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Bill Thayer

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Chapter 16

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
History of North Carolina

The Lewis Publishing Company
Chicago and New York, 1919
Volume III by
J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 18
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

Vol. III
Chapter 17
Agriculture and Industry

Thayer's Note: The gentle reader is invited to bear in mind that I did not write the text on this page; I transcribed it from a book published in 1919. It does not reflect my opinions or language, but those of its author and its time.

The Returns of Industry

1880 1890 1900 1910 1915
Factories $20,095,000 $40,375,000 $94,920,000 $216,656,000 $289,412,000
Farms 51,730,000 50,071,000 89,310,000 180,766,208 278,000,000
Forests 4,455,000 12,675,000 24,771,000 42,436,000 35,000,000
Mines 576,000 837,000 1,459,000 1,358,617 3,583,000

In the table which heads this chapter is shown the outline of agricultural and industrial development in North Carolina during the period since 1880. Viewing these figures one sees simply the story of progress with little else included. There has been of course tremendous progress but the story is not complete in statistics alone.

Of primary importance still in the state is the cultivation of the soil. To understand properly the situation it is well to review briefly the geographical character of the state.

"North Carolina, with its infinite variety of climate, soil, natural resources and acquired advantages, has an area of 52,426 square miles, of which water covers 3,686 miles. It lies between 34 degrees and 36½ degrees north latitude, and between 75½ degrees and 84¼ degrees west from Greenwich. Its greatest length is from northeast to southwest, a stretch so long that a circle drawn with it as the radius and the northwest corner of the State as the pivot would take in Buffalo, N. Y.; the whole State of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and a large part of Illinois in its sweep. Its reach north and south is from the southern end of Virginia to about the middle of South Carolina; from east to west it extends from the Atlantic Ocean at the farthest southeastern point of the country to a point considerably west of the eastern extension of Tennessee. Its topographic variety, from sea level on the east to an altitude of nearly 7,000 feet on some of the  p377 mountain tops at the west, gives it a climatic variety not possessed by many States, ranging from semi-tropical on the islands off the coast to the temperature of Northern Canada on the tops of its high mountains.

"North Carolina has three distinct divisions — Mountain, Piedmont and Coastal Plain. The first stretches along the western border, touching on that from Virginia to Georgia, taking in a number of counties, in some of which the Appalachian mountains reach their greatest altitude in the peaks of the Blue Ridge and the Great Smoky Mountains. The Mountain district is about 100 miles wide and has an area of about 6,000 square miles. The Piedmont plateau, joining the Mountain section on the east, covers about one‑third of the area of the State. It is divided into the Upper and Lower Piedmont, the former having an elevation of from 1,000 to 2,000 feet below that of the adjoining Mountain region. In the Lower Piedmont the elevation gradually declines until the level of the Coastal Plain is approximated. The surface is generally rolling. The eastern division is the Coastal Plain, which reaches from the edge of the Lower Piedmont to the Atlantic Ocean. It is for the most part a level country, though slightly rolling toward its western limits."

The soils are as varied as the climate, running from the sand of the coast and the rocky covering of the mountain tops through clays, loams, and alluvia to the rich black muck of the East. The products, too, are as varied as soil and climate, ranging from north temperate to semi-tropical. The total acreage is 31,193,600, of which in 1910, 22,380,000, or 71 per cent of the whole, were uncultivated. More than two million acres, however, have been brought under cultivation since the Civil war. Since 1860 the number of farms has rapidly increased with a natural decrease in size. The following tables are illustrative:


Census Year Population Number Per Cent of Increase
1910 2,206,287 253,725 12.9
1900 1,893,810 224,637 25.9
1890 1,617,949 178,359 13.2
1880 1,399,750 157,609 68.4
1870 1,071,361 93,565 24.4
1860 992,622 75,203 32.0

 p378  Farm Property

Census Year Total Value Per Cent Increase* Value Land and Buildings Per Cent Increase*
1910 $537,716,210 130.0 $456,624,607 134.6
1900 233,834,693 7.9 194,655,920 5.8
1890 216,707,500 31.9 183,977,010 35.5
1880 164,286,737 96.9 135,793,602 117.0
1870 83,429,729 -53.7 62,568,866 -56.3
1860 180,305,812 101.4 143,301,065 111.1
Implements and Machinery Domestic Animals, Poultry, Bees
Census Year Value Per Cent Increase* Value Per Cent Increase*
1910 $18,441,619 103.3 $62,649,984 108.1
1900 9,072,600 26.3 30,106,173 17.8
1890 7,183,210 18.2 25,547,280 14.0
1880 6,078,476 86.1 22,414,659 27.4
1870 3,265,689 -44.4 17,595,174 -43.5
1860 5,873,942 49.4 31,130,805 75.7

* A minus sign (-) denotes decrease.
† Computed gold values, being 80 per cent of the currency values reported.

Average Value per Farm*

Census Year Average Acres Per Farm All Farm Property Land and Buildings Implements and Machinery Domestic Animals, Poultry and Bees Average Value of Land and Buildings Per Acre
1910 88.4 $2,119 $1,800 $73 $247 $20.35
1900 101.3 1,041 867 40 134 8.56
1890 127.0 1,215 1,031 40 143 8.12
1880 141.9 1,042 862 39 142 6.07
1870 212.0 892 669 35 188 3.15
1860 316.0 2,398 1,906 78 414 6.03

* Averages are based on "all farms" in state.
† Computed gold values, being 80 per cent of the currency values reported.

Tenure 1910 1900 1890 1880
Number of all farms 253,725 224,637 178,359 157,609
Farms operated by owners and managers 146,438 131,629 117,469 104,887
Farms consisting of owned land only 121,382 115,118 (1) (1)
Farms consisting of owned land and hired land 23,938 15,454 (1) (1)
Farms operated by managers 1,118 1,057 (1) (1)
Farms operated by tenants 107,287 93,008 60,890 52,722
Share tenants 80,215 73,092 50,318 44,078
Share-cash tenants (2) 2,033
Cash tenants 20,708 19,916 10,572 8,644
Tenure not specified (3) 4,331
Per cent of farms operated by owners and managers 57.7 58.6 65.9 66.5
Tenants 42.3 41.4 34.1 33.5
Share and share-cash 32.4 32.5 28.2 28.0
Cash and non-specified 9.9 8.9 5.9 5.5

(1) Not reported separately.

(2) Share-cash tenants were doubtless largely included with share tenants in 1900, 1890, and 1880.

(3) Prior to 1910 non-specified tenants were included with cash tenants.

 p379  It will be noted that while the number of farm operators increased 61 per cent in the period from 1880 to 1910, the number of tenants increased 103½ per cent.

In 1890 more than 95 per cent of the owned farms were free from mortgage, in 1900 more than 84 per cent and more than 81 per cent in 1910. The number of mortgages and the amount of the mortgage debt increased largely in the same period but the average debt has decreased more than 20 per cent. The value of the land has also risen so that while in 1890 the mortgage indebtedness was more than 45 per cent of the value of the mortgaged farms, it had dropped by 1910 to a little more than 23 per cent.

Of the North Carolina farmers in 1910, 188,069, or about three-fourths, were white; 64,456 were negroes; and about eleven hundred, Indians and Chinese.

In spite of natural advantages it is only in the period since 1865 that North Carolina farmers in any considerable number have begun to improve their methods along the lines of scientific agriculture and among a large proportion agricultural methods and ideas are still archaic. The demonstration and extension work is of course making great changes in the recent years. In 1915 the Agricultural and Mechanical College distributed for this work $190,515, more than was spent for the purpose in any other state except Indiana, New York, Iowa, and Texas.

The relative position of the staple agricultural products in 1909 and 1915 shows several interesting changes.

1909 1915
Cotton Corn
Corn Cotton
Tobacco Tobacco
Peanuts Wheat
Hay and Forage Sweet Potatoes
Wheat Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes Hay and Forage
Potatoes Peanuts
Oats Oats
Peas Peas

The fluctuations in acreage over a considerable period are also best seen in tabulated form.

Acres Harvested

Crop Year Corn Wheat Peanuts Hay and Forage Tobacco Cotton
1909 2,459,457 501,912 195,134 375,795 221,890 1,274,404
1899 2,720,206 746,984 95,856 229,998 203,023 1,007,020
1889 2,360,627 666,509 17,767 190,754 97,077 1,147,136
1879 2,305,419 646,829 (1) 101,758 57,208 893,153

(1) Not reported.

 p380  It will be seen that cotton acreage increased in the first decade, decreased slightly in the second, and gained in the last. Corn and wheat acreage increased for the first two decades and decreased in the last. Hay and forage, tobacco, and peanuts increased steadily. In the six year period from 1909 to 1915 increase in production was more rapid in many of the crops, ranging from 5 per cent for cotton and sweet potatoes to 88 per cent for corn, 161 per cent for wheat, and 667 per cent for buckwheat.

Prior to 1866 North Carolina was not regarded, strictly speaking, as one of the cotton states. Forty-one counties cultivated it but only twenty-two to any extent. The crop of 1860 was 145,514 bales and the state stood ninth in rank. In the period after the war cotton assumed a new position among the crops of the state and by 1880 forty-two new cotton counties had appeared. Their cotton acreage was 301,447 and they produced 129,398 bales. Among these counties were Wake, Mecklenburg, and Johnston, ranking first, third, and fifth in the state in production. Today cotton is grown principally in the eastern half of the state although it appears in sixty-eight counties. Over one-half of the total acreage is in fourteen counties, eight in the east central group and six near the centre of the southern boundary. They are in order, Robeson, Mecklenburg, Johnston, Wake, Edgecombe, Union, Anson, Halifax, Wayne, Cleveland, Pitt, Scotland, Wilson, and Nash. Between 1850 and 1910 the crop increased 2,300 per cent. The production now is around three-fourths of a million bales and tends to increase. Of all the cotton states, among which North Carolina ranks eighth, it has the largest per acre yield.

Corn is planted all over the state and the value of the crop, $31,286,000 in 1910 had reached $49,318,000 in 1915. In 1850 North Carolina produced thirty-four bushels per capita. In 1914 this had been reduced to twenty-four bushels, making a tremendous shortage for the state. Only two counties, Hyde and Clay, raised their own supply. Nor was this an accidental shortage for a census year. It was true of every year preceding the outbreak of the war in Europe. In 1914 the per capita production of corn, wheat, oats, peas and beans, potatoes,  p381 beef, pork, and mutton was less than in 1860 and there were actually fewer cattle, hogs, and sheep.

Nine Counties contain nearly one-half of the acreage of the tobacco crop, which has steadily increased in amount and value. North Carolina is now outranked in production only by Kentucky. In 1860 the crop was nearly 33,000,000 pounds; in 1870 it had fallen to 11,000,000, rising to 27,000,000 in 1880; 36,000,000 in 1890; 127,500,000 in 1900; and to 156,000,000 in 1905. In 1910 the crop was 138,813,163 pounds valued at $13,847,559, and that of 1917 was over 200,000,000 pounds. Between 1850 and 1910 the crop increased more than 1,300 per cent. Owing to the importance of the crop thirteen towns have been built up in the period since the civil war chiefly on their importance as markets, although several, notably Winston-Salem, Durham, and Reidsville have engaged largely in manufacture as well. The sales of the year 1916‑1917 at Wilson totaled more than 27,000,000 pounds, nearly 18,000,000 at Winston-Salem, more than 17,000,000 at Rocky Mount, and more than 16,000,000 at Kinston and Greenville.

Peanuts have rapidly come into importance. Not planted as a commercial crop in 1879, more than 200,000 acres are devoted to them now. In 1909 the crop brought in more than $5,000,000 and has since largely increased. It is practically confined to twenty-one counties near the coast.

Wheat cultivation, prior to the outbreak of the war in Europe was falling off in almost every county of the state and there was a heavy shortage every year. The value of the crop in 1910 was nearly $4,500,000. Hay and forage, while increasing, were far below the needs of the state.

Sweet potatoes carry the distinction of being the one crop in which the state has ever taken first rank in the Union, having held that place from the census of 1870 to 1917, in which year both South Carolina and Alabama passed it. The value of the crop of 1910 was more than $4,000,000.

Largely because of the trucking industry, the total value of vegetables and berries has steadily increased. The trucking industry has been of tremendous value and importance, particularly in the East. It is a development of the last thirty-five  p383 years and was really the first upward movement in agriculture after the war.

Fruit-growing on a large scale is also a new thing and the apple orchards of the west and the peach orchards of the Sandhills region show the possibilities in the state. The market value of orchard fruit, grapes, and nuts was more than three and a half million in 1910.

The wealth created by agriculture in North Carolina is twice as much each year as that of all the other industries combined. The crop-producing power of the state in 1910 was $24.84 per acre. The agricultural produce of 1915 was worth $94,000,000 more than the aggregate resources of all the banks in the state. Taking the tax value of all property in 1914 as the basis we reach the striking fact that agriculture creates every three and one-half years as much wealth as all that the state has been able to accumulate during its entire history. But the per capita production is small, only about $169 and wealth is poorly retained. The per capita farm wealth in 1910 was only $322 and only four states in the Union took a lower rank. In per acre crop producing power the state far outranks Iowa, which leads the United States with a per capita wealth in farm properties of $3,386, and Oklahoma which leads the South with $830. It is evident that the difference is not due to agriculture so much as to methods of agriculture.

The difference lies in the crop system of the states mentioned. The situation in North Carolina is due to the almost exclusive use of cotton and tobacco as a basis of credit to farmers and absence of sufficient working capital, the want of foresight on the part of a large body of the more ignorant and thoughtless class of negro tenants, the prevalence of the renting system, the indifference or approval of supply merchants who want a profit, familiarity with cotton and tobacco, and a system of short term rentals. In other words North Carolina is largely committed to the one-crop system and cotton and tobacco have too long ruled agriculture. A vast amount of ready money comes in from them but it is spent almost at once in paying for the western beef and pork, butter and cheese, grain and forage, meal and flour which have been advanced.

 p384  In 1909 sixty-eight cotton-growing counties bought $97,000,000 worth of bread, meat, and hay alone. The same story in less degree was and is true of the tobacco counties. These things tell the story of the past half century. The future is secure provided the one-crop system is abandoned and diversified farming replaces it, with the chief emphasis upon the food crops. There were scattered manifestations of a possible tendency in that direction prior to 1914, and the influence of the world war and the imperative necessity of food production, it is to be hoped, will educate the farming class away from the slavery in which they have too long lived. It will be a fortunate day for the people of the state when King Cotton and King Tobacco are dethroned and lose their power which from the beginning has meant only slavery with the evils which the word implies.

The story of the industrial development of North Carolina is quite remarkable. Here, as in agriculture, cotton and tobacco are enthroned but, in sharp contrast, their sway is entirely beneficent and has meant in almost all respects progress and prosperity. As yet they are without rivals in the industrial field.

North Carolina was always well adapted naturally and through the instincts of its people to industrial endeavor. But slavery stifled industrial development and while in 1860 there were 3,689 manufacturing establishments, there was only a total capital of a little more than nine and a half million dollars. The total number of employes was 14,217, of whom 2,111 were women, and the combined wages amounted to something over two and a half million dollars. The total value of products was $16,678,698. Nearly all these establishments were small affairs in the nature of hand trades and neighborhood industries and there were but few factories in the entire state, the figures given including turpentine, plants, grist mills, shoemakers' shops and the like.

Bladen, thanks to turpentine plants of which it had nearly 500, led the state in number. Alamance le in capital invested with $728,750. New Hanover, also because of turpentine, led in value of products with a total of $1,377,717 as also in number of employes, 695 in all. Turpentine, with 1,526 plants  p385 with a combined capital of $2,053,226, producing a product valued at $5,311,420, led in number of establishments, capital invested, and value of product. Of establishments which can properly be called factories, there were in the first place ninety-seven tobacco manufacturing establishments with combined capital of $646,730, employing 1,361 hands, earning $164,460 in annual wages and making a product valued at $1,117,099. Rockingham, with twenty-five factories, Granville with sixteen, and Caswell with eleven led with considerably more than half the capital, hands, wages, and value of the product. Alamance, Stokes, and Person came next. Next in importance were thirty-nine cotton mills with a capital of $1,272,750, which consumed 5,500,000 pounds of cotton, had 41,884 spindles and 761 looms, employed 1,764 hands, of whom 1,315 were women, with total wages of $189,744 and making a product valued at $1,046,047.

The state stood second in the South and eighth in the Union on value of product. Cumberland with seven mills, and Alamance and Randolph with five each, led among the counties, having more than half the total capital and employes, paying more than half the wages, and making nearly half the total value of product.

The other factories worthy of mention were 335 lumber mills, all but 5 saw-mills, 7 small woolen mills, 6 small paper mills and 25 small iron works.

In 1863 the federal troops burned the cotton mills at Rocky Mount and in 1865 Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Sherman's troops destroyed the five mills in Cumberland while Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Stoneman's raid accounted for a mill in Caldwell. The close of the war found most of the rest with worn-out and obsolete machinery and generally in bad condition. This was of course true of all other industries. Consequently it may be said that the industrial development of the state begins with 1865. Several cotton mills, notably the Holt mill in Alamance began work almost at once, but cotton mill development, requiring as it did much capital and trained labor, was very slow for more than a decade.

The leading place of the state in naval stores was lost just at this time and that industry has since been of decreasing importance. The way was open, however, for tobacco manufacturing  p386 which required much less capital, a much smaller body of trained labor, and which had the best raw material in the world at the very door of the factory. Naturally, no other industry grew so rapidly.

For two decades after the war Virginia had an easy pre-eminence but North Carolina moved up steadily. The pause of the Union army near Durham for Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Johnston's surrender familiarized a vast number of Northern soldiers with the tobacco of that section and began the new tobacco needy in the state. Two plants soon assumed importance. W. T. Blackwell commenced the manufacture of his famous "Bull Durham" brand which profited most by the advertisement in the name of Durham. Washington Duke, an Orange County farmer, returned from the Confederate army and at once saw the great opportunity. He began the manufacture of smoking tobacco on his farm in a log cabin, 16 by 18 feet in size. In 1873 he built a three-story factory in Durham with a floor space of 40 to 70 feet and employing fifteen hands. In 1875 he had to add to this and the rapid expansion of his business began with "Duke's Mixture" as the chief reliance. A few years later the manufacture of cigarettes was commenced, accompanied by one of the earliest of the great advertising campaigns. The cigarette factory soon became the largest in the world, as the Blackwell factory was for smoking tobacco.


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Washington Duke's First Tobacco Factory

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One of the Present Duke Tobacco Factories at Durham

The name of Durham and the success of the two Durham brands led to the establishment of other factories, including some for the manufacture of plug tobacco, and Durham may be said to have been built up around the tobacco industry thus started. At other points factories were being built. Winston became an important manufacturing center early and continues so, the most important plant there being the great Reynolds' establishment, which is one of the largest of its kind in the world. The period of rapid increase came after 1880. Fifty factories were built in 1884 alone. In 1885 North Carolina was manufacturing 8 per cent of the total tobacco output of the United States and 5 per cent of the cigarettes. In 1890 the percentage had risen to 9 and 23 respectively. By 1905 the state's percentage of the total was 18 but of the cigarette production had fallen to 3. The total value of the output  p387 through the period increased steadily, reaching $7,000,000 in 1895, $13,000,000 in 1899, $28,000,000 in 1904, #36,000,000 in 1909 and nearly $58,000,000 in 1914, in which year the state led the United States in the manufacture of chewing and smoking tobacco. In 1917 Winston, which led the cities of the state in manufacturing, having a tenth of all the manufacturing capital in the state, passed St. Louis as a tobacco manufacturing centre and took the first place in the country in the industry. The federal tax has multiplied ten times since 1890, the capital employed twenty times and the output forty times. A fourth of all the chewing and smoking tobacco consumed, a seventh of all the tobacco products made in the United States are manufactured there.

In the same period the number of establishments decreased. From the close of the war until 1890 was a period of expansion. In 1870 there were 111 factories which increased to 126 by 1880. Competition was severe and in 1890 the number had fallen to 107. In 1896 there were 242, Forsyth leading with sixty-three followed by Surry with thirty-four and Rockingham with twenty-one. Consolidation with the crushing of competition then began and in 1899 there were only ninety-six, which had decreased to fifty-five in 1904 and thirty-six in 1914. The capital invested which was only $7,000,000 in 1899 reached $36,000,000 in 1904, dropping to $23,000,000 in 1909. The number of employes has increased steadily.

In 1870 there were thirty-three cotton mills in the state with a combined capital of $1,030,900, operating nearly 40,000 spindles and 600 looms and consuming 8,500 bales of cotton. The industry grew slowly during the following decade and did not begin to come into its own until the eighties. The number of mills had decreased by 1875 to thirty-one, but the spindles had increased to 54,000. In 1880 there were forty-nine mills with 92,000 spindles and 1,800 looms. Capital had more than doubled, being nearly $3,000,000 and the consumption of cotton had reached almost 24,000 bales. In spite of much discouragement from outside the state, expansion now began. Cotton and tobacco had brought ready money into the state, some of which was invested in new mills or in the  p389 enlargement of old ones. Little outside capital came in during this period, but the profits of the mills were reinvested, and while some mills failed the majority succeeded. Most of the mills were small. By 1890 there were ninety-one mills with 337,800 spindles, 7,300 looms, $10,775,100 capital, consuming 107,100 bales of cotton. The labor situation which had been bad was now largely settled by the movement to the mills from the farms in consequence of the economic and financial depression of the nineties. The mills were prosperous and in 1895 the number had reached 184 with 989,093 spindles, 24,624 looms and a cotton consumption of 374,220 bales. The number dropped to 177 in 1899 but the spindles and looms increased substantially.


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R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Winston-Salem

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Erwin Cotton Mills, Durham

Characteristic Industrial Plants

The next decade saw a still greater increase. In 1909 there were 281 mills with nearly 3,000,000 spindles. The value of the product was $29,395,948 in 1899, and $77,832,077 in 1909. In 1916 there were 306 mills, with a capital of more than $100,000,000 operating 3,988,098 spindles and consuming 1,067,288 bales of cotton. The value of the product $85,815,100. In that year North Carolina was leading the United States in number of mills and in the amount of cotton consumed. It was behind Massachusetts alone in the value of the product and behind Massachusetts and South Carolina in the number of spindles.

The mills are located in considerably more than half the counties in every section of the state though they are centered in the central section. Gaston leads in number of mills and spindles, having more than half a million of the latter, followed by Cabarrus, with more than a quarter of a million, Mecklenburg, Guilford, Durham, Rockingham, Alamance, Rutherford, Richmond, and Stanly. Although many of the earlier mills began operations with poor and often with second-hand machinery, the mills of today are splendidly equipped, many of them with the latest types of machines.

The limits of space forbid a longer discussion of the development of the textile industry. The subject cannot be left, however, without the statement that the influence of the cotton mill has been one potent for good in the state, materially and socially. There are problems connected with it, notably that  p391 of child labor, which will have to be settled, but the same problems confront the state from other angles than the cotton mill. Child labor, the general impression to the contrary notwithstanding, is a matter far more intimately connected with the farm than with the factory.

Next in importance to cotton and tobacco manufacturing are the lumber and woodworking industries. North Carolina has a larger variety of commercial timber trees than any other state. Yellow pine, cypress, gum, and juniper in the East, walnut, cherry, holly, locust, chestnut, maple, hemlock, spruce, beech, ash, dogwood, white pine, poplar, hickory and the oaks in the Piedmont and Mountain sections are the most important. The superb forests invited exploitation in the period immediately following the Civil war and at first this was largely confined to the pine forests. As the supply waned, cypress and juniper assumed importance and the hardwood forests of the Piedmont and Mountain sections attracted attention. So sawmills multiplied and a most profitable industry was developed, accompanied by the most shameful and improvident waste and lack of all thought for the future. The reckless deforestation of the mountains and uplands have resulted several times in most disastrous floods. In spite of the years of this sort of thing, North Carolina still has a tremendous forest area of great value. In 1914 there were 2,952 sawmills and lumber plants in operation.

In 1879 the working of the hard woods commenced on a small scale, chiefly the manufacture of shuttle blocks and the like. In 1889 the development of the furniture industry began, centering at High Point, which today ranks next to Grand Rapids only, in the United States, in the production of furniture. It still holds a safe pre-eminence in the state although other towns now have important factories. There were in 1914 109 furniture factories and 167 other woodworking plants. These, combined with the lumber industries, employed nearly 50,000 people and turned out a product valued at more than $57,000,000.

Between 1880 and 1890 cotton seed oil mills were started and were immediately successful. The product was valued at half a million dollars in 1889, more than two and a half million  p392 in 1889, nearly four million in 1904, and more than fifteen million in 1914.

The manufacture of fertilizer began in North Carolina in the eighties. By 1899 there were eighteen factories, which increased to twenty-seven in 1902, to thirty-four in 1909, and to forty-one in 1914. The value of the product in the latter year was more than ten and a quarter million dollars.

The industries thus far discussed, in value of products, comprise 83 per cent of the total in the state. There are numerous other smaller industries but the state, while making a splendid beginning, has still, comparatively speaking, only a small number. It is still largely dependent on the outside world. Greater diversity will doubtless come and the tremendous development of water power now beginning will assist mightily in the process. In 1912, not taking into consideration small sites of less than a thousand horsepowers, there was estimated to be in the state a potential minimum of 578,000 horsepowers. The installed capacity at the same time was 110,203, the third largest in the South. Eighteen corporations owned 27 per cent of the potential horsepower, while 45 per cent of the water-power developed and under construction was controlled by the Southern Power Company. In 1915 two companies controlled more than 75 per cent of the developed power and more than 66 per cent of the total power.

The development of the mineral wealth of the state has been on the whole slow and relatively unimportant. Two hundred and ten, or more than two‑thirds of the varieties of minerals in the world, are found within its borders but not in great quantity. Building stone, clay products, mica, and gold are the four leading mineral industries, producing almost six‑sevenths of the total. North Carolina leads the United States in the production of kaolin, found in Jackson, Macon, Swain, and Mitchell, and of mica, in the production of which Mitchell leads, followed by Yancey. The gold produced is about nine‑tenths of all east of the Mississippi but it amounted in 1916 only to $126,000.

One more industry must be mentioned. The vast extent of water in the sounds and rivers of North Carolina furnish a natural resource of the highest importance in both salt and  p393 fresh water fish. The industry has long been important. But the state has never adequately protected its marine wealth, which has been recklessly exploited and squandered. The industry in the upper sounds as a consequence has been to a great extent destroyed. The whole matter has been the plaything of politics and selfish interests and the question has never been approached as one of state-wide concern, interest, or importance. The annual value of the products is close to $2,000,000.

Tremendously important as an adjunct of agriculture and industry has been the bank development in the state since 1865. In 1860 there were sixteen banks with a total capital of $9,408,470 and deposits of $1,831,598. All of these banks were destroyed by the war and the repudiation of the war debt, but in the autumn of 1865 two national banks were established. Ten years later there were thirty banks with combined capital of $4,000,000 and deposits of $250,000. In 1889 there were sixty-nine with the total capital increased less than $500,000, but with more than $8,000,000 on deposit. The later growth is shown in the table.

Year Number Capital Deposits
1899 117 $ 5,711,910 $16,757,855
1907 129 12,318,276 58,931,155
1915 476 20,190,483 88,404,895

The hopeful things at the close of the last census period in North Carolina industrial development were that among the thirteen Southern states, it led in the average number of wage earners, in primary horsepower employed in manufacturing, in annual wages paid, a total of $46,038,000, in value added by manufacture, in number of cotton mills, in value of products, in variety of cotton goods produced, in furniture factories, in the manufacture of tobacco, and in the use of raw material from its own doors.

It cannot be doubted that in one sense the industrial development of the state has just begun. But certain it is, however, that no future development and growth can so quicken and revolutionize the people of the state as that already accomplished has done, nor, be it said, render so high a service as that contributed to the remaking of the prostrate state which emerged from the civil war.


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Industrial Leaders

Washington Duke
D. A. Tompkins
Edwin M. Holt

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Page updated: 1 Mar 12