History

of

Bemis, Madison Co TN



The Bemis Brothers Bag Company announced plans to move south and build mills that could supply their bag factories with goods of uniform quality. The mill was to be located on a southern site close to the cotton fields and on a good railroad to service their factories at New Orleans, Omaha, St. Louis, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Indianapolis. The site had to be close to an abundant labor supply. At this time Jackson was disignated. A group of citizens headed by Stokley Hays and Mark Mathews asked the county court to purchase three hundred acres of land. The site was known as the H.E. Jackson Plantation, three miles south of Jackson. The land would be donated to Bemis if they would agree to build a 20,000 spindle cotton mill with a village located around it. On January 2, 1900 the court met to consider the purchase. The vote was 20 for and 15 against. By the summer of 1901 the mill was in full operation and in 1905 a second mill was added.

The heart of the village was the mill, four story structure designed by Lockwood, Greene and Company. The town was constructed around the mill. They had a company store, a church, schools, a YMCA and a public bathhouse. During the second phase of construction from 1918 - 1926 they added additional developments, a park an auditorium, more stores and another school. The structure was completed in 1940. The social life of Bemis was governed by the "company". The company store provided postal and banking. A doctors office and drug store came later. The first manager of the Bemis textile was J.b. Young, followed by his son Fred Young and his grandson Fred Jr.

In the 1960's textile plants begain to close their door. Eventually the mill was sold to an individual from Pakistan before finally closing. On may 20, 2000 the town celebrated its 100 the anniversary. The town of Bemis was completely controled by the Bemis Cotton Mill.

Excerpt from Harbert Alexander - Sketches of Jackson and Madison County TN

The Bemis Tennessee cotton mills have announced receipt of an order for approximately 11,000,000 square yards of cloth, the largest since war times, and the Corinth Mississippi, Hosiery mills and Weaver Pants company at Corinth have just put 400 back to work.

Statesville Landmark August 23, 1932

Petition for New Hearing at Bemis Plants is Denied
BEMIS, Tenn., Sept. 21.—The National Labor Relations Board today bad denied a petition for a rehearing of cases # C-56 and C-95 at the Bemis Bag Company, CD. Puckett, local TWOC organizer was informed by B. M. Stem, Asst. secretary of the board. The cases cited were styled Bemis Brothers Bag Company and Local No. 1338 United Textile Workers, and revolved around charges of the TWOC at- Bemis that some of the employes had been discharged for union activities. During the hearing on the principal charges, the labor board ordered the discharged workers reinstated with back pay ranging as for back as October 1834. Another ruling banded down by the board during the initial hearing forbad the Bemis company from permitting a company union to continue to function in its plants. After this hearing, the Bemis company entered a petition for another hearing before the labor board. The decision of tho board on tnis petition reacted a rehearing the letter received by Puckett.

Kingsport Times 21 September 1937