1906 Industrial Issue - Progress in Eastern NC  

Contributed by Martha Mewborn Marble

This Industrial Issue of the Kinston Free Press was published in 1906 although there was an earlier Industrial Issue published in 1899. The issue is composed of both text and numerous pictures of places and people. This will be a slow project so please be patient.

We are grateful to the Free Press for permission to post anything of historical or genealogical in nature published prior to 1939.


P 15 - 20

Largely due to Transportation Development

NOTE: Above in a box

In the West we expect to hear of the wilderness developing, of new lands coming under cultivation and of cities rising up in a night. In the older states, like those comprising the South, such phenomena are unexpected if not surprising. Things here are more conservative and slow-moving, and yet in North Carolina we have just now the same phenomena that the growing West presents - the building-up of waste places, the development of natural resources, the creation of new industries and the rapid growth of towns and cities.

In this onward movement, the whole State shares, but just now no part of it is developing so rapidly as the Tidewater Section, through which the Atlantic & North Carolina Railroad runs. Here many millions of dollars have been spent in the past eighteen months in reconstructing old railroad lines and building new ones, in utilizing the timber supply and promoting agriculture, in erecting factories and starting up new enterprises, wherever the supply of raw material justifies it.

It is the fruit of railway enterprise, backed by the progressiveness of a public- spirited citizenship. Big as are the things already accomplished great things are promised for the future. A new era is beginning for Eastern Carolina, an era of great industrial development under modern conditions.


The best evidence of the industrial advantages and possibilities of North Carolina is to be found in the progress made during the past few years.

According to the reports of the Twelfth Census (1900) the capital invested in manufacturing in this State increased nearly 134 per cent and the value of manufactured products increased 135 per cent.

There was more capital in one single industry (cotton manufacturing) in 1900 than there was in all the industries of the State in 1890.

Ten North Carolina counties now have more money invested in manufacturing enterprises than the entire State had ten years ago.

The value of the products of two industries, cotton manufacturing and lumbering, is far great now than all the manufactured products of the State in 1890.

The industrial progress which North Carolina is making is further indicated by the fact that during the past year 229 more miscellaneous factories were built than during the previous year. Within the past twelve months about seven hundred charters were granted. No other Southern State is being development at so rapid a rate.


It will be interesting to examine, in detail the industries in which North Carolina, particularly this section of it, has made the most notable progress.

First in importance, on account of its magnitude as well as on account of the opportunity it has offered for profitable investment, is the lumber industry. In this Eastern North Carolina easily ranks first among the timber-producing sections of the South - not only by virtue of the quantity of lumber manufactured and sold, but likewise on account of the variety of mercantile woods found in its forests.

At Newbern a few years ago there were exhibited no less than eighty varieties of native economic woods.

In point of value short leaf pine comes first, long leaf pine second and cypress third. The hard-woods, such as ash, oak, gum, hickory, birch, poplar, juniper, dogwood, persimmon, elm, maple, etc., are found in varying quantities, and contribute to the volume and value of the wood products of Eastern North Carolina.

This abundance of raw material close at hand, together with the excellent transportation facilities afforded by water and rail to all the important lumber centres, makes Eastern North Carolina a most advantageous place for the manufacture of wood products of all sorts.

In view of these facts it is not strange that factories for the working-up of wood and timber into various finished products are all successful and paying enterprises. The manufacture of furniture has proved especially profitable. One furniture factory on the line of the Atlantic & North Carolina Railroad which began business 14 years ago with a capital of $11,500, has paid $68,000, in cash to its stockholders and has apportioned them stock-dividends amounting to 479,500 making its capital stock now $90,000. This factory sells furniture direct to the furniture factories of Grand Rapids, Mich. the most famous furniture manufacturing centre in this country. It finds markets as far south as Texas and as far west as San Francisco.


In this connection it would, perhaps, not be out of place to institute a comparison between North Carolina and Michigan in the furniture industry. By reference to the last census such a comparison shows that each $100 invested in the manufacture of furniture in Michigan yields a product valued at $105, while in North Carolina a similar investment yields a product valued at $151, a difference of 46 per cent. In favor of North Carolina.

In 1890 there were six little furniture factories in North Carolina with a capital of $126,350, and the total annual value of their products was $159,000. In 1900 there were forty-four factories with a capital of $1,023,374 and their products were valued at $1,457,305 - a growth in ten years of nearly a thousand fold. These figures have been very largely increased during the past five years, since the census was taken. This remarkable showing proves conclusively that success is assured to the enterprising man who embarks in wood-working factories in Eastern North Carolina.

Recognizing our advantages here in this respect, many manufacturers have invested in wood-working plants in this territory, such as box and crate factories, sash and door factories, buggy and wagon factories, pulp mills and the like. But the business is far from being overdone, not even the local market being entirely supplied, and there is room here for many more industries of this sort.

Eastern North Carolina is the natural habitat of what is known in the commercial world as North Carolina pine. It abounds chiefly in the tidewater section. Less that twenty years ago it was a despised and cast-out wood, but now it is one of our most valuable woods. By the use of modern machinery for its manufacture it has reached a state of perfection not dreamed of a few years ago, and finds a ready sale in every lumber yard of the country. From an insignificant output less than a generation ago, its annual production now aggregates something like seven hundred and fifty million feet.

It is a wood of rapid growth, and scientific investigation has shown that it reproduces itself more quickly in Eastern North Carolina than anywhere else in the world. It yields from three to five thousand feet every nine years --that is to say, it can be cut over in periods of that time. In point of strength and durability yellow pine ranks next to white oak, and stands the ravages of insects and climatic conditions better than any other known wood.

Southern timber lands have proven highly profitable investments in past years, and there is every reason why the future should bring even better returns. The development of the lumber regions of Eastern North Carolina has assisted in increasing the values of the various kinds of timber lands, and while the lumbering and milling operations now in progress are vast, yet plenty of properties remain available to buyers for investments and to mill men.


Nor is the pine the only tree of value found in our forests. The tidewater section of North Carolina is likewise rich in cypress, gum, juniper, birch, maple and other hardwoods. The stumpage of these is confined principally to the swamps and pocosins, and their manufacture into staves, shingles, laths and the like, is carried on with much success and profit. Each year the hardwood are advancing and will increase in value being worth fully five times as much to-day as they were ten years ago. Spools are manufactured from birch, the birch blocks being shipped to Scotland to be worked up for the thread mills. Dogwood and persimmon are cut into block, sent to England and made into bobbins for our cotton factories. Maple is converted into lasts for the shoemaker, and locust supplies the pins on which telephone, telegraph and electric light wires are strung. These woods once - and that not so long ago - were considered good only for firewood, and not very good even for that.

The uses to which the hardwoods are put are similar, except possibly that of sweet gum. Though, perhaps the commonest timber tree in the hardwood belt of the south, it has always been regarded as worthless. More recently, however, gum has come into demand for new uses, and has attained a merchantable value. For many years it has been used to a limited extent in the manufacture of furniture. This use of it is constantly growing, especially in the making of the commoner grades of drawers, frames, and backing for desks, tables, etc. The furniture factories use annually 40,000 to 60,000 board feet of this lumber - figures which show that red gum is becoming a thoroughly established wood in the market. Another important use for red gum is for interior finish. Stained or in its natural color, it may be made very attractive, and when properly seasoned fulfills every requirement of a first-class wood for that purpose. Recently lumber dealers have been introducing red gum flooring on the market. They advertise it as lasting longer than other wood now used in flooring, as having a smoother surface and as being easier to handle.


But a more recent use for it, and one that promises to greatly increase the value of gum on the market, is the manufacture of barrel staves, headings and hoops. For this purpose it is now one of the most important woods in the country. Up to five years ago, elm, spruce, and some cotton-wood were used, but with the growing scarcity and consequent advance in price of these, a substitute had to be found. After many experiments a process was discovered by which the tendency of gum to warp and break when dried was overcome, and at the present time gum for stave-making is being generally adopted.

There is in Newbern a large factory - The North Carolina Stave Company - for the utilization of gum timber in this way. It is under a long-time contract for two carloads of sugar-barrel staves per day. This process having been demonstrated to be a success, it means the utilization of the great quantities of gum now growing on the swamp lands in Eastern North Carolina. The sugar stave factory's success presents the possibility of other like enterprises, these being oil-barrel, pork-barrel, and flour-barrel staves, etc. With the new drying process, there are a great many uses that might be made of gum timber. Half a dozen factories like that at Newbern could easily find a market for their out put, but could not exhaust the gum trees in swamps of Eastern North Carolina as they grow miraculously fast.


The output of dressed and undressed lumber from mills located along the line of the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad aggregates considerably over 100,000,000 feet a year. Some of these mill have a capacity of more than 50,000 feet a day, and attached to them are dry kilns and planing mills with all the latest mechanical improvements.

In connection with this immense output of lumber there is inevitable great waste both in the forest and at the mills, and this suggests the economic principle of co-ordinated industries. The cutters leave in the forest "fat" stumps and box-faces. These would supply the raw material, at almost no cost, to the pine-products factory for the making of turpentine and tar. And there would be enough material left ready at hand to keep a dozen kindling-wood plants busy. Along with the manufacture of the lumber at the mill there is a great quantity of material, now for the most part wasted or used for fuel, that could be utilized to great advantage and profit in the making of boxes for the shipment of vegetables, specialties for building, such as cornices, wainscoting, newel-posts, moulding, and the like. In this way nothing would be wasted.

The need of this territory is more diversified minor industries, subsidiary to the greater lumber industries now in operation. Plants of this sort not only utilize products that otherwise go to waste, they give profitable employment to all our people - women and children as well as men - and in many ways contribute to the well being and prosperity of the community.


North Carolina has long been famous for its factories for the manufacturing of smoking and chewing tobacco. Some of the largest tobacco factories in the world are located in this State, the name of Duke, Blackwell, Haynes, Reynolds, and others being famous around the world in this connection. In 1890 the capital invested in this industry in the State was $4,783,491. Ten years later that capital had been more than trebled.

While great fortunes have been made in the business, opportunities are still open for profitable investment of capital in it. Not many years ago the culture of bright tobacco was thought to be profitable only in the Piedmont section of the State. But experience has proved quite to the contrary. Something like a quarter of a century ago experiments were made in tobacco culture at one or two points along the line of the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad and they proved a success from the start. While the tobacco was larger in growth than that on higher lands, it was as bright and delicate of texture as any produced on the most famous tobacco lands in this State or Virginia, and now the trade of the world has come to look with confidence to the light porous soils of the tidewater section, not only for its brightest, lemon-colored wrappers but for the best export tobacco produced in any country in the world.

It was not until something like fifteen years ago that the farmers of Eastern North Carolina went extensively into the culture of the weed. For instance in 1885 there were only forty-five acres in tobacco in the whole of Lenoir County. The acreage was gradually extended. Those who went into it made money. Others were induced to undertake its culture. Warehouses were built for its sale, and to-day many acres of old field lands that a few years ago were considered worthless, are yielding fine crops of bright tobacco, and near a billion pounds are annually sold on the Kinston market.

Situated as Kinston is, in the heart of the tobacco belt, it ought to be one of the foremost tobacco manufacturing centres (sic) of the South. Surrounded by a fertile and prosperous back-country that supplies annually an immense quantity of the leaf it is remarkable that a factory for manufacturing this product has never been established here. Since tobacco became a money crop in Eastern Carolina, warehouses and prizehouses have gone up in Kinston one after another. The American Tobacco Company of Great Britain and Ireland have built immense plants for the storage of their purchases and new banks and business houses have gone up almost as if by magic to accommodate the increased trade. But as yet Kinston has no tobacco factory to help insure the permanency of this important industry and the product of its tobacco fields continues to be shipped to other points to be manufactured.

It can readily be seen from the above conditions that a tobacco factory at this point would necessarily be a profitable investment. Kinston not only draws annually to its markets millions of pounds of tobacco, but it has every facility for handling the leaf, excellent transportation accommodations by competing railroad, unlimited financial backing, and the active interest of its citizens and the enthusiasm of the farming class to insure the success of such an enterprise once it is established.

Kinston is fortunate in the fact that its tobacco market has always been based on local enterprise and capital. Its tobacco interest, like all of the other enterprises of the town, has been built upon the co-operative plan. Hence it has steadily forged ahead. Prices have been maintained, acreage has increased and the tributary country extended, until the town has become one of the biggest and most prosperous tobacco markets in the whole country. The next step must be the establishment of a factory to convert this product into chewing and smoking tobacco right in the midst of the fields where it has grown. It stands to reason that it can be manufactured here more cheaply than at other points to which freight must be paid on the raw material. Kinston has, with its own enterprises and its own capital, built up a great tobacco market, why should it not, in the same way, build tobacco factories?


Though there has not been in Eastern North Carolina as great development in cotton manufacturing as in some other parts of the State, such factories as have been established here are operated with success and profit. As this is the cotton producing section of the State it must necessarily come about, sooner or later, that the cotton mills must come this way, since competition is constantly crowding them nearer to the cotton fields.

In 1890 there were ninety-one cotton mills in North Carolina with a capital of about $10,750,000. Ten years later (1900) there were in the State 177 mills with a capital of $13,011,516. This number has now (1906) been increased to 287, with a capital stock of $37,494,625 - the mills more recently built being, as a rule, larger and more completely equipped than those built five or six years ago, and many of the old mills have been enlarged and greatly improved. The total number of spindles now in the State is near 2,500,000; number of looms, 45,700; knitting machines 4,000.

In 1900 when the census was taken there were 30,000 people employed in the cotton mills of the State, receiving more than $5,000,000 in wages. The cotton mills consumed annually about 4,000,000 bales of cotton valued at over $15,000,000. These figures have been largely increased within the last five years, the number of employees now being over 50,000 and more than half a million bales of cotton consumed each year.

Each $100 invested in the manufacture of cotton goods in the United States in 1900 yielded a product valued at a little over $72. In Massachusetts, the principal cotton manufacturing state of New England, $100 invested in cotton manufacturing yields less than $71, and in Rhode Island it yielded $64, while in North Carolina it yielded $86. That is to say, capital invested in cotton manufacturing in North Carolina affords a basis of profit 15 to 22 per cent greater than it does in New England. In other words, $100 invested in cotton milling in North Carolina is equivalent to $121 invested in a similar enterprise in Massachusetts, or $131 in Rhode Island. It must be borne in mind also that these figures bear only upon the relation of capital and product; they do not take into account cheapness of buildings, items of taxes and general expenses, or the earning power of a dollar invested in labor. When these things are considered, the figures above given become doubly significant.

Here for instance, is the record of a mill now in operation on the line of the Atlantic & North Carolina Railroad - and, by the way, there is no more up-to-date or splendidly equipped mill in the State and its products are second to none in the South. It began business a little over three years ago with a capital stock of $150,000. The mill, however, cost $300,000. It has paid from the day it started, declaring regularly a semi-annual dividend of 4 per cent, and now having, in addition, an undivided surplus of $100,000.

Comparisons are made above with Massachusetts and Rhode Island because Massachusetts is the great centre of the cotton manufacturing in new England, and in Rhode Island, the cotton milling business is nearly the same as in North Carolina, also for the reason that condition in Rhode Island are much the same as in Massachusetts.

The success of the cotton knitting mills at Goldsboro and at Kinston, to which extended reference is made else-where in this issue, proves beyond question that cotton and knitting factories will pay handsomely in this section. In fact, it is doubtful if so many advantages and desirable considerations for the business are to be found elsewhere.

The distance between the point of production of cotton and the place of its manufacture is steadily growing less. The inconvenience and cost of long haul of the raw material are each year cutting down the profits of factories located in sections remote from the cotton belt. When this difference in freight charges is considered, together with the other important economies offered for its manufacture in the South - such as mild climate, low taxes, cheap fuel, contented labor and abundant raw materials - it is readily seen that the cotton factory or knitting mill here has an immense advantage over its Northern competitor.


The Piedmont section of the Carolina was the first to reflect the wisdom of the removal of cotton mills from New England in order to take advantage of the vastly superior opportunities afforded near the fields where the cotton is grown. Why should not the town in Eastern North Carolina along the line of the Atlantic & North Carolina Railroad - running as it does through the centre of a cotton-producing territory - be even more important and inviting to the cotton mill men? The inducements above referred to in favor of the South generally for the establishment of cot(ton) factories apply with double force to Kinston and Newbern and Goldsboro. At these thriving cities, outside capital is welcomed, local co-operation assured and factory sites are donated. These cities, in common with other point on the line of the Atlantic & North Carolina Railroad, have superior transportation facilities, and enjoy unequalled freight rates to all points on cotton factory products.

And while very properly inviting outside capital to come in and build mills, it might be well for our people to inquire if they could not very profitably do a little more of it on their own account. There are many considerations to recommend such a course. For instance, when the price of cotton was six cents per pound the cotton crop of North Carolina in the raw state was worth $15,000,000. Converted into osnaburgs and coarse sheetings its value was increased, but converted into duck at 14 cents per pound its value became $30,000,000, while in the manufacture of still finer good its value increased rapidly until made into embroidery at $20 per pound, the North Carolina crop would be worth $3,000,000,000. Of course, with the cotton at 10 cents the above comparison is less striking, and yet while this year's cotton crop is valued at $6,000,000,000 if manufactured here it could be increased to a value of at least a billion and half dollars. These figures open our eyes to the fact that the future development of cotton manufacturing in the South has a wide field before it - a field in which Eastern North Carolina has not yet got its share.


Another industry suited to the conditions and resources of Eastern North Carolina is the manufacture of fertilizers.

In the first place, the raw material for such enterprises is at hand or may be had at minimum cost of transportation. Then, by reason of the enormous demand for fertilizers by truckers and tobacco growers, the best of local markets is afforded. For the distribution of the product, the various railroads, logging roads and the net work of waterways, penetrating every nook and corner of a vast territory, supply the best of transportation facilities.

Fertilizer factories are in operation at Newbern and cotton seed oil mills at Goldsboro, Newbern and Kinston, but they fall short of meeting the demand for their product in this territory. So great are the advantages offered for other enterprises of this sort --notably at Morehead City and Beaufort, where the fish scrap is made and the acid, the blood, the phosphate rock can be brought in by the shipload - that the wonder is the field has not been occupied long ago in this respect.

The fertilizer factories at Newbern and the oil mills at Kinston and Goldsboro have been profitable enterprises almost from their start. Here is the record of one of them (a cotton seed oil mill): it was organized about twenty-five years ago, with a capital stock of $25,000. For the first two or three years very little money was made, owning to the fact that farmers were slow to sell their seed, being accustomed to put them in the ground for fertilizing purposes. Bur finally a supply of seed began to come in and the mill was on a paying basis. During the first twenty years of it existence it paid cash dividends averaging $100 per cent a year, and in addition piled up a surplus of $100,000. The mill was sold four years ago to the Southern Cotton Oil Company for $160,000.

There are other factories and mills along the line that have made well-nigh as good records, and with the extensions of the trucking industry and tobacco culture, and the growing of strawberries, peanuts and the like - the last two named new industries in this territory - the demand for fertilizers will be greatly increased.

The raising of strawberries is in its infancy in this territory, but as there is no longer any question as to the adaptability of the soil and climate to their culture, its success is a foregone conclusion.

The peanut industry has passed beyond the experimental stage and its rapid extension, especially in the Kinston section, is assured. The past season is the third year this crop has been raised in Lenoir County - the first two years in a limited way, last year more extensively. The yield all three seasons was fine - from 75 to 100 bushels per acre. In many cases the farmer planting them knew little or nothing of their culture, and yet splendid crops resulted.

One Negro tenant near Kinston, without previous experience as to the crop, harvested and threshed out over 800 bushels of peanuts from eleven acres of land. This is an average for the crop raised in this section, though the most intelligent farmers made a better showing. An experience peanut-raiser with good land can harvest an average of one hundred and twenty-five bushels per acre in this vicinity. Will it pay to raise peanuts on this basis? Let us take the Negro tenant, to whom reference is made above:

Cost of seed $15
Preparation of soil, including planting $44
Cost of cultivation $40
Cost of gathering $40
Cost of gathering $40
Cost of sacking $20
Cost of threshing $50
Cost of fertilizer $36.50
Total cost covering every expense $245.50

Value of crop (800) bushels at 60 cents per bushels $480. Net profit on crop $234.50, or a profit on eleven acres of $21.13 per acre.

This profit with experience in the business, could have been materially increased to $30, or more per acre, as some of the items above are excessive. It is said by experienced peanut men that a crop on this soil with proper attention ought to net $35 per acre profit.


The next step for Kinston should be the establishment of a peanut factory. Few people realize the importance of the peanut industry in the commercial uplift of a town. There should be, and will be, if proper attention and encouragement are given to this new industry, shipments of thousands of bushels of nuts annually from this pint.

Some idea of the value of the peanut industry to a town is given by the Wilmington Star in a recent issue. Wilmington has five wholesale peanut dealers who ship annually 450,000 bushels representing a monetary value of something over a half million dollars. Concerning the business in that city, the Star says:

"To give an idea of the amount of business done in this line, during the past week the Wilmington Peanut Company shipped a solid car of 1,000 bushels, weighing 30,000 pounds and valued at $1,200, the consignment being to a larger jobber in Florida. The car was the sixth shipped by the enterprising firm named during the present season. The peanuts are the North Carolina variety, and are raised in the peanut belt surrounding Wilmington."

The soil about Kinston and at other places along the line of the Atlantic & North Carolina Railroad is as well adapted to the culture of peanuts as is that about Wilmington, and there is no reason why the industry should not be developed here to such an extent as to make it quite as valuable commercially to this city as it is to Wilmington. To do this, of course, the establishment of a peanut factory is necessary and proper encouragement must be given those engaged in the industry.

1906 Industrial Issue