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History of Textiles | Making Fabric in Kings Mountain

History of Textiles | Making Fabric in Kings Mountain

History of Textiles | Making Fabric in Kings Mountain

Manufacturing Textiles in King Mountain, NC

Kings Mountain and it's Textile Mills:

The city of Kings Mountain located in Cleveland County, North Carolina is no stranger to history. During the struggle
for Independence some 240 years ago, one could say the battle of Kings Mountain was one of the most pivotal
victories for the Patriots--a battle that helped to "turn the tide" away from the stronghold of the British.
Textiles have been a big part of the lives of the citizens of Kings Mountain and Cleveland County for the past two
centuries. Prior to the Civil War, most fabrics were still made at home out of wool from sheep, or cotton grown on
single family owned farms. Cotton was hand carded and spun into yarns for weaving simple fabrics. Clothing the
family of the 1830s was an important task, and most of the work was the responsibility of the women. Every stitch of
the sewing had to be done by hand. Wool and linen fabrics were most common with cotton and silk being more
expensive options. Often the whole family helped to produce the cloth used for their clothing, especially in rural
locations. Sheep were fed and sheared by the men of the household. Wool cleaning and carding was done by the
younger children while spinning yarn on the high wheel, dyeing it over the cooking fire, and loom weaving of
"homespun" fabric were done by the unmarried daughters and aunts. Mothers, sisters and grannies sewed up
trousers, coats and dresses; all the women and young boys and girls knit caps, mittens and stockings. Several sheep
could provide enough wool for the needs of the average family each year.
In 1888, the first cotton mill opened in Kings Mountain and the mill era had arrived. This mill, named "The Kings
Mountain Manufacturing Company" was owned by Capt. Freno Dilling and members of the Mauney family. In 1900,
the Mauney family built the Bonnie Mill, named after W. A. Mauney's daughter. This was primarily a yarn
manufacturing facility. An 1897 Annual report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the State of North Carolina listed the
Enterprise Mill as being in Kings Mountain (see image).
At one point, textile mills were the number one employer in Kings Mountain. The largest mill in Kings Mountain was
Neisler Mills. One of the reasons why they were so successful was due to a contract they had with the Southern
Railroad to supply all of their tablecloths and napkins. David Neisler said his grandfather built Dicey Mills in Shelby
near the Broad River in 1956, because he needed access to water and couldn’t get that in Kings Mountain. According
to the Shelby Star, "The Neislers are among the last pre-Civil War textile families left in North Carolina. The great-
great-grandfather of the current owners opened a mill in Cabarrus County in 1860 and produced fabric for uniforms for
the state government during the conflict."
STI began producing upholstery fabric in Kings Mountain in 1964. From these humble beginnings, STI has persevered
through many market fluctuations and has thrived while many jobs went overseas during the early 2000s. According
to CEO Sean Gibbons, "[The Revolution Fabrics] brand is what’s really driving our growth. We believe this growth will
continue because consumers love these fabrics and the fact that Revolution will always be made in the United States.”

 

Previous article Showtime - International Textile Alliance - Revolution Fabrics 2019

Comments

Nancy ALEXANDER - July 8, 2022

My ancesters lived and worked in Kings Mt, NC. In the 1920 census my Great grandfather and many of his children worked at the cotton mills, the youngest being 15 years old. I would love to find more information about the lives of the workers and their families. My family name was Ross. I remember hearing my Aunts talking about their Grandfather and father working the mills. They also worked there in their early years. I have so many ties to Kings Mountain yet I have so few stories. Please share any that would help me understand the families of Kings Mountain.

Jane E Fanning Brown - March 14, 2022

My father was a superintendent of the Massachusetts Mohair Plush Mill in Salmons Falls, NH in the early 1950’s, when the mill was considering relocating to Kings Mountain. However, my father was diagnosed with cancer in 1952, and, from what I’m told, plans were put on hold until his death in 1953. I was eleven months old at the time. I have recently moved to North Carolina, and know that things did not go well with Massachusetts Mohair Plush Company once the Salmon Falls, NH operation was moved to Kings Mountain. I would love to follow up on the history. How do I go about learning what happened once the business moved? My father was a well known and well respected business leader, and I have a feeling there was more than one reason for putting off the move to North Carolina once he was diagnosed with what was then a terminal illness. Would love to visit your town, which is where I might have grown up!

Vickie Houser Kennedy - February 24, 2022

I was born in Kings Mountain in 1955. My Grandmother and Grandfather both worked at the Bonnie Mill on Gold Street. They lived in a Mill House on what was then Maple Street. The Post Office in Kings Mountain is now sitting on the very spot the house they lived in sat before they were torn down. It was a happy time and it wasn’t until I was grown that I realized that the little house they lived in belonged to the Mill. Happy memories of the Mill House community. My Grandfather would bring us grandchildren tiny little pieces of chalk from the mill and we would draw out Hopscotch block with them on that little dead-end Maple street. And Grandmaw would always have us a nice package of knee-high sock and tights for Christmas from the Mill. So many good memories of those days. It was a small community where everyone who lived there had a connection: they worked at the Bonnie.

Kevin - May 18, 2021

I lived in Kings Mountain from 1973 to 1975. My Father was a supervisor at Burlington Mills plant and my Mother worked in the front office of the BVD plant. We lived 2 houses down from the Neislers on Lee St. Went to school with Lee, their youngest son, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade. I spent many days in that big white house Lee lived in on Lee St. Then my Father got a supervisor job at Cone Mills in Salisbury NC. I went to work there myself in 1980 at age of 16. Worked there until they shut it down in May 1999.

John Guss - September 19, 2019

Greetings,

Please feel free to send us any materials, samples, or vintage pieces from your collection that we might archive and share them with our visitors to the Textile Heritage Museum in Burlington, North Carolina.

Mailing Address:

Textile Heritage Museum, Inc.
2406 Glencoe Street
Burlington, NC 27217
www.textileheritagemuseum.org
336-270-6374

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