Cabarrus County Entries in the 1854 US Gazetteer

Cabarrus, a county in the S. W. central part of North Carolina, has an area of about 350 square miles. It is drained by several branches of Rocky River, an affluent of the Yadkin. The surface is hilly or mountainous; a part of the soil is fertile. Indian corn, cotton, and cattle are the staples. In 1850 this county produced 418,320 bushels of corn, and 2344 bales of cotton. There were 14 corn and flour mills, 2 saw mills, 1 cotton factory, and 6 tanneries. It contained 21 churches. A considerable quantity of gold was found here about fifty years ago. The county was formed in 1792, and n amed in honor of Stephen Cabarrus, speaker of the house of commons of North Carolina. Capital, Concord. Population, 8747, of whom 7062 were free, and 1685, slaves.

Oak Lawn – a post-office of Cabarrus co., North Carolina.

Park’s Store – a post-office of Cabarrus co., North Carolina.

Rocky River – of North Carolina, a small stream which flows through Cabarrus County, and then turning eastward, forms the boundary between Stanley and Anson, until it enters the Yadkin.

Welch’s Mills – a post-office of Cabarrus co., North Carolina.

Source:  Baldwin, Thomas and J. Thomas, M.D., New and Complete Gazetteer of the United States.  Philadelphia, PA:  Lippincott, Grambo, & Co., 1854.

History of the mill at Cox Mill

Cox Mill has a history that dates back to the War for Independence. Evidence points to the fact that one of the Robert Harris’s built the mill during that war and established it as a landmark. There is a reference to Harris Mill found in the pension files stating, “We marched past Harris’s Mill on Rocky River, Tanner’s Mill on Coddle Creek and Caldwell’s Mill near South Yadkin.”

The original owners of the land were Robert Brevard and his wife Sarah of Rowan County. They sold the property (600 acres) to Charles Harris in 1758. In 1807, Samuel Pickens bought 285 acres from Robert Harris and Nathaniel Alexander. However it is not clear whether this property included the mill site. It is also not clear as to whether Samuel Pickens or by Robert Harris constructed the mill which would come to be known as Cox Mill.

The mill was built on the east side of Rocky River. Some of the rocks and timbers remain to mark the spot. Dr. Charles Wilson Harris who was postmaster at the time named the mill Mill Grove in 1836. Mr. Frederick Miller, who lists his occupation as a miller, ran the mill for Dr. Harris. The 1850 census indicates that he was living at the home of Dr. Harris.
Michael Cox, of Ireland, born in 1788, arrived in America in 1822. He lived in Wilmington for eleven years before moving to Cabarrus County. The Harris family hired Michael Cox as a miller.

At a later date, Peter Cox became the miller for Mr. W. S. Harris. A story is told how the mill became the Cox Mill. Mr. Harris was blind and unable to work; consequently, he was not able to pay the miller for operating his mill. Finally he gave the mill to Peter Cox for operating his mill. In 1880, the mill was listed as Cox and Harris.

John Cox is credited with building the mill into a thriving business. He also operated a sawmill. The story of Cox Mill ends with the “great flood” of 1908. In that flood, Rocky River washed away many of the mills along its banks.

Company records are available as a collection at the UNC at Chapel Hill
A volume containing acts of incorporation, records of stocks and property, minutes of meetings of the board of directors and general stockholders of the Concord Steam Cotton Factory; and two related items, 1839-1861. Also included is a typed carbon copy of the minutes of stockholders’ meetings, 1879-1902, of the Odell Manufacturing Company.

The Concord Steam Cotton Factory, also referred to as the Concord Manufacturing Company, was organized
16 February 1839 by a group of six entrepreneurs. General Paul Barringer served as the first president. Other notable founders included John T. Phifer, Daniel Moreau Barringer (1806-1873), and Robert Washington Allison (1809-1898). The business started with capital of $24,000 and 600 spindles shipped from Fishkill, N.Y. This was the first cotton mill on record in Cabarrus County, N.C.

William Jenks, a Pennsylvanian, was the mill’s first mechanic, but was replaced by John McDonald, also from Pennsylvania, before operations actually began. By April 1842, the mill was in full operation, producing cotton yarn, shirting, and nails. A year later, the company paid its first dividend at three percent per share. In 1859, John McDonald took over the ownership and management of the mill. The factory remained in operation during the Civil War and supplied cloth for uniforms.

In 1879, John Milton Odell purchased the firm and, with financial backing from seven other stockholders, built the Odell
Manufacturing Company on the same property. Odell was the president and major stockholder, and his son William was
secretary- treasurer. The Odell Manufacturing Company operated until 1907, when, in the face of worsening economic conditions and declining profits, the firm went bankrupt. Most of the mill itself burned in August 1908.