Started in the late 1800’s, by Warren C Coleman. The first black cotton mill, in the United States. The brick mill opened for business near the railroad tracks running between Wilshire Avenue and Old Charlotte Road the organization of the Coleman Manufacturing Company, the nation’s first Black-owned and operated textile factory, was located at the current site of Fieldcrest Cannon Plant #9 (Main Street and Highway 601 South in Concord).
In a speech, Mr Coleman calls for support for opening the mill: TEXT
A special trade edition of the Concord Times, a white paper, March 10, 1898, speaks of the enterprise as follows:
“Can the Negro race successfully own and operate cotton mills? This question so long in doubt is about to be answered and we believe in the affirmative. The first great stride in that direction was taken when on the 8th of February, 1898, was laid with Masonic honors the corner stone of the handsome three-story brick building, 80×120 feet in dimensions, of the Coleman Cotton Mill. It was indeed a marked epoch in the history of the Negro race and pronounced by all present an entire success. Noted speakers from all over the United States were invited and the railroads gave reduced rates from all points. Following the laying of the corner stone was the annual election of officers, who are as follows: R. B. Fitzgerald, of Durham, N. C., president; E. A. Johnson, of Raleigh, N. C., vice-president, and W. C. Coleman, of Concord, N. C., secretary and treasurer. The following gentlemen constitute the board of directors: Rev. S. C. Thompson, Camden, S. C.; L. P. Berry, Statesville, N. C.; John C. Dancy, Salisbury, N. C.; Prof. S. B. Pride, Charlotte, N. C.; Prof. C. F. Meserve, Raleigh, N. C., and Robert McRae, Concord, N. C. Among these are some of the highest lights of the Negro race, and under their careful direction we have no doubts as to the final results of the enterprise. The promoter of this enterprise, Mr. W. C. Coleman, is the wealthiest Negro in the State, and he has rallied around him not only the leaders of his race but has the endorsement of many of the most successful financiers among our white citizens throughout the State. The mill is to have from 7,000 to 10,000 spindles and from 100 to 250 looms, and, by their charter, will be allowed to spin, weave, manufacture, finish and sell warps, yarns, cloth, prints or other fabrics made of cotton, wool or other material. They own at present, in connection with the plant, about 100 acres of land on the main line of the Southern Railway and near the site of the mill. The mill and machinery with all the fixtures complete will represent an outlay of nearly $66,000, and will give employment to a number of hands. The building is now completed and ready for machinery.
“Let us add that Concord has reason to and does feel proud of the fact that she has the only cotton mill in the world owned, conducted and operated by the Negro race.”
This experiment will certainly be watched with interest all over the land.
Source Description: (title page) Evidences of Progress Among Colored People
G. F. Richings Eighth Edition 595 p., ill. Philadelphia Geo. S. Ferguson Co. 1902
Available at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
The mill is to have from 7,000 to 10,000 spindles, and from 100 to 250 looms, and, by their charter, will be allowed to spin, weave, manufacture, finish, and sell warps, yarns, cloth, prints, or other fabrics made of cotton, wool, or other material. They own at present, in connection with the plant, about 100 acres of land on the main line of the Southern Railway, and near the site of the mill. The mill and machinery with all the fixtures complete will represent an outlay of nearly $66,000, and will give employment to a number of hands. The building is now completed and ready for machinery.
Let us add that Concord has reason to and does feel proud of the fact that she has the only cotton mill in the world owned, conducted, and operated by the negro race.
At a meeting of the directors recently the capital stock was increased $50,000 and those wishing a good safe investment should secure some of this stock. The mill will be under good and safe management, and will, no doubt, be a paying institution.
Special inducements will be offered to any party or parties who desire to establish enterprises that colored labor may be employed. Full particulars can be obtained from the secretary and treasurer, W. C. Coleman, Concord, N. C.
When the Coleman Manufacturing Company demonstrates to the world, as it will, that colored girls can weave cloth, and that this enterprise is a paying one, there will be other men who will start similar institutions throughout the South. I am sure that my [page 484] readers will read this article with more race pride than they have ever felt before when they realize that, while they read it, cloth is being woven by colored girls. This cotton mill, which is the result of Mr. Coleman’s push and energy, will give the colored man a standing in the business world he has never had before, and will be, indeed, helpful.
Warren C. Coleman is a most remarkable man.