Friday, August 17, 2012

Cotton Buyers: Smith & Coughlan

RNX7 imprinted sight draft charged to Clifton Manufacturing in Clifton, South Carolina for 100 bales of cotton for $4809.26

Bob Hohertz scan

Bob Hohertz heeded my call last week for cotton-related material and sent in this scan of a draft from Smith & Coughlan, cotton buyers.  A little history on this firm is found below.  Smith & Coughlan had shipped by rail 100 bales of cotton to Clifton Manufacturing in South Carolina, and charged Clifton Mfg $4809 through this draft.

From  the
Birmingham, Anniston, Gadsden, Huntsville, Decatur, Tuscaloosa and Bessemer


Southern Commercial Publishing Company.

SMITH & COUGHLAN, Birmingham and Gadsden. — No class of commercial business advances a city more than those who advance the farming interests of the country, and thereby the producing supply. This is done more particularly by the commission men of the city. The firm heading this sketch bas been in operation about five years, and have a ripe experience in the handling as well as in the markets for selling the fleecy staple.

With ample cash to buy, Messrs. Smith & Coughlan are prepared to make liberal advances on cotton. They have another office at Gadsden, Alabama, in connection with the cotton business.  Mr. F. G. Smith is a native of Nashville, Tennessee. He has been engaged in the steamboat business for many years.  He is well known in the city as President of the South Anniston Land Company.  His partner, Mr. J. H. Coughlan, is a native of Boston.

Their long experience in the business, with their extensive correspondence and acquaintance with the cotton markets of the world, has fitted them to realize good prices for cotton, which brings them the most liberal orders. The firm is a leading one in the cotton trade, and is entitled to the confidence of the readers of the history of Birmingham, who have orders of cotton to give, and desire a good firm, possessed of executive ability in this line of business.

This is but a brief account of a firm which, in every way, is worthy of the success it has attained, and the esteem in which it is held by the entire communitv.


From the Textile History website:

Clifton Manufacturing Company was incorporated January 19, 1880 with a capital stock of $200,000 (1). Mills at this time were normally built along rivers where a change in slope gave opportunity to harness water power.  With prior experience downstream on the Pacolet River, Edgar Converse, a native of Swanton, Vermont, organized cotton mill at Hurricane Shoals. The noted engineering firm of Lockwood Greene was selected to design the mill. Clifton Mill No. 1 (named or the cliffs overlooking the Pacolet), began manufacturing in 1881 with 7,000 spindles, 144 looms and 600 operatives, who lived in the nearby mill village. (2)

The company prospered and authorized another mill in August 1887. The new mill, named Clifton No. 2 was located just downriver on Cannon’s Shoals. Construction began in 1888 and began production in 1889 with 21,512 spindles, a three-fold increase over No. 1. Early products for these mills included sheeting, drills, and print cloth.

In May 1895, management authorized a third mill to be located just north of mill No. 1. This mill, Clifton No. 3, would have 34,944 spindles and 1092 looms. Albert H. Twichell succeeded Edgar Converse as president of Clifton Manufacturing upon the death of Mr. Converse in May, 1899. Clifton No. 3 opened in 1900.

he Flood of 1903:  A devastating flood on June 6, 1903 tore through the valley and caused havoc. One witness said of Clifton No. 3, “The five-story, 50,000-spindle mill trembled for a while, then gave way, a wall of water rose 40 feet in minutes. Mill No. 1 was next in line. The entire mill village within 100 feet of the river was destroyed. One-third of the mill disappeared. When the water reached No. 2, it took away half the four-story mill.” (3)


1. Teter, Betsy Wakefield, editor. 2002. Textile Town Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Hub City
Writers Project, Spartanburg ISBN 1-891885-28-6 Appendix.
2. Mike Hembree, The Birth of Clifton – Boom Town on the Pacolet
3. William M. Branham, The Flood of 1903 –Terror Along the Pacolet River p 77


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