silk mill - Mackey's Antiques & Clock Repair


Mackey's Antiques & Clock Repair
1249 Gihon Road
Parkersburg WV 26101

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The Parkersburg Silk Mills Factory 1935

 One of The Winding Machines at the Parkersburg Silk Mills Factory

Former Employees of the Silk Mill that was in Vienna, WV held a reunion at the City Park in Parkersburg. 1955



The industrial plant, featured today is the Parkersburg Silk mill located on the Interurban line something more than three miles from the center of town, though only a comparatively short distance from the northern city limits. And speaking of factory locations. Ann street and Murdock avenue with its extension are dotted with them, from First street on the Little Kanawha. river front to the Fenton Art Glass company in Williamstown another industrial section is from the same point on the river front to the former location of the Standard Oil refinery and the Quarry Tile company at the mouth of Worthington creek; while a third section extends from Fort Neal to the Viscose plant on the south side of the Kanawha.


Smith & Burrows Co and the new buildings of the Coca-Cola Bottling Co both in Stephenson's field. (which is now so built up that few think of it as a field) are beginning & what may some time develop into a new industrial center.


The owners of the Silk Mill are Kahn and Feldman of New York, their branch here being established in 1918. Fred H Welden is superintendent, while Charles Amos, Raymond Welden, Miss Ada Wlliams. Mrs. Sadie Wells, Miss Fern Corbin and Rex Lee, are head of departments. Electric power is used by this company, and the main part of the building, of brick construction, is 300 by 50 feet with three stories. the annex being 175 by 50 feet.


Raw Material Imported While the raw material for the mill owned by Kahn and Feldman is imported from Japan, silk production seems to find its chief source in China. A. queen of that empire. Empress Si-ling by name, assisted by her emperor husband; Huang-ti, devoted herself   personally to the culture of the mulberry tree on which grow and thrive the silk producing caterpillars, and to the care of silk worms. She is credited by this Chinese with the intention of the loom. that was approximately 45 centuries ago, as it has been 4,576 years since Huang-ti began to reign.


So well did the Chinese guard the secrets or silk culture that it was 2,940 years later before they ware revealed to the people of Japan, a country only a little farther away than England is from France. Over 1,600 more years elapsed before the cultivation and production of silk were commenced in what is now the United States, when only 202 years ago eight pounds of silk cocoons raised in Georgia were taken to England by Governor George Oglethorpe.


The female moth that produces silk worms deposits her eggs in summer on the leaves of the mulberry tree. For hatching artificially the eggs are placed in a room heated gradually up to a temperature of about 80 degrees, The caterpillars, which appear in from eight to ten days are then covered with sheets of paper on which mulberry leaves are spread, and make their way through perforations in the paper to the mulberry leaves, which are their natural food.


When covered with caterpillars the leaves are laid on shelves of wickerwork covered with brown paper; in a little more than eight weeks the worm attains its full growth and is about three inches long. Soon after this, it becomes languid, refuses food, and prepares for the next stage of its development, that of chrysalis. The silk appears in the next form of life, namely the cocoon. In so far as the work of the Parkersburg Mill is concerned, the washing of the cocoon and the removal of the silk does not concern us, though that process makes interesting reading.


Cost Small Fortune


Mr. Welden, manager of the local silk mill, said a car load of the raw material, and especially the finished product of his company would cost a small, fortune. This was in reply to the statement that shipments in and out of their plant were made in small Quantities and would not fill a freight car as quickly as a lot of Donovan boilers, Baldwin shovels, or Ideal corrugated

paper boxes.


Nevertheless, this vicinity  would miss the employment and the trade resulting from the payroll of this or any other of the main industrial plants in and near Parkersburg. During the boom days during and following the World, 300 man and girls were en the payroll of this company; and in just ordinary times like the present, there are from 175 to 225.


The first thing that is done with the raw silk in the plant here, after the receiving clerk checks it end unwraps each bundle, is a thorough washing in a solution of water and other liquids. This is not for the purpose of cleaning the silk but to make it run better, that is, make it run more readily into threads.


Two entire floors of the 300 foot building are lined with machines to wind the thread on spools. About five of these spools, which are easily five time the size of au ordinary spool of sewing thread, are combined and rewound to make a cone, which is the way the silk is prepared ready for shipment Before this is done, however, seven of those threads are so fine as hardly to be seen are combined into one thread, and these larger threads are rewound on another spool before Made into cones.


In spite of the lighting likes speed of these machines, very few threads were broken nor other like mishaps occurred. 1f the thread leading to one of the multitude of hundreds of spools did break, the machinery did not stop, and the deft hands of one of the girls again started the thread on its way. It was also noticeable, as was also the case of the other factories visited so far, that few of the employees showed self consciousness, or seem bothered by the presence of a stranger going about among them.


Some places on the long rows of machines skeins were not being wound, but stood ready at the will of the workman to receive the thread at any time. thus it is with you and me. A bountiful providence is always ready to share its blessings with us. All we need to hear the harmony that, the air heralds is to tune in with any station desired.


The management of the Silk Mill provides, at very moderate cost the noon meal for any of the employees who desire it. The fact that nearly 100 per cent of the workman do patronize the cafeteria is proof that a good meal is served for the money, Day before yesterday, the meal consisted of liver and onions, peas and Potatoes, with bread and coffee. The cost was only twenty cents Some brought their lunch the coffee was free for all.



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