Textile history of Cedar Falls

cedar falls mill cotton textile museum nc north carolina deep river

The Cedar Falls Factory (“Sapona Cotton Mills”) and Covered Bridge, ca. 1940.

Published 11-26-1980 in the Randolph Guide; written by Mac Whatley

The first textile factory on Deep River was built at Cedar Falls. A group of Asheboro lawyers and businessmen began to promote development of such a factory in 1828; "The Manufacturing Company of the County of Randolph" was incorporated by the state legislature in February 1829. The Elliott family of Asheboro provided their grist mill site on the river to encourage investment, but the stockholders were unable to raise enough money to start construction until 1836. A wooden building housing 500 spindles was erected and powered by an overshot water wheel. The company was re-chartered in 1846 so that a new brick mill building could be built. At least two walls of this 3-story structure survive today.

In 1860 the mill operated 1500 spindles and 38 looms. producing both yarn and sheeting material. The company was one of the first in the state to use a brand name, "Cedar Falls," on all its products. George Makepeace, a Massachus­etts native, and his son, George Henry, were both superintendents of the mill during the nineteenth century. Governor Jonathon Worth one of the original 1829 incorporat­ors, was president of the company at his death in 1869. His brother, Dr. J.M. Worth, became president and reorganized the company in 1877. At the same time Orlando R. Cox resigned his elected office of Sheriff of Randolph County to become general manager of the Cedar Falls Manufacturing Company. By 1884, under his leadership, the mill had grown to include 2,144 spindles, 30 looms and 90 employees. About 1890 he built his large Victorian home on the hill overlooking the mill; in 1895 he built a second factory, the “Sapona Manufacturing Company,” downstream from the original mill. Cedar Falls’ best-remembered period of management began in 1939, when Dr. Henry Jordan, brother of Senator B. Everett Jordan, bought the village. In 1978 Jordan’s heirs sold the property to Dixie Yarns, Inc.