Beginning Again

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In 1887, after having helped start several other cotton mills in Gaston County, D.E. Rhyne and J.A. Abernethy (D.E. Rhyne's brother-in-law) joined forces to rebuild the mill into its current configuration.  Two floors high at the river with another wing extending away from the top floor.  At this point, the mill was powered by water turbines rather than a traditional waterwheel.    In 1893, Mr. Abernethy sold out his interests to Mr. Rhyne who became the sole proprietor.  

In 1894, D.E. Rhyne built a lovely 2 story Victorian home on the hill overlooking the mill from the Northwest but in 1900, Mr. Rhyne bought the brick house on the hill on the Southwest side of the mill from the heirs of Francis E. Hoke and lived there until he died in 1933.  His brother, Laban Rhyne, along with his wife moved into the vacated Victorian home.

Side note on D.E. Rhyne:  "Uncle Dan", as he was affectionately known was a man of sterling character and great influence.  Starting from almost nothing, he amassed a fortune but remained humble and modest.  It was said that strangers often mistook him for one of his mill employees.  Over the years, he donated money to many local churches (many of the members of the congregations were never even aware of his contributions because he was quiet and secretive about them), and most notably to Lenoir College.  He had made several donations prior, but in 1919, he donated $200,000 on the condition that a matching $200,000 be raised from the community of Hickory.  In 1923, he gave another large contribution in "preferred mill stock".  The name was later changed to Lenoir-Rhyne College but not because Mr. Rhyne had asked for it.  In a letter to the editor, he said, "I did not care for the name of the college to be changed.  What I wanted to see is a college that is a credit to the Lutheran Church and all the Lutherans back it up and at a place where it is appreciated." In 1927, after a disastrous fire destroyed the main building which included most of the housed library, he again contributed money for a new Administration Building in the center of the campus.  In his will, he left the College $150,000 and a deed of trust to the Piedmont Wagon and Manufacturing Company.

He was quite resourceful and during his storied career, at one time or another, he owned a tin mine, a mica mine, and a non-profitable gold mine.  He bought the Piedmont Wagon Company in Hickory and was a major stock-holder as well as president of several banks.  Altogether, it must be agreed that Daniel E. Rhyne was an astute businessman.  

In 1916, the bottom floor of the mill was 3 feet deep in water from the after effects of not one, but two hurricanes during The Great Flood.