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Monday, December 29, 2008

Saxon Mills in Spartanburg, SC

Saxon Mills was a cotton mill founded in 1900 in Spartanburg, South Carolina by John Adger Law (1869-1949). He built his house in the mill village just across from the mill itself. He worked actively for a closer relationship between Southern and New England manufacturers. He served for many years as president of Saxon Mills, Spartanburg, S.C.



Men of the Time, Sketches of Living Notables, by J.C. Garlington, Published in Spartanburg, Garlington Press in 1902
Men of the Time Sketches of Living Notables. A Biographical Encyclopedia of Contemporaneous South Carolina Leaders By J. C. Garlington: "LAW, JOHN ADGER - Born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, September 30, 1869. Educated in the graded schools of Spartanburg and Wofford College, graduating in 1887. For two years a stenographer in Charlotte and Wilmington ,North Carolina. In 1890, was given the position as bookkeeper in the National Bank of Spartanburg. In 1891 was one of the prime movers in the organization of the Spartanburg Savings Bank of which he was elected cashier; and the following year helped organize the Home Building and Loan Association being made secretary and treasurer; now, a director in both of the above institutions. In 1895, assisted in organizing the Central National Bank .In 1900, he organized and commenced building the Saxon Mill, as its president and treasurer, near Spartanburg, South Carolina Has capital $200,000; ten thousand and eighty spindles; and three hundred looms. Married Miss Pearl Sibley of Augusta Georgia, November 14, 1895."

Men of Mark in South Carolina, Ideals of American Life, by J.C. Hemphill, Vol II, Published Men of Mark Publishing Co in Washington, DC, in 1908
JOHN ADGER LAW - son of Thomas Hart Law and Anna Elizabeth Law, was born September 19, 1869 at Spartanburg, South Carolina. His father was a clergyman the pastor of the First Presbyterian church of Spartanburg and district superintendent of the American Bible society. He was a consecrated Christian and good business man as well. The earliest known paternal ancestors in America were French Huguenots, the maternal ancestors, Adger, by name were Scotch Irish from Antrim county, Ireland. Dr. John B. Adger, uncle of John A. Law, was a missionary to Armenia. As a boy, John Law was active and robust fond of athletics, of domestic work, and horses. His early life was passed in the town of Spartanburg. He was taught to do all light forms of manual labor around the house including carpentering, gardening, and caring for animals. The chief influence in molding the life and character of John Law, were first the home in which his mother was a most potent factor; then in order men in active life, early companionship, private study, and school. For reading, he was especially fond of the historical novel, Education of both school and college grade, was given him by his parents. He attended private schools and Wofford college graduating from both. In 1887, he received the degree of AB from Wofford college. His active work was begun in the capacity of stenographer and typewriter. Into this, as into all subsequent work, he threw himself, with all his might having been taught from earliest childhood to strive for success in everything he might undertake. Mr Law was from 1887 to 1889 private secretary to the superintendent of the Southern Express company at Charlotte and Wilmington, North Carolina; from 1889 to 1891, he was bookkeeper for the First National bank of Spartanburg; from 1891 to 1901 he was cashier of the Spartanburg Savings bank; from 1901 to the present 1907 time he has been president of the Saxon mills; also, since 1903 president of the Central National bank of Spartanburg and of the Spartanburg Savings bank. As a business man, he has the confidence, esteem, and best wishes of all who know him; by nature, training, and associations, he has the promise of a brilliant career and the members of his community are glad to entrust to him positions of responsibility. Mr Law is an elder in the Presbyterian church but has declined all political honors, He is a member of the National Association of Manufacturers of the American Bankers association; and a member of the Converse College Choral club; and, also, of the executive committee of the latter organization. In politics he is a Democrat. He finds his relaxation in hunting, fishing, tennis, horseback riding, and driving. From the thwarted ambitions and shattered ideals of life Mr Law draws one lesson namely that of unending perseverance. To the young, he commends a return to the simpler and more economical methods of living of our forefathers; to old fashioned honesty, energy, and sobriety. On November 14 1895, Mr Law married Pearl S Sibley, daughter of William C and Jane E Sibley of Augusta, Georgia. Of their five children, four are living in 1907. His address is Spartanburg South Carolina"

Who's Who In Finance and Banking, A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporaries, 1920-1922, Edited by John William Leonard
Who's who in Finance and Banking: "LAW, John Adger, Spartanburg, SC. Banker manufacturer b. Spartauburg, SC Sept. 19, 1869; s. Rev. Thomas Hart Law, D D and Anna Elizabeth (Adger) Law; A. B. Wofford Coll 1887; m. Nov., 1887, Pearl Sibley of Augusta, GA. Cashier Spartanburg Savings Bank 1801 1900; pres and dir Central National Bank, Spartanburg, SC since 1903; organizer, pres and treas Saxon Mills 1900; pres and treas Chesnee Mills; organizer and treas Manufacturers' Power Co; dir Piedmont and Northern Railway; pres Spartanburg Clearing House Assoc. Trustee Kennedy Free Library, Converse Coll, Wofford Coll; dir South Atlantice Music Festival Assn. Chairmn Spartanburg County Highway Commission. Democrat. Presbyterian."

The Cotton Mills of South Carolina by August Kohn, Published in Columbia, SC, 1907
The Cotton Mills of South Carolina, 1907 Letters Written to the News and Courier By August Kohn, South Carolina Dept. of Agriculture: "At the SAXON MILL, which is in the suburbs of Spartanburg, there are two churches and a third will probably be erected by the Presbyterians who have an organization but not yet a church. The Baptists and Methodists have churches. The corporation contributed the property. The church buildings were erected by their employees and their friends, among them being a number of individual stockholders in the Saxon Mills. The company contributed to some extent to the maintenance of the churches. The churches are well attended. The school building was erected at a cost of $6,000 by the corporation and each year the company contributes between $400 and $500 towards the support of the schools which employ two teachers. One of them is paid entirely by the company and the other by the school district. The company expects to erect a very fine library in the near future."
The Cotton Mills of South Carolina, 1907 Letters Written to the News and Courier By August Kohn, South Carolina Dept. of Agriculture: pg 56"...The cow is the pet of the operative and there is not a mill community of those that I visited that has not a considerable number of cows. The mills always provide pastures. At Pelzer, there are three pastures; at Newberry, there is ample pasturage on a creek; in Columbia, the Parker Mills provide pastures and expect the operative to keep their kine on the edge of the village. At Piedmont, there are four pastures. At the Saxon Mills, cows are tabooed in the village proper but they are well cared for outside. At Whitney, no hogs or cowpens are allowed in the village but there are three pastures on the outskirts; and, so it goes throughout the cotton mills of the State. There is no reason why every mill operative should not get pure milk from the cows that are in the mill communities themselves. I found that milk is selling in most of the communities at 20 cents per gallon for sweet milk, 10 cents per gallon for buttermilk, 20 cents per pound for butter"
The Cotton Mills of South Carolina, 1907 Letters Written to the News and Courier By August Kohn, South Carolina Dept. of Agriculture: pg 66 "Not only is the labor getting more pay and better accommodations but they are having all sorts of little things done for them to expedite their work and to save them trouble and work. In former years, the operatives were expected to clean their own weave machines. At present quite a number of the mills have installed a compressed air cleaning apparatus by which all of the lint and dirt is blown from the machine. At quite a number of the mills, notably those at Newberry, the operatives are given a week's holiday annually and at very many other mills successful picnics are given. At Saxon Mills, for instance, President Law at first undertook the management of this diversion himself but the operatives are now managing their own picnics in Columbia, by way of illustration."
The Cotton Mills of South Carolina, 1907 Letters Written to the News and Courier By August Kohn, South Carolina Dept. of Agriculture: pg 71 "At Saxon Mill I found quite a number of the operatives had invested in property around the town and that they were very much pleased with their investments."
The Cotton Mills of South Carolina, 1907 Letters Written to the News and Courier By August Kohn, South Carolina Dept. of Agriculture: pg 83 "...But this same touch of fellowship extends all along and there is a general disposition among the cotton mill presidents to mix and mingle with their employees. President Jno A. Law, of the Saxon Mills, which is a high type of the successful mill, has his home in the mill community in the suburbs of Spartanburg where the mill is located."
pg 88 "Saxon Mills 450 employees and 706 mill population" pg 94 "Saxon Mills 30, 464 Spindles and 745 Looms" pg 110 "Saxon Mills 450 employees, 1 boy under 12, 0 girls under 12" pg 139 "Saxon Mills 132 children enrolled in school, 65 average attendance, 150 children under 12 in village" pg 142 "Saxon Mills, $6,000 invested in school bldg by mill" pg 149 "Saxon Mills, 2 churches erected by mill" pg 182 "Saxon Mills 3,500 bales of cotton consumed by mill, $360,000.00 value of manufactured product" pg 190 "Saxon Mills $65,000.00 amount of annual payroll" pg 196 "Saxon Mills - Print cloth and fancies are made"

History of South Carolina, Edited by Yates Snowden, LL, D, In Collaboration With H.G. Cutler, General Historian, Vol II of V Volumes, 1930
History of South Carolina By Yates Snowden, Harry Gardner Cutler: "Spartanburg - Saxon Mills; J. A. Law, president; 41,216 spindles; capital stock $1,000,000"

The main mill facility was constructed beginning in 1906, with major additions and renovations coming in 1945, 1966, 1967, and 1987. The building is broken down into various manufacturing and warehouse areas. The original facility built in 1906 is (5) five stories and is wood framing with masonry brick exterior. The photos below were taken in 1912.


















Sold to Reeves Brothers, along with Chesnee Mill, in 1945 and produced print cloth. In the 1950s, Reeves Bros. converted Saxon to a polypropylene fiber facility, then sold the entire business to Phillips Fibers Company in 1964.


Plant was later sold to Amoco Fibers Co and Drake Extrusion. Closed briefly in 2001, then reopened in 2002 by a Georgia partnership, Saxon Fibers LLC, which hired 40 people and planned to grow to 75. (Textile Town, Spartanburg, SC by the Hub City Writer’s Project, Betsy Wakefield Teter, Editor, pg 315)

3 comments:

foxofbama said...

I take it you have read GC waldrep's book about Saxon Mill and the General Strike of 34.
That Marjorie Potwin woman was pretty interesting, riding that white horse.

Olivia said...

I'm a Saxon-Mills Hope to be in the show buisness soon!

Kitty Hutchins Nutting said...

I was born in Saxon and went to Saxon school through 5th grade. Lots of good memories from there

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