Textile History

Although the furniture manufacturing thrived in High Point, the textile industry created equal prosperity for the city. With improvements to North Carolina's railroads and transportation network, steam-powered machinery, and the development of hydro-electric systems by 1900, textile mills sprang up wherever these resources came together. High Point's first cotton mill, Willowbrook, opened in 1880, becoming Empire Cotton and Plaid Mill by 1884. These first efforts were followed by factories that made finished goods, including the High Point Shirt Manufacturing Company and the High Point Pants Company.

Hosiery & Knitting Mills
Hosiery and knitting mills, however, were destined to be the top textile industries, and many furniture manufacturers also invested in these new businesses. Some, like R.T. Amos and his brother Charles both, left the furniture business for hosiery manufacturing. Between 1910 and 1920, many well-remembered mills were started: Amos, Melrose, Crown, Triangle and O.E. Kearns. By 1923, High Point boasted 26 textile plants including 14 hosiery mills, and 42% of the revenue generated by city industries came from textiles. By 1940, there were two cotton mills, two silk mills, and 27 hosiery mills. In North Carolina, over 60% of the state's textile and hosiery facilities as well as production were located in Alamance, Guilford, Catawba, Randolph, Davidson and Burke Counties. By the 1980s, the local Adams-Millis Corporation was the fourth largest manufacturer of hosiery in the world.

For more information about the textile and hosiery industries in North Carolina.

Adams-Millis Corporation
The Adams-Millis Hosiery Mill plays an important role in the history of High Point. John Hampton Adams, a successful furniture investor and pants manufacturer, and James Henry Millis, his plant manager, joined forces with C.C. Robbins of Randolph County to introduce a new industry in High Point by creating the High Point Hosiery Mill in 1904, during the largest boom period in the community. Several more hosiery mills followed, and Adams and Millis created the Adams-Millis Corporation in 1928 by consolidating several of those mills. The original plant was located at English Road and Pine Street for over 90 years. The company was once the largest private label hosiery manufacturer in the nation, and it was publicly traded and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. By 1965, its sales approached $20 million. In 1988, the board agreed to sell the company to Sara Lee Corporation for $80 million, at which point its sales exceeded $200 million. In 1990, the company moved to a new headquarters in Winston-Salem and employed 3,300 employees at 13 North Carolina plants. However, from this point onward, the mills begin to close and layoffs occur at a steady pace, with the last 150 or so employees moving to Sara Lee in Winston-Salem in 2003.

The Adams-Millis Hosiery Mill newsletters - more like small magazines - were published monthly or bimonthly, with photographs, advertisements, and various editorial sections relating to the company, life at the mills, and recent events. Each newsletter is a fascinating and invaluable look at the close-knit community and provides much-needed information on cultural heritage, everyday life, company history, city history, and the political, social, and moral climates of the community.

Digitized Newsletters
Digital NC has digitized a variety of newsletters from the High Point Historical Society
The High Point Museum holds newsletters from 1945 to 1988. Some years do not have a complete set of issues, and 1960 to 1972 are the most complete.