Cotton mills had abounded in the Spartanburg area since 1816. The abundant streams and rivers in the area are just beginning their descent towards the lower-lying Midlands region (called The Piedmont). In many places, these waterways descend abruptly, providing a source for plentiful waterpower. Cotton mills were built along these rivers to harness this power. By the mid-1800s, many investors flocked to Spartanburg County, SC to establish textile factories. By 1860, there were nearly 900 Spartanburg County residents employed in textile mills. Just 20 years later, that number had more than doubled, with 2,000 “operatives,” as employees were called, working in 14 mills across the county. These mills, their owners and their laborers dominated the politics and economy of the region for nearly a century but now they are closed and abandoned. Some are totally gone and others are just ruins.
According to statistics from the 1900 census and questionnaires
The Cotton Mills of South Carolina, 1907 Letters Written to the News and Courier By August Kohn, South Carolina Dept. of Agriculture: "The summary shows that there are 54,434 people in the actual employ of the cotton mills of South Carolina and that there are 126,779 practically one tenth of the total population of the State and a very much larger proportion of the white population owe their livelihood to the cotton mill industry to day The census for 1900 shows a total population of 1,340,316 for South Carolina Of this number 557 807 are whit s How many people realize that in 1907 fully one fifth of the total white population making due allowance for the increase in population since 1900 are dependent on the cotton mills for a livelihood in 1900 the white population of South Carolina was 657,807 To day 126,799 white people earn their livelihood through South Carolina's cotton mills The totals which are"
Mills were located along the waterways but the towns were sometimes a distance away so the mill owners built villages around the mills to provide nearby housing for their workers. They began to recruit workers from the rural and mountainous areas around their mills. Providing housing, company stores, community churches and schools was very appealing to hardscrabble farmers with large families. The Piedmont of SC had been farmed to death and without the knowledge or financial ability to farm responsibly by using fertilizers and terracing (to stop soil errosion) the soil became more and more depleted. It produced less and less. In the Appalachian Mountains not everyone had "good bottomland" to farm. Large farms were divided to children by inheritance and it kept getting subdivided. And more and more people living in America meant smaller and smaller farms. Land had been plentiful and cheap. But the more people who moved into an area, the less land was available, affordable or farmable. Families living in the mountains were living pretty isolated lives too. Not many schools, towns, or ways to communicate outside the area meant children were raised illiterate, dirt poor, and not knowing anything about the world around them. Thousands of people were destitute after the War of Northern Aggression. The years of Reconstruction did anything but re-construct the South. Poverty was palpable! But the Industrial Revolution brought them new hope. The mills recruited them and brought them in. These people had known more freedom and independence in their agrigultural life and were used to being outdoors. So even though these mills sounded good, they really traded one problem for another. Taking these people and placing them in rows of primitive houses, ringing the bells for start and stop of shifts, crowding them into huge buildings with horrendous noise and cotton lint flying thickly in the air was a real culture shock. Some of the mill owners were better than others. The bad ones let their greed determine the treatment of their workers. Some called it paternalistic as though these workers couldn't act or think for themselves. And that was the best of situations. Others called it industrialized totalitarianism. Owners and bosses could be tyrants and the workers had little choice but to take it. They had to provide for their families. And many times they got into debt to the company (especially through the company store) and couldn't leave. It wasn't much better than slavery had been. Conditions could be squalid and filthy and children were forced to work. All were made to follow the rules inside and outside the mill or be threatened with losing everything they had. But then, they had come from destitute poverty, squalid log cabins and children had always been forced to work in one way or another. Mill owners would point to their attempts to provide the basic necessities for their workers. For instance, in 1907, the Beaumont mill village had 1 church in which the mill contributed more than 3/4 of it's cost. The mill kept the church repaired, supplied fuel and paid the church $50/year. The mill also contributed a teacher to the village's school.
Beaumont was built in 1890 on the Chinquapin Creek within the city limits of Spartanburg, SC. J. H. Sloan (president), John B. Cleveland, Joseph Walker (the original land owner), H. A. Ligon, C.E. Fleming, Vardry McBee, and others filed for the charter and equipped with 3,072 spindles, 640 twisters, and 40 bag looms. It was originally only 1 storey and was located beside the Richmond & Danville Railroad (later Southern Railroad). They built 15 mill houses at the same time on what is North Liberty St.
In 1907 300 workers worked in Beaumont with an annual payroll of $80,000.00. It had 20,237 spindles and 253 looms and consumed 8,000 bales of cotton to produce $450,000.00 worth of cloth and yarn.
My Great Grandfather, Bailey Bright Reese, was one of those recruited from the Blue Ridge Mountains. They came to work in the Beaumont Manufacturing Company with their first child. Minnie Louesta "Estie" Reese was born 11/7/1907 in Madison County, NC.
It was a sad time for little children to be forced to work. On the other hand, the families may have been really in need of what the children could make in order to survive. Back then there was no government aid or welfare. With mouths to feed, survival might have meant they had to work. If the government passed a law that protected children from having to go to work so young, would this help the children and give the most vulnerable people in our society protection? Or, would the law mean the death of these children and their families because they wouldn't be allowed to work to make the money to put food on the table? It was a very hard question. Some families had good-for-nothing fathers. But others had disabled fathers, or their fathers couldn't make enough money to take care of all the little mouths, or their mother's were widowed, or they were orphans. Sometimes their home life was so bad that working got them safely out of it. Many little street urchins (either orphaned or runaways due to bad home situations) needed jobs to provide for themselves. If they didn't work they would be begging on the streets. Which was worse? So there are a lot of ways to look at it. I can only be thankful that my nieces and nephews have never known such want and they've never had to work in order to eat. These days we don't have a clue as to how bad things can really be. We are so blessed in this country! Thank You, God!
I found these photos by Lewis Wickes Hine in May 1912. These photos are from the National Child Labor committee and are in the Library of Congress. Children weren't suppose to work if they were younger than 12 but families who needed or wanted money would lie about their children's ages in order to get them papers so they could work and bring in money. This photographer was trying to document this and he came through Spartanburg in May, 1912. He took photos of children cotton mill workers at Beaumont, Saxon, Drayton, Arkwright, Arlington and Clifton. Here are the ones from Beaumont.
Notice the little boy in the front row in the middle! As all little boys will do, he is crossing his eyes and screwing up his mouth to make a funny face.
These children were working barefooted. Poor little dirty raggamuffins look much older than their years.
Little Emmett Capps has a bandaged foot. Notice the people behind him?
Little girls were put to work too! These girls were suppose to be 12 or older. They are working barefooted and have covered their work dresses with aprons to make them last longer.
These Beaumont boys are on their way to church. The boy in fron on the left is Elish Putnam. The boy in the front middle is Bryson Emmett. The boy in the front right is George Powell. Notice some of the boys were going to church barefooted and one didn't even have a jacket to wear. The house behind them has someone who takes pride even if they don't have anything. The walk is swept and neatly lined. The porch has a railing with a row of potted flowers the fence is neat and in good repair.
The same boys with some more added are in this picture. Probably some of their father's are in the back row. On the front row left is Emmett Capps, a Doffer who had been working for a year before this photo was taken. On front row right is Bob Cook who worked in the Spinning Room making 50 cents/day. He had also been working for a year.
These two little barefoot boys are (left) Emmett Capps, a Doffer and (right) Bob Cook who worked in the Spinning Room. They certainly don't look like they are 12 or older!
This little boy with the haunting eyes and crooked smile is Bob Cook who had started working a year previous making 35 cents/day but was making 50 cents/day by the time this photo was taken.
After J. H. Sloan’s death, Dudley L. Jennings became president.
National Geographic News, Willie Drye, October 19, 2004"...But with people willing to work for very low wages, most of the mills made money anyway. Profits started booming in 1914, when World War I began and Southern textile mills landed huge military contracts.
"But things changed when the war ended and windfall profits stopped. Many mills were now in the hands of owners who weren't motivated by "social salvation." By the late 1920s their greed and mismanagement had brought hard times to the textile towns. Many mill hands lost their jobs, and those who continued to work faced ever increasing production demands.
"Flaring tempers and violence took a deadly turn in March 1929, when textile workers fed up with pay cuts and ceaseless demands for more production went on strike in Gastonia, North Carolina. A sheriff and several mill workers were shot dead.
"Mill owners often used brutal tactics to break textile strikes, and organized labor was never able to gain much of a foothold in the South.
"By the end of World War II in 1945, the industry had stabilized again, and textile towns flourished for about 25 years. No one knows exactly how many people worked in the southern mills when they were at their peak employment. But in 1960 there were 505,000 textile workers in North Carolina alone.
"The textile industry has never lost its appetite for cheap labor, and the jobs that once filled the southern mills started to be shipped outside the United States... "
By 1920 there were 142 homes in the village. Walter S. Montgomery, Sr. acquired the plant in 1941 when plant equipment was modernized for the production of heavy cotton duck fabric needed by the armed services for the impending war. It became one of the mills in the Spartan Mills conglomerate. Beaumont employees won five coveted Army-Navy “E” awards during the World War II.
Stan's Mother's Grandfather (Stan's great Grandfather) began working at Beaumont. Franklin Drayton Prince worked in the Company Store and was considered management. Peggy remembers her Prince grandparents living on 740 N. Liberty Street in the big two-story shingled house. Frank Prince was born 7/18/1880 in Union County, SC. He played baseball in textile mill leagues. He married Mary "Mollie" Cynthia Bain, daughter of Elisha Bain and Mary Bogan.
Frank Prince and Molly Prince had 11 children:
1) Julian Rhett Prince married Clara Marie Wilder and had 3 daughters, Wilma Prince, Louise Prince and Peggy Prince (my husband's Mother).
2) Hubert L. Prince married Lillie Belle Toney and they had Betty Jean Prince and Francis Prince.
3) Ralph Dupree Prince married Carolee (or Carrie Lee) Garrett and they had Bobby Prince, Kenneth Prince, Larry Prince, Barbara Prince, Mary Elaine "Lanie"Prince, Linda Prince.
4) Wilbur Eugene Prince married Ruth Ansel West and they had Suzie Prince, Joanne Prince, Martha Prince, Wilbur Eugene "Buddy"Prince, Joseph Stephen Prince.
5) Franklin Harold Prince married Elenora (aka Eleanor, Elanore) Savannah Shirley and they had Frank Donald "Donnie Prince and Jerry Prince.
6) Mary Prince married Lewis Ray. Lewis died 7/20/1942 during the War.
7) Ruth Prince married J. R. Shepherd and they had Gail Shepherd and Nancy Shepherd.
8) Marvin Lewis Prince married Margie Hurd.
9) Vernon C. Prince, never married.
10) Margarite Prince married Jack Key and they had Bobby Key and David Key.
11) Mildred Prince married Edward "Ed" Norman Comer, Sr. and they had Edward Norman Comer, Jr, Harold "Hal" Comer.
F.D. Prince died in his sleep of a massive coronary heart attack on 5/14/1940. If you think about that time...he had lived through World War I and the Great Depression, the Big Strike of '34 but died before we got involved in World War II. Mollie Prince lived until 10/31/1974. She stayed in that 2 storey house in Beaumont. Several of their children, spouses and grandchildren worked at Beaumont.
In 1930, Beaumont had 37, 320 spindles and B.L. Jennings was President.
Throughout the 1920's the mills faced an intractable problem of overproduction, as the wartime boom for cotton goods ended, while foreign competition cut into their markets. Although manufacturers tried to reduce the oversupply by forming industry associations to regulate competition, their favored solution to the crisis was to squeeze more work out of their employees through what workers called the "stretch-out": speeding up production by increasing the number of looms assigned to each factory hand, limiting break times, paying workers by piece rates, and increasing the number of supervisors to keep workers from slowing down, talking or leaving work. In the 1930s, it was trying times for many mills as the Great Depression squeezed profits. Mills, who relied on bankers in New York for financing, often lost their mills when sales did not earn enough to service the debt. Others had a group of investors take over the loans and when the mills couldn't make the payments, those investors took over the mills. Keeping the mills open during the Depression wasn't easy. At times, workers only worked a couple of days per week. In order to keep afloat or make a profit, the mills often laid off as many workers as they could but then expected the remaining workers to pick up the slack and work 'round the clock and do more than just their job. And getting paid overtime, as we understand it, wasn't done back then. Labor Unions began to move in and found overworked, underpaid, desperate, scared, angry workers in these mills. As the economy atrophied, organized labor strengthened. Mill workers found their united voice, and the result at times was bloody. There were 80 strikes in SC in 1929 alone! That year also saw the massive strikes that began in Gastonia, NC, and Elizabethton, TN, which were violently suppressed by local police and vigilantes. The election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) appeared to change things. The NIRA, which Roosevelt signed in June, 1933, called for cooperation among business, labor and government and established the National Recovery Act(NRA). It was to oversee the creation of codes of conduct for particular industries that would reduce overproduction, raise wages, control hours of work, guarantee the rights of workers to form unions, and stimulate an economic recovery. It didn't live up to it's promises. But the promise of the right to join a union had an electrifying effect on textile workers: the United Textile Workers, which had no more than 15,000 members in February, 1933, grew to 250,000 members by June, 1934, of whom roughly half were cotton mill workers. Textile workers also put tremendous faith in the NIRA to bring an end to the stretch-out, or at least temper its worst features. As one union organizer said, textile workers in the South saw the NIRA as something that "God has sent to them." The NIRA quickly promulgated a code for the cotton industry regulating workers' hours and establishing a minimum wage; it also established a committee to study the problem of workloads. In the meantime, however, the employers responded to the new minimum wages by increasing the pace of work. When the labor board set a forty-hour work week, mill owners required the same amount of work in those forty hours as they had in the previous fifty- to sixty-hour week. By August 1934, workers had filed nearly 4,000 complaints to the labor board protesting "code chiseling" by their employers ; the board found in favor of only one worker. Union supporters often lost their jobs and found themselves blacklisted throughout the industry. Violence was inevitable. The UTW started talking about a national strike and one started in Alabama. But it was ineffective: many employers welcomed it as a means of cutting their expenses, since they had warehouses full of unsold goods. The UTW had a convention in NY and drew up a list of demands: a thirty hour week, minimum wages ranging from $13.00 to $30.00 a week, elimination of the stretch-out, union recognition, and reinstatement of workers fired for their union activities. The mill owners didn't take them seriously and the White House ignored everything.
The Great Strike of 1934 swept through Southern cotton mills, outpacing the union organizers and employing "flying squadrons" which traveled by truck and on foot from mill to mill, calling the workers out. In Gastonia, where authorities had violently suppressed a strike led by the National Textile Workers Union in 1929, an estimated 5,000 people marched in the September 3rd Labor Day parade. The next day union organizers estimated that 20,000 out of the 25,000 textile workers in the county were out on strike. It tapped a deep bitterness in the workers. But the owners were taken by surprise. Governor Blackwood (SC) announced that he would deputize the state's "mayors, sheriffs, peace officers and every good citizen" to maintain order, then called out the National Guard with orders to shoot to kill any picketers who tried to enter the mills. Mill owners persuaded local authorities throughout the Piedmont to augment their forces by swearing in special deputies, often their own employees or local residents opposed to the strike; in other cases, they simply hired private guards to police the areas around the plant. Violence between guards and picketers broke out almost immediately. Six picketers were shot to death, many in the back as they turned to run, in Honea Path, SC. Authorities ordered out the National Guard in the second week of the strike. The strike was, in fact, already falling apart, particularly in the South, where local governments refused to provide any relief assistance to strikers and there were few sympathetic churches or unions to provide support. Although the union had pledged to feed strikers, it was wholly unable to fulfill this promise. President Roosevelt established a committee to look into it and encouraged the workers to go back to work. The strike was a total defeat for the union, particularly in the South. The union had not forced the mill owners to recognize it or obtained any of its economic demands. The employers refused, moreover, to reinstate strikers throughout the South. Anti-union sentiment in the South kept wages low for decades, but also acted as a catalyst for development later when industries moved there from the North and Midwest because of lower costs.
Dissatisfied workers would often move around going back to the farm or switching to other mills. Keeping a work force became a problem. Owners wanted a stable, well trained work force so they came up with different ways to attract and keep workers. Cheap and attractive ways. Recreation was important in bringing relief to the workers. Baseball became very popular and forming textile baseball teams helped bring fun and recreation to a hard lifestyle and gave a sense of community to the mills and their villages. It also taught the young men how to be team players and how to work together for a goal and provided exercise. To the mill owners this was a win/win situation! Cheap but effective. So they encouraged teams. Going to the baseball field either to play or watch became the favorite pasttime. Everyone in the village would turn out to watch their team. It fostered community pride. By the 1880's the mill teams were enthusiastically supported. The Spartanburg Mill Base Ball (sic) League began in 1913 and included Drayton, Saxon, Glendale, Whitney, Converse, Beaumont, Arkwright, Spartan Mill and Arcadia. It began to leave it's amateur beginnings behind. Men and women played and had teams. Beaumont had it's own ballfield and park.
World War II drew people back together again. When Japan attacked Hawaii on 12/7/1941, people were shocked into banding together against common enemies. No one in the world was unaffected by the Second World War! And that included the families in Beaumont. Beaumont revved up to acquire and fulfill wartime contracts. Men who were physically able, joined the military. Those family members left behind had to work the mills to supply their "boys" overseas. Everyone in Beaumont worked together, supported each other and had common goals.
Mary Prince Ray lost her husband in the War and the very next year she died in a car accident in Beaumont.
Spartanburg Herald, 10/15/1943, Pg 5
"Mrs. Mary Ray Dies of Auto Crash Injuries"
"Funeral Service Planned This Afternoon for Beaumont Victim"
"Mrs. Mary Prince Ray, 29, of 642 North Liberty Street died at 7am yesterday morning at Mary Black Hospital of injuries suffered Wednesday night in an automobile accident in the Beaumont section of the city."
"Her death was the 18th fatality of the year in the county as the result of traffic accidents."
"A report of the accident filed by investigating officers at city police headquarters said it occurred at 8:20pm Wednesday night at the intersection of North Fairview Avenue and Maywood Street. The car in which Mrs. Ray was riding was traveling south on Maywood Street, failed to make a turn at the Fairview Avenue intersection and truck a telephone pole, according to the report. Mrs. Ray was listed as the driver and Joe R. Clubb as the owner of the car in the police report."
"Clubb was given emergency treatment at Mary Black Hospital following the accident."
"Patrolment Charley Brown and Wofford Blanton (Red Blanton) investigated the accident."
"At the hospital it was reported that Mrs. Ray suffered a fractured skull and internal injuries."
"No plans for an inquest into Mrs. Ray's death had been made yesterday afternoon, Coroner John W. Pearson said."
"Funeral services for Mrs. Ray will be conducted today at 4:30pm at Beaumont Baptist Church by the Rev. E. G. Harrison and the Rev. Carl O. Page. Interment will be in Oak Grove Baptist Church cemetery."
"Active pallbearers will be Archie West, Henry Lewis, Bill Kirby, Dewey Welchel, Bruce Justice and William Richards."
"Mrs. Ray is survived by her mother, Mrs. D. F. Prince of Beaumont; six brothers, Hubert Prince of Spartanburg; Ralph D. Prince of the detective division of the Spartanburg police department; Harold Prince of Spartanburg; Marvin Prince of the U.S. Navy; and Vernon Prince of the U.S. Army, now stationed overseas; and three sisters, Mrs. Ruth Shepherd, Miss Marguerite Prince and Miss Mildred Prince, all of Beaumont."
"The body will be at the home, 642 North Liberty Street, until the hour of the funeral."
During World War II, Beaumont printed a company newsletter called The Beaumont "E". In the Kennedy Room at the Spartanburg County Public Library, they have copies of some of these newsletters.
Beaumont had a war time newsletter for their employees. I found a few copies. The Beaumont "E" newsletter dated 11/11/1942, pg ?, "Letters From the Boys", located in Kennedy Room, Spartanburg County Public Library, Pamphlet files, "Spartanburg Textile Industry-Beaumont"
"October 23, 1942.
"Dear Mrs. Phifer:
"I received your letter today and I am very glad to hear about Beaummont winning the Army-Navy E. It makes us boys in the service feel good to know that the people back home are backing us up 100 percent.
"The army life isn't as bad as some people seem to think it is. I like it out here very much. We have plenty of entertainment in our spare time, and the civilians out here treat us swell. There are some pretty large cities close by: such as Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco. I was down at Berkeley last Saturday to see a football game between the University of California and U.C.L.A. I will close now and I know the people of Beaumont will keep the wheels of industry rolling and I wish them the best of luck.
"Very truley yours,
"Pvt. Vernon C. Prince
"Camp Stoneman, Pittsburg, CA"
The Beaumont "E" newsletter dated 5/17/1943, pg 4, "Soldiers and Sailors of Beaumont Honored When Honor Roll Dedicated and Unveiled", located in Kennedy Room, Spartanburg County Public Library, Pamphlet files, "Spartanburg Textile Industry-Beaumont"
"The roll of those employees who have left the service of Beaumont Manufacturing Co. to join the service of the United States Army, Navy, or Marines since July 1st, 1940, in order of teh date of the leaving the mill are:
(1st column, 3/4 down) "Vernon C. Prince"
The Beaumont "E" newsletter dated 8/1944, pg ? last page, "Mrs. Prince Has Persian Cloth", located in Kennedy Room in Spartanburg County Public Library, Pamphlet files, "Spartanburg Textile Industry-Beaumont"
"Mrs. Mollie Prince of North Liberty Street has a lovely Persian cloth of which she should be, and really is, very proud. It is handwoven and the colors are soft and beautiful and the design just what you would expect a Persian design to be.
"Where did it come from? Why from her son, Vernon, who is in Iran or Iraq or Persia, or some far country where our boys are fighting for freedom.
""When Vernon was employed at Beaumont, he was in the weave room so of course, a lovely piece of weaving interested him. But, we would be willing to venture, nothing would look any prettier to him right now than good stout Duck from Beaumont unless it was seeing a roll of duck coming right off the Beaumont looms."
The Beaumont "E" newsletter dated 4/17/1943, pg 10, "Celebrates Seventh Birthday With Party", located in Kennedy Room of Spartanburg Public Library, Pamphlet files, "Spartanburg Textile Industry-Beaumont"
"Little Miss Mary Evelyn Shirley celebrated her seventh birthday on March 30 by entertaining many of her little friends at a delightful party at the home of her grandfather, Mr. R.R. McCraw, 790 Camp Street. She is the daughter of Mrs. Grace McCraw Shirley. After games had been enjoyed by the happy group, delicious refreshments were served by her mother, assisted by Miss Ocie McCraw, Miss Sybelle Lloyd and Mrs. Louise Skipper..."
Front row, seated, 4th boy from left is Donnie Prince and Second row, standing, 3 girl from left is Gail Shepherd and Third row, standing, 3rd girl from left is Nancy Shepherd and Fourth row, standing from left first boy is Jerry Prince.
The Beaumont "E" newsletter, copy located in Kennedy Room of Spartanburg County Public Library in Pamphlet files, "Spartanburg Textile Industry-Beaumont", date4/17/1943, Pg 12, $2,219.39 Raised In Red Cross Drive Gives Beaumont Third Place In Textile Groups
"Workers on the first and second shifts in the Red Cross Drive who contributed so materially to Beaumont's excellent record are (reading right to left): 6th woman is "Mrs. Elnora Prince"
The Beaumont "E" newsletter, copy located in Kennedy Room of Spartanburg County Public Library in Pamphlet files, "Spartanburg Textile Industry-Beaumont", date 8/1944, pg 2, Employees Praise Cafeteria, We Like The Showers
"'The Cafeteria is fine, really wonderful But the showers are the grandest things at Beaumont'. That's what Mrs. Thomas D. Pack, Mrs. Clara Prince and Miss Mildred Putnam told Mrs. Phifer while they were at lunch the other day. 'We really enjoy the cafeteria and such a nice place to eat our lunches, but we are crazy about the showers.'"
Also in the Beaumont "E" newsletter ("E" for "Excellence") Peggy's sister, Wilma Prince, was recognized as one of the Beaumont teens who graduated from high school. This would have probably been in 1943. I forgot to look for the date on the newsletter. Wilma is now 84 years old and still a beautiful woman.
My Mother-In-Law, Peggy Prince Harris played women's fast pitch softball on the Beaumont team. These photos were taken for the Beaumont "E" newsletter in 1949.
In this photo she is the third from left in the seated front row.
Clara Wilder Prince's husband, Julian Rhett Prince, died in 1935 in a car accident. She had to go to work at Beaumont to support their three daughters. In the 1950's the mills began selling off the mill village houses. Stan's Grandmother bought her house on Maywood St. She retired from Beaumont. Her daughter, Peggy (Stan's Mother), also worked at Beaumont and retired from there. Peggy, Billy and their 6 children lived for some time in this little house on Maywood St.
Some of the Owners of Beaumont
John Henry Montgomery (1833 - 1902)-Capt. John Henry Montgomery was born into a family distinguished in British history. His great-great grandfather moved from Northern Ireland, as did many Scotch-Irish and settled in Pennsylvania. Like many others, he followed the road south and settled in Spartanburg County, SC in 1775. His early training was in the mercantile area. At age 19, he became a clerk in a country store in the county. Later, he formed a partnership with a brother-in-law. With the death of his partner, he continued the business and added a tannery.When the War of Northern Aggression broke out in 1861, Montgomery joined the army and was soon made commissary of the brigade. He assisted with such activities throughout the Civil War and rose to the rank of Captain, CSA. After the War, he returned to the mercantile and tanning business. He added commercial fertilizers-Walker, Flemming & Company-and warehousing to his business interests. The first opportunity in textiles came with the acquisition of waterpower rights by Walker, et al., at Trough Shoals on the Pacolet River. Like many aspiring Southern entrepreneurs, Montgomery went to New York seeking backers to invest in the growing Southern textile industry. He met with Seth Milliken who put up $10,000 of the $100,000 capitalization “as a starter.” This was the beginning of a long and interesting association between the two men. A cotton mill was erected in 1881 and became the first unit of the Pacolet Manufacturing Company. Montgomery was chosen president and treasurer. The initial 10,000 spindles were increased to 20,000 in 1887 and 40,000 in 1893. Pacolet Number 2 followed in 1888. In 1889, Montgomery organized the Spartan Mills, an integrated spinning and weaving mill in Spartanburg, where he became president and treasurer. It was his own company, Spartan Mills, in downtown Spartanburg in 1890. Under the leadership of his sons and grandsons, the company grew and prospered. Walter S. Montgomery was born in Spartanburg, S.C., October 18, 1900, he was a graduate of Virginia Military Institute. He has served as manager, treasurer, president or chairman of a number of textile mills, including Spartan Mills, founded by his grandfather, Startex and Beaumont Mills. He was an organizer of South Carolina Mills, a mail order firm dealing only in items of cotton, an organizer of the Spartanburg County Foundation and a long-time director of Textile Hall Corporation. Pacolet Number 3 was built in 1891 , Spartan Number 2 in 1896. The products included print cloth, broadcloth and sheeting. Montgomery also became involved in the Gainesville Cotton Mills, Gainesville, GA; the Whitney Mills, Whitney, Spartanburg, SC; the Lockhart Mills, Lockhart, SC; The Clifton Mills, Clifton, Spartanburg, SC; and the Morgan Iron Works, Spartanburg, SC. He died after falling from a scaffold while inspecting a new Pacolet mill in Gainesville, GA.
Seth Mellen Milliken (1836-1920), was the son of a physician in New Hampshire. Young Seth set out to begin a new career, one based on merchandising, when he became a miller, a schoolteacher and a storekeeper. In 1861, at the age of 25, he moved about 30 miles from his home in Minot to Portland, ME and invested in a retail business with his brother-in-law, Dan True. In 1865, after the Civil War, he formed a partnership with William Deering to open a general store doing business as Deering and Milliken. Later, they became textile sales agents for the Farnsworth Mill of Lisbon Center, ME. When a fire destroyed the building occupied by Deering and Milliken and all their sales inventory except for potatoes, Milliken loaded the potatoes on board a ship and headed for Boston. In Boston, he found a saturated potato market and sailed on to New York where he sold potatoes with little trouble. Having no business to return to in Maine and finding a flourishing market in New York, the partners established their business in New York. Shortly after arriving in New York, Deering had an idea to develop harvesting equipment and wished to leave for the mid west. He left for Chicago and set up the Deering Harvesting Machinery Company. Milliken so admired his friend that he kept the Deering name in his mercantile business for years. Deering Harvesting later became International Harvester. In 1916, son Gerrish Hill Milliken ( - 1947) joined the family business. He was reportedly an excellent tennis player, had studied at Yale, and more importantly, an excellent businessman. Mills that flourished during World War I often had a difficult time making the adjustment to peacetime business in the early 1920s. He acquired the Judson Mill, Greenville, SC, noted for years as a very fine combed-yarn spinning and weaving mill. Gerrish was not afraid to try new things. For those who survived the post-war transition and subsequent growth in the 1920s, the 1930s were trying times for many mills as the Great Depression squeezed profits. Mills, who relied on bankers in New York for financing, often lost their mills when sales did not earn enough to service the debt. Gerrish Milliken’s main products were woolen and worsteds, manufactured chiefly in New England. He continued to represent Southern mills as well and financed a few through the “factoring” business. Reportedly, the combination of Montgomery and Milliken controlled more textile mills in the South Carolina “Upcountry” than anyone else. When mills failed to repay debts, factors became the new owners. Pacolet Mills, Pacolet, SC, the first mill organized by John Montgomery and financed by Seth Milliken became partially owned by Deering Milliken in the 1930s and 1940s, as did Drayton, Lockhart and Gaffney Manufacturing. Pacolet was totally consolidated into the Milliken business in 1967. Drayton Mills, Spartanburg, SC, organized by Montgomery and others in 1902, was sold to Deering Milliken in 1937. The Montgomery family kept Spartan, Beaumont and Startex. Other mills joined the business: Red Springs Woolen Mill, Red Springs, NC; Hatch Woolen Mill, Columbus, NC; Darlington Manufacturing Co., Darlington, SC; Hartsville, SC; Ottaray Mill, Union, SC; Excelsior Union, Union, SC; McCormick Woolen Mill, McCormick, SC; and Johnsonville, SC. Roger Milliken (1915-still alive at this time and head of his family business) succeeded his father Gerrish H. as president upon his father’s death in 1947.
Joseph Walker was born on Fair Forest Creek within two miles of the city of Spartanburg. The mother of this family died in 1850 and subsequently the father married Miss Adaline Patterson, who bore him five children, four sons and one daughter. Men of the Time Sketches of Living Notables. A Biographical Encyclopedia of Contemporaneous South Carolina Leaders By J. C. Garlington: "WALKER JOSEPH Was born in a log cabin on Fair Forest Creek Spartanburg County April 18 1835. His father was a son of Colonel John Walker of Virginia and his mother was the daughter of John Cannon also of Virginia. Colonel Walker was reared upon the homestead farm receiving a common school education. In 1853 he accepted a position as clerk for John B. Cleveland and remained with him three years. From 1856 to 1860 he did business on his own account. In 1860 he married Miss Susan E Wingo daughter of Alexander Wingo who was once sheriff of Spartanburg County. He volunteered at the breaking out of the war and was chosen captain of Company K, Fifth South Carolina Cavalry Regiment April 1861. He was in command of that company one year. In April 1852 upon the reorganization of the South Carolina troops he was elected Lt Colonel of the Palmetto sharpshooters, a regiment composed of twelve companies. Soon after this he was made colonel of the regiment and served as such until the close of the war. At the close of the war Colonel Walker engaged in the cotton trade and that has since been his vocation. In 1871 he helped to organize the National Bank of Spartanburg and is a stockholder and director therein. In 1888 he was one of the organizers of the Merchants and Farmers Bank and has since been its president. He is a director in the Pacolet Manufacturing Company, Whitney, Beaumont, and the Produco Mills all of Spartanburg County. A director in the Columbia & Greenville and the Spartanburg Union and Columbia Railroad director and vice president of the Spartanburg and Asheville Railroad. Director in Converse College Company and Fidelity Loan and Trust Company. President and director of the Peoples Building and Loan and the Columbia Phosphate Company. He has six times been mayor of Spartanburg and served one term in the State Legislature."
What is left of Beaumont Mill today
National Geographic, Willie Drye, October 19, 2004 http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/10/1019_041019_textile_mills.html
Wikipedia on "Spartanburg, SC"
Cotton Mills of SC by August Kohn, 1907
History of SC Volume II, by Yates Snowden, 1930
American Social History Online http://www.dlfaquifer.org/search/item/Beaumont-Cotton-Mill-Spartanburg-SC/oai%253Alcoa1%252Eloc%252Egov%253Aloc%252Epnp%252Fpan%252E6a09719?page=5
Copyright deposit; Haines Photo Co.; April 12, 1909; DLC/PP-1909:43776
Child Labor photos Library of Congress, Hine, Lewis Wickes, 1874-1940, photographer. http://www.dlfaquifer.org/search?facet=decade&facet_browse=Spartanburg%2C+SC&facet_tag=city_state_facet&new_search=1
History of Spartanburg County by J.B.O. Landrum,
Textile Town, Spartanburg, SC by the Hub City Writer’s Project, Betsy Wakefield Teter, Editor