History

THE LABORATORY MILL’S RICH HISTORY

ORIGINS:

“Lincoln Cotton Factory (1819 – 1863), also known as the Lincolnton Factory

Owners: Michael Schenck (ownership interests from 1819-1835), Dr. James Bivings (1819-1835) and John Hoke (1819-1845) were the initial owners.  Bivings tried to sell his interest in the mill during 1834 and apparently Schenk and Bivings sold their interests during 1835, when the ownership firm was renamed Hoke, Schenk & Bivings.  In 1845, Hoke’s son-in-las L.D. Childs acquired the mill and operated it along with John F. Hoke for some time.  In 1860, the census indicates that the cotton Mill was operated by Pixley & Sachrist, apparently until it burned in 1861, followed by the destruction of the wool carding mill in 1863.

Specifications: water-powered; the mill was a 3-story building plus a garret.  The building was 45 feet by 31 feet.  The first floor was built of rocks/stones and contained the water looms.  The water wheel was placed on the south side of the building where a water trunk of 60-70 feet off a dam, which the owners had built, fed the machinery.” www.historync.org/LincolntonCottonMill.htm

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“The February 22, 1825, issue of the Western Carolinian (Salisbury) contained this report on the Lincoln Cotton Mill: ‘The Lincolnton cotton manufactory is situated in the county of Lincoln, a little over two miles south of Lincolnton, on the south side of the river, at what is called rattling shoals.  On the north side is an excellent mill belonging to Philip Cancellor.  The company and Cancellor have united in building a dam across the river near the head of the shoals; with immense labour they have opened a forebay through a solid ledge of rocks, where they have built a house for their wool carding, moting, and picking machines; at the same place they have a mill to make oil; under the house is run their water wheel to turn their machinery, after the cotton is picked it is carried to the moter, the moter takes all the motes our and prepares it for the cards.  The water is conducted under the house in a trunk 60 or 70 feet long, empties into a race which conducts on to the principal manufacturing house, about 60 or 70 yards below the others; this house is 45 feet by 31, three story high, the first story is built of rocks, which contain the water looms and necessary preparations; in the south end of this house runs the water wheel which turns the whole machinery, 13 feet high 96 wide, with a cast-iron upright shaft, which goes through all the floors on which beveled wheels are fixed at proper places, which work in others, which turns the drums, and by bands turns the different machinery; on the 2nd floor is placed the spinning frames, reels and turning lathes, and a loom which weaves cast up cloth, with two treddiesm by a very ingenious contrivance; on the 3rd floor, are placed their cards, speeders and drawing, &c; on the 4th floor (which is the garet, lighted by dormant windows) is placed the mule, containing 180 spindles, the whole number of spindles when that are all in operation, will be 612, of which 288 in operation, and shortly will have the whole.'”  www.historync.org/LincolntonCottonMill.htm

 

BRIEF STINT AS A MEDICINAL LABORATORY:

“Located two miles south of Lincolnton in Lincoln County, was one of at least five laboratories established by the Confederate States of America to manufacture drugs from indigenous plants.  The other known facilities were located in Tyler, Tex; Augusta and Macon, Ga; and Columbia, S.C.  Although the actual date of construction is unknown, the Lincoln County laboratory was in operation by 24 Aug 1863.  The original building was an oblong brick structure that stood on the banks of the South Fork River. Strict secrecy was maintained at the facility, and an aura of mystery surrounded it.  Lt. A.P. James and the men of Company A, McCorkle’s Battalian, North Carolina Senior Reserves, were assigned to provide security for the site.  Because of the tight security and the local availability of saltpeter and charcoal, some historians have speculated that the Lincoln County laboratory may also have been used for the production of gunpowder.” Encyclopedia of North Carolina, edited by William S. Powell.  References: L.A. Crowell, “Historic Medicine,” Southern Medicine and Surgery (June 1933); John R. Friday, “Dr. A. Snowden Piggott and the Laboratory Facility”, Carolina Confederate (1993).

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“At this location, textile mills had been built and operated since 1819.  Piggot got his official assignment as surgeon at the Lincolnton Laboratory site on June 1, 1863.

Piggot’s clerk, T.S. Beckwith, Jr., procured supplies and men to work in the medical laboratory.  Beckwith had flax and poppies planted to produce flaxseed or linseed oil and opiates.  Previous textile mill structures at this site were burned in 1863.  New structures for the laboratory were readied by Fall 1863.  The first laboratory building was oblong and built of bricks.  The machinery was powered by water.

The Lincolnton Laboratory eventually was composed of a reverberatory furnace, mill, kiln and leaden chambers.

After the war, the Lincolnton Laboratory ceased operations.  Later, the Lincolnton Laboratory (Cotton) Mill took over the site for textile operations.”  www.historync.org/LincolntonLaboratory.htm

 

DANIEL E. RHYNE’S TENURE:

“In 1887 D.E. Rhyne and J.A. Abernethy moved from Mt. Holly (Gaston County), North Carolina, where Rhyne had assisted his brother Abel Rhyne in the construction and operation of Mt. Holly Cotton Mill (1875) and Tuckaseegee Mill (1883), and built a mill two miles south of Lincolnton.  This mill encompassed the facility used by the Confederate government during the Civil War as a laboratory for the production of medicines for the Southern was effort.  Aptly named the Laboratory Cotton Mills, this operation boasted 2,000 spindles and manufactured long staple cotton into yarn.”  www.lincolncounty.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/463