R. R. Haynes Profile
My Esteemed, Christian Friend, The Late R. R. Haynes
Chronicled by Hon. Clyde R. Hoey
The following sketch of Mr. R. R. Haynes, written by the Hon. Clyde R. Hoey, is taken by permission from the Biographical History of North Carolina. It was written several years ago, and many changes and improvements have taken place in the intervening years in the carrying out of his ideals:
“Peace hath her victories no less renowned than war,” and among those whose names deserve to stand high on the roll of honor in North Carolina for their achievements in peace is Raleigh Rutherford Haynes, a native of Rutherford county, where he was born on June 30, 1851.
His father was Charles H. Haynes, a farmer in that county, a deputy sheriff, and a neighborhood teacher. His mother was Sarah, a daughter of Elijah Walker, a man of considerable means, a slave-holder, whose farm was near Ellenboro in the same county. Mrs. Haynes bore her husband eight children, Raleigh being the fourth child and the eldest son; and he was only eight years of age when his father died in 1859.
Mrs. Haynes was possessed of a good mind, and was eminently practical, but particularly was she even tempered, and noted for her amiability and gentleness, and for the wisdom and foresight with which she raised her children. From early youth Raleigh became helpful to his mother on the farm, studying his lessons at night, so that by the time he was twenty he had become a capable man. He then went to Union County, South Carolina, to learn how to cultivate cotton. After two years he returned to his home at Ferry, and added to his farming operations both a store and a saw mill. This beginning was indicative of his enterprise, his energy and his capacity. He was successful from the start. He planned thoughtfully, and acted prudently and wisely. His mother had counseled him, “never go security (sic), never act as guardian, nor hold office,” and observing her injunctions, he avoided pitfalls and, while interested in public matters, he was not led by them away from his business. He was happily married on January 29, 1874, to Amanda Carpenter, daughter of Tennessee Carpenter, well-known citizen of the county. They were both consecrated Christians, and for sixteen years she was helpmate to him, indeed, their lives being happy and fortunate. She bore him eight children, and on her death in 1890, he became both father and mother to them, exercising such tender care and affection for them that his guidance had the happiest influence on their lives. Later, he married Litia Kelly, who, however, died childless in about a year.
As the years passed and Mr. Haynes prospered, he invested in lands until he was known as one of the largest landowners in that part of the State; and his reputation for wisdom, prudence, and success constantly grew. Nearby was the old High Shoals land on the Second Broad River, embracing many acres, chiefly wilderness of vines, thorn bushes and bamboo, but with much valuable timber and a fine undeveloped water power. This he purchased in 1885, and two years he employed himself in getting it in order, cleaning up the farming land, building tenement houses and clearing off the river banks, with the ultimate purpose of developing the water power and erecting a mill of some kind, the nature of which he had not then determined.
But in July, 1887, in pursuance of his well defined purpose, he, along with others, began the work of building the Henrietta Mills, and he was a liberal subscriber to the capital stock of this corporation, and did a large part of the work in getting things in shape and in constructing a large number of tenements surrounding the mill. This work covered a period of five or six years. About eight years after the Henrietta Mills was started, Mr. Haynes and his associates began to build Henrietta Mills Number Two, at Caroleen, and in this connection he did a great deal of work in obtaining the land needed, having surveys of the power made, and he built the first hundred tenements, besides starting up a store at this point and assisting in many other ways. In 1897 he bought the necessary land and built The Florence Mills at Forest City, the same being named for his oldest daughter, but later on he sold out his holdings in this mill with satisfactory advantage to himself but never disposed of his interest in the Henrietta Mills, owning about one-twentieth of the whole at the time of his death.
But it was in 1900 that he selected a site for another mill lower down on Second Broad River, in a wilderness where once, when a lad, he had been lost and where there was a great volume of water running to waste. He discerned the rare possibilities of the location, and there he determined to lay the foundations of a great enterprise. Indeed he was a dreamer of dreams, but withal a man of sound practical judgment. In the depth of his hazel blue eyes there shown a light of a master-builder; and in the energy of his clear and wonderful brain was found the basis of successful achievement. His conception was not merely to build another mill and to create another industrial center, but to gather about it an orderly community of happy, God-fearing working people, enjoying all of the conveniences and comforts of improved social conditions. Such was the vision he saw, and it became the dream of his life. To this consummation he devoted his energies. Still he had other and diversified interests. He was associated in many enterprises. He was concerned in an extensive lumber business in eastern Carolina and in Georgia; in a line of general stores; had large banking interests, being president of the Haynes Bank at Henrietta, president of the Commercial Bank at Rutherfordton, director of the Charlotte National Bank, and of the Southern Loan & Savings Bank, Charlotte, but his chief interest centered around Cliffside, where he alone could see the beginning, and far into the future possibilities of his dream.
Here from a once barren waste has sprung the largest gingham mill under one roof in the South, with a prosperous, beautiful town of happy people about it.
The Cliffside Mill is built on Second Broad River, and the “Falls” afford most of the power necessary to run the machinery, the balance being generated on the ground. Seven thousand five hundred bales of cotton are used yearly, and seventy thousand yards or 40 miles of gingham are turned out daily. The mill does its own coloring and finishing and the product is ready for the jobbers when it leaves the mill. Two classes of gingham are manufactured, the Cliffside, a staple gingham, and the Haynes, a standard.
Near the mill entrance are seesaws Mr. Haynes had built for the children, and nearby are the offices which harbor the brain power of the mill and in which the clerical work is transacted. Across the street are the company’s store and library.
In the homes live a contented, healthy, industrious, law-abiding, God fearing people. They are an independent people, too, for in 1917 the Cliffside operatives had on deposit with the Mill Company fifty-one thousand dollars at six per cent interest.
In the past ten years seventy-five or more families have moved away to farms they had bought with money saved at the mill. Many have gone from the mill to bigger things. You find them in the schoolroom as instructors; in the pulpit as ministers of the gospel the quiet man who founded Cliffside ever tried to practice in his daily life, for Raleigh Haynes carried his religion into his business. He felt that this was the way to serve his generation. He sought to make his Cliffside people ideal by banishing ignorance, poverty and pain and by teaching them to love God supremely and their neighbors as themselves. He not only believed in justice as a principle, but he practiced it. It was the rule of his life.
Such characteristics and purposes in life deserved the highest measure of human achievement, and indeed it was graciously vouchsafed him.
He attributed his success to such maxims as: Always to be truthful, pay every cent you owe; always keep at something; have plenty of energy; never give up; and then most of all, he said, “I never engage in anything that I did not go to God and ask Him to prosper that business as He thought best, and my advice to all is not to engage in anything in which you are not willing to ask God’s help.” His marked Bible shows from whence he drew his strength.
This verse marked “Sept. 23, 1903” lets one see where he caught the vision of the ideal mill town: “Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness and his chambers by wrong; that useth neighbor’s service without wages and giveth him not for his work.”
He was at all times the friend, counselor and helper of his people, and they loved him and helped him realize his vision.
Mr. Haynes had been a great sufferer for some thirty years, yet he did not let it interfere with his duties. In the summer of 1916 he became ill but the autumn found him back at Cliffside much improved, and the weeks went by into Christmas when all his children and grand-children gathered to his spacious and well-appointed home. After the greetings of joy and love he sat apart as usual in the quiet of his own room., After his death, hidden away among his papers letters were found written that night.
That in his heart he had heard the “long distance call” is evident and his house was set in order. He felt that ten years more were needed to perfect things he had planned, and willed that the property be left intact that long under the guidance of his son, Charles, who is a worthy successor of such a father.
One last word he had to say that Christmas night: “I just want to say that I know full well that some of these days I shall have to give up this life. All of us will have to, how soon no one can tell and it is no doubt best that we do not know.
“I want to say in this connection that I feel that I have done my duty to my family and loved ones and to my country. It is true that I have had many obstacles, but I have discharged my duty as best I could.
“I hope that the undeveloped plans I have laid may all some day be complete and the country blessed and benefited by them and that my friends and loved ones be blessed in many ways and that they be better men and women, and that they can, and will serve their country as best they can, and serve each other in a way that is right, and we all may meet by and by yonder where we can live as an unbroken family in heaven.”
February found him at his Florida home in St. Petersburg, accompanied by his youngest son, Grover Cleveland. Returning late in the afternoon from an outing in his car February 6, 1917, he talked to a man in the yard about his drive and seemed most cheerful. He then turned to go into the house, and at that instant death claimed him with a smile on his face, a smile his family say that lingered even when he was brought back home again.
His life teaches what men may do. This zeal and high ideals inspire one.
The school, the churches, the mill, the town and country sustained a heavy loss and on his children and on the leaders of the town, has fallen a great responsibility. Realizing this, a memorial service was held at the Baptist church February 11, 1917, and the leaders in all of the works with warm devotion fervid zeal and uniting efforts, laid themselves on the altar of service.
This is in brief the life’s activities of Raleigh Rutherford Haynes, a patriotic and successful North Carolinian, combining in his name the capitol City of his Commonwealth, and his well-beloved native county, and embodying in his character those traits and qualities which make men great.
It may truthfully be said of him: “While yet in love with life and raptured with the world, he passed to silence and pathetic dust. Yet after all it may be the best, just in the happiest, sunniest hour of all the voyage, while eager winds are kissing every sail, to dash against the unseen rock and in an instant hear the billows roar above a sunken ship. For whether in mid-sea or among the breakers of the farther shore, a wreck at last must mark the end of each and all and every life, no matter if its every hour is rich with love, and every moment jeweled with joy, will at its close become a tragedy as sad and deep and dark as can be woven of the warp and woof of mystery and death.”
—CLYDE R. HOEY
Clyde Roark Hoey, a Shelby native and friend and legal advisor to R. R. Haynes, would later become governor, then U. S. Senator of the state of North Carolina.