Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Indiana Cotton Mills mss., 1850-1947, are papers of the Indiana Cotton Mills, Inc., Cannelton, Indiana. These mills were chartered by the Indiana State Legislature in 1848 under the name, Cannelton Cotton Mill. Among the incorporators were such prominent men as Salmon Portland Chase, Charles Tillinghast James, Elisha Mills Huntington, and Hamilton Smith.

The first general manager, Ziba H. Cook of Ballston Spa, New York, arrived at Cannelton on October 26, 1850. He brought with him Ebenezer Wilber as superintendent of the mills, a position which he held for many years. On December 18, 1850, the first shipment of cotton was unloaded at Cannelton from the steamer "California", commanded by Dwight Newcomb, and on January 7, 1851, the first cloth was woven. The promoters had underestimated the amount of money needed for operations, and, in order to provide working capital, they made a contract in 1852 with Horatio Dalton Newcomb, of Louisville, Kentucky, treasurer of the company, by which he advanced $30,000 of his own means. The following year he leased the plant at an annual rental of $10,000, and at the end of the third year bought the property outright for a debt of over $200,000 against it. For the next 30 years a controlling interest in the firm was owned by the Newcomb family. The family interests in Cannelton were looked after by Dwight Newcomb.

In 1881-1882 George C. Buchanan, a distiller of Louisville, Kentucky, bought the entire property. He failed in 1883, and the control of the mills passed into the hands of the banks which had taken over Buchanan's holdings.

Following the death in 1905 of Edward W. Chamberlain, treasurer of the company under the management of the banks, Lee Rodman was sent to Cannelton by the President of the National Bank of Kentucky to try to revive the business. He remained in charge until the company was sold in the late 1940's to the Bemis Bro. Bag Company of St. Louis, Missouri, and Boston, Massachusetts, which operates the mills under the name of Strongwall Mills, Inc.

Through the years the firm has manufactured cloth which is technically called "Sheeting", but is popularly known as "muslin," "cotton," and "brown domestic." This has been sold under the brand names Great Western, Columbia, and Hoosier, each brand denoting a different weight.

The records of the Cannelton and Indiana Cotton Mills in this collection consist of both bound and unbound material. The bound volumes are as follows: 1) letterpress copybooks for the Cannelton Cotton Mill, Dec.5, 1850-Jan. 21, 1855 and for the Indiana Cotton Mills, Jan. 20, 1855-Dec. 24, 1865, Nov. 23, 1883-Jan. 7, 1885, Nov. 16, 1895-Jan. 26, 1897, Feb. 9, 1903-July 6, 1906; 2) journals, Sept. 7, 1853-May 31, 1906; 3) ledgers, Mar. 1, 1864-Dec. 31, 1945; 4) cash books, Oct. 1, 1860-Nov, 29, 1862, Oct. 1, 1891-Nov. 29, 1906, Apr. 1, 1908-Apr. 30, 1929; 5) trial balance books, Sept. 30, 1886-Dec. 1931; 6) voucher distribution, Apr. 1, 1908-Apr. 1929; 7) "Cannelton Steam Mill Sheeting" journal, Sept. 1, 1857-Jan. 29, 1859; 8) cash disbursements journals, Nov. 1933-May 1940; 9) Coats & Burchard Co., public appraisers & engineers, Chicago, Ill. Appraisal of Indiana Cotton Mills plant, Cannelton, Indiana, Feb. 27, 1907; 10) consignments of sheetings, batting, & waste, Jan. 1, 1884-Mar. 22, 1907; 11) cost & product books, June 30, 1877 & June 1892-Nov. 1899; 12) cotton record, May 25, 1929-Oct. 23, 1945; 13) disbursements journal, Oct. 11, 1852-Aug. 31, 1859; 14) disbursements ledger, May 14, 1908-June 15, 1946; 15) drayage-journal, Dec. 1, 1942-July 7, 1945; 16 inventories for quarters, Sept. 30, 1931-Oct. 3, 1936, for 6 months periods, June 30, 1929-July 4, 1936, for years, Dec. 31., 1929-1941; 17) invoice copybook, Mar. 7, 1857-Sept. 29, 1862; 18) McCampbell & Co., selling agents, invoices, Jan. 2, 1945- Apr. 17, 1946; 20) mop yarn, Mar. 30-Dec. 18, 1946; 21) orders & shipments, Oct. 11, 1909-May 1, 1912; 22) orders ledger, Jan. 2, 1912-Apr. 15, 1946; 23) order record, 1926- 1946; 24) payroll, Mar. 1881-June 1884; 25) production, sales, & orders, 1925-1930; 26) rents ledger, 1938-1946; 27) shipments, yardage, & bales, July 1, 1912-June 1919 & Arp. 6, 1936-Dec. 29, 1945; 28) minute book of stockholders' meetings, Jan. 2, 1851-Aug. 26, 1946; 29) Directors' minute book, May 27, 1853-Aug. 12, 1946; 30) stock ledger A, Sept. 5, 1853-Feb. 12, 1936; 31) stock register, Oct. 1, 1861-Dec. 29, 1927; and 32) bills of lading, 1866-1869.

The unbound papers included 1) correspondence 1852-1947; 2) bills of lading, 1855-1868; 3) due bills, 1857-1859; 4) vouchers, 1854-1872; 5) correspondence of the Indiana Cotton Mills with the Cotton Textile Institute, Inc., New York, and the American Cotton Manufacturers Association, Charlotte, North Carolina, and mimeographed and printed material issued by these associations and by the Association of Cotton Textile Merchants, New York. This material falls within the years, 1925-1928 and 1942-1946.

In addition to records of the Cannelton and Indiana Cotton Mills the collection contains records of two other firms. For the Cannelton Cotton Manufacturing Co. there is a letterpress copybook, Dec. 12, 1865-June 26, 1867; a journal, Mar. 22, 1866-Aug. 19, 1867; and a ledger, Mar. 22, 1866-Aug. 30, 1867. The last letter in the letterpress copybook is headed Shoemaker & Wales, successors to Cannelton Cotton Manufacturing Co. The next to the last letter is signed "Cannelton Cotton Manufacturing Co." and dated Nov. 14, 1866.

The other firm represented is that of D. Newcomb & Co., a coal mining firm of Newburgh, Indiana. Its records preserved in this collection are a cash book, June 1, 1870-July 1, 1875; a coal payroll, June 1870-May 1875; and a ledger, Dec. 31, 1870-July 1, 1875.

Material on the history of the Indiana Cotton Mills is found in: Thomas James De la Hunt's Perry County: a History, (Indianapolis, 1916), pp. 131-138; History of Warrick, Spencer, and Perry Counties, Indiana ... (Chicago, 1885), pp. 645-654, 763, 767; and a copy of Lee Rodman's A History of the Indiana Cotton Mills, Cannelton, Indiana, is in a folder in the first box of correspondence in the collection.

Collection size: 18,360 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.