Henrietta, Caroleen and Avondale
S. B. Tanner was born in Clifton, South Carolina in 1853. His father, Colonel Andrew Tanner, was from Rutherford County, but had taken his family to South Carolina where he worked in the Hurricane Shoals Iron Works in an iron-ore district that ran from High Shoals into Spartanburg and Cherokee Counties in South Carolina. The proprietor of that iron works was a man named Simpson Bobo, whom Andrew Tanner honored by naming his son after.
Known as “Simps” or simply “S. B.” to his associates, young Tanner went from a clerk in Union, South Carolina to work as a traveling salesman or “drummer” with a Charlotte firm. Rutherford County was part of his territory.
In his travels, he discovered a market for and sold some cloth his company had not been able to sell, and he also learned about cotton. Cotton was, in fact, currency. A family[s credit often depended on the cotton crop. Merchants did well if they were a good judge of cotton, and traveling salesmen who supplied merchants also had to understand cotton. S. B. Tanner, a good salesman, was also a good judge of cotton. With his abilities and his alliance with J. S. Spencer, he could have gone into banking, or shipping, or speculation, or other areas, but he chose manufacturing.
Tanner ran the mills at a profit almost from the beginning, and the company stores brought in additional profit. Life on the farm had been difficult in the depression years of the 1870’s, 80’s, and 90’s, and many were glad to get steady work, although there were some changes and adjustments from a more independent lifestyle. S. B. Tanner introduced technology to an agrarian people.
He died on July 3, 1924, at the age of seventy-one. He and his son, K. S., had invested in other mills in other towns of Rutherford County. The Tanner family associated with Doncaster, Inc. and Tanner of North Carolina, Inc. in Rutherfordton are descendants of S. B. Tanner.
R. R. Haynes had died earlier, on Feb. 6, 1917. In addition to the Cliffside Mill, he had held other interests. He was in the lumber business with Dr. T. B. Lovelace and others. He held many official positions with various banks, and was president of the Haynes Bank of Cliffside, along with the Bostic Bank, and the Bank of Ellenboro. These were the only three in Rutherford County to survive the Depression.
After his death, his son, Charles H. Haynes, carried out his father’s wishes to build a mill and village near the road between Caroleen and Henrietta. The mill and town were known as Avondale, named after R. R. Haynes’ Florida home. Cone Mills later bought the plant, and the houses were sold and removed, beginning in 1960. The mill, however, is still known as the Haynes Plant.
Caroleen, Henrietta, and all of Rutherford County benefited from the vision and work of R. R. Haynes, S. B. Tanner, and their contemporaries, however, another entrepreneur was to get a start in Rutherford County. Joseph Benjamin, or J. B. Ivey, founder of Ivey’s Department Stores, was, with his wife, a resident of Henrietta and Caroleen for almost seven years.
In the spring of 1893, he and his wife moved from their Belwood home in Cleveland County to Henrietta where he had accepted an offer from S. B. Tanner to manage the dry goods section of the company store. He was paid seventy-five dollars a month for his work, a good salary in those days. He and his wife rented a three-room house for ten dollars a month.
After training as manager of the grocery department for six months, J. B. Ivey was put in charge of the dry goods and hardware departments. Ivey had had store management experience in Belwood, and he seemed to run the Henrietta Store well, introducing bargains in tin ware, glass, and hosiery. According to his memoirs, the millinery, or hat department, was run at a loss, however, because people did not spend much for hats.
In this position, he went on buying trips to New York and Baltimore, and told some interesting stories. He wrote of becoming sick with malarial fever on one of these trips and being attended to by Dr. T. B. Lovelace on his return home. Dr. Lovelace was a neighbor, and to Ivey, was one of the finest general physicians ever.
Dr. T. B. Lovelace had an arrangement which seemed to be quite a bargain. He would attend to any of the mill families for their allowing sixty cents a month to be withheld from their pay. Dr. Lovelace would look at the sick list each morning, make his rounds, call on those families with sickness, and diagnose and prescribe without additional pay. Under this agreement, sixty cents was deducted whether or not there were sick family members. In reality, the mill families were getting the care of a general physician for only seven dollars and twenty cents a year. This arrangement could be considered a kind of insurance, and may have been unique in its time.
J. B. Ivey, himself, after self-study, measured for and prescribed glasses, and would send to Philadelphia for them. His service was needed as there were no specialists in the area. Writing in the 1940’s, he said that if he were to prescribe again as he had done in the 1890’s without a license, he might be subject to arrest. But, there were no laws against his prescribing glasses at the time, he helped people, and he knew of no one who had ever had problems stemming from his work.
Mr. and Mrs. Ivey later moved to Caroleen where he managed the company store there. They lived in Caroleen for almost three years, when he decided to begin a business of his own, and, by 1900, he had begun Ivey’s in Charlotte.