Pleasant Valley Mill Site

Then, Cotton Mill
Post Card from Dieter Friedrichsen's collection

Now (2003), Photo by Teddi

Records indicate that “Lott’s Mill” existed at this site in 1757, but there may have been a mill as early as 1739.

In 1795 the mill was described as 3 stories high, 75′ long and 30′ wide, included 110 acres, a good dwelling house, potash works and a 44′ x 24′ large store for dry goods and groceries. It continued to operate under numerous ownerships as a wool, grist, filling or cotton mill. Robert Abbatt constructed a 34′ x 80′ grist and cotton mill and a 36′ x 102′ mechanical shop in 1809.

The mill, called Pleasant Valley Manufacturing Company at that time, burned in 1815 at a loss of $60,000 and loss of income for over 50 families.

The site was auctioned off to John De La Vergne and Luther Thwing for $13,100, who immediately rebuilt the mill, a 3 story building with 4,400 square feet at each level. Operation of the mill continued under various ownerships and numerous upgrades were implemented.

In the 1850’s the shaft/gear system was changed to a shaft/pulley system, which reduced repair work from up to a week to a few hours. The water wheel was replaced by a turbine and power from a steam engine was added. The telegraph was introduced in 1858.

In the early 1800’s up to 70 employees were making fabric from raw cotton at an average wage of $0.12 per hour. In the 1870’s Thomas Garner & Co. employed almost 80 workers, providing 41 out of 432 Pleasant Valley families with income. Almost one-third of the employees was under 16 years of age, some as young as 8.

After Thomas Garner & Co. operated the mill for 53 years, the Yazoo Cord & Twine Co. took over in 1913 and starting in 1916, the William Ritchie Corp. produced buckram for 15 years. The Pleasant Valley Finishing Company, which added a 140′ water tower, was engaged in the dyeing of fabric until 1984.

Attempts to convert the mill site to a shopping center failed, continued to deteriorate in its abandoned state and finally fell victim to a suspicious fire on July 21, 1994.

The site was subdivided into 2 parcels, one occupied by McDonald’s since 1995 and the other is in the process of being converted into a town park.

The old mill store was beautifully restored and serves as the office of the Town Historian. It is open to visitors every Sunday from 2-4 PM through October.

For those wishing more detailed information regarding the Mill Site’s history, there is a pamphlet by Tom Rinaldi, “Pleasant Valley Manufactory” available for a nominal fee from the Pleasant Valley Historical Society.

Information provided by Dieter Friedrichsen