Thursday, May 15, 2008

New names

Jean, Brenda and Annie Baltimore, 1707 Woolen Mills Road

The arrival of Northern investors was the only major change in the management of the mill before 1910. As noted above, these men entered the company by accepting stock in payment for machinery. Such a move was not unusual or new. Many Southern industries, especially cotton mills, found this an excellent way to entice southward some of the Northern capitalists who were at that moment eagerly seeking opportunities for investment.

New names now appeared on the Woolen Mills directory. Among them was an old friend, C. A. Furbish. He purchased large holdings of common and preferred stock and until 1896 assumed the role of adviser to Marchant. Furbush became the first vice-president of the company, a new office, bringing no compensation, which was created in 1883 to ease some of the responsibilities of the president.--Harry Poindexter

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008


According to oral history, Thomas Jefferson Baltimore, born September 13, 1911, was the first Woolen Mills Road child to arrive in the world in hospital rather than home. Obstetrics bill from 1949 underlines continuing escalation in the cost of medical treatment

For many years, however, a firm located in New York and Boston served the mill as agent for New York, New England, and the Pacific coast. By 1906 the company's largest markets were in New York. Philadelphia, San Francisco, Columbus, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Kalamazoo. It appears that sales were made directly to organizations which then contracted for tailoring of the cloth. The company records are vague on this point.
Entirely clear, though, were the healthy profits that these sales brought. By 1914 the company had enjoyed over twenty years of almost uninterrupted success--Harry Poindexter

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

traveling salesmen

the youngster in the photo is possibly Roy Jackson Baltimore

To insure continued high quality the mill performed every operation in its own plant under rigid controls. Its efforts were well rewarded. By 1909 sales had gone well over $300,000 and hovered at that peak until war broke in 1914.
For a time after 1882 the company attempted to sell its output through commission houses rather than by traveling salesmen. Furbush from his vantage point in Philadelphia looked around for satisfactory terms and an agent was dispatched to Philadelphia and New York. The houses which entered into agreements proved unreliable and the experiment failed. Thereafter, the mill returned to the use of salesmen, a practice which most mills were also adopting.--Harry Poindexter

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

effects of the 1893 crash

Hudson-Baltimore-Pritchett-Starkes Houses

The effects of the 1893 crash were severe and lingering. The depression was complicated by the tariff of 1894 which lowered the amount of protection. Changes in machinery and in types of product seemed obligatory in the face of new foreign competition. Samuel N. D. North, secretary of the National Association of Wool Manufacturers, argued that:
Many manufacturers will find themselves compelled to change altogether the character of their products... At present it seems as though the hardest struggle was before the mills which have been engaged in making the medium cassimeres and similar goods for the masses. These mills have had the American manufacture to themselves... That great advantage will no longer be theirs.
--Harry Poindexter

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

road not taken

Bettie Baltimore, courtesy of the Drumheller Collection

In the seventies the Charlottesville mill had continually made improvements and additions to its property in bad times as well as good. The period under study witnessed a continuation of this policy in two directions. One was toward expanded facilities in the face of fast-growing sales; the other was a search for more and better power devices.

The building program extended throughout the years from 1883 to 1917. None of the structures was large or expensive. Mostly they were small detached units scattered about the main building. A few were new dwellings for employees. Nevertheless, by 1887 a visitor, marvelling at the activity, jestingly expressed wonder that the area did not "ask for articles of incorporation in the near future, and set up the town business for herself." Unfortunately, with manufacturing costs low and with a steadily growing market for its goods, the mill did not systematically plan its new structures for the efficient movement of production from one department to the next. After the first World War, when keen business competition necessitated a more economical organization, a whole new program had to be launched.--Harry Poindexter

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Monday, March 10, 2008


House on the left ( 1604 Woolen Mills Road. 002-1260-0030 ) built by Virginia (41 y.o.) and James Starkes (55 y.o.) in 1890.
Brick house on right residence of Cel and Bettie Harlow. John Baltimore, mason, Bettie Baltimore Harlow's brother, laid the brick.
The Starkes acquired their 4 acre lot the first day of summer, June 21, 1886, for five-hundred dollars (Albemarle County DB 92 Page 65). To the north the Starkes lot had 310 feet of frontage on Woolen Mills Road. It was bounded on the south by the C&O railroad tracks, to the east by a paper street, 2nd road (modern-day Franklin Street) and to the west by James Timberlake (002-1260-0037, 1512 Woolen Mills Road)
Following the death of the Starkes, their property became involved in a chancery suit between their children and was sold at auction June 20, 1903 to James Timberlake, wet-finishing foreman at the Woolen Mill. (Albemarle County Chancery orders 1903, Book 21, Page 42, Albemarle County DB 127 Page 250)
In January of 1916, Timberlake divided and sold Virginia Starkes land. The western portion of the land he sold to R.N. Gianniny (1600 Woolen Mills Road, 002-1260-0041, Albemarle County DB 161 PG 406 J.E.Timberlake to R.N. Gianniny 1/24/1916 $500). Gianniny was a weaving second hand who had grown up in the mill village. In 1919, at the age of 48, Gianniny was promoted to the position of supervisor of the Woolen Mills weaving department. Gianniny was Virginia Starkes first cousin (?? have to tie this down)
Gianniny subdivided his lot and sold the western portion to Woolen Mills transportation supervisor, J.E. Hudson (DB 162 PG184 R.N. Gianniny to J.E. Hudson 2/19/1916 $250, 1516 Woolen Mills Road, 002-1260-0040)
Timberlake sold the eastern portion of the Starkes lot to Marcellus and Bettie Harlow, 1606 Woolen Mills Road. (Albemarle County DB 160 PG 406, 002-1260-0045).
Marcellus "Cel" Harlow's wife, Bettie (nee Baltimore), had a sister in-law desperate to move back to her natal home. The Harlow's subdivided their lot.
The day after Christmas, 1916, Mamie Starkes Baltimore spent 1500 dollars and regained the house she lost thirteen years previously. (Albemarle County DB164 PG153 12/26/1916, M.C & Bettie Harlow to Mary Starkes Baltimore $1500).

Within a year, the company's stock and mortgage liabilities settled down to a total capitalization of about $101,000 in common stock, $56,000 in preferred stock, and $52,000 in mortgage bonds. Except for the gradual retirement of the mortgage, which was accomplished by 1903, these figures remained relatively constant until 1896. In that year the accumulated surplus was distributed to common stock owners pro rata in the form of $50,000 worth of new common stock. Capitalization was then set at $200,000. This in turn grew to $300,000 in 1902 when the surplus was once again capitalized in the form of capital stock. No further changes occurred before the outbreak of war in 1914, but the surplus had grown again to nearly $60,000 by that date.--Harry Poindexter

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Monday, February 18, 2008

new ballast

Thomas Jefferson Baltimore (9/13/1911-12/27/1971) on the south-side of his grand-parents house, 1604 Woolen Mills Road. Baltimore's grandfather, James Starkes, began working at the mill in the 1860's. Baltimore's son-in-law, William A. Strauss Jr., died February 13, 2008, in Richmond, Virginia.

Steps were quickly taken to adjust capitalization to the new needs. The board was granted sweeping powers to revise expenditures and the duties of officers and employees to meet the needs of increased size. A new mortgage of $50,000 was floated at six percent to replace the old and to add new ballast to the company. When this proved insufficient, Marchant in June turned again to the Northern stockholders, this time for loans. It appears that Coates sent some $13,500 and Furbush as least $10,000. Another $11,000 came from Brennan and Company, a local private bank. John L. Cochran also advanced $16,000 to rescue the company from its distresses.

These loans were obviously only temporary expedients. Plans had been made on the assumption that shortly after production started a large percentage of the proceeds would quickly flow back to the company. This hope was based on a new arrangement to sell through Northern commission houses which would immediately make advances on consignments. For some reason, the experiment failed and the mill found itself thrown back on loans to obtain capital. As a result, Marchant was able to run less than half the expensive machinery, yet production costs mounted so high that full capacity might be secured at an extra cost of only twenty-five percent.--Harry Poindexter

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

a Sunday remembered

We were down one Sunday, and Lloyd Harlow and I think John Drumheller, the other boy, three of us, they were just building the powerhouse down here, devastated now of course. They've taken off twenty five or thirty foot of the chimney now for safety reasons.
At this time it was new, just been built, hadn't been put in use. The bottom of it had big iron doors that you opened to clean out the soot in the chimney. There was a steel ladder going up the inside of the stack. It was perfectly new, clean as a whistle, and so we climbed up inside of the chimney, it was about 100-125 feet high, pretty high for the diameter of it. When you got on top, it was very scary looking really.
Lloyd got scared and wouldn't come down. We couldn't entice him to come down. It was Sunday afternoon, he was supposed to be in church, all three of us were supposed to be in Church, in Sunday School rather. So, we had to come down and go get his daddy, and his daddy came down there and after a time he climbed up the chimney and got Lloyd down, I was surprised, he was scared to death himself.--Roy Jackson Baltimore


Friday, November 23, 2007

the mortgage proved exceedingly worrisome

1604 & 1606 Woolen Mills Road, the Starkes-Baltimore and Harlow houses

The stockholders were impressed. Still, the faulty bulwarks had to be shored up if the mill hoped for financial stability. So they quickly authorized a mortgage of $20,000 and a $30,000 issue of preferred stock carrying a ten percent guaranteed dividend. Why this stock issue was proposed is a puzzle. Its interest rate was only slightly less than the current rate for loans; and because of the guarantee it was in one respect more insidious than loans. The preferred stock dividend would open an irreparable leak during bad years, while borrowing could be adjusted according to needs. The directors decided not to use this method. Instead, the mortgage alone was seized upon. Twenty thousand dollars worth of bonds were sold to three Charlottesville men: John Woody, Jr., N. H, Massle, and E. R. Watson. Carrying nine percent interest, the bonds were due in ten years but could be called in after five. As it turned out, the mill remained saddled with a mortgage for twenty years. In 1880 the first bonds were replaced by a new series bearing only seven percent interest. Watson, Massie, and Jefferson R. Taylor took the second issue. Before it was retired in 1894, the mortgage proved exceedingly worrisome. Even worse, the sum raised by the mortgage was too small to remove the immediate evils of an inadequate capital. Although a ten percent dividend was unwisely paid in 1874, the following year found the board seeking extensions on credits. In December, 1875, the directors were forced to sign a joint note to raise $1,000 to pay the employees! So scarce did funds remain that only two cash dividends--five percent in 1877 and six percent in 1880--could be paid between 1875 and 1881. Profits meanwhile were set aside to accumulate in a surplus fund or to be used for improvements. In 1876 the surplus account provided the base for a twenty percent increase in common stock.
--Harry Poindexter

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

a spirit of confidence

from the Baltimore-Pritchett collection, Mamie Starkes, c. 1892

If Marchant believed that his major difficulties could be solved by a new infusion of capital, there were others equally sanguine who were willing to risk their money in the Factory. Marchant and his son, Henry, joined with John Wood, M. L. Anderson, T. J. Wertenbaker, and John C. Patterson to form the Charlottesville Manufacturing Company. Chartered as a joint-stock company by an act of the Virginia General Assembly passed on February 4, 1860, the new organization was authorized to acquire capital of not less than $12,000 nor more than $100,000 by selling stock at fifty dollars a share. The company received permission to own as much as 500 acres of land and "such personal property as they may deem necessary and proper for carrying on the manufacture of cotton, wool, flour, corn meal and tobacco,? the grinding of plaster? and the sawing of lumber. On March 20, books were opened in Charlottesville at the counting room of Patterson. Within a month the firm was organized with George Carr serving as president and John Marchant, who deeded his property to the company, acting as general agent. From Baltimore an experienced man was procured to supervise the manufacturing operations, Jones having disappeared from view during the preceding years. From the existing advertisements of the new concern it appears that the processing of wool into rolls for home weaving and the manufacture of cotton and wool into jeans and linseys had become the principal interest of the mill. Custom service was stressed and and the traditional barter type exchange of raw wool for finished cloth continued. Whatever the proportion of its income the mill secured from its subsidiary operations, the accent on a more specialized product typified a maturing textile firm. The mere formation of the company was in itself evidence of a spirit of confidence--a spirit which outlasted great misfortune to blossom forth after the war with renewed energy.--Harry Poindexter

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

from carding to dyeing

John Baltimore, in the backyard.

In many respects, therefore, the Charlottesville Factory had up to 1850 followed closely what might be called the typical direction of growth for the American wool manufacture. Ownership had evolved from individual proprietorship to a series of partnerships operating under specific terms of agreement and responsibility. Production had expanded from merely the carding of the raw fiber and the fulling of home-woven fabrics to the additional weaving of low quality cloth and had begun to be concentrated in the manufacture of cotton and woolen goods. However primitive its equipment, the plant was now fully integrated with all machinery necessary to make cloth from carding the matted wool to dyeing the finished piece of goods. This was an important step forward. It is also noteworthy that expansion occurred during the period when internal improvements in transportation in the form of toll roads and canals had progressed considerably. Soon railroad connections would link the Charlottesville area with other regions, opening markets which the mill would exploit after the War. Until the post-war era, though, the principal customer and supplier continued to be the inhabitant living nearby, and goods sold by retail were handled by local merchants, some of whom were financially involved with the enterprise.--Harry Poindexter

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Charlottesville Factory

Mamie Baltimore in the backyard of her parents house, Woolen Mills Road.

While the other services of the Factory continued to supply part of the company's income, the manufacture of cloth had by 1850 reached proportions which justify calling it primarily a cotton and woolen mill. Expansion had raised the value of the establishment to an estimated $90.000. The annual production of cloth totaled 70,000 yards, from which a yearly return of $24,000 was realized. There were twenty-eight employees, among them only ten men. The monthly payroll amounted to only $270, which has lead one writer to suspect that some of the workers were slaves. Yet, it is possible that, in accordance with a customary practice, only a portion of the wages were paid in cash, the remainder being in the form of script to be exchanged in the company store. "A saw mill, grist mill, and a plaster mill, 552 spindles for making cotton yarn, a double carder, two dressers, and twelve looms" comprise the machinery of the Charlottesville Factory in 1850. Furthermore, the company now had a distinctive label to distinguish its cloth from that of two other mills operating in the vicinity of Charlottesville. Advertisements called attention to the "half-round label, the printing made with blue ink with the names of Farish, Jones and Randolph, or Henry W. Jones, Ag't, as all others that hail from Charlottesville are not of that Factory."--Harry Poindexter

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Thursday, August 9, 2007

UVA c 1928

The collection of images I've been scanning the past three weeks had its origins with Bettie Frances Baltimore. Bettie was born in 1877, died 1971. She was a life long resident of Woolen Mills Road.
Any speculation regarding the nature of the frame construction in front of the Pavillion?

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Woolen Mills Road

Jean Baltimore looks out over Woolen Mills Road. 1607 WMRd is visible to the right of the frame, Chesapeake Street is in the distance.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

unknown 002

Where are the clothing historians? I think the guy with three buttons is John Wesley Baltimore, bricklayer. Laid the brick for his sister's house at 1606 Woolen Mills Road. Laid brick at Scott Stadium. This photo isn't labeled, but it looks like John, circa 1900.

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Sunday, April 8, 2007


Page from the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Research remains to be done regarding the Woolen Mills School, located at the corner of Woolen Mills Road and Riverview Street. The Woolen Mill provided the building, the County of Albemarle supplied a teacher. The page above from a book serially owned by Woolen Mills School graduates George Marion, Thomas Baltimore and Bertha Haggard. It is dated on the front leaf "2/29/29 T.J.B".

Thomas Jefferson Baltimore was the son of John Wesley Baltimore (brick mason) and Mary Morris Starkes Baltimore. Thomas was born September 13, 1911.

Reportedly, Mamie and John named their son TJ because his birth was one of the first to take place at Martha Jefferson Hospital.

In 1909, Mamie was on the Mill payroll as a spinner earning seventy cents per day.

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Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Place

Not all residents of "the Place" (the name applied by Woolen Mills residents to their neighborhood) worked at the Mill. This residential mill village was woven together as much by family connection as by common employment. C.M. Bibb bought his house at 1615 Woolen Mills Road from his father-in-law, George Baltimore. George was a carpenter at the Mill.
In 1920, George's daughters Bettie, Martha and Emma lived with their spouses in the Village as did his son's Harry and John. Son in law Bibb was a bridge superintendent for the railroad.

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Monday, April 2, 2007

Baltimores, 1928

frontyard, Woolen Mills Road. Rear, left to right, Thomas, Louise, John, Mamie and Roy Baltimore. Roy was John and Mamie's nephew. His dad died ten years previous, in the flu epidemic of 1918. Roy was raised by his family in residence on Woolen Mills Road (four aunts, two uncles, two grandparents and his mother).
Woolen Mills Road is unpaved.

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