CLAPP FACTORY 


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History of Clapp Factory

Near this site in 1832 was begun a mill operation powered with an overshot wheel turned by the waters of the Chattahoochee. At this point, where rocks formed a natural dam across most of the river, a wooden dam was constructed between an island and the Georgia bank, creating an immense amount of water power.

The factory carded wool and spun cotton thread and yarn, as well as manufacturing cotton sheeting, shirting, and batting, including such material as jean and osnaburg. Operations came to include a corn and wheat gristmill, a tannery and shoe shop, a machine shop, a cotton gin, and a wood-working shop, large dwellings for officers, stables, storerooms and warehouse space. A village, including tenement housing for the operatives, grew up around the factory.

Operated in succession by James Shivers & Co., the Columbus Factory, the Columbus Manufacturing Co. and the Chattahoochee Falls Co., the facility was popularly known as "Clapp's Factory." Begun by James Shivers, the organization was soon joined by Julius R. Clapp, who steadily increased his interest in the business. Other partners over the years included Mr. Roberson, E. [or Isaac] C. Chandler, Charles D. Stewart, John Fontaine (first mayor of Columbus), Henry V. Meigs, James Metcalf, J. Rhodes Browne, Abraham Illges, and Mr. Garrard.

Clapp Factory

During the Civil War, the factory supplied material to the Confederate States Army for uniforms and other purposes. At the close of the Civil War, the community was fired on by Sharp Shooters from the Alabama side and the factory burned by Union forces following the capture of Columbus during the course of Wilson's Raid in April 1865. To replace the old factory, Horace King, a former slave and prominent bridge builder in the area, was contracted to build a new three-story, wooden building, which was completed in 1866. The new factory was stocked with second-hand machinery from Louisville, Kentucky.

In the period following the war, Brig. Gen. Robert Hall Chilton (CSA), former adjutant to Gen. Robert E. Lee, served as company president for a number of years. Through the several reorganizations, J. R. Clapp maintained an active leadership role until his death in 1876. Without his guidance, the operation foundered, and the factory was closed in the mid-1880's. In time, the site was abandoned, the property having been acquired by parties interested in using the dam site for the generation of electricity. The deserted village and factory deteriorated. In 1900, the mill machinery were sold for scrap iron, and the main building burned on March 19, 1910.

CLAPP'S FACTORY VILLAGE AND CEMETERY

Soon after the 1830's establishment of a mill, which came to be known as Clapp's Factory, near this site, a village developed. This community included tenement housing for the mill workers and their families, who traded at a store also owned and run by the company, as well as a Methodist church. In 1849, the outfit employed 80 operatives, chiefly girls, who earned from $10 to $12 a month; the owners spoke highly of their conduct. By 1880, the company was operating 4,296 spindles and 134 looms.

Nearby, a pair of bridges, each joining a bank to an island called Magnolia in the middle, formed the only link in this area during the early years between Georgia and Alabama, as there were no bridges in Columbus in that day. Magnolia Island was the site of many picnics, dances and other social events over the years. During Wilson's Raid in April 1865, the Georgia bridge was set afire by locals to prevent Union troops crossing from Alabama, and the Alabama bridge was burned by the troops. After the war, a railroad station on the Narrow Gauge Road was called "Clapp's." Later maps feature in this area Clapp's Hill (1907) and Clapp's Reservoir (1950).

This cemetery, said originally to have been an Indian burial ground, was established to serve the Clapp's Factory community. The first known burial was in 1856, and the cemetery eventually covered five acres. Some workers at the factory had money deducted from their paychecks to pay for burial plots. As many as twenty Confederate soldiers from Georgia and Alabama, some killed during the Battle of Columbus and many only sixteen or seventeen years of age, are said to be interred here, as are some slaves and ex-slaves. Described as a beautiful and well-maintained cemetery, surrounded by an iron fence and gate and with some graves formed of hand-made bricks, the graveyard continued to be used after the factory ceased operation in the mid-1880's.

The surrounding area became popular for picnics and amorous outings, especially during the 1890's up to World War I. The village fell into disuse and decay, although some of the more substantial homes were used as summer cottages by the Columbus well-to-do. Burials continued at the cemetery until at least 1904. However, the site was still outside the city limits of Columbus at that time, and as family members moved away, no one took responsibility for the care of the cemetery. Eventually, the fence was torn down, the grave markers and other improvements vandalized. If a record of the burials in the Clapp's Factory Cemetery was kept, none has been located. A partial list has been compiled from various sources, including obituaries, funeral home records, and family histories. The land surrounding the cemetery is presently the property of the Georgia Power Company, which owns and maintains nearby Oliver dam.

TALES OF THE CHATTAHOOCHEE

   Just above the City, the old Chattahoochee has furnished man with power for many, many years; as far back as 1835-36 a successful Cotton and Woolen Mill, with Grist and Flouring Mill, were in operation.
   Nature gave the power[,] in that no dam was ever built at this place.  From the Thirties to 1865 power was furnished by the natural fall of water from thirteen to seventeen feet upon what is now an old fashioned overshot water wheel.
   Mes[s]rs[.] LeFELL´s and McCORMICK´s Turbines, now so popular, were an unknown quantity at that time.
   Up to and including 1837, the Factory and Mill were owned by Chas. D. STEWART, Mr. ROBERSON and Mr. SHIVERS.
   In 1837 the property was bought by Chas. D. STEWART, J. R. CLAPP and E. C. CHANDLER.  The above three ran the Factory until 1848.
   In looking over old papers, I find that during the years 1845 to 1849 our present envelopes and postage stamps, were also unknown quantities.  It is a fact of interest to note that the letters when written, were all folded in a peculiar manner and sealed with sealing wax, and the amount for postage was written on each letter.  An ordinary letter from Midway, Ala., now costing two cents, then cost ten cents.  So it seems that we are getting some things cheaper if we do have “Hard Times.”
   In 1848, this property was bought by John FONTAINE, Julius R. CLAPP, Henry V. MEIGS and Charles [sic] D. STEWART, and a charter granted by Robt. B. ALEXANDER, Judge [of the] Superior Court.
   It was then called the Columbus Factory.  Mr. Chas. D. STEWART was President of the new Company.  Capital Stock was $35,000.  A Tannery and Shoe Shop was run in connection with the Factory.
   Parties would make periodical trips to the Old Mill from all the surrounding Georgia and Alabama Counties.  They came from the East as far as Macon, and from the West over near Montgomery, bringing wool that could be carded into rolls that they could spin into thread; hides to be tanned into leather, and wheat and corn to be ground into flour and meal.  Railroads were not then in operation, trips being made by stage, and freight hauled in wagons.  Some trips were made monthly, some every six months, and many made yearly trips, leaving Hides, [page] (2) Wool, Tallow etc. and returning the following year for their leather or shoes.  In those days it required a year to tan good leather with the use (^ of) Bark, but Mr. Yankee and his chemicals can no turn out a “so called” leather in ten days.
   In July 1853, I find that 45 lbs. Sole Leather, and 60 ft. of Russet made thirty pairs of No. 8 Shoes, and that items used, and cost of each pair was,
1-1/2 # Sole Leather .33
2 ft. Russet .25
Closing .06
Bottoming .18
Cutting and fitting .05
Pegs .01
Thread .015
Rivets .01
Punching and strings          .01
                                      $  .90

   The fashionable shoe now made and called “Tan” was then called “Russet.”  The pure leather without the aide of blacking.
   I find a telegram to New York of nine words cost $2.80 in 1860, and it now costs $  .60 for ten words.
   The old Columbus Factory ran prosperously from 1848 until a certain day in April they had a call from certain Westerners, who after leaving, left only the flowing Chattahoochee (it would not burn) and vast piles of ashes and hot iron.  The same parties had already visited Columbus.
   Knowing the people had to have bread, fences and cow lots were taken down and the lumber used, with pine poles from the woods, to erect a new Grist Mill to furnish meal and feed the hungry.
   This same mill, little added to, was in constant used [sic - read “use”] for 25 or 30 years, and only a few year[s] ago, succumbed to the hand of time.
   I find the Courts decided that Confederate notes were worth in

                                        1861       5% below par
                                        Jan. 1862     20% below par.
                                        July 1862     $2.00 for $1.00
                                        July 1863   $10.00 for $1.00
                                        1864   $21.00 for $1.00
                                        1865   $60.00 for $1.00
                                        Apl. 1865   100.00 for $1.00
                                        Apl. 29 “   800.00 for $1.00
                                        Apl. 30 “ 1000.00 for $1.00
                                        May 5  “ 1200.00 for $1.00
[page] (3)

So one can see that in 1865, it required quite a lot of money to buy a few pins and needles.
   Again referring to the old Factory, it seems that all the stock was owned by J. R. CLAPP and James METCALF in 1865.  In September 1865 they formed a partnership, and gave a contract for a new three story building to be built by January 1866.  The contract was given to one Horace KING, a noted Negro bridge builder, for the sum of $11,000.  The old contract and specifications were signed by James METCALF, J. R. CLAPP, and Horace KING.
   One peculiar thing was that the paper after being signed was to be left with J. R. CLAPP for safe keeping.
   This paper, though over forty years old is still preserved.
   A great many bridges in this section were built by Horace KING.  I am not positive, but pretty sure that the upper or lower bridge in this city, or both of them[,] were the work of Horace.
   I find his signature is not the best, but very plain.
   This old building as erected by Horace KING is [sic - read “in”] 1865, stands practically intact to-day and seems to be good for another forty-three years.
   In 1867 it was made Columbus Manufacturing Co.[,] R. H. CHILTON, Prest.  In the latter 70´s or early 80´s Messrs. BROWNE, ILLGES, GARRARD and a few others bought out Mr. METCALF´s interest, associating themselves with J. R. Clapp as the Columbus Manufacturing Co.  Mr. J. R. CLAPP continued in active control until death claimed him in 1876, thus giving about forty years of his life to the old Chattahoochee.
   I find that in 1864 the Confederate Government paid the old Factory $5.00 per yard for Jeans, and 75 cts. for osnaburg.  (^ Contract by Maj. DILLARD of Auburn, Ala.)
   After the war in 1866 cotton was insured with Dr. POND for $150. per bale, which was thirty cents per pound.  Friday Feby. 2, 1866, Factory paid 34 cts. per pound for cotton.
   Jany. 1866 Sack Salt $5.25.  Insurance in 1866 cost about three times as much as now.  The machinery in the old Factory was shipped from Wheeling, Vi[r]ginia.  In 1900 the old machinery was broken up and sold as scrap iron.  (^ Broken up and sold by Mr. KNOX of Auburn, Ala.)
   Another echo from the old Chattahoochee which time has not dulled is the name of Jno. G. WINTER.  He was owner of the old Paper Mill situated on the Alabama Bank just across from what is now North Highlands Park.
   This paper mill, the only one in the South, was in successful operation in the 50´s and 60´s.  It was burned a few years before the war.  It is quite interesting to view the old, abandoned (^ site) to-day.
   Another curio[u]s fact is that no dam was built at this place, the water being used as nature gave it, the channel of the river between an enormous boulder and the bank being turned on the wheel.  One of the immense iron tanks, weighing [sic] thousands of pounds, used at the old Paper Mill is in use to-day on the Alabama Hills, as a tank for holding water, thus showing the “survival of the fittest” since it seems to supply all demands past and present.
   Just North of the old Paper Mill, can be seen where man harnessed the waters for his use long years ago.
   The work at this place antedates that even at the old Paper Mill and old [Clapp´s] Factory.  Nothing to show now except where rocks were removed and timbers pinned (long since rotted out) to the rocks.  
   Some of the oldest inhabitants say “that somebody said” that they heard that a saw mill was here at one time.
   Near this place the River was spanned by two bridges, an Island (Magnolia) intervening, thus joining Georgia and Alabama.  For years this was the only way of getting from one State to the other, as at that time there were no bridges in Columbus.
   This Island between the Bridges was called Magnolia.  It seems that in those days we had ladies to see the bea[u]tiful.
   Many were the pic-nics, dances etc. held here in the days of long ago.
   I venture to assert that the Mothers of some of the members of this body spent many happy hours on old Magnolia Island.  It is a beautiful spot to-day, but of-course, inaccessible.
   In April ´65, on the approach of Wilson´s Raiders on the Alabama Hills, a small squad of “Decrepits” placed a cannon at the mouth of the bridge to oppose this wing of Sherman´s Army.  Finding they could not keep them back, being only a feather in the storm, our people fired [read “burned”] the [page] (4) bridge on the Georgia side, and the Yankees, in retaliation, set fire to the other, thus both our bridges went up in smoke.
   This ranks as the first torch applied by Wilson´s Raiders at Columbus, but the poor people of old Columbus know how many more were used in the next twenty-four hours.
   During the two memorable days of April ´65 some of the Sharp Shooters on the Federal side took stations on the Alabama Hills overlooking the old Factory Village and amused themselves trying to pick off our people with the aid of minnie balls shot from the then noted Springfield Rifle.  Many of the Minnie Balls can be seen where they entered the buildings on our hill.  We had to stand and take it, or rather run and take it, as we could only hear the singing and zips of the balls, and as we had no guns but a few old smooth bore muzzle loading muskets that would not throw a ball half way across the river.
   After trying to show us the effects of the Springfield Rifles from the Alabama Hills, on their arrival on this side the next day, via Columbus, the soldiers Kindly? showed us how the magazines of the guns were filled with the deadly minnie balls, I think about sixteen balls to the charge.  After showing guns, helping themselves to our stock and larder, burning our mills, Factory, Warehouses, & Tannery, they cut maps from the Atlas to aid them in their route [sic] on to Macon and thence to the Sea to finish Sherman´s Raid.  A blot and a shame that time and tide can never erase.
   The Old Chattahoochee is very changeable, quite easy to control at times, and at other times a mad, raging torrent, mighty in its power.  Clear as crystal, a beautiful silvery stream from away up in North Georgia to Florida, and again a vast body of muddy seething waters, filled with bridges, timbers, dams, trees and dead animals, being swept into the Gulf.  At the last freshest 1908 a steam boiler was brought down on its waters.
   It has claimed not a few human victims, many of whom still sleep beneath its waters.
   But we will leave the sad side and turn to Nature, the beautiful.
   The panacea for many of the ills and sorrows of life can be found in a study of Nature.  This section has been most bountifully blest by her.  Her Islands, covered with verdu[r]e, rest the eye.  They lie above and below the old Factory, dotting the River everywhere.  They have indeed been likened to the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence.  Often one may find Indian Pottery etc., relics of a generation gone long since to the Happy Hunting Ground.
   I have spoken of the great natural advantages [sic] in the placing of the rocks that give so great a fall in so short a distance as to be readily utilized in so many ways by man.  Along the shores are many beautiful hills, furnishing limpid springs (free and mineral) branches, and creeks that add their waters, and in a wee small way help make the Old Chattahoochee.
   Our hills and valleys are as Nature clothed them, in the mighty Oaks, Hickory, Beeches, and many other beautiful [sic] trees and shrubs.  
   The banks have been the strolling grounds of many happy lovers in the long, long ago.  For since time was, love has been[;] love and nature in all ages go hand in hand.
   Many have long since gone to their last reward, but the great Beeches, gnarled Mona[r]chs of the Forest, still retain, as fresh as if cut to-day, initials, names, dates, hearts pierced with Cupid´s arrows in the bark of these old trees, momentous of love scenes of by-gone days.
   We have every reason to believe that many of the promises and pledges made in those days around these old trees, were kept inviolate as those names, initials etc. remain perfect to-day.
   Leaving the shores and going out into the River, we find Nature still blessing us with its beauty.
   The rocks show many beautiful and fantastic shapes.  Many are worn into odd shapes by the slow process of flowing water for thousands of years.  Some of the holes, or caverns, deep down in the hard granite, are as smooth as glass, showing many beautiful veins in the rocks, and were made by the constant whirl of the water with the aid of a little sand and small stone, for untold ages.
   It would be quite a little problem for some of the Student Members [page] (5) to figure out just how many thousands [sic] of years were required for the work. [sic] to be done.  I pause for the answer, please do not all answer at once.
   Out in the stream we have water falling over the different rocks, trickling gently, and rendering a beautiful lullaby all the day long.
   Among and around these rocks, many mosses and delicate litchens [sic] abound, their long tendrils floating far out into the water, furnishing an ideal sporting ground for the many fish.  Toothsome trout can be seen bouncing up and out of the water in their frolics.
   Leaving the waters and again going to the Islands, we find Nature in all her Glory.  Some of the islands are covered with beautiful wild ivy, white and pink.  In its season, one has to thread ones way among these beautiful flowers.  Over head the massive old oaks are covered with drooping Gray Moss, the Emblem of the Southern Confederacy.
   Entwined, and trying to keep just ahead of the moss, is our beautiful evergreen vine, Jackson´ s Vine, called by many Bamboo.
   On these islands [sic], also, as if Nature desired to shower further blessing upon us, we have the beautiful honeysuckle, yellow jasimine [sic], and sweet shrub.
   I must not forget to mention our stately palms.  They are a beautiful dark green.  Two varieties, the broad, or fan shaped, and the serrated or cut leaf.  Both grow to immense size in their native home.  Many plants are six to eight feet high and twelve feet or more in diameter, while their roots stretch out some hundred feet.
   Descending from the aesthetic, if I may so call it, to the ordinary, we have one Island known as “Buzzard´s Island”.  It is the home of all the buzzards in East Georgia and West Alabama.  In the evening they can be seen soaring in for hours from all directions.  Here Nature has provided them with a safe retreat, and they can rear their young in peace.  The buzzard until about six months old is pure white.  The mother buzzard uses the same tactics as the partridge is [sic- read “in”] leading one away from her nest or young.  She lays only two eggs each season
   A few years ago the Old Factory property was sold and bought by a few bondholders, Messrs. BROWNE, ILLGES, GARRARD and CLAPP.
   It was run under a new Charter as The Chattahoochee Falls Co., capital $250,000, until 1884 when it was closed.
   For twenty-five years it has been silent and forsaken, and the buildings might typify the “Deserted Village.”
   We hope[,] tho´ [, that] the name will not be appropraite [sic] very much longer[,] as the property has been bought by the Columbus Power Co. and Four or Five Million of Gold Bonds have been issued to improve it.
   So we may hope the day is not far distant when the hum of wheels and the Songs of the Shuttle and Spindle will again join with the grand anthem of the Old Chattahoochee.
   I herewith attach a picture of the old Columbus Factory, built by Horace King (Colored) in 1865, which is often, and I guess always will be miscalled “Clapp´s Factory.”
   I also attach a far away echo of the Old Chattahoochee in the form of a fifty share certificate, which is a fair sample of 260 others, valued at one time [at] $31,000, whose value now is - Echo answers what?
   Time passes, and we like the Indians will be gathered to our Fathers, but the Chattahoochee will flow on till time will be no more.

NOTES: By the way, with regard to the allusion to the "Deserted Village" in this piece (and perhaps in the newspaper article which appeared in the Atlanta Constitution in 1901), the poem of that title by Oliver Goldsmith was first published in 1770, the text of which may be found at: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/GolDese.html

NOTES: After finding some useful information in F. Clason KYLE's "Images: A Pictorial History of Columbus, Georgia" (1986), I decided to try to contact him. I wanted to ask him if he had any further information on Clapp's Factory and if he might be kin to Joseph KYLE who was listed on the Board of Directors of the Columbus Manufacturing Company in 1880. I emailed the Historic Columbus Foundation, with which he worked to publish his book. I did not get an email response, but instead a nice packet in the conventional mail from Louise P. LANEY of the Foundation. She sent some photocopies of Columbus cemetery records relating to the KYLE family, and also a piece of writing called, "Tales of the Chattahoochee."

From a couple of references in the piece, it was apparently written in 1908 or 1909, but definitely before the three-story mill building burned (on 19 MAR 1910, per KYLE). I would guess it was intended as an address for a meeting of some civic organization or the like, but there is no attribution with the piece or in the cover letter. The way the writer speaks, it sounds as if he was on site at Clapp's Factory during and after the capture of the area by the Union forces in April, 1865. I am including in the body of this message a transcription of the writing (five legal-length pages). The piece ranges through topics aside from the factory, but includes some interesting detail about the history of Clapp's. I would be interested to know what became of all the documents and other items pertaining to the factory which the writer evidently had on hand. If these materials belonged to the writer, it seems likely he was a descendant of one of the men who owned the place at one time. In transcribing, I have left off overstrikes and corrected some obvious typing errors (like run-on words), but have left the spelling and punctuation as they appear in the original, unless otherwise noted. Surnames have been put in ALL CAPS for convenient reference.


Clapp´s Factory

     Clapp´s Factory, remembered by many now living, was once a favorite spot for picknickers in the gay nineties and later.  The mere mention of this three-storied ghost factory on the river, abandoned so long, and finally burned down in 1908, brings back fond memories of the days when happy-hearted boys and girls climbed into the beautiful “Lily of the Valley” band-wagon, drawn by four horses, and made what seemed a long journey for a day´s outing to the present site of the waterworks-on the edge of the Chattahoochee.  There were buckets of lemonade and baskets of delicious lunch, which the chaperones spread under the trees, and what a wonderful day on the river, gathering heart leaves and wild violets, and scrambling over the rocks around Clapp´s Factory!  Happiest days of the writer's childhood!

Near the Clapp´s Factory

      The very earliest mention of a mill location was the “Columbus Merchant Mills” completed in1834.  It was run by James Shivers and Co., and was three miles above Columbus.(12)  How long this factory continued is not known, but in 1849 the “Columbus Factory” was incorporated, “the location of the Factory to be three or four miles above Columbus on the river.”(13)  The leading incorporators were Charles D. Stewart, John Fontaine, Henry D. Meigs, J. R. Clapp and George Stewart, brothers and brothers-in-law.(14) This was not a large mill and made yarns mainly for the country women to use in their home cotton looms.  It also carded wool.  This mill was burned by General Wilson´s command, when the federal troops took Columbus and burned all the factories on April 17, 1865.
     After the Civil War, a mill was rebuilt at the same place, and was stocked with second-hand machinery from Louisville, Ky.  Although it was incorporated as the “Columbus Manufacturing Company” in 1866, this mill, as well as the previous one, was always known as Clapp´s Factory.  A railroad station nearby on the Narrow Guage [sic] Road was also called “Clapp´s”.  One of the leading stockholders was a Mr. Todd, brother-in-law of General R. H. Chilton, who had been General R. E. Lee´s Adjutant General.  General Chilton was president, and Robert B. Gunby, secretary and treasurer.  The mill had 4000 spindles and 116 looms, and made brown sheetings and shirting, yarns, sewing and knitting thread, cotton batting, wool rolls, etc.  This mill was still in operation in 1878, with R. H. Chilton as president and A. Illges as secretary.  The office of the company was in town at 32 Randolph Street (12th Street).(15)
     In 1880, Clapp´s Factory (the Columbus Manufacturing Company) had 4,296 spindles and 134 looms.  The officers were:  J. Rhodes Browne, president; A. Illges, secretary; R. B. Gunby, treasurer.
     Directors:  J. Rhodes Brown, C. E. Dexter, Charles Phillips, T. M. N. Phillips, John Peabody, A. Illges, Joseph Kyle.  The property of the company covered 800 acres of land, 170 or which were on the Alabama side of the Chattahoochee.  It advertised enough power at this site to run 40,000 spindles,(16) but the old wooden dam was of no value, and subsequently the property was purchased by the Stone and Webster Company, and became in time a part of the holdings of the Columbus Electric and Power Company.(17)

(12)  John H. Martin--History of Columbus, Ga., 1874, published by Gilbert Printing Co., p. 49.
(13)  Industrial Index-April 1928, p. 121, W. C. Woodall, editor and publisher.
(14)  Directory of Columbus-1880.
(15)  Norton´s Columbus Guide-1878-published by Thomas Gilbert.
(16)  Directory of Columbus-1880.
(17)  Industrial Index, W. C. Woodall, editor and publisher-April 1928, p. 121.

Caption under illustration reads:  "Old Clapp's Factory was situated 2 1/2 miles above Columbus near the present Columbus waterworks plant.  The Chattahoochee dashing over the rocks was beautiful at this point."   [No date, source, or credit is given for this illustration; it appears to be the face of a postcard. - jml]

Source:  "Columbus on the Chattahoochee," by Etta Blanchard Worsley (Columbus, Georgia: Columbus Office Supply Company, 1951), pp. 376-77.

[My mother, Nadine (ADERHOLD) LAND, b. 1925, remembers family picnics in her day up by the waterworks and picking the wild violets then. - jml]


Chronology

1826 The Creek Nation is forced to cede land to the U.S. government; several counties, including Muscogee, are established

1828 The City of Columbus is founded

1834 The earliest mention of a mill location in Muscogee County is the "Columbus Merchant Mills" completed in 1834. It is run by James SHIVERS and Co., and is located three miles above Columbus. How long this factory continues is not known...[WORSLEY, p. 376].

Only four years after the frontier town [Columbus] has been founded in 1828, construction begins for a small textile mill called CLAPP's Factory. Because of the Creek Indian War, completion is delayed until 1837. (Is this really CLAPP's Factory, or is it Shiver's operation? - jml) [Tony ADAMS, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, 23 JUN 2002]

The Columbus Cotton Factory, begun in 1834 per WHITE's Statistics, is not completed until four years later, due no doubt to the Indian war and consequent business depression. [TELFAIR, p. 43]

1838 MARTIN, in his History, refers to the 'Columbus Cotton Factory' being in operation in 1838. Three years later (than 1834 or 1838?) Adiel SHERWOOD mentions a cotton mill "three miles above Columbus on the Chattahoochee." [TELFAIR, p. 43]

The Columbus Factory is in operation, 'spinning cotton, yarn and carding wool.' The dam for this establishment is a tree cut down, thrown over a gorge, and planked up. This surely makes for a modest beginning, considering the subsequent degree and range of activities [TELFAIR, p. 67]

Columbus Factory, which commenced in 1834, possesses capital valued at $50,000, and is situated three miles from Columbus, at the head of the falls, having 50 feet of fall within 300 yards. The operation includes 1800 spindles, 32 looms and 2 wool-carding machines, and spins 1000 pounds of cotton per day. The outfit employs 80 operatives, chiefly girls, who earn from $10 to $12 a month; the owners speak highly of their conduct. The goods are sold principally in Columbus [WHITE's Statistics of Georgia, as cited in TELFAIR, p. 84]

1849 "Columbus Factory" is incorporated, "the location of the Factory to be three or four miles above Columbus on the river." [WORSLEY, p. 376] Evidently, the location of the mill is on the lower side of the confluence of the Roaring Branch Creek with the Chattahoochee River (about where Oliver Dam is today) [per location indicated on an 1864 map of Muscogee Co, GA]. At this point, a natural dam of rocks extends almost across the river; the company completes it by spanning a short space between an island and the shore with a large wooden dam, creating an immense amount of available water power. The company owns land on either side of the river (initially or eventually?), and in this distance there is a fall of forty-two and one-half feet, yielding about 25,000 horse power. [Atlanta Constitution, 13 FEB 1901, Part II, p. 2]

The leading incorporators of the "Columbus Factory" are Charles D. STEWART, John FONTAINE, Henry D. MEIGS, J. R. CLAPP and George STEWART, said to be brothers and brothers-in-law. This is not a large mill and makes yarns mainly for the country women to use in their home cotton looms. It also cards wool. [WORSLEY, p. 376] An undated passage states: Messrs. CLAPP, CHANDLER and STEWART are successfully and most profitably employed in manufacturing several descriptions of cotton goods. We have heard of other companies formed or to be formed. [TELFAIR, p. 83] The mill generally known as Clapp's Factory is operated before and after the war by the Columbus Manufacturing Company. It is a considerable enterprise, as evidenced by the fact that the company not only runs a cotton mill having 4,500 spindles and 150 looms, but also a wheat and corn mill, a machine shop, a cotton gin, and a wood working shop. The company has three large commodious dwellings for officers, stables and storerooms, and all necessary buildings for operatives. [not clear from source precisely what point in the company's history is reflected in this description; Atlanta Constitution, 13 FEB 1901, Part II, p. 2]

bef. 1861 Prior to the War, a short distance above the Bibb mills the Columbus (CLAPP's) Factory is situated on its well known site. They weave cotton and woolen goods and in connection with same operate a grist mill which is noted for the fine quality ground there. There is a tan yard and shoe factory as well. They also own the bridges across the river. As there are two islands at the bridge site, it requires three bridges to span the river, a short one in center and two large ones, on the Alabama and Georgia banks, but no piers are needed for the bridges. All the last named proprietors (including Clapp's) are burned out during the Civil War [see 1865]. [TELFAIR 119]

17 APR 1865 The Clapp's Factory mill is not burned during the war, which is rather remarkable considering the fact that the Eagle Mills in Columbus, just three miles away, are burned to the ground. [Atlanta Constitution, 13 FEB 1901, Part II, p. 2]

CLAPP's Factory mill is burned by General WILSON's command, when the federal troops take Columbus and burn all the factories on April 17, 1865. [WORSLEY p. 377]

1866 A mill is rebuilt at the CLAPP's Factory location and is stocked with second-hand machinery from Louisville, Kentucky. Although it is incorporated as the "Columbus Manufacturing Company" this mill, as well as the previous one, is known as CLAPP's Factory. A railroad station nearby on the Narrow Gauge Road is also called "CLAPP's." One of the leading stockholders is a Mr. TODD, brother-in-law of General R. H. CHILTON, formerly General R.E. LEE's Adjutant General. General CHILTON is president, and Robert B. GUNBY, secretary and treasurer. The mill has 4000 spindles and 116 looms, and makes brown sheetings and shirting, yarns, sewing and knitting thread, cotton batting, wool rolls, etc. [WORSLEY p. 377]

1867 The plant is greatly improved and is operated for a number of years at a profit. The factory manufactures brown goods, sheetings, and shirtings at the rate of 7,500 yards per day. The waste is used for making cotton batting, and the lower grade waste for paper mills. For a number of years General R. H. CHILTON, formerly of the confederate army, is connected with the enterprise. [Atlanta Constitution, 13 FEB 1901, Part II, p. 2]

1874 Columbus Factory has 116 looms [MARTIN, as cited in TELFAIR, p. 186]

1878 The Clapp's Factory mill was still in operation, with R. H. CHILTON as president and A. IILLGES as secretary. The office of the company was in town at 32 Randolph Street (12th Street). [WORSLEY p. 377]

1880 CLAPP's Factory (the Columbus Manufacturing Company) has 4,296 spindles and 134 looms. The officers are: J. Rhodes BROWNE, president; A. ILLGES, secretary; R. B. GUNBY, treasurer. Directors are: J. Rhodes BROWN, C. E. DEXTER, Charles PHILLIPS, T. M. N. PHILLIPS, John PEABODY, A. ILLGES, Joseph KYLE. The property of the company covers 800 acres of land, 170 of which are on the Alabama side of the Chattahoochee. It advertises enough power at this site to run 40,000 spindles. [WORSLEY, p. 377]

1880's The Columbus Manufacturing Company is not so profitable as in the years immediately following the Civil War [Atlanta Constitution, 13 FEB 1901, Part II, p. 2]

1886 The CLAPP's Factory property is bought by the Chattahoochee Falls Company [Atlanta Constitution, 13 FEB 1901, Part II, p. 2]

1887 The CLAPP's Factory mill ceases operation [Atlanta Constitution, 13 FEB 1901, Part II, p. 2]

1900 The machinery in the CLAPP's Factory mill is sold for scrap iron [Atlanta Constitution, 13 FEB 1901, Part II, p. 2]

1908 The old, wooden, three- to four-story CLAPP's Factory mill building burns; it has been a vacant shell for some years by this time

ca. 1925 The property on which the CLAPP's Factory Cemetery is located is purchased by the Georgia Power Co. from the CLAPP family [Columbus Enquirer, 04 FEB 1955, pp. 1 and 8]

04 FEB 1955 Edwin M. CLAPP, vice president of Georgia Power Co. and said to be of no relation to the CLAPP family which owned the land at one time, states that the new power dam [evidently, Oliver Dam] will be constructed above the cemetery [Columbus Enquirer, 04 FEB 1955, pp. 1 and 8]

NOTES: I am compiling a chronology about matters pertaining to the Clapp's Factory community. I am excerpting here the entries regarding the mill itself. I am including the early entries (1830's) because one source, a 2002 newspaper article online, states that Clapp's was operating in the 1830's. I have not found another source to corroborate this. However, it's not out of the question that J. R. CLAPP was in league with James SHIVERS & Co. in the 1830's. In fact, I would be surprised if he got involved in founding Clapp's Factory without having had previous experience in the field.

You may note also that one source says Clapp's Factory was not burned, but another states that it was. I am inclined to trust the latter, but will be looking for more evidence on that point.

This chronology is a work in progress, and if anyone has any corrections or additions to point out, these are welcomed. The complete chronology will include known burials at the cemetery, an account of the Battle of Columbus, and so forth. If the text here is too jumbled (I'm using a landscape format in the file, rather than portrait), I can send an attached file with the document to anyone individually- just let me know.

Many thanks for the material and references provided by Patricia Cantrell, Gwen Grant Bryan, Kemis Massey, Cynthia Nason, and Buster Wright (hope I haven't left anyone out - my files are spread out all over the place!). Please bear in mind that I have not seen the original sources from which some of this information derives.


"The Columbus, Georgia Centenary 1828-1928" by Nancy Telfair

Horace King

Horace KING was the builder of the three-story, wooden Clapp's Factory building following the Civil War.

Horace King was born on September 8, 1807. In 1832, his master John Godwin (b. October 17, 1798) of Cheraw, South Carolina, made a proposal, which was accepted, to build the first bridge over the Chattahoochee River at Columbus, Muscogee County, Georgia.
The bridge, including abutments, was to span 400 feet long, to be built high and strong and of good materials, and to cost $14,000. Godwin, with a large force of hands, started work in May on the Dillingham Street covered bridge (also known as the Lower Bridge), but did not finish until the next year.

Horace King learned the craft of bridge building from Godwin, who petitioned the Alabama General Assembly in 1848 to grant King his freedom. Although freed, King remained active in Godwin's bridge-building business. King constructed the Fourteenth Street Bridge (or Upper Bridge) in 1858, the project having been approved by Columbus voters in 1856. The location was at the foot of Franklin (Fourteenth) Street, just above the Howard Factory.

Following the death of John Godwin on February 26, 1859, Horace King erected a marble obelisk with an affectionate tribute on his grave in the Godwin lot at the Girard Cemetery, across the river from Columbus in Russell County, Alabama.

The memorial reads, "This stone was placed here by Horace King. In lasting remembrance of the love and gratitude he felt for his lost friend and former master." It is said that after Godwin's death, King financially supported Mrs. Godwin and her children.

King also built both covered bridges at Eufaula, Barbour County, Alabama, the first when the town was called "Irwinton." The truss of bridges built by King is called Kingpost, a triangle with a supporting column in the middle.

Shortly after the Civil War, Horace King, with the John D. Gray Construction Company, rebuilt the wooden Dillingham covered bridge that the Federal troops had burned during Wilson's Raid in April of 1865.

In September of 1865, Julius R. Clapp and James Metcalf, of the Columbus Manufacturing Company, contracted King to build a new, three-story wooden building to house the Clapp's Factory mill operations (the previous building having also been sacked by Union Troops at the close of the Civil War). The original contract, calling for a sum of $11,000 to be paid to King and laying out specifications for the project, was signed by Clapp, Metcalf, and King, and still survived as of 1908. The new factory building was to be completed by January of 1866.

Horace King also served as Russell County Representative in the State Legislature of Alabama following the war. (When King's name had appeared on the ballot, he had refused to run, but he was elected nevertheless.)

Of King's public service, one writer said: "The noblest work of God, an honest man." In 1870, King rebuilt the Fourteenth Street Bridge, which had also been destroyed during the war.

On p. 462B of the 1880 federal census of Hamilton, Harris County, Georgia, Horrace [sic] King, age 73, a married male employed in bridge building and house carpentry, is included in the household of Jefferson Jones, age 65, a blacksmith, with a wife and two grandsons. King's relationship to Jones is not given, and his wife is not present in the household. His race is listed as mulatto.

King died in 1887, and he and his wife are said to be buried in the Godwin lot in the Girard Cemetery (now in Phenix City).

In 1902, a flood destroyed the Fourteenth Street Bridge, which was replaced by a span built by the Hardaway Contracting Company, which firm also replaced the wooden Dillingham, or Second, Street Bridge with a concrete one in 1911.

Meantime, the Clapp's Factory building built by King had been abandoned for some years when it burned on March 19, 1910. The corn mill at City Mills in Columbus is the only known surviving building constructed by Horace King (as of 1986).

[Sources include: "Tales of the Chattahoochee," unattributed (1908 or 1909); "Columbus on the Chattahoochee," by Etta Blanchard Worsley (1951); and "Images: A Pictorial History of Columbus, Georgia," by F. Clason Kyle (1986). Photos of King's Dillingham Street Bridge and Clapp's Factory mill building, as well as the grave marker of John Godwin, appear in both Worsley and Kyle.

Horace King: bridges to freedom / by Faye Gibbons.


Library of Congress Control Number:  2002001602
Type of Material:  Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
Brief Description:  Gibbons, Faye
Horace King: bridges to freedom / by Faye Gibbons.
Birmingham, Ala: Crane Hill Publishers, c.2002.  p. cm.
Projected Pub. Date: 0206

John Mallory Land John M. Land retrofit@flash.net - Author Copyright John M. Land 2002


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