Records, 1817-1829, of Hill & Clark (Spartanburg| Manuscripts Gifts 2008 | Front Page 2008 | Previous Issues | Friends of the Library |
A gift to SCL Manuscripts Division announced in 2008
Twenty-three manuscripts, 31 December 1817-5 February 1829, document the existence of Hill & Clark of Spartanburg District, S.C., one of the earliest cotton manufacturers in South Carolina’s Piedmont. | Manuscripts Gifts 2008 | Previous Issues | Endowments | Friends of the Library |
According to Landrum’s History of Spartanburg County, in 1815 or 1816, a group of emigrants from near Providence, Rhode Island, “arrived on the banks of the main Tyger, with her rapid-flowing stream and magnificent shoals, and here they put down stakes, and decided to try their success at manufacturing cotton into thread.” In about a year’s time, “Leonard Hill, George Hill, William B. Shelden and John Clark, all being master mechanics and manufacturers, went to work in earnest preparatory to erecting the mill,” which Landrum claims initially held some 700 spindles. These early activities are reflected in the collection by bills for materials to furnish and outfit a spinning mill, including a 2 May 1817 “bill of sundries for factory” from a merchant in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and bills for ironwork completed by Joseph and John Keene and Austin Newman.
Initially called Industry Cotton Manufacturing Company, the firm retained this name for at least a year following Shelden’s 1820 retirement. In 1825, George Hill also sold his interest, returning to Rhode Island. At some point before 1827, the business became officially known as Hill & Clark.
The collection contains nine “articles of agreement,” 1822-1829, between the firm and various individuals binding themselves or their children to labor in the factory.
On 21 February 1822, John Craig, weaver, bound himself to Hill & Clark “every lawful day, from sunrise to sunset; for the space of one year.” He was to be paid one dollar a day, one-third in lawful money and the remaining two-thirds in “cotton yarn at thair cash price or in any other thing that they have to dispose of which he may stand in need of for himselfe or his familey.” The company promised to find and keep in repair a good house and “he shall find himself in bed, board, and washing, excepting when he is away from home on business for them. In that case they shall pay all his necessary expences untill he return to his familey.” Craig appears to have traveled the area, leaving cotton yarn and shirting for merchants to sell on commission. Over the next year, there are several accounts regarding commissioned sales mentioning Craig, including an account of 1 February 1823, listing a credit of $1.25 for “Entertainment for J. Craig.”
Theophilus Cannon agreed, on 26 January 1827, to furnish children under his control for the term of one year: “Lucy M., Thomas M., Elizabeth S. Cannon for One Dollar & fifty Cents pr week each, Lucinda C., and Theophilus W. Cannon for One Dollar & twenty five Cents pr week each.” The children were “to labour agreeable to the hours of said factory & in evenings not to exceeding six months in the year,” and Cannon would “be paid Monthly If required in trade, Viz Cotton yarn & shirting at Hill & Clarks ticket price.” The company also agreed “to furnish the said Cannon with house (ie) the same he Occupies at the time and Land for a Garden.” This document is typical of the articles of agreement that Hill & Clark used to procure laborers.
There is one example of an article of agreement signed by a man who was to recruit workers for the factory. In October 1828, Archibald McCravy signed an agreement with Hill & Clark, “to find Three hands in the factory If it is wanted for the term of six months Marey McCravy, Jane, and another good hand as good as Either of them.” These laborers would receive $1.50 per week each at the end of every month in cotton yarn or shirting at the ticket price.
In 1830 John Clark sold his interest to Leonard Hill, who became the sole owner until his death in 1840. After Hill’s death, the property passed to his surviving sons, James, Albert, Whipple, and Leonard. In 1845 or 1846, Whipple and Leonard were bought out by James and Albert who operated it until 1866 when they sold the machinery to Nesbitt & Wright.