Colonial Period & Revolutionary War
The first paper mill in North Carolina was built in 1777 near Hillsborough in order to relieve a paper shortage during the Revolutionary War.
Note: changes and additional information will be posted to
this page as more research and information become available.
1777 - 1781? Hillsborough, NC
In November 1777, an advertisement appeared in the North
Carolina Gazette (Nov. 17, 1777): "The proprietors of a paper mill,
just erected near Hillsboro', in Orange County, give notice to the public
that their mill is now ready to work, and if a sufficient quantity of rags
can be had, they will be able to supply the State with all sorts of
John Holgan was the proprietor of the paper mill
located 1.5 miles northeast of Hillsborough. Holgan built the paper
mill during 1777 in response to the North Carolina government offering incentives for
such an enterprise. In 1777, the state offered £ 250 for any
paper mill in the state that within 18 months would produce 30 reams each
of brown paper, white paper and writing paper (90 reams; ream equaling 500
sheets). Holgan successfully petitioned the General Assembly to extend the
incentive beyond August 1778 until February 1779, because of the dry weather during 1778.
This small-scale paper mill operated for an indeterminate, but short,
time. For example, Cornwallis invaded Hillsborough in February 1781
affecting many businesses in the community.
1790 - 1879+
Salem, NC & Winston, NC
A paper mill or paper factory was constructed in the
original Moravian settlement in North Carolina Salem
in 1790 by Gottleib Shober. The Board of
Overseers of the Moravian Church at Salem approved the venture on July 7,
1789. He had been the Salem store assistant, as well as a leather and tin
To learn the art of paper making, Shober sent Christian
Stauber to Ephrata, PA, to learn from Pennsylvania Dutch (German) paper
makers. To construct the paper factory, Shober appealed in November 1789
for funding assistance from the North Carolina General Assembly, which was
granted (£ 300). Construction of the mill pond and paper mill occurred
during 1790. It was located on Peter's Creek south of the main road
leading west out of Salem (today, where Academy Street crosses Peter's
By early 1791, the mill was producing paper; by July 1791 it
was producing paper with watermarks of S or NC.
The paper mill was
operated by Stauber, who became half-owner in Fall 1791. But the
partnership lasted about a year.
By 1793, Shober was the sole owner. Around this time, Johann
George was running the paper factory. George died in December
1800. His wife remarried in May 1801 to Joseph
Gambold, who apparently took over running the paper mill.
In 1836, the paper mill was sold to John Christian Blum, who
printed Blum's Almanac and various newspapers in Salem, but
Shober's son, Emmanuel, resumed ownership and operated the factory until
1846. The factory was leased and operated from 1846 to 1863 by Francis
Fries. In 1863, Robert Gray bought the factory and put in new machinery
and steam power. In Branson's Directory in 1872, it was reported that Gray's paper mill was in Winston, NC. In 1873, the building was destroyed by fire.
In 1860, another paper mill — the
Salem Paper Mill
— was run by Rufus L. Patterson & Co., which he had started some time in the mid or late 1850s. His
mill employed four workers in 1860 producing about $4,000 of paper each
year. After the death of a partner, he sold the mill in October 1861,
apparently buying it back. After the war, this mill was co-owned by Patterson and Henry W.
Fries, along with their joint ownership of textile mills. This paper mill
was still in operation in 1879 when Rufus Patterson died.
Fayetteville, NC (Cumberland County)
Isaac T. Cushing, a Northern visitor
passing through Fayetteville, helped construct in 1808/1809 the
Paper Mill owned by David Anderson.
Cushing also helped Anderson construct a nail factory.
The Fayetteville, NC, paper mill apparently continued operating
at least until the 1830s. In 1820, this paper mill had 8 workers producing printing paper for
newspapers, with some writing paper. The annual sales were approximately
$2,000 in 1820. The mill probably changed ownership sometime in the 1830s. The
mill is not listed in the 1850 census of industry.
owned a paper mill in Fayetteville, which may be
the successor to the Anderson mill. The
1860 Census reported that the Murphy paper mill employed 10 workers and
produced half-a-million pounds of printing and wrapping paper.
1809 - 1896 Raleigh area, NC
North Carolina generally led the South with the most paper
mills (40%) in the antebellum and Civil War period. During the War Between the
States (1863 survey), there were eight (8) operating paper mills in North Carolina
3 in the Raleigh area, plus a paper mill in Concord, Fayetteville,
Lincolnton, Salem and Shelby.
At this same time (1863), South Carolina had 5 paper mills
(Greenville and 4 others), Georgia had 3 such mills (Athens, Columbus,
Marietta), Virginia had 2 paper mills (two at Richmond), one one paper
mill in the following states: Alabama (Spring Hill), Tennessee
Over the decades, there have been many paper mills in the
In 1809, Joseph Gales
built and operated the first paper mill
near Raleigh, which supplied his
newspaper the Raleigh Register
during the first three decades of the 1800s.
(1809 - 1833),
later known as the Raleigh Paper Mill
(1833 -1841+), and still later known as Crabtree Paper Mills
Joseph Gales learned the plans for building and
operating a paper mill from Isaac T. Cushing, a Northern visitor
passing through Raleigh. Gales
constructed his first paper mill in 1808, apparently located two (2)
miles north of Raleigh, although other sources place the mill at six (6)
miles south of Raleigh at John Whitaker's millsite.
In any event, paper began
being produced in early October 1809.
Later, the mill was moved to the Rocky branch
east of Raleigh on property formerly owned by Willie Jones of
Halifax. Finally, the paper mill was relocated on the Crabtree Creek slightly
north of Raleigh at Isaac Hunter's millsite. When he sold the paper mill in 1833, it was known
as the Raleigh Paper Mill.
The paper mill was damaged by fires twice in 1841.
Owners included: William N. Schauck, Sater family
members, the Manteo Manufacturing Co. in 1850, E. B. Sater (around
the beginning of the Civil War >1862), and Waterhouse & Bowes
during the Civil War.
Edmund Mather ran the mill between 1852 - 54.
E. B. Sater, proprietor of the Crabtree Paper
Agent in Raleigh was J. J. Litchford; the factory produced a variety
of paper, including wrapping paper. Burned by Union forces in April 1865.
Milburnie Paper Mill (<1852 -
1865) Sion H. Rogers was the president of this mill; H.
H. Husted was the treasurer. James D. Royster was the mill
superintendent. The mill was owned by the Neuse Manufacturing
By 1860, this paper mill annually produced 520,000
pounds of paper, employing 31 workers (19 males, 12 females). This paper mill was burned by Union troops
at the close of the Civil War (April 1865). The mill supplied
several North Carolina newspapers, as well as supplying all the
paper it could to The New York Times.
||Falls of the Neuse Manufacturing Company
(1855 - 1896)
Just outside of Raleigh, NC, the Falls of the Neuse Manufacturing Company
constructed a paper mill beginning in 1854. the Raleigh Register visited "the splendid mills in progress of construction at the Falls of the Neuse... the Paper Mills are built of substantial and beautiful granite of which there is extensive quarry upon the spot." Edmund
Mather helped built the mill (see Raleigh Paper Mill) during
1854-1855. He operated it for the Manteo Manufacturing Company in
1855, before leaving the area due to sickness.
In operation in 1855, the firm
began production at its three-story mill factory. It
was a significant paper manufacturer producing as much as 3,400 pounds of paper
The Manteo Manufacturing Company briefly owned the
paper mill, followed by the Forest Manufacturing Company in the late
1850s. That company owned and operated the paper
mill during the Civil War. By 1860, this mill was producing about
520,000 pounds of paper a year, supplying many North Carolina
In 1859. the paper mill superintendent was Dr. W. S. Miller.
See the following advertisement in the Augusta
[GA] Daily Chronicle & Sentinel, July 2, 1861, p. 1, c. 2
Forest Manufacturing Company,
Forestville, N. C.
Manufacturer of Superior
Book and Newspaper, &c., &c. Respectfully
solicit Southern dealers to send them orders.
Samples and prices will be sent (postage paid) by applying to
W. B. Reid, Supt.
At the close of the Civil War and with Union troops advancing
on the city, the mill's machinery was dismantled and hidden.
The mills were owned and operated by W. B. Allegre, Forestville, NC, by 1866.
In 1871, the Forest Manufacturing Company was run by President R. Y. McAden and Secretary-Treasurer G. Rosenthall.
The paper mill burned on March 15, 1871.
The Raleigh Sentinel reported: "The paper mill of the Forest Manufacturing Company near Forestville was totally destroyed by fire Sunday night. We have not ascertained the amount of loss, but understand it to be covered by $15,000 insurance. Two previous attempts were made to fire this property but were fortunately frustrated. On this occasion the flames gained such headway before being discovered that nothing could be done to extinguish them."
The paper mill was rebuilt and owned by the Falls of the
Neuse Manufacturing Company, still run by President R. Y. McAden and Secretary-Treasurer G. Rosenthall. The mill operated until 1896, when a flood collapsed two floors destroying the machinery. The mill was closed and
put in receivership.
1832 - 1890s
Lincolnton, NC (Lincoln County)
A paper mill was constructed in 1832 on the South Fork about
4 miles below
George Mosteller. The Lincoln Paper Company was operated by George &
David Mosteller until March 4, 1848, when the partnership was dissolved.
George Mosteller continued to operate the paper mill until about 1857.
Apparently, William J. Hoke owned some of the land and paper making
machinery, according to sales advertisements in newspapers. In 1860, the
census reports that Thomas Robinson owned the paper mill, employing 3
workers and producing 40,000 pounds of wrapping paper annually that was
worth an estimated $2,000. Reportedly, Samuel R. Oates took over the paper mill operation and ran it for
some period of time. In 1867, James Banister
and a Mr. Grady took over the paper mill.
In 1868, A. C. Wiswall of Massachusetts joined with William
Tiddy to own and operate the mill. In 1872, William and Richard Tiddy took
over the ownership of the paper mill. The Tiddys apparently operated two other paper mills,
including one on Buffalo Creek in Cleveland County (see Shelby below).
The Tiddy partners also owned the Long Shoals Paper Mill.
The Lincoln and Long Shoals paper mills were deeded in
March 1889 that authoirzed M. P. Pegram as trustee to sell the mills. As a
trustee for the First National Bank of Charlotte, Pegram held a sale of
the properties and mills on Jan. 4, 1892.
1851 - 1882 Shelby, NC (Cleveland
An antebellum paper mill
Buffalo Paper Mill and iron foundry was in operation near Shelby, owned and operated by
David Froneberger & Co..
The Buffalo Paper Mill started operations on June 1, 1851. It was run by
Samuel R. Oates. It was located 4 miles northeast of Shelby, NC, in the eastern portion of the county,
along with a iron forging mill. In 1860, the paper mill had 12 workers,
producing 187,200 pounds of paper worth an estimated $18,720 annually.
Between 1873 and 1876, the paper mill was
bought by William & Richard Tiddy from Lincolnton and renamed the
Buffalo Paper Mills. The paper mills were abandoned around 1882.
NC (Cabarrus County)
Although an 1863 Southern newspaper
reported a paper mill in operation in Concord, NC; there is no confirmation of such a mill according to our research.
Wilmington, NC (New Hanover)
Prior to the Civil War, John Judge (1830 - 1885) of South
Carolina reportedly tried to operate a paper mill at Wilmington, NC, but
not successfully. He owned numerous business interests in North Carolina,
South Carolina and Wisconsin.
1890 Graywood, NC (Craven County)
S. H. Gray Manufacturing Company had mills producing paper, wood pulp and wood plates.
The Star, Raleigh,
NC, March 2, 1809
The Star, Raleigh,
NC, Oct. 12, 1809