Saturday, October 27, 2007

making his bid

Marcellus and Bettie Baltimore Harlow's house, 1602 Woolen Mills Road

Prospects for reviving the Charlottesville mill were improved by the depleted stock of woolen cloth in the South. For a time, at least, an intrepid manufacturer like Marchant could find a ready market for fabrics in his immediate locality. Already "footloose men, ready to embark in new and speculative enterprises" had begun "the speedy restoration of several little textile mills and iron works destroyed during the hostilities...." Into their ranks stepped Marchant, making his bid for a place in a revamped economy.

By August, 1865, he had acquired one set of wool cards and had begun the primitive carding of raw wool for local farmers. At the same time he cast his line into the local financial pool hoping to attract money to purchase machinery for a fully integrated textile mill. Merchant naturally first dangled his bait before the merchants and investors in the neighborhood who had at times shown definite interest in the woolen mill. Especially, he sought the aid of his old friend John C. Patterson and the latter's partner, D. T. Shreve. Both were now dry goods merchants with extensive financial contacts in the North. But Merchant was unsuccessful in attracting the cautious and depleted capital of Charlottesville business men. Undaunted, he packed his bags and headed north with Patterson in the fall of 1867 to fish in other waters.
--Harry Poindexter

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