The Chronicle Mills, Belmont, NC
The Chronicle Mills, Belmont, NC was the 28th textile mill built in Gaston County and the first to be built (1901)
in the town of Belmont. The idea for a mill in Belmont is credited to Robert Lee (R.L.) Stowe, a local
merchant. Though he had no personal experience in textiles, he was a shareholder in the Ozark Mills at
Gastonia. Every other town in the county had a mill and Stowe reasoned that Belmont should have one as
well. He called a meeting of local investors and raised $85,000. The mill was chartered March 18, 1901. The
name was chosen to honor a Revolutionary war patriot from Gaston County, Major William Chronicle, who
had lived near the mill site and was killed in the Battle of King’s Mountain in October 1780.
The mill stock was set at $75,000 with authority to raise it to $125,000. In order to build a mill of 5,000
spindles, the men needed $100,000. Despite falling short, they proceeded. Ragan gives some interesting
quotes from R.L. Stowe regarding the costs of bricks ($3.75 per thousand) brick mason labor ($1.75 per
thousand) and houses ($100 per room).
Machinery began arriving in January 1902 and on February 28, 1902; the first bale of cotton was opened.
Production began. In the early days, the mill ran on steam power. In 1908, a contract was signed with
Southern Power Company to supply electricity for powering the machinery. Capacity was doubled at that time.
One of the first industrial air-cooling or humidification systems (later called air-conditioning) in the United
States was installed in 1906. A young man by the name of Willis H. Carrier of Buffalo, NY, was interested in
the problems experienced by New England mills in providing proper temperature and humidity to make
conditions for quality textile production. His experiments eventually led him south to Belmont and The
Chronicle Mill in 1906. The original installation (1906) of humidifiers in the spinning room was not
successful. It was the first experiment for what would be a success over the next ten years. Stuart W. Cramer,
who was also working on a humidification system, later coined the term “air-conditioning”. His successful
experiments in Cramerton led to the formation of the Parks-Cramer Company in Charlotte.
The mill was a success and later many other mills were built in Belmont.
1. Ragan, Robert Allison, The Textile Heritage of Gaston County North Carolina 1848-2000. Charlotte: R.A.
Ragan & Co., 2001.
Page Copyright Gary N. Mock 2010-2013
Image courtesy of Bill Wornall