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Home North Carolina Guilford County City of Greensboro Historical Markers Cone Brothers

Cone Brothers

Church Street at Wendover Avenue, Greensboro, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 36° 5' 16.0836", -79° 47' 3.9444"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Moses and Ceasar Cone pioneered marketing of textiles; manufactured denim & flannel. Their first mill, Proximity, 1895, was 1/4 mile N.E."
     Sons of Bavarian immigrants Herman and Helen Kahn (Cone), future textile executives Moses H. (Herman) and Ceasar Cone were born in Jonesboro, Tennessee, Moses on June 29, 1857, and Ceasar on April 22, 1859. From there the family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where the children were educated in the public schools. Father Herman was the proprietor of a wholesale grocery business and made his sons co-partners in 1878. Moses and Ceasar in 1891 established the Cone Export and Commission Company with headquarters in New York City. They convinced southern mill owners that marketing textiles was as important as manufacturing and persuaded ninety percent of them to contract with their company. In 1893 they moved the main office to Greensboro.

     The brothers soon began acquiring land in Guilford County, particularly on the northeast side of Greensboro, and in 1895 opened Proximity Mill, their first plant in the Gate City. The name was selected owing to the proximity of the mill to area cotton fields. In 1899 they opened Revolution Mill, then the world’s largest flannel mill. White Oak Mill, constructed between 1902 and 1905, was at the time the largest cotton mill in the South and the largest denim manufacturer in the world.

     According to the sketch prepared for Samuel A. Ashe’s Biographical History of North Carolina (1917), “while Moses Cone never had anything to do with the details in the management and operation of these mills, it was his master mind that conceived, planned and finished them in conjunction with Ceasar Cone, whose cool judgment, capacity for detail, and practical mind were equally potential in their projection, completion, and operation.” Moses Cone in 1899 began buying what became his 3,500-acre estate near Blowing Rock. It is there, on property transferred in 1946 to the Blue Ridge Parkway, that he is buried. He died on December 8, 1908. Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro was established by terms of his bequest. Ceasar Cone died on March 1, 1917, and was buried in the family cemetery one block south of Cone Boulevard in Greensboro. In 1991 the company observed the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Cone textile empire.

William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, I, 412-413—sketches by William S. Powell
Howard E. Covington Jr. and Marion A. Ellis, eds., The North Carolina Century: Tar Heels Who Made a Difference, 1900-2000 (2002)
Samuel A. Ashe, ed., Biographical History of North Carolina, VIII, 101-121—sketches by G. Samuel Bradshaw
Ethel Stephens Arnett, Greensboro, North Carolina (1955)
Barry M. Buxton, A Village Tapestry: The History of Blowing Rock (1989)
Cone Brothers Historical Marker Location Map, Greensboro, North Carolina