1880 - The great Cotton Mill Campaign gets underway and southern entrepreneurs and towns are encouraged to build mills with slogans like, "Bring the cotton mills to the fields," producing very profitable results continuing through the turn of the century. December 1898 - The Weldon Cotton Manufacturing Company is formed by prominent Weldon citizens, including W. T. Shaw, W. A. Pierce, William E. Daniel, William R. Smith, and Mayor James Gooch.
January 12. 1899 - The significance of the new cotton mill to Weldon is suggested by a proclamation in the Roanoke News: We believe that the year 1899 is to be one of the most eventful in the history of Weldon and that it will usher in more new enterprises than any dozen past years. The building of a cotton factory in the near future only points to greater enterprises and we are not only talking simply to fill space - for space is valuable, but we know where of we speak when we say that this is to be a year of great progress and that before next January we may expect to see the population of the town doubled.
February 1, 1899 - The Roanoke Navigation and Water Power Company leases, for a term of 99 years, the parcel of land known as tract or parcel I of the present building site to the Weldon Cotton Manufacturing Company for a mill site, along with the right to draw from the canal upon the premises sufficient water to operate and run by water power the mill, with the maximum amount to be used for said purpose to be 250 horsepower. This was the first lease of the Roanoke Navigation and Water Power Company of any of its power, according to the wording of the Supreme Court decision in the later case of Roanoke Rapids Power Co. v. Roanoke N. & P. Co.
February 1899 - The contract for the building of the mill is awarded to Emry & Driscoll. Thomas Leybum Emry, also known as "Major" Emry, was an active citizen who acted as contractor, mayor, and street superintendent among other pursuits. According to the National Register nomination for Weldon by Thomas Butchko, Emry was responsible for most of the brick construction in Weldon and operated a brick yard and foundry.
March 1899 - The ground is broken for the construction of the new mill.
March 9, 1899 - The Roanoke News reports, "Mr. Shaw, president of the Weldon Cotton Manufacturing Company, left yesterday morning for the north, where he goes to make contracts for the machinery for the big knitting mill here."
July 1899 - Bricklaying is proceeding at the mill site. October 12. 1899 - The knitting mill opens and the construction of another building is already anticipated.
March 1901 - The roofis put on the second mill building, a spinning mill. It is possible that the first building also received an extension of its southeast side, which appears in a 1909 Sandborn map, at this time.
May 6. 1913 - George C. Green, Commissioner and receiver of the property of the Roanoke Navigation and Water Power Company in the suit of Roanoke Rapids Power Co. v. Roanoke N. & P. Co. sells the mill site and mill village property to the Weldon Cotton Manufacturing Company.
1915 - Curt Teich postcard photograph shows the 1899 and 1901 buildings with the canal in front. A steam power house and a shed are also depicted in this image. The 1901 building displays an exterior stair which no longer exists and a stepped parapet on the northwest elevation which today features a gable matching the southeast end. The windows of these buildings, all of which have now been replaced by new windows or masonry infill, are clearly illustrated in the image also.
1915-1923 - In the intervening years between Teich photograph and the available Sandborn maps, the 1901 spinning mill building was extended substantially to the southeast, nearly doubling the size of the structure. A large generator house was also constructed on the canal side of this addition and may correlate to portions of brick wall which are incorporated into the later cement block addition.
1923-1936 - A 1936 map of the property by E. H. Smith, surveyor shows the above mentioned power (or generator) house and an opening room to its east, both of which are labeled as brick. The property appears almost identical to the Sandborn map of 1923, excepting the footprint of a room which appears to have been added to the southeast side of the 1901-1923 spinning mill building. This small addition is also evident in the 1941 Sandborn map.
1931-1932 - The cotton industry suffers its worst losses of the depression.
1933-1937-New taxes, strikes, and a rise in cotton imports continue to burden the industry.
November 22. 1939 - The mill buildings and all associated property are conveyed to Perfection Mills, Inc. from William L. Knight, Trustee of The Citizens National Bank of Emporia, VA from whom Weldon Manufacturing Company had taken a mortgage in 1936.
June 28, 1943 - Perfection Mills, Inc. sells the property to Weldon Knitting Mills, Inc.
June 4 1947 - Weldon Knitting Mills, Inc. (which was consolidated with Blue Swan Mills, Inc. and The McKay Corp. of Maryland in 1945) sells the property to Carolina Mills, Inc. of Dillon, South Carolina
February 9, 1951 - The property is now apparently in the hands of Lancaster Looms of Charlotte, who takes out a loan to be paid by a commission of all cotton yam produced on the site. The inventory taken for the loan includes 3 mill buildings and II houses. The mention of 3 mill buildings, instead of 2, in this document may imply that the last major building addition of the concrete block portion, or part of it, had been completed by this time, but the 1936 map shows a number of accessory buildings including warehouses, and a brick finishing house situated on a separate parcel, as well as 12 tenant houses, so it is difficult to be certain of the reference made.
March - May, 1952 - Lancaster Looms is declared bankrupt and the property is auctioned to C.R. Daniels, Inc. of New York, a company founded in 1918, which expanded to Maryland in 1940 and to Tennessee in 1961, and was clearly expanding operations greatly during the period it owned the Weldon mill property. This company history makes it a good candidate as the builder of the last addition to the mill buildings, however no other data has yet been found to confirm this and the company has not yet responded to inquiries. The company is still in operation today and has diversified and expanded from sewing and fabrics to include plastic.
May I, 1956 - C. R. Daniels, Inc. sells the property to Riverside Manufacturing Co., Inc. who would merge with the American Package Corporation and become the American Timber Products Co. of Delaware. This marks the end of the Weldon Cotton Manufacturing mill buildings' use for cotton. After this date, the property would pass through a series of owners, last being used as warehouses and office space for the Dollar Wholesale Company.
Prepared by Laura Ewen Blokker - January 4, 2008