On February 26, 1901, a meeting was held in the Belmont Southern Railway depot waiting room to organize a new mill in Gaston County. While not an ideal place to start a new company, Belmont offered few options at that time. Attending that meeting were R.L. Stowe, Sr., R.P. Rankin, George A. Gray, and John F. Love.
During the meeting, it was decided to name the new enterprise the Chronicle Mill since the building would sit near the site of Major William Chronicle’s home. The Major was killed on October 3, 1780 during the Revolutionary War at the battle of Kings Mountain.
The capital stock of the company was initially only $75,000 but would later be increased to $125,000. It was decided at this meeting to begin construction of the mill, buy equipment, and start building homes for the workers who would be employed. In April, another meeting was held where it was determined the mill would have 5,000 spindles.
In those days bricks cost $3.75 per thousand and labor was $1.75 per thousand. The mill homes cost an average of $100 per room. A three room gabled house with a porch and a shed room cost approximately $325. A four room house with a front and back porch, hallway, and four fireplaces with two chimneys cost $400. A five room house cost about $450 and a six room one about $600. The superintendent’s house was often one and a half stories and cost about $1,500. An interesting thing I learned when selling the old superintendent’s homes at both the Chronicle and the National Mill Villages was that both homes were hooked up to the mill as their power source.
A rule of thumb called for one mill worker per room in each house. This was not hard to accomplish since child labor was the rule in the early 1900 textile world. If a mill needed a certain number of employees, say 350 for example, then you would need a village of homes containing 350 rooms total. If the houses averaged 3.5 rooms, you would need 100 homes.
Many of the mill companies across the south built identical cookie cutter homes. Goshen Woods in North Belmont and Adams Bluff in East Belmont were examples. For the Chronicle Village, the Stowes decided to add a little variety of styles and sizes to accommodate the different tastes of their workers.
The mill was finished and opened for business on February 28, 1902. In April, the first shipments were sent out from the Chronicle Mill to the buying public. Unfortunately, the plant met immediate disaster. On June 8, 1902, a tornado struck Belmont and took off part of the roof and destroyed several of the houses. The mill continued operating the next day minus the roof which was replaced within a week. The building was remodeled in 1965 which accounts for it’s current look. Irl Dixon
Source: Blythe, LeGette, Robert Lee Stowe—Pioneer in Textiles, 1965
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