Warren C. Coleman was born to a white father, Rufus C. Barringer, and a slave mother in Cabarrus County on March 25, 1849. At 18, Coleman worked as a merchant and real estate investor in Concord. There he also started a barbershop and candy store and later transitioned into the mercantile trade. He became the wealthiest black man in the state by the late 1890s. As a member of the North Carolina Industrial Association, created to support black owned businesses, he created a cotton mill to benefit African American workers. In February 1897, Coleman Manufacturing Company was established.
With help from North Carolina black leaders such as James Walker Hood, John C. Dancy, and Edward A. Johnson, the blueprint for the project was completed on February 8, 1898. In 1899 cotton production began. The mill maintained an average of 300 workers. In 1902, the mill suffered financial losses from the high price of cotton and Coleman was forced to abandon his role as director. Coleman died soon after in March 1904. In April 1904, financer Benjamin N. Duke sold the property to textile businessman James William Cannon in March 1906. Coleman Manufacturing Company began operation under the name Cannon Plant Number Nine.
“Cole Manufacturing Company.” William S. Powell, ed. Encyclopedia of North Carolina (University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, NC 2006).
"Warren Coleman." North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2012. <http://www.ncmarkers.com/Markers.aspx?ct=ddl&sp=search&k=Markers&sv=L-91 – WARREN COLEMAN 1849-1904>.
"Entrepreneurs of North Carolina History Exhibit ." 2011 NC Governor’s Entreprenuership Summit. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2012. <http://www.ncentresummit.org/history/textiles.php>.