Gant Family

Alamance County, NC

The first member of the Gant family to immigrate to the United States was Thomas Gantt who arrived in Maryland from England in 1654. The family descended from John of Gaunt lineage. By 1746 two bothers of Thomas, Edward and John, were living in Granville County, North Carolina. Later, their descendents moved to Orange County, North Carolina. Isham Gant owned a farm on the Haw River and built and owned one of the first “Grist” mills on the river. His son, Jesse was born in 1803 and was later known as Col. Jesse Gant. Jesse was a Colonel in the North Carolina militia. Jesse had a son John Q. Gant who went to work with Edwin M. Holt at the Alamance Cotton Factory and worked as a clerk. He participated in the restoration of the burned cotton mill in 1871. “New” plaids were manufactured in 1872. 1

The Yellow Store. “On September 29, 1874 a deed drawn up between the North Carolina Rail Road Company and J. Q. Gant & Co., a newly organized firm which consisted of two Holt brothers, Lawrence S. and L. Banks, and an active partner, John Q. Gant, all listed as men of Company Shops, NC, which is now Burlington.” 1, p21 A large yellow building was built on Main Street and became a mercantile center for Company Shops.

Marriage. After a courtship of nearly two years, John Gant married Corinna Morehead Erwin of Morganton, NC, on April 15, 1879. A wedding trip took them to New York and the St. Nicholas Hotel where they spent $42.80 for four days with the luxuries of fires and a bathroom. 1

John Q. Gant and Corinna in Philadelphia on their bridal tour April, 1879
Source: The Raven’s Story

Altamahaw Cotton Mill. It is not known just how John Q. Gant and Berry Davidson became acquainted or how they decided to go into the cotton mill business together. In 1880, Davidson, a well­known millwright, built the Altamahaw Cotton Mill in partnership with John Q. Gant. Gant, who worked for Edwin M. Holt in the 1870s, probably met Davidson when he rebuilt the Holt’s Alamance Cotton Mill in 1871. 1p30. The issue of The Alamance Gleaner of April 14, 1880 mentions a new factory underway at Davidson’s mills. The mills already on the premises were saw and grist mills and some wool carding machinery. P31. The new mill was finished no later than November 1880. As for the mill, a site “… on the north bank of Haw River, two miles from the Guilford line …had been selected…the greatest fall…of any place on the river, half a mile.”… will have twenty- one to twenty­two feet head… and give one hundred fifty to two hundred horse power.” In December 1884, Lawrence and L. Banks Holt bought Mr. Davidson’s interest in the cotton mill. 1

“The old ice house at Altamahaw…was a great hole…dug about 15 or 20 feet deep and about 35 feet square. Pine poles…made the walls and there was a roof over the entire structure. In the fall, the old leaves and saw dust were taken out and a fresh layer put down. When the duck pond froze over in the winters the ice was harvested…often seven to ten inches of ice.” 1, p40 – ­41.

Ossipee Cotton Mill. James N. Williamson ran the mill located on a branch of the Haw near the Altamahaw Mill. Williamson often raced his horse, “Defender” to Ossipee, from a meeting point north of Graham where he lived. He would meet John Q. Gant on his way from Burlington to the Altamahaw Mill and race between friends was on. In 1888, a railhead was built at Mill Point 4 1⁄2 miles west of Burlington for the two mills.

Telephone lines run between 1886 and 1890 connecting Altamahaw with the Gant house in Burlington and the depot at Mill Point. The building in Altamahaw was the new office of Holt, Gant & Holt erected in 1890…”a very handsome structure. The front faces west and the northern side of the building, the word “OFFICE” stands out in cream­colored brick against red. 1 p45.

Mr. Gant often slept in a bedroom over the office on days he did not commute from Burlington. Commuting on a daily basis was highly impractical before the automobile…p48.

The mill was very impressive – 6,500 spindles, 300 looms, 42 cards and 225 operatives consumed 3250 bales of cotton per annum. Until 1918 when the first truck was bought, goods were hauled by horse and mule-drawn wagons on dirt roads to the railhead west of Burlington. 1 p52.

Glen Raven Cotton Mills Company. By 1900, John Q. Gant had acquired land west of the city of Burlington to build a mill and village…he wanted his new mill to be close enough to home to eliminate the commuting…the land which is the major portion of the current (1977) Glen Raven Mills property in Glen Raven, North Carolina. The land is further west than Gant wanted but he was unable to persuade the Holts to sell land nearer to town.

Ossipee Mill 1910
Posselt’s Journal ca. 1910
Courtesy Peter Metzke

Zebra Stripes – first trademark issued to Glen Raven for black and white awning stripe fabric,  1908

Allen Gant, John Q. Gant, and Roger Gant 1920.
Images: The Raven’s Story

Roger Gant, Jr., Retired President Glen Raven January 2008
Photo: Gary N. Mock

  • 1902­ – 1920 Each of the eight sons born to John Q. and Corinna Gant join the family business at least for a short time.
  • 1902 Joseph E. and Kenneth join John Q. to form Glen Raven
  • 1906 John, Jr. graduates UNC and joins Glen Raven
  • 1913 Roger and Edwin join Glen Raven. Kenneth moves to Neuse Manufacturing, Raleigh
  • 1916 Edwin leaves Altamahaw for Neuse and Russell joins Altamahaw
  • 1918 Joe leaves Holt, Gant & Holt
  • 1920 Allen joins Glen Raven
  • 1930 John Q. Gant dies and management passes to sons Roger and Allen
  • 1960 Roger Gant dies business partner of Allen Gant for 40 years. Allen E. Gant named President of Glen Raven; Russell Gant named Chairman of Board
  • 1972 Allen E. Gant Dies July 25, 1972. Roger Gant, Jr. named President. Allen E. Gant, Jr. President
  • 2011 Roger Gant, Jr. dies

 

Reference:  Gant, Margaret Elizabeth, The Raven’s Story, Glen Raven Mills, Glen Raven, NC, 1979.