City Directories and History: One of the last textile operations begun in Rock Hill, the Wymojo Yarn Mill
was opened in March 1909. It was located west of the industrial complex which housed, in turn the Rock Hill Buggy Company, Anderson Motor Car Company, and Rock Hill Printing and Finishing Company (The Bleachery). The mill was built on the south side of the “Three C’s” Railroad across from the, rear of, Winthrop’s campus. Like the Aragon Mill,
it was able to use from the beginning electrical power from the new dam on the Catawba River. The unusual name for the mill was a combination of the last names of the investors, Dr. Gill Wylie, Webster Moore, and J. B. Johnson. Most of the initial investment for the mill came from local businessmen, but the founders also sought funds from northern investors for the equipment. Dr. Wylie, a native of Chester County, was a physician in New York City, but maintained an interest in the Carolinas and was a major force behind the development of hydroelectric power and the textile industry. Lake Wylie Dam is named for him. Webster Moore was superintendent of the Manchester Mill, so he had a strong capability in management of the mill. Mr. Johnson owned Rock Hill Drug Company and was a local civic leader. Other members of the early leadership included J. M. Cherry, L. C. Harrison, and N. A. Cocke.
Dr. D. B. Johnson, president of Winthrop, at first objected to the presence of a textile mill so close to the campus. However, after it was built, he showed his usual gift for educational forward-thinking, using the Wymojo Mill as an educational laboratory, sending students as mill outreach agents to establish programs for the villagers. This included the first kindergarten program in Rock Hill.
The Wymojo Mill included a village which originally consisted of 28 cottages and then grew to 42 houses. Most of the houses had four rooms each and they were lighted with electricity. The village was on the following streets: Lee, Adams, Stewart, Rose, with some houses facing West White Street. This is one of the most intact mill villages left in Rock Hill, and most of the houses remain.
In later years, the mill was purchased by Textiles, Inc, which owned a series of mills in North Carolina. It later housed Samarkand Rugs of New York, which manufactured cotton rugs at the site. The mill building has been demolished, and housing for Winthrop students occupies a part of the site.
Contributed and written by Paul M. Gettys
Sources: The Herald, various issues, Lynn Willoughby, The Good Town Does Well, Rock Hill, S. C., 1852-2002, published 2002 by the Rock Hill Sesquicentennial Committee, Douglas Summers Brown, The City Without Cobwebs, A History of Rock Hill, South Carolina, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1953.
Click on the More Information > link found below the picture column for additional data or pictures. The image is of Winthrop University (Courtesy of the Winthrop Un. Archives) dated circa 1950. The image shows the roof of the old Wymojo Mill complex in the bottom section of the image just across the railroad behind Winthrop.
The RH Record reported on Sept. 5, 1907 – The New WYMOJO MILL – “Dr. W. Gill Wylie of NY, W.W. Moore, and J.W. Johnston of Rock Hill have organized a company for a new cotton mill. The capital stock is $125,000., the mill will either be located in Rock Hill or Fort Lawn. Fort Lawn has offered a sight, this town has the Southern and Seaboard Railroad. ”
The Record reported on Nov. 4, 1907 – “A sight has been selected for the Wymojo Mill. It will be located back of Winthrop College, between the Syleecau Manufacturing Co plant and the railroad on Stewart Avenue. The property was bought from J. M. Cherry.”
The Record reported on Jan. 30 1908 – “Contractor J. J. Keller has been awarded the job of building the Wymojo Mill.” On Feb. 17, 1908 – Quoting the Manufacturers Record of last week called the plans for the Wymojo Mill, a model for the nation. The main building will be one story and will be 127 – 310 ft., there will be 42 cottages, two with five rooms, 30 with four rooms and ten with three rooms.
Feb. 24, 1908 – “J. J. Keller and Co., Architects and Contractors, have already commenced work on the Wymojo Cotton Mill building. The work of clearing for the foundation is being done, and material is being place on the ground.”
The Record reported on May 25, 1908 – “Mr. J. J. Keller has a large force working on the Wymojo Mill and the operatives houses. The mill will be 127 – 310 feet, he is ready to put the roof on the mill and 28 cottages are completed and more are under way. The location of these cottages is beautiful, there being a very pretty grove between the mill building and the Syleecau Man. plant.”
The Record reported on Aug 31, 1908 – “The Wymojo Yarn Mills has completed the building and will now award contracts for machinery, lighting, sprinkler system and a 15,000 gallon water tank. The contractor was J.J. Keller of Rock Hill and the architect, O.A. Robins of Charlotte. The main building cost $28,500., Mr. Keller is also erecting 42 cottages to cost $25,000. W.W. Moore is Pres. and Treasurer and Sims Gill Wylie is Secretary.”
The Herald reported on March 11, 1914 – “The offices of the mill have been moved into the Ashe building on West White Street (this was the original home of what became Ashe Brick Company). This is more convenient to the public but only a short distance removed from the mill.”
The Herald reported on March 24, 1915 – “That W.W. Moore has resigned as President of Wymojo Mill and will be succeeded by C.E. Hutchison of Charlotte. Mr. Moore will go to another city to run a mill. He came to Rock Hill years ago, starting at the Globe (Victoria Mill), later with the Manchester, and then to the Wymojo when it was organized.”
[The Herald reported June 9, 1925 that a Edward H. Rector reported a massive fire on Ebenezer Avenue. Mr. Rector was reported as the watchman at the Helen Mills in 1925 but also worked at Wymojo Mills. It is unclear if they are one and the same.]
The Herald reported on June 18, 1925 – “Within recent weeks, practically all the cotton mills in Rock Hill has suspended or reduced work, but the mill workers are optimistic on the outlook. Aragon and Arcade are both shirting manufacturers and are on full schedules. Wymojo Mill is on a three day a week schedule. Industrial Mill is on a four day week schedule, Carhartt on a three day schedule after suspending operations. The gingham manufacturing is running full-time this week but the schedule is indefinite. Harris Mill (Victoria #2) runs with Victoria’s schedule and Helen Mill runs with Wymojo.”
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