Mary A. Browning, a writer, historian, and professional genealogist, and Patricia M. Koehler, a writer and educator, originated the Oakdale Mills Project, sponsored by the Historic Jamestown Society, to preserve the history of the mill and its people. The end result, a 30-minute DVD, left much of the story still to be told. Images of America: Oakdale Cotton Mills provides the opportunity to tell more of that story. Photographs and documents loaned by the mill and workers' families depict a sensitive ownership, a caring community, and the mill's unique place in the Southern textile industry.
Oakdale Cotton Millsby Mary A. Browning, Patricia M. Koehler
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Oakdale Cotton Mills, in continuous operation in rural Jamestown since 1865, began as Logan Manufacturing Company immediately after the Civil War. Its primary backer, Cyrus P. Mendenhall, was a descendant of Jamestown's early Quaker settler James Mendenhall. In the late 1880s, the mill's ownership moved to the Ragsdale family, which still owns it five generations later. Oakdale's mill village dates from the same period. Some families have lived and worked at Oakdale for multiple generations, developing a culture based on mutual trust and respect. As the mill struggles to compete with overseas products and as the number of employees dwindles, it is clear that a way of life and an industrial era are ending.
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