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Cotton Mills - Kesler Cotton Mill

The Kesler Cotton Mill was organized in 1895.  It was named for Tobias Kesler, a wealthy farmer and the mill’s largest stockholder.  Other stockholders included Napoleon Bonaparte McCanless, D. R. Julian, O. D. Davis, and the Rev. Francis Murdock.  They purchased land from the Central Land Company and erected the first mill building.  The Central Land Company built twenty-two houses and a store west of the mill.  Unfortunately, the mill did not establish itself as profitable and did not experience growth.  In 1895 Kesler Mills had 5000 spindles and no looms.

J. W. Cannon took control of the company in 1899.  The mill and the surrounding areas turned around during this time period.  Cannon expanded the complex by adding a second mill, a new office, and purchasing the houses built by Central and adjoining land.  By around 1910, the mill complex was surrounded by 72 houses.  On the death of J. W. Cannon in 1921, his son C. A. Cannon assumed control of the company.  There was another period of expansion of the mill about this time.  The company developed a good relationship with the surrounding community and donated money to a variety of projects such as the library, street paving, the Y.M.C.A., and neighborhood churches.  Both Cannons were instrumental in establishing a number of other mills in the area.   In 1928, Cannon consolidated a number of these mills into the Cannon Mills Company and Kesler Manufacturing Company became Cannon Mill #7. 

Cannon plants operated on a limited basis in spite of poor business through the depression. Profits dropped, but the company never showed a loss.  In 1961, C. A. Cannon celebrates his 50th year with Cannon Mills. He died in 1971 and his successor was Don S. Holt

David H. Murdock's Pacific Holding Corp. bought Cannon Mills in 1971.   Murdock, a California financier, became chairman and CEO. Cannon Mills has 19 plants in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.  In 1986, Fieldcrest Mills Inc. of Eden purchased the Cannon Mills bed and bath operations for $250 million, which included plant number 7 and in 1997, Dallas based Pillowtex bought Fieldcrest Cannon.  By 2000 their stock prices plummeted and Pillowtex sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections.  Plant #7 closed in August of 2000. In December of 2002, it was announced that the buildings had been sold, but it was not disclosed what their new owner planned for them. On July 30, 2003, Pillowtex announced the closing of the 116-year-old company.

No series – the Albertype Co. Brooklyn N.Y.


Hood, Davyd Foard The Architecture of Rowan County North Carolina: A Catalogue and History of Surviving 18th, 19th, and 20th Structures  Salisbury: Historic Salisbury Foundation, 2000

National Registry of Historic Places Nomination Form for Kesler Manufacturing Co. – Cannon Mills Co. Plant No. 7 Historic District

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