WESTPOINT STEVENS COLLECTION: DUNSON AND DIXIE MILLS

Manuscript MS-2006.04

1895-2004

SOURCE: WestPoint Stevens, West Point, Ga.

SIZE: 11 linear feet

SHELVING UNITS: 4 manuscript boxes, 2 flat boxes, 1 record box, 6 ledgers, 18 oversized photos, 15 artifacts, 6 photograph folders

PROCESSING: FCJ April 2006

 

HISTORICAL NOTE

Founded September 26, 1895, largely through local investment, Dixie Cotton Mills started operations September 1, 1896. Problems with the original machinery almost caused the mill to close in its earliest years, but local capitalists Fuller E. Callaway, John M. Barnard, and Otis A. Dunson took over management, re-tooled the mill, and established a sounder footing. The mill produced light fabrics, initially, then switched to cotton duck. In 1916, Wellington-Sears acquired the mill and George H. Lanier became president in 1924. Economic problems closed the mill briefly in 1932 and 1934. West Point Manufacturing Company bought the plant in 1933, though Wellington-Sears continued as the selling agent. During World War II, the entire production was geared to war support, receiving five citations from the United States government before war's end. In 1949, Dixie switched to synthetic fabrics, making only rayon by 1950. By 1962, terry towels were the sole product manufactured at Dixie. Dunson Cotton Mills was chartered November 19, 1910 and opened for operations in 1911. Local investors were Joseph H. Dunson, Edgar H. Dunson, Sanford H. Dunson, Jr.; Walker Sanford Dunson; Otis A. Dunson; Ashton H. Cary; William E. Morgan; Wiley A. Reeves; John M. Barnard; P. H. Hutchinson; F. M. Longley; R. O. Pharr; and Thomas J. Thornton, II. For many years, this was the largest textile plant in Georgia and manufactured mostly industrial fabrics. The mill facility was doubled in 1923. In 1952, Pepperell Manufacturing Company bought Dunson Mills, the sale becoming final in 1953. Dunson Mills provided a kindergarten and school, playgrounds, recreation facilities (pools and ball fields), and two churches for their village as well as softball teams, music, dance, and art programs. The first Dunson School was built in 1913 and merged with the LaGrange City System in 1920 when city limits were extended to include Dunson Mill Village. A new building was erected in 1938. The pool, ball field, grandstands, and parking area were donated to the City of LaGrange. Dixie Mills also furnished employees with extras including a ball field in 1949 (named Whorton Field for longtime executive B. W. Whorton and the first lighted field in Troup County), kindergarten, community center, and tennis courts. The Dixie Mill Village was unique in Troup County for its many New England saltbox style houses.

In 1965, West Point Manufacturing merged with Pepperell and both Dixie and Dunson Mills became part of the new corporation, West Point-Pepperell. Dixie Mill closed in 1985-86 but re-opened in 1988. In 1993, West Point-Pepperell bought out J. P. Stevens and became WestPoint Stevens, which announced the permanent closing of both mills in 2004.

 

SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE

This collection is comprised of three series: papers, photographs, and artifacts. Documents include contracts, correspondence, stock certificates, redeemed bond coupons, photographs, village housing records, artifacts, and memorabilia. Records within the collection are primarily concerned with the founding and building of Dunson Mills and later of the Dunson Mill Village with records of rentals and individual house sales in the 1950s. There is a large collection of redeemed bond coupons from Dixie Mill investors around 1901-1903. The photographs are largely related to Dunson Mill. The variety of mill artifacts, largely equipment used in the office and labs, are mostly from Dunson Mill.

 

SERIES NOTES

SERIES I, Papers 1901 - 1995

3 manuscript boxes, 6 ledgers

Subseries:
A: Dunson Mill papers, 1910-1913
Correspondence and contracts relating to the building and equipping of Dunson Cotton Mill, 1910 - 1911, with Pike Brothers (the builders), the architect, various agents, and machine companies as well as specifications and contracts for village housing, contracts with the A. B. & A. Railroad, and general articles relating to Dunson Mills, Pepperell, and donation of Dunson Foundation property to the City of LaGrange and other groups are included in this subseries.
B: Dixie Mill papers, 1901-1903 and 1995
Articles related to the centennial celebration of Dixie Mills in 1995 and a large number of redeemed bond coupons from the sale of bonds for Dixie Cotton Mill from 1901-1903, are found here.
C: Dunson Mill Ledgers 1952-1953
Records in this subseries include Dunson Mill Board of Directors Minutes for the periods 1910-1921 and 1942-1953; original stock certificates of Dunson Mill; lists of all mill houses, occupants,
and rent records; and alphabetical records of who bought Dunson Mill houses, with payment records.

 

SERIES II, Photographs / Prints 1895 - 1995

1 box, 1 storage carton, 6 folders,

Subseries:
A: Oversized Photographs, Prints, and Framed Items (OPP)
Photographs include several aerial views of Dunson Mill and environs; various architects' plans and maps, 1880s mill equipment; an oversized panoramic of employees at Dixie Mill and poster photos used in Dixie Mill's Centennial; Gov. Miller's "Dixie Mills Day" Proclamation; and framed cloth and towels.
B: Photographs
Includes fourteen framed, 8 x 10 black and white photographs of interior of Dunson Mill, Dunson Mill Village, and original Dunson Mill School and playground
C: Glass plate negatives, c.1920
Includes twenty glass negatives of Dunson Mills and surrounding village (these have been scanned, or we have prints).
D: Postcard
One postcard of Dunson Mill

 

SERIES III, Artifacts

Two flat container boxes and 15 separate items:

This series includes several pieces of mill equipment used in quality control laboratory to test and measure thread and cloth; a few office equipment items; very old pieces of loom equipment; a plaque of Dunson Mill employees in World War II; a 1910 Letter File Box from Dunson Mill; and a c.1903 metal safety box from Dixie Mill.

 

CONTAINER LIST

 

SERIES I: PAPERS

Subseries A: Dunson Mills
Box 1: 1910-1912 (12 folders)
Box 2: 1910-1961 (8 folders)

Subseries B: Dixie Mills
Box 1: 1901-1903; 1995 (8 folders)

Subseries C: Dunson Mill Ledgers
Volume 1: Original Stock Certificates, redeemed, # 1 through 300 (missing #2)
Volume 2: Minutes, Board of Directors, Dunson Mills 1910-1921
Volume 3: Minutes, Board of Directors, Dunson Mills 1942-1953
Volume 4: Register of Dunson Mill Property, 1952, occupant listed
Volumes 5 & 6: Alphabetical lists of purchasers of Dunson Mill homes and payment records, beginning 1952.

 

SERIES II: PHOTOGRAPHS

Subseries A: Oversized photographs, prints, and framed objects

Item:
1 Proposed pool for Sanford Dunson Foundation, undated (26" x 18.5") [believed to be the Dunson Pool next to Dunson Ballpark, that was given to the city and later filled in]
2 Colorized Property Classification Map, Dunson Mill Division Pepperell, 1953 (25.25" x 19")
3 Engraving of textile mill equipment, 1881 (16" x 11")
4 Aerial of Dunson Mill, new Dunson School, Dunson Methodist, and Dunson Baptist with part of Dunson Village, black & white, matte finish (16.75" x 10.5")
5 Aerial of Dixie Mill and part of village, black & white, glossy (14" x 11")
6 Five rolled, panoramic views of Dunson Mill
7 Board-mounted panoramic of Dixie Mills and employees
8 Framed Proclamation by Gov. Zell Miller of Dixie Mill Day, 1995 (18" x 12")
9 Framed cloth: Last yard of Industrial Fabric woven Dunson Mill 9-30-1970 and First yard of blend muslin sheeting woven at Dunson Mill 6-2-1970 (11" x 21")
10 Framed panoramic of Dunson Mills (29.5" x 10")
11 Aerial of Dunson Mill, color, framed (22.5" x 26")
12 - 17 Six foam board mounted photographs (40" x 30") used at Dixie Mill Centennial
18 Framed Dixie Mill Towel (1st one woven on Sulzer loom, 1970) (31" x 48.5")

Subseries B: Photographs

Box 1. Fourteen black & white, framed, 8 x 10 glossy photos of Dunson Mills: interior shots of machinery and outdoor shots of village including original Dunson School

2. Six folders:
Folders 1-3: Color photos from Dixie Mill Centennial Celebration
Folders 4-6: black & white photos of Dunson Mill machinery and operations

Subseries C: Glass Negative Plates
Twenty glass plate negatives of Dunson Mill and Dunson Mill Village, c. 1920s

 

SERIES III: ARTIFACTS

All from Dunson Mill except items M, N, O, and Y, which are from Dixie Mill. Item: A. Tensile Tester (tests strength of yarn) B. Cloth Gauge (measure thickness of yarn) C. Sliver Reel (measure length and weight of sliver, a loose, think continuous fiber or strand, ready to be drawn and twisted into yard) D. Three piece, swatch cutter: 1. cutting block 2. cutter, 6" x 6" 3. mallet E. Sliver Scale F. Balance scale to weigh yarn G. Yarn boarder (to reel yarn flat on a board for examination of quality) H. Crimp tester for yarn I. Lab scale (for weighing sliver) J. Brookfield Viscosimeter to test spindle RPMs up to 30 RPMs (new spindles now go 3,000 RPMs) [NOTE: Items K - O in ARTIFACT Box 1] K. Shuttle with quill of thread L. Quill with thread on it M. Roving Bobbin, large, antique, wood (roving is a strand of twisted, drawn out fibers of cotton from which yarn is made) N. Roving Bobbin, small, antique, wood O. Thread spool, large, antique, wood [NOTE: Items P - V and Item Z in ARTIFACT Box 2] P & Q. speed indicators, measure rotation velocity of any spinning part of loom (each in own small, black case) R. Antique, desk paper spindle S. Ceramic stamp and envelope moistener, two pieces T. Hand held, automatic page numbering device U. Printers plate with engraving of Dunson Mill V. Pad of Western Union Telegraph message blanks W. Last piece of cloth made at Dunson Mill on loom #25 H 03B, 3-18-2004 (25.5" x 99") X. Office Letter Box File, Dunson Mill, 1910 Y. Metal office safety box, Dixie Mill c. 1901 (date based on its contents, the redeemed mill coupons from 1901-1903 found in Series I Subseries B) Z. Brick from Dunson Mill, with paper photo of mill pasted on AA. Memorial Plaque for service men and women of Dunson Mill, World War II (50" x 121.5") those marked with star died in war

 

SEPARATED ITEMS

1910 Land Lot Map of Troup County, Georgia (22.5" x 17.5") gilt framed

 

RELATED COLLECTIONS AND ITEMS

N-75 LaGrange Daily News "The Last Whistle: Memories of Dixie and Dunson Mills, March 30, 2004.
RB-044 The Westpointer West Point Pepperell Company Magazine, 1953-1966
RB-045 West Point Manufacturing Annual Reports, 1941-1987
RB-150.70 - 78 West Point Pepperell Employee Newsletters, 1969-1978
RB-152 The Yarn Spinner Dixie Mill Newsletters, 1954-1956
ART-2001.20 original bell, Dunson School
ART-2003.28 Dunson Mils loom spindle
MS-2004.05 Dixie and Dunson Recollections, 2004
VF Dunson Mills history
VF "An Enduring Dream: The History of Dunson Mills"
TRP-53 Dunson Mills Village Photographs, c.1930s
TRP-96 Dunson Mill, Dunson Kindergarten photographs
TRP-367 Richard Wolfe: Dunson Mills Photograph Collection, c.1950-1970
AV-2003.28 Richard W. Wolfe Interview

 

SUBJECTS

Textile Industry
Mill Villages