Business and Industry

Subject

African American

Thomas Day (1801- ca. 1861)

1836-1865

Famous for his craftsmanship, Thomas Day, a free African American, became one of North Carolina's most prolific and respected furniture makers in the state. Born to free parents in Dinwiddie, Virginia, Day and John Jr., his brother, were well-educated.

Agriculture

Gristmills: North Carolina’s First Public Utilities

1664-1775

Gristmills—mills that use water power to grind corn and wheat into flour—were a “familiar feature of the 19th century countryside,“ wrote Grimsley T. Hobbs in 1985. They were also North Carolina's first public utilities.

Business and Industry

Plank Roads Were An Economic Engine Before the Civil War

1776-1835

During the 1840s, North Carolinians embraced the use of plank roads to improve the state’s economy. These wooden highways — built mainly with private funds — were purported to be an improvement over rough, dirt roads and a necessary step to create an intrastate (and eventually an interstate) trade network of plank roads, railroad hubs, and seaports.

Business and Industry

Edenton Ropewalk

1776-1835

One of the first rope manufacturing establishments in North America; the Edenton Ropewalk (also referred to as the Hewes Ropewalk or the Collins Ropewalk) was originally established by Joseph Hewes in about 1777 and was acquired by Josiah Collins, Sr. in 1783. Under the management of his son, Josiah Collins II, the Edenton Ropewalk became one of the premier rope manufacturing sites in America. Covering an immense 131-acres of land, the Edenton Ropewalk was a large-scale rope making operation and by 1795 it is said to have created some of the best rope in the colonies.  However, due to changes in the economic climate and the death of Josiah Collins II, the Edenton Ropewalk ceased operation in 1839.

Business and Industry

The Lake Company

1776-1835

The Lake Company was created in 1784 by Josiah Collins, Sr., Nathaniel Allen, and Dr. Samuel Dickenson to acquire and develop land around Lake Phelps.  The Lake Company was a successful agricultural business and built canals around Lake Phelps. After a long legal battle, Collins bought his partners’ shares in the company, and turned the Lake Company into “Somerset Place” Plantation.

Business and Industry

Somerset Place Plantation

1776-1835

Somerset Place is plantation located on the land around Lake Phelps in present-day Washington County, North Carolina. Originally part of the Lake Company’s holdings that spanned over 100,000 acres in Washington and Tyrrell Counties, the area became Somerset Place in 1816 when Josiah Collins, Sr. became sole owner of the Lake Company.  Under Collins’s grandson, Josiah Collins III, Somerset Place became one of the largest plantations in the South.  Today it is a North Carolina State Historic Site.

Business and Industry

Josiah Collins II (1763-1839)

1776-1835

Josiah Collins II was the son of the prominent merchant Josiah Collins, Sr. He became manager and eventually the owner of the Collins Ropewalk in Edenton. Under his management, the Edenton Ropewalk became one of the most prosperous rope manufacturing sites in North America.  When his father died in 1819, Josiah II became the temporary owner and manager of Somerset Plantation until his son Josiah III came of age.  Josiah II was also important in the organization of North Carolina’s Episcopal Diocese in 1817.

Business and Industry

Josiah Collins III (1808-1863)

1776-1835

Josiah Collins III was the heir to Somerset Place, a plantation originally built by his grandfather Josiah Collins, Sr. and his Lake Company.  Josiah Collins III was educated at Harvard and later studied law in Litchfield, Connecticut, and lived in New York City for a time. At age 21, he assumed management of Somerset Place and turned it into one of the largest and most prosperous plantations in the South.  Josiah Collins III died shortly after the beginning of the Civil War and his death marked the end of Somerset Place. It was restored as a North Carolina State Historic Site in the 1950s and 1960s.

Commentary
Business and Industry

Advertising Over the Years Show People Largely Stay the Same

Advertisements offer insights into culture and can help researchers learn about the past — often more than they may have imagined.

Business and Industry

Family Dollar Stores

1946-1990

  Family Dollar is a discount store chain, with headquarters in Matthews, North Carolina. The company operates over 7,100 stores in 45 states and in Washington D.C. As one of the first discount stores, Family Dollar expanded to over 6,800 stores in 44 states and competes with large companies such as Costco, Dollar General, and Wal-Mart.

Business and Industry

“Live at Home” Program

1916-1945

Governor O. Max Gardner implemented the Live at Home Program in 1929. The initiative encouraged farmers to increase food and livestock production in order to improve farm conditions and provide for year round family farm consumption.

Business and Industry

Drexel Furniture Company

1916-1945

Drexel Furniture Company began operations near Morganton.  The Appalachian Mountain company, in time, became one of the world’s leading furniture producers.