Synthetic Fabrics Boosted Burlington Industries

Men working in Burlington Mills textiles factory, circa 1948. Image from the State Archives.

Men working in Burlington Mills textiles factory, circa 1948. Image from the State Archives.

On July 29, 1924, Burlington Mills, owned by entrepreneur J. Spencer Love, began operations.

Initially Love struggled with sales, but his luck began to change as soon as he began experimenting with the newly-created synthetic yarn called rayon. Burlington Mills produced an incredibly popular rayon blend bedspread, the success of which allowed Love to diversify into other rayon products including draperies and cloth for garments. During this time, Love built new facilities and purchased old cotton mills for conversion to rayon production.

In the late 1930s, Love, on the advice of an associate, began to advertise his goods. Burlington Mills was marketed as the manufacturer of the best quality rayon fabric available—fabric that would not shrink or fade. By 1955, the business had been renamed Burlington Industries, and had expanded to weaving new synthetic fabrics—nylon, acrylic and polyester.

Toward the end of the 20th century, the company operated 130 manufacturing plants with 65,000 employees in 16 states and seven foreign countries and had earned the title of largest textile corporation in the world.

Despite its size, the company wasn’t immune to the economic challenges affecting the textile industry at-large in the Tar Heel state. Burlington Mills declared bankruptcy in 2001 and was absorbed into the massive International Textile Group in 2004.

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School of the Arts Screenwriter’s Tapes Sought by Simpson Attorneys

Laura Hart McKinny and Mark Fuhrman. Image from Getty Images.

Laura Hart McKinny and Mark Fuhrman. Image from Getty Images.

On July 28, 1995, Forsyth County Superior Court Judge William Z. Wood, Jr., ruled against O. J. Simpson’s attorneys, holding that aspiring screenwriter Laura Hart McKinney did not have to turn over her taped interviews with Los Angeles police officer Mark Fuhrman and others.

Professor McKinney of the North Carolina School of the Arts, who was working on a screenplay and novel about women police officers, conducted the interviews about the work of LAPD officers between 1985 and 1994. She had amassed about 13 hours of tapes in which Fuhrman repeatedly used racial slurs and made remarks about police brutality, planting of evidence and harassment of female officers. 

Fuhrman later became a central figure in the O. J. Simpson trial after he found a bloody glove at the murder site on Simpson’s estate. Simpson’s defense team argued that the glove was planted and sought to use the tapes to bolster their argument as well as to prove that Furman perjured himself by denying his use of racial slurs. 

The following month, Simpson’s North Carolina lawyers, Kenneth B. Spaulding and Joseph B. Cheshire V, successfully appealed the decision to the North Carolina Court of Appeals on the grounds that it interfered with the defendant’s right to a fair trial. 

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Bingham Fortune Tied to Flaglers and Kenans

On July 27, 1917, Duplin County native Mary Lily Kenan Flagler Bingham died under suspicious circumstances in Louisville, Kentucky.   

The daughter of Confederate officer and successful businessman William Rand Kenan, Mary had previously been married to millionaire Henry M. Flagler and became one of the wealthiest women in the United States at his death in 1913.

In 1916, Flagler married Judge Robert Worth Bingham, who was deeply in debt. Bingham signed a prenuptial agreement that gave up any claim to her fortune, but once they were married Flagler paid his debts and gave him a generous allowance. 

A headline announcing the controversy that followed Bingham’s death. Image from New York Social Diary.

Flagler’s death was suspicious primarily because Bingham had hired his dermatologist to give Flagler injections of morphine in the months leading up to it. The injections were supposed to be treatments for heart problems Flagler was experiencing. Additionally, relatives were surprised by a codicil added to Flagler’s will a month before her death. Written on the doctor’s stationery and witnessed by Bingham alone, the codicil left $5 million Bingham. 

Within weeks of Flagler’s burial, family members had her body exhumed from Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, and an autopsy was performed. Enormous amounts of morphine and heavy metal poisons were found in her body. 

The Kenan family attempted to stop Bingham’s inheritance, but when the Kentucky courts ruled for Bingham, they did not pursue an appeal.

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Robert C. Anderson, Presbyterian Leader at Montreat

The Montreat Gate at unknown date. Image from the Swannanoa Valley Museum.

The Montreat Gate at unknown date. Image from the Swannanoa Valley Museum.

On July 26, 1864, Dr. Robert C. Anderson was born near Martinsville, Virginia.

After attending Hampden-Sydney College and Union Theological Seminary, both in Virginia, Anderson was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1890. From that year until 1911, he pastored four different churches, including one in North Carolina.

In 1911, Anderson became president of the Mountain Retreat Association (MRA) of Montreat. John Collins, a Congregationalist minister from Connecticut, had started the association nearly 15 years earlier with the goal of a building a Christian retreat where people could gather for physical and spiritual renewal.

It was Anderson who truly brought Collins’s vision to fruition and created much of what’s now the Montreat Conference Center.

During his nearly 40-year tenure at the helm of the group, MRA founded a small girls’ school and saw it grow into a four-year college, and completed construction on much of the current campus, including Anderson Auditorium.

Anderson also turned around the association’s financial fortunes, initiating a successful capital campaign and promoting the facility in a more focused way to both attract more visitors and give the center a larger role in the Presbyterian Church’s mission work.

In addition to welcoming visitors for more than a century, the center played an appropriate role as a testing ground for new doctrinal ideas and fostered racial justice.

Anderson died in 1955 and was buried in Charlotte.

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Horatio Gates’s Brief Revolutionary Command

A portrait of Gates from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A portrait of Gates from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

On July 25, 1780, Major General Horatio Gates assumed direct command of the American forces in the Southern Military Department at their campsite on the Deep River in Randolph County.

Born in 1727 or 1728 in England, Gates served in the British army before settling in the colonies. In 1775, he volunteered for the Continental Army and served as a staff officer before receiving field command.

In September and October 1777, Gates commanded an army that defeated a British invasion from Canada at Saratoga, New York. The victory led to a military alliance with France and propelled Gates to the forefront of American military heroes. His ascendance was accompanied by controversy, due to his ambitions and his reputation as an overly cautious commander.   

Influenced by faulty intelligence indicating an opportunity for a quick victory, Gates embarked on a campaign in South Carolina along a route lacking in food to support his army. On August 16, his exhausted and underfed army was routed by the British at Camden, South Carolina.

Nathaniel Greene was soon selected to replace Gates. He never received another field command. He retired from the army in 1784 and died in New York City in 1806.

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Truman Adviser Kenneth Royall of Goldsboro

A portrait of Royall. Image from the U.S. Army.

A portrait of Royall. Image from the U.S. Army Center of Military History.

On July 24, 1894, Kenneth Royall, the last United States Secretary of War and the first Secretary of the Army, was born in Goldsboro.

After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1917, Royall joined the Army. He served in France from August 1918 until he was wounded in February 1919. At that time, Royall returned to Goldsboro and began practicing law.

In June 1942, he retired from his legal practice, by then headquartered in both Goldsboro and Raleigh, in order to accept a commission as colonel in the U. S. Army, managing the War Department’s legal services.

Royall was soon promoted to brigadier general and, in 1945, he was appointed undersecretary of war and received the Distinguished Service Medal. President Harry S. Truman selected him to be Secretary of War in July 1947.

Two months later, with the formation of the Defense Department, that position was eliminated, and Royall was designated Secretary of the Army. He held that position until he resigned in April 1949. Later that year Royall became a partner in a New York City law firm where he worked until 1968. 

Royall retired to Raleigh and died in 1971. He is buried in Goldsboro.

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Universalists and Inman Chapel Near Canton

Haywood County's Inman Chapel. Image from Harvard Divinity School.

Haywood County’s Inman Chapel. Image from Harvard Divinity School.

On July 23, 1868, western North Carolina’s first Universalist congregation was organized in Haywood County after traveling preacher Benjamin F. Strain converted a handful of citizens.

Universalists, also known as Hell Redemptionists, were a denomination whose beliefs were based on a benevolent God and salvation as opposed to damnation.   

Strain granted a Universalist license to Jonathan Plott, who in turn designated native James Anderson Inman, to serve as the congregation’s permanent pastor. With assistance from the North Carolina Universalists Conference, which was organized in 1896, a chapel was built in 1902 and named for Inman who donated much of the construction funds.

Following Inman’s death in 1913, the chapel reverted to management by the Universalist’s Women’s National Missionary Association (WNMA). Though it had almost dispersed by 1921 when Hannah Jewett Powell became regional denominational representative, the congregation flourished under Powell’s leadership.

Following Powell’s retirement in 1942, the congregation of Universalists declined and the WNMA closed the chapel and community center in 1957. 

In 1961, the Universalists merged with the Unitarians to become the Unitarian Universalist Church. A congregation was established in Asheville in 1969. The Inman Chapel has undergone restoration and is used by the Inman family for homecoming gatherings.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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