Come to Canton and see how the textile industry shaped the town!”

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Canton Mill Parade. Photo courtesy: Cherokee County Historical Society

Canton’s textile industry began in 1901 with the opening of Canton Cotton Mills, transforming northern Cherokee County into an industrial hub. A large mercantile market and an increase in profitable cotton production provided a source of wealth for the town, attracting textile industrialist.

In 1899, a rising mercantile business and the steady production of cotton in the city encouraged prominent Canton community leaders to raise money to build a cotton mill. Employing 125 local men, women, and children from northeast Georgia, under the leadership of R.T. Jones, Canton Cotton Mills produced cotton thread in 1901. In an effort to gain revenue after several financial setbacks in 1902, Jones made several changes to the mill’s management and added a dye house that allowed the mill to produce denim. Canton denim quickly became famous and production increased in the following years. The success of Canton denim allowed for the construction of a second mill in 1923 one mile north of the first mill.

Both mills built homes for their employees and the mill village featured amenities, such as indoor plumbing, running water, electricity, and ice delivery. Jones Mercantile Store, owned and operated by one of R.T. Jones’s son, became a popular shop for the residents of the Canton Cotton Mills mill villages.

Canton Cotton Mills faced many hardships, including the Great Depression, floods, and changes in leadership. In the late-1970s, the textile market slowed due to cheaper markets overseas. Canton Cotton Mills shut their doors in the spring of 1981.

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