July 21, 1870, the Mississippi legislature once again granted a change in the mill’s corporate name, but this time the name given was “Carrollton, Mississippi, Manufacturing Company.

 

            While it is not known when construction began or was completed, there is no doubt that the finished building was unlike any other.  The Charleston Dailey News announced in its June 13, 1866, edition that:

 

A gigantic cotton factory, called the “Manassas” manufactory, has been built at Carrollton, Miss.  It contains 180,000 spindles, 1800 looms, and goes into operation July 1.  The stock now stands 15 per cent above par.

 

From this article, the operation of the Manassas Mill began on July 1, 1866.[8] 

 

            According to an article in the Thursday, January 12, 1881, Public Ledger, the Manassas mill was “one of the most valuable” pieces of property in the South.  The initial cost of the factory and land was estimated to be $210,000.00.   The mill was located on 1,100 acres of land owned by the mill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Conceptual Image of Manassas Mill)

 

 

The Main Building

 

            The main building of the Manassas Mill was a colossal building for its time.  The building was described as a magnificent brick structure, built upon the “modern plan,” referring to the construction of brick outer walls with wooden post and beam construction of the building’s interior as described below.   The footprint of the main factory building was nearly the size of a football field, measured 320 feet long and 138 feet wide.  It was constructed of brick and timber and stood two and a half stories high.  

 

            The foundation footings upon which the brick walls were built were four and a half feet thick and lay in cement.  The walls of the first story were thirty-one inches thick, and the second story walls were twenty-seven inches.  The bricks used in the construction were hauled through the county from Winona, Mississippi, by ox teams. 

 

Plat of Manassas Mill Property

(Yellow rectangle is site of Main Building)

 

            While the bricks were prepared offsite, timbers would have most likely been cut locally. Each log would have been hewn square using a felling axe and then surface-finished with a broadaxe.  Smaller timbers were usually ripsawn into boards from the hewn baulks using pitsaws or frame saws.   The benefit of this type of construction was that the roof load is carried by the exterior brick walls, and lengthy spans of timber allowed for open area for machinery.  Suggestive of the size of the interior, it was reported of the main building that “if the machinery was moved out, a regiment of well drilled men could be drilled in the main room of the mill.”[9] 

 

            The smokestack for the building was also hauled through the county from Winona, Mississippi, by ox teams.   The smoke stack was installed by pulling it across the platform that connected the second story of the main building with the hillside where the road embankment was constructed.  The smokestack was “shoved over the top of the building to the other side, where it was due to be erected.”[10] 

 

            The building had nine doors and 217 windows, the sills of which were made of iron.  The floor of the second floor was supported by 273 wooden pillars, each of which measured ten inches by twelve inches in thickness.  These pillars supported the second floor and were topped with iron capitals upon which rested thirty nine wooden girders, each also measuring ten inches by twelve inches in thickness.  These girders ran across the entire width of the building.  The roof of the building was a heavily framed, self-supporting double roof.  The two ends of the roof were gabled.  The roof was covered with tin that was painted. 

 

            The most impressive feature of the main building was its beautiful bell-tower.  The tower was four and a half stories high with the first two stories being made of brick, and the remainder being made of wood.   This bell tower had two large entrance doors and eight windows.  All of the exposed wood was painted.

 

The Picker Building

 

            Approximately thirty feet from the massive main factory building was situated a picker room.      It was a two story, brick building that measured seventy feet long and thirty-five feet wide.  Like the main building, this building was covered with tin and all exposed wood painted. 

This would have been the building used store and later prepare the baled cotton for spinning.  In the picker room, workers, who were commonly called pickers or lappers, cleaned the cotton and organize it into continuous, even sheets. The workers would then fed these sheets into carding machines, where sharp metal teeth tore apart the cotton, removing any remaining twigs or dirt, and converted the mass into a continuous sliver or loosely compacted rope.  Often the picker room was separate from the main building because of the dust the process created. 

 

Other Buildings

 

            Other building dotted the 1100 acres owned by the mill.  There were eighteen wood-framed house buildings.  Two were two-stories with four rooms, wood shingle roof and brick chimneys; six were one story with four rooms, wood shingle roof and brick chimneys; and twelve were one story with two rooms, board roofs, and brick chimneys.  Other structures included two log homes, a blacksmith shop, one large wood shed, and one large, framed stable.  Mention is made of an attached grist mill and saw mill.  The engines for these buildings were located in the buildings, but the boilers that powered them were located under cover outside the buildings.

 

The Engine Room

 

 

            The Manassas Mill had an engine room that was equipped with the most modern machinery with which to operate.  The principal pieces were two Corliss & Co. horizontal, high pressure steam engines.  Each engine was configured with eighteen inch cylinders with a forty-two inch stroke.   Steam for these engines was supplied by two drop flue boilers.  Each of these boilers measured forty-eight inches in diameter, was thirty feet long, and contained two sixteen inch flues.  Accessories to these included two six inch geared force pumps used to force water into the boilers; wrought iron heaters; a cast iron steam drum for holding pressurized steam; and various pipes and valves.  This steam system also served as a source of heat for the entire facility during the winter.

 

            Corliss engines were typically used as stationary engines to provide mechanical power to line shafting in main factory.  The engines developed several hundred horsepower, albeit at low speed, turning massive flywheels weighing several tons at about 100 revolutions per minute. Because of their relatively high efficiency and low maintenance requirements, some of these engines remained in service into the early 21st century. See, for example, the engines at the Hook Norton Brewery and the Distilleries Dillon in the list of operational engines. [11]

 

            At the time, Corliss engines were generally about 30 percent more fuel efficient than conventional steam engines.[12]   This increased efficiency made steam power more economical than water power, allowing industrial development away from streams, waterfalls, and millponds.       

 

            The Engine Room also contained a two cylinder grinder, an engine lathe, a hand lathe and tools, one gear cutter, one planning machine, one tongue and groover, and one circular saw and table.  There were various kinds of shafts, hangers, couplings, and pulleys that were estimated to weigh about 77,319 pounds. 

 

Picker and Card Rooms

 

 

The Picker and Card Rooms were used to mechanically disentangle, clean, and intermix a continuous sliver or loosely packed ropes of cotton.  This room included a machine referred to as a willow.  A willow is a machine that contains a hollow cone or cylinder with internal spikes which revolves, opening and cleaning cotton.  The process is call willowing.  There was one beater and spreader which received and spread cotton that was then moved over rollers while the beater strikes the cotton rapidly and whips out any remaining dirt or dust.  There were fourteen cotton cards in two card stands used to comb the cotton to straighten the cotton and pass it on to the next process. There were two railway head with belts, one card grinder, two cylinder grinders, two drawing frames, and two twenty strand spreaders.

 

Spinner Room

            The Spinning Room of the mill contained eleven spinning frames, 144 spindles each, being the  ring traveler frame, eight yarn reels, one trying reel, one band machine, one bail winder, one spooler, forty eight spindles, one upright warping mill and creel, two warping mills and creels, two bobbin winders, and one beaming machine.

 

Weave Room

 

The Weave Room was equipped with seventy-two looms of which forty five were manufactured by Bridesburg Manufacturing Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and twenty-seven were manufactured by Matteawan Works of New York. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dresser Room

            Also, there was a Dresser Room that contained two dressers and fixtures.  The production of cloth began in the weave room. Yarn that ran lengthwise, called warp was interlaced with yarn running crosswise, called filling or weft. The first step was the preparation of the warp, as workers mounted yarn from the winder on a large frame called a creel. They directed the threads from each cone through individual parallel wires onto a rotating beam. The yarn from several beams was combined, dipped into a bath of hot starch and oil, dried over steam-heated drums, and wound onto a giant spool known as a loom beam.”[13]

 

Wool Room

 

            The mill also contained equipment that could be used to weave woolen products.  The Wool Room contained two wool card breakers, two wool card finishers, two wool pickers, one Wool Jack 240 spindles.

 

Water

 

            The location of the mill was purposed to take advantage of a “never-failing” spring located nearby.[14]  Also, a cistern was constructed.  The cistern remains dangerously visible on the property today.

 

Workforce and Management

 

            It was suggested that the mill, when at full operation, would hire between three and four hundred people.    James B. Parr, age 32, was appointed the mill’s first general manager.    Mr. Parr was a distinguished graduate of the Oglethorpe University of Georgia and one of the most promising of business men in the state.  Mr. Parr moved to Carrollton and began work in the mill, but unfortunately for himself and the mill, he became so feeble that by November of 1866, his health compelled him to leave Manassas Mill and return to his native Georgia.[15]  Mr. Parr died on November 29, 1866, at his family’s residence in Athens at the age of thirty-two years.   Newspaper report suggest that the mill may continued under the management of the Parr family since an article found in The Weekly Clarion date November 25, 1869, the following report is given:

 

In Class F. – Geo. W. Lanley, Superintendent – There is a find display of Home Manufactures of cloths, etc.  Especially worthy of mention is the display of cotton and woolen fabrics from the Mississippi Manufacturing Company at Wesson, Miss., and Manassas Mill, in Carroll County, Miss., both displaying an excellent article of goods in satinetts, kerseys, flannels, gran and white, woolen and cotton yarns, etc.  The Mississippi Manufacturing Company also displays a superior quality of gray cassimere specially adapted to gentlemen’s summer wear, the manufacture of which the President informs us is being made a speciality, and he hopes to supply all of Mississippi with this goods for next summer.  An excellent quality of cotton rope, equal to grass, was exhibited as the produce of that well-known factory.  Col. Parr of the Manassas Mills displays a speciality his golden mixed and gray cassimeres for gentlemen’s heavy wear, his shirtings, sheetings and osnaburgs, pronounced by all who examined them, as superior good and many of the manufactures of this mill triumphantly float blue ribbons.  The cotton sewing thread (No. 8) exhibited by Col. Parr will bear critical inspection.

 

The Weekly Clarion, Vol. XXXII, No. 52, 11/25/1869.

 

 

Operations

 

            Little is known about the actual operations of the Manassas Mills.  The mill seems to have worked hard to promote and sell its products.  The cloth woven during the time of operation was very durable, as it was heavy like “Lowell”.  Lowell cloth was a "generic" term for cheap, coarse cotton cloth, produced originally in the textile mills of Waltham, later Lowell, and eventually on plantations and textile mills in the South.[16]  Also, cashmere, a woolen cloth, was made. 

 

            The August 18, 1868, Memphis Dailey Appeal, contained the following advertisement by W. R. Moore & Co. located at 299 Main Street, Memphis, Tennessee:

 

Important

 

There never was a time when Home Interests were so much in need of patronage and encouragement as now.  All see and admit this, and all are willing to help build them up if they can do so upon such terms as shall not cost an excessive discrimination. 

 

The subscribers intend to offer from this time henceforward, at prices equal to the best from any quarter, heavy goods, many by the following and other Home Mills, viz:  Manassas Mills, Miss.

 

            As for those who worked in the mill, since there was a scarcity of  African-American labor after Reconstruction, all most all of the workers were white.  Only the family names of some of the workers in the mill are known.  Among the white families were the Littles, Hatleys,  Reagans, and Howards.  Among the African-American families, only Sanders Parr and Eugene Disk are noted.  Sanders Parr was hired by the mill to cut wood to fuel the boiler, and Eugene Disk was reportedly a very skillful engineer who was charged with running the valuable Corliss engines.[17]  Many of these families lived in homes that were clustered around the mill. 

 

            Despite its best efforts, like its first general manager, the Manassas Mill’s own life would be short.  In the Thursday, May 1, 1873, edition of the Jackson, Mississippi, newspaper, The Weekly Clarion, there is found a “Trustee’s Sale” notice.  In this notice, the mill’s land, buildings, and equipment were all offered for sale in satisfaction of a debt owed by the mill.  Later, in the Thursday, December 18, 1873, edition of The Weekly Clarion, reported, “The Manassas Mills at Carrollton have been sold in bankruptcy.”  The article reports that the mill, which was owned by Manassas Mills, was purchased by Dr. W. M. Stansbury.  It is very likely that Dr. Stansbury extended credit to the Manassas Mills and secured a deed of trust on the land and a chattel mortgage on the improvements.  When Manassas Mills was unable to meet its obligations to Dr. Stansbury, he was forced to foreclose.  Following this, the mill became known as the Stansbury Mill.

 

The Stansbury Mill

 

            Like the Manassas Mill’s operations, little is known about the operations of the Stansbury Mill following Dr. Stansbury’s purchase.  However, Dr. Stansbury’s dream would not live on in his children.  Following his death on March 22, 1879, it appears that a dispute arose among his heirs as to the division of his estate.  One of the consequences of their dispute is found in the Wednesday, January 21, 1880, edition of the City of Jackson’s The Clarion which contains a notice of “COTTON MILL AT AUCTION!” 

 

            According to the advertisement, a judicial sale was ordered by the Chancery Court of Carroll County.  The litigation was between those who sided with Dr. Stansbury’s son, Dr. Oscar Stansbury, and those who sided with Lelia Stansbury.  The cause of the dispute is not certain, but Dr. Stansbury’s son, Oscar Stansbury, who was himself a noted physician, had parted ways with his father many years prior.  According to letters contained as part of Oscar Stansbury’s collection, Dr. Stansbury wrote several letters to his son, Oscar, concerning reconciliation between them.    

 

            The advertisement calls for the sale of the land, buildings, and equipment that made up the Stansbury Mill, and the sale was to occur on Monday, the 29th day of March, A. D. 1880.  While the action may have ended Dr. Stansbury’s dream, it did preserve for history a detailed description of the mill.  

 


 

 


 


 


 


 

 

The Gordon Mills

 

            The court ordered sale of the mill by the Stansbury family, resulted in the sale of the mill to “one King, a Georgia manufacturer” according to the June 3, 1880, edition of The Home Journal of Winchester, Tennessee.  Shortly thereafter the property was purchased by Colonel Walter S. Gordon of Alabama.  Col. Gordon was a brother to ex-senator John B. Gordon of Georgia and brother to Major Eugene C. Gordon of Columbus, Mississippi.  Col. Gordon and his brothers were partners in another business that would also touch Carrollton.  They were major projectors in the Georgia Pacific railroad. 

 

            The report of this purchase of the Stansbury Mill appeared in the January 12, 1881, edition of Public Ledger.  According to the article, Colonel Walter S. Gordon purchased the Stansbury Mill for “cash money,” and paperwork finalizing the sale was signed on January 4, 1881.  The price paid for the mill was not reported.  It was believed at the time that Col. Gordon intended to purchase additional equipment and put the factory into full production.  The Gordons and others believed the location of the factory near Carrollton would prove a mint inasmuch as Carrollton was located in the hills just a few miles from the Mississippi Delta which would make the acquisition of cotton for use by the mill much cheaper than that paid by Northern mills.  It was also known to the Gordons that the Georgia Pacific railroad was making plans for the construction of a transcontinental railroad that would pass through Carrollton and quite near to their newly acquired factory.  Col. Gordon’s acquisition was more speculation, for he was known to find businesses that had failed because of lack of capital by the original promoters, buy out the original owners for a greatly reduced price, and then sell them to a new set of promotors.  Surely, Col. Gordon perceived that the property would be a ripe investment with the coming of the new railroad.  On March 9, 1882, the Gordons were granted a corporate charter in the name of “The Gordon Cotton Mills Company.”

 

            The Gordon Cotton Mills did not begin operations immediately.  It seems that the factory remains unused for a number of years.  In the April 6, 1887, edition of The Clarion, Colonel Gordon (now of Columbus, Mississippi) is reported to have sent a squad of men to Carrollton to repair the “Stansberry” Cotton Factory in preparation of the resumption of operations.  No history can be found as to the Gordons having operated the mill. This news is questionable in that Walter S. Gordon died suddenly on October 16, 1886, at the age of thirty-seven while he was on business in New York City, New York.

 

A. E. Randle

 

            In the Saturday, November 22, 1890, edition of the Greenville Times, it is learned that the Gordon Cotton Mill had come under yet another owner, A. E. Randle.  Mr. Randle had been born in Clay County, Mississippi, but had move to New England some years later.  He had become a prominent real estate dealer in the area of New York and Washington and is credited with the development several subdivisions in the Washington area, most notably the Congress Heights and Ardwick Heights communities.

 

            Mr. Randle purchased the mill and immediately sought investors to invest capital for the mill’s $1,000,000.00 shares of stock.  Mr. Randle also changed the name of the mill once more and from this point forward the mill would be officially named Delta Cotton and Woolen Mills, and Land Co.  Investors in the mill included Cyrus W. Field, Jr., of New York; William R. Martin, Oscar C. Brothers, J. Walter head, and T. M. Miller, and other Boston capitalist.[18]

 

            D. M. Huff, the editor and publisher of the Magnolia Gazzette in Magnolia, Mississippi, reported in the Saturday, December 19, 1891, edition that he had visited the cotton mill in Carrollton.  He was shown about the property by Mr. A. E. Randle.  Mr. Huff remarked:

 

The building is large and roomy, the surroundings are healthful and pleasant, and all the conditions that go to make a good manufacturing site are there in abundance.  I have never seen a better opening for the use of capital than this and other such enterprises that we see off to the man of means.  I should not look elsewhere for an opening.

 

While Mr. Huff was struck by the feasibility of its operations, he found that the mill was lying idle.  He reported that it was a splendid structure, massive and substantial, located in the center of a fine cotton-producing section.  The mill, according to Mr. Huff, was convenient to railroads and with a market in every direction.  Despite its opportunities, Mr. Huff describe the mill’s machinery has having grown rusty from disuse.  Ultimately, Mr. Huff attributed this to the lack of capital to fund its operations.[19]

 

            Unlike the mill’s previous owners, Mr. Randle did set about getting the factory back into working order.  According to the June 3, 1892, The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, the factory, after being shut down for years, resumed work under Mr. Randle’s management.  Like all those before him, Mr. Randle struggled to keep the mill’s head above water. 

 

            It seems that the financial woes under Mr. Randle’s ownership were worse than those of his predecessors.   Mr. Randle hired Col. Jonathan Frederick Jesty, owner of Jesty & Co. of Winona, Mississippi, to place the factory back into working order; however, the improvements that were made by Mr. Randle prior to placing the mill back into production went unpaid.  In 1893, Col. Jesty sued Mr. Randle and was able to obtain a judgment for the unpaid repairs.  Because the judgment then went unpaid, Col. Jesty was forced to find other means of satisfying the judgment.  According to the June 17, 1893, edition of the Macon Beacon, the mill, including all land, buildings, and equipment, was sold by the sheriff under execution and was purchase by judgment creditor, Col. R. Jesty of Winona, Mississippi.  Amazingly, the building, equipment, and land that had once been called one of the most valuable properties in the South, were sold to the highest bidder for $1,500.00 according to the May 5, 1893, edition of The Pascagoula Democrat-Star.  The newspaper editor remarked that “the machinery alone originally cost $80,000.00, to say nothing of the 1,100 acres of land belong thereto.”  The Macon Beacon commented, “The mammoth enterprise has met many reverses of late and all hopes of its successful operation are about departed, though Maj. A. E. Randle, a New England capitalist, announces that all judgments will be satisfied and said factory placed in operation by fall.”  Court records would suggest that Mr. Randle was not able to regain the property. 

 

The End of Dr. Stansbury’s Dream

 

            Following the sheriff’s sale, Col. Jonathan Frederick Jesty, owner of Jesty & Co., announced that he would begin at once to tear down the buildings, remove the equipment, and sell various parcels of the land.   As for the land, Col. Jesty promptly had the land subdivided into forty acre parcels and a plat of these parcels was recorded among the courthouse records.  The plat was purposed to allow Col. Jesty to identify and sell parcels more quickly.  As for the building and equipment, local oral history obtained from the present property owners suggest that Col. Jesty remained true to his word.  He immediately set about disassembling the mill buildings and removing and selling the mill equipment.  It is said Col. Jesty intended to disassemble the buildings brick by brick; however, the building was constructed so well that ultimately, Col. Jesty dynamited the building and hauled away as many bricks as he could.[20]  This story seems plausible in that the some of the steel works that remain at the sight are quite twisted and bricks are strewn over a very large area. 

 

            Today, all that remains of this once grand enterprise are the small, undiscernible mounds of broken bricks and the dangerous, open-mouth cistern that once supplied the boiler of this colossal building.  Successions of growths of trees and bushes hide what once was a one of the South’s finest buildings.  The constant putter and hiss of her fine steam engines have been replaced by the whispering of the trees, the occasional lowing of cattle, and the distant sound of cars and trucks traveling along U. S. Highway 82.

 

 

Posted with Permission:
© KennyDowns 2016

 

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[1] https://books.google.com/books?id=ZqlCAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA545&lpg=PA545&dq=W.+M.+Stansbury+ baltimore+carrollton&source=bl&ots=ZM7jv4UEAi&sig=crg5r8ZiI_r95jSIgi4PR_yPzns&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjP8sX4rdDNAhUG6YMKHeM0De8Q6AEIPDAF#v=onepage&q=W.%20M.%20Stansbury%20baltimore%20carrollton&f=false

 

[2] http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ourpage/middleton3.htm

[3] a surgical instrument for cutting out circular sections (as of bone or corneal tissue)

[4] http://www.in2013dollars.com/1860-dollars-in-2016?amount=130000

[5] http://www.genealogy.com/ftm/e/d/e/Mike--EDER/WEBSITE-0001/UHP-1543.html

[6] The Weekly Clarion, December 1, 1875.

[7] https://archive.org/details/journalannualco11coungoog

[8] More likely, operations began on July 2, 1866, since July 1, 1866, would have been a Sunday.  

[9] Thursday, January 12, 1881, Public Ledger

[10] Source Materials for Mississippi History, Carroll County, Vol. VIII, Part Two, page 4, compiled by WPA State-wide Historical Research Project, 1936-38.

[11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corliss_steam_engine

[12]  Rosenberg and Trajtenberg, A General Purpose Technology at Work, The Journal of Economic History, 64, 1 (March 2004) page 75

[13] Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd and , Mary Murphy, Lu Ann Jones, Christopher B. Daly James Leloudis, Mary Murphy, Lu Ann Jones, Christopher B. Daly, Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987), 49.

[14]  Source Materials for Mississippi History, Carroll County, Vol. VIII, Part Two, page 4, compiled by WPA State-wide Historical Research Project, 1936-38.

 

[15] Page 4, The Dailey Clarion, Jackson, Mississippi, December 20, 1866.

[16] http://library.uml.edu/clh/All/Lowcl.htm

[17] Source Materials for Mississippi History, Carroll County, Vol. VIII, Part Two, page 4, compiled by WPA State-wide Historical Research Project, 1936-38.

[18] Wade’s Fiber and Fabric, p. 194 (February 14, 1891).  Also see, https://books.google.com/books?id= cAwAAAAAMAAJ&pg =PA194&lpg=PA194&dq=A.+E.+Randle+carrollton&source=bl&ots=06AyY-Biya&sig=FS80noND-8OxM5CQ3AcznMEUL2I&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwipwq7Esd _NAhVH2yYKHUI9CQsQ6AEIMDAD#v=onepage&q=A.%20E.%20Randle%20carrollton&f=false

[19] The Magnolia Gazette, December 19, 1891, Volume XIV. Magnolia, Mississippi.

[20] Source Materials for Mississippi History, Carroll County, Vol. VIII, Part Two, page 4, compiled by WPA State-wide Historical Research Project, 1936-38.