THE COTTON MILL 1849-1954 by Michael Rutherford


THE COTTON MILL
COTTON MILL- BEGINNING OF PRODUCTION- 1850

EBENEZER WILBUR
OPERATING PROBLEMS
PROPOSED EXPANSION
SURVEY OF INDIANA COTTON MILLS
COTTON MILL OPERATIONS
COTTON MILL SOLD
BIBLIOGRAPHY
NOTES ON CHILD LABOR IN THE COTTON
CANNELTON REPORTER 8 April 1854
CANNELTON REPORTER, Saturday,  24 June 1854

OPERATING PROBLEMS

Operating problems arose for the Newcombs which were not easily solved. Winpenny was quoted to say "In September 1852 a cast iron pipe supplying the boilers broke, causing the mill to shut down."..."In October one of the boilers burnt out, again stopping work."..."On October 28, 1852, the mill got started again but the new furnace worked poorly."... "They managed to operate for half a day, but only by cutting out half of the machinery." In the winter of 1852-53 the heavy snow in the east delayed delivery of a new boiler for more than 3 months.

In mid-April 1853 the directors of the Cannelton Cotton Mill capitulated to reality and agreed to sell outright to a newly formed corporation, the Indiana Cotton Mill. Between May 21, 1853 and November 11, 1854 the new company satisfied the outstanding debt and organized the administrative branch for operation. The data in this matter as given in Goodspeed, Wilson, Winpenny and Perry County Deed Record F, pp.661-666, conflict in several details. Apparently, the charter for the Indiana Cotton Mill allowed 600 shares priced at $500 each for a capitalization of $300,000 if Goodspeeds figures be correct. Estimating from Wilson and Winpennys figures, there were between 466 and 500 shares held at the commencement of the Indiana Cotton Mill; this is in agreement with the valuation given in Deed Record F, p. 666, of $250,000 of the erstwhile leased value to H.D. Newcomb.

These stockholders were a small group from the now defunct Cannelton Cotton Mill. Hamilton Willis (180 shares) and Edmund Dwight (72 shares) of Boston apparently together owned just over 50% of the outstanding stock. Horatio D. Newcomb and Warren Newcomb (122 shares) represented 24%. These figures contradict Goodspeeds statement that the Newcombs owned 60-80% of the stock. James C. Ford owned around 60 shares or 12%. Three other cotton planters, one of them being Dr. M.B. Sellers, are listed as owners of 110 shares or 22%. In 1854 Ford was President, H.D. Newcomb, Treasurer.

An explanation as to how the problems of water quality and mechanical failure were solved has not been found. Apparently, the operation of the mill was on a more even keel within a few years after the new company took over. According to Winpenny the Newcombs acquired the Willis and Dwight stock in 1857. Just before the out break of the Civil War, Sellers and the other planters sold out so that the Newcombs owned 80% and Ford 20% of the stock. Warren Newcomb withdrew from the Newcomb enterprises on January 1, 1864. When H.D. Newcomb died in August 1874, the Newcomb shares were held by Dwight Newcomb, H.D.s son, Victor, and the second wife of H.D. Newcomb.

In 1859 the original 250 HP steam engine was replaced with one of 400 HP; it was to serve for 30 years.

Within 2 or 3 weeks of the firing on Fort Sumter 90 of the men employed at the Mill formed a company of the Home Guard. It was named "The Newcomb Guards" in honor of H.D. Newcomb. The officers were: H.N. Wales, Capt.; James Lees, 1st Lt.; John Carter, 2nd Lt.; David Richard, Ensign; Joseph Whitaker, William Osborne, John Cummiskey, Sgts.; Samuel Wild, Drill Sgt. Cannelton tailor Conrad Dusch made uniforms for the company from Indian Cotton Mill cloth. Stockholder James C. Ford survived the dilemma of owning a southern plantation and a northern mill while residing in Louisville. Local legends of some light bombarding of the Mill from the Kentucky side of the river are not here documented.