First Cotton Mill in North Carolina

The first textile mill in North Carolina was built before 1813 in Lincoln County, 11⁄2 miles east of Lincolnton, NC. Michael Schenck built the mill, and later partnered with Absalom Warlick to build a second in 1816. Through the 1820s and 1830s, the profitable operation of the Schenck mills was a model to many more in North Carolina. The Schenck­Warlick mill firmly established the Southern textile industry.

The Second Schenck Warlick Mill
McDaniel Springs, NC

The copy of the hand­written incorporation agreement for the second mill is preserved in the College of Textiles Burlington Library at North Carolina State University: Errors in names and spelling abound in the document below.

“Articles of agreement made and entered into this 27th day of April, 1816, between Michael Schenk (sic) and Absolom (sic) Warlick of the County of Lincoln, & state of North Carolina of the one part, and Michael Beam of the County & state aforesaid of the other part. Witnesseth: That the said Michael Beam obliges himself to build for the said Schenk and Warlick, within twelve months from this date, a spinning machine with 144 fliers, with three sets of flooted rolers (sic), the back set to be of wood, the other two sets to be iron; the machine to be made in the two frames with two sets of wheels, one carding machine with two sets of cards to run two ropings, each to be one foot wide, with a picking machine to be attached to it with as many saws as may be needed to feed the carding machine; one rolling (or roping) machine with four heads; all the above machinery to be completed on a workman like manner and the said Beam is to bond & find all the materials for the machine & one machine going on a branch on Ab Warlick’s land below where the old machine stood. The said Schenk and Warlick are to have the house for the machine & the running gears made at their expense, but the said Beam is to fix the whole machinery above described thereto. The wooden cans for the roping and spining(sic), and the reel to be furnished by said Schenk & Warlick together with all the straps and bands necessary for the machinery. In consideration of which the said Schenk and Warlick are to pay the said Beam the sum of thirteen hundred dollars, to wit: three hundred dollars this day, two hundred dollars three months from this date, one hundred dollars six months from this date, and the balance within twelve months after said machine is started to spinning. In testimony where we have here unto set our hands and seals this day and year above written,

Absalom Warlick (seal)
Michael Schenck (seal)
Michael Beam (seal)

Test: Robt H. Burton

Also mounted beside this document is an original artifact recovered from the site:

“Handmade iron spindle from the Schenck­Warlick cotton mill, 1816 Lincoln County.”
Also a sign ” Artifacts were donated by Mr & Mrs. Thomas M. Ripley, Jr. 1991.”



  1. Library exhibit, College of Textiles, North Carolina State University
  2. Accessed July 9, 2008, June 28, 2011
  3. N.C. State Highway Marker Schenck ­Warlick Mill