Object No. 17: Spindle

The January and Wood Cotton Mill was an icon of Maysville for 170 years.  At the time of its closing in 2004, it was Kentucky's oldest family-owned business.

In 2008, the massive complex of buildings was just a shell of its former glory as demolition took place. 

The Cotton Mill began in 1834 and at one time employed 500 people. The mill was known for its high grade cordage, twines, and carpet warp, known as Maysville Carpet Warp.

Around 1915, Sears Roebuck and Company first listed Maysville Carpet Warp and Rug Filler in their catalog in the Domestics Department.

The mill was in operation through the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean Conflict, Vietnam War, Desert Storm and Iraqi War, plus other military conflicts.

The Maysville Cotton Mills were in continuous operation since the first building was erected about 1834 with the exception of several months during the Civil War, when due to the inability to secure cotton, the mill closed from November 1861 to March 1862. J&W was one of only a few cotton mills in the country to continue operations throughout the Civil War and at times paid as much as $1.75 for a pound of cotton.

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When the U.S. Postal Service banned the use of string on packages and butchers stopped using string to wrap packages because of the invention of scotch tape, the loss of product sales impacted businesses like January and Wood.

According to family stories, Robert N. Adair traveled to Washington, D.C. to talk with politicians about the impact of imported products to American industry during his tenure as J&W president.  A second story is that Chicago police solved a murder by tracing the piece of string used to kill the victim back to J&W, which in turn provided authorities with the names of its customers in the Chicago area.

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