Related Industries

Milling Flour and Feed, Sawing and Turning Wood, Ginning Cotton, Carding Wool, Smelting Iron


      Flour milling is Franklinville's oldest activity. That, and the kinetic energy of Deep River which made it possible, entirely determined the location and subsequent development of the community. The potential of the site was realized before the year 1800. Both George Mendenhall, who acquired the property in 1795, and Benjamin Trotter, who bought it in 1797, were millers.  It is unclear whether these men made any use of the site, and their intentions may have been purely speculative. Since at least 1890 local tradition has stated that the first mill on the spot was built in 1801 by Christian Moretz, or Morris, who bought the land that year.  By 1802 Morris was being taxed for the operation of a large cotton gin, and it is known that a wool-carding machine and saw mill were also operated at the grist mill. The availability of such a variety of products and services led to the formation of a rural trading community around the mill even before Elisha Coffin, a miller born in Guilford County, bought the property in 1821. The small two-and-a-half story mill housed corn and wheat stones which ground and processed the grain into meal and flour with a minimum of machinery.  In 1912, the Franklinsville Manufacturing Company replaced the antique grist mill with a completely new, greatly enlarged operation which used steel rollers instead of stones to grind the grain. The three-story frame Roller Mill opened in 1913, and an extensive animal feed milling operation was built in the mid-1930s.



    Not far from Middleton Academy was the Franklinsville Iron Works on Bush Creek, the only iron foundry or bloomery operating in the county during the war.  There iron ore mined at Iron Mountain, about 2 miles southwest, was cast into "pigs" in a charcoal-fired furnace, and processed into bar iron on forges with water-powered trip hammers.  The quality of the iron produced there was so high in comparison to other NC furnaces that it was reserved for special projects such as the propellor shafts and drive trains of the ironclads built on the NC coast during the war.  The total output of the iron works was small, however, and it never filled all of its contracts with the Confederate Nitre and Mining Bureau.  It continued in operation after the war, buying cannon balls, shells and scrap iron collected by local farmers from the camp sites of surrendering confederates such as the well-known site at Red Cross.

 To Make a Donation to support the restoration of the factory and the creation of the Franklinville Mill Museum, go here.

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