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