Work starts on bag factory

Published 11:47 am Friday, August 26, 2016

by Clyde Parker

August 26, 1941
Work was started yesterday on the foundation of a $500,000 paper bag factory that will provide employment for 180 people here, possibly by the first of the coming year. The plant, to be operated by Taggart Corporation of New York, will be erected on a plot of land just to the south of the Chesapeake-Camp Corporation paper mill in Isle of Wight County across the Blackwater River from the town of Franklin. Chesapeake-Camp will supply high-quality kraft paper (kraft meaning “strength”) for the manufacture of multi-wall bags.

Announcement that arrangements had been completed for construction of the bag factory was made Tuesday from New York City by Roy K. Ferguson, president of Taggart Corporation.

This company is one of America’s pioneer paper bag manufacturers, having begun operations at Watertown, New York, in 1866. It now operates four other paper plants and three bag factories in up-state New York.

Officials of Chesapeake-Camp Corporation said this week, in discussing the new industrial unit, that Chesapeake-Camp had spent/will spend a total of $700,000 in equipment and experimentation to evolve a kraft paper that would exactly meet the specifications of the Taggart Corporation. The paper used will be different from ordinary kraft wrapping paper.

Presently, paper of this type is manufactured by northern converting mills out of Scandinavian pulp. The difficulty in shipping from Europe, due to the war, has made it desirable to develop native sources for quality bag paper; and, Chesapeake-Camp is the first southern paper mill to have perfected a suitable bag paper from native southern pine.

The Taggart plant is expected to have a capacity of 280,000 bags a day.

“The establishment of this new facility will give us the capacity to meet increased demand for high quality, and strong, multi-wall bags. Department of Defense requirements, based on increased industrial shipments of chemicals, food products, and building materials, have caused us to respond in this way.” said Mr. Ferguson.

Of the 180 people that the plant will employ, 100 will be women. It is expected that employment of such a large number of women will be particularly helpful to many families in Franklin and the surrounding territory. Experience has shown that this type of work is clean and comfortable and not taxing on a woman worker; it is said to be a favorite type of industrial employment sought by women. Initially, the bag plant will operate on a single shift basis.

Work on the concrete foundation work of the building was begun yesterday by local contractor W. Hunter Scott, Contractors. The plant will have a concrete floor with brick walls and 20-year bonded roof. It will occupy 114,985 square feet of floor space, dimensions being 377 by 305 feet.

The bag factory will be operated as an entirely separate corporation from Chesapeake-Camp, whose interest will consist chiefly in furnishing paper to the Taggart bag factory.

Franklin to take part in defense

Franklin participated in Air Raid Warden Service maneuvers earlier this week. Drills will run, as presently planned, through the middle of October. After the drill period is over, observations, looking for enemy aircraft, will most likely continue for an indefinite period of time.

Mr. R.H. Allen, manager of Leggett Department Store, is the Chief Air Raid Warden, assisted by Frank Day.

“The purpose of the maneuvers is to accustom the public as to what to expect if an actual enemy air raid should take place,” said Allen.

During training earlier in the week, Franklin waited in vain for “enemy air attacks.” No raiding planes appeared up until 11 o’clock yesterday; however, observers, later in the day, encountered “enemy” aircraft. (The uncertainty as to when “enemy aircraft” might appear is a major part of the drill process.)

Local spotters under the direction of George H. Parker Jr. were at their post, the Vepco sub-station on Route 258, the North Carolina Highway, south of town.

Five reports were made by the spotters; two formations of two planes each, one of four, one of three, and one formation that was heard but could not be seen. The reports were telephoned to Norfolk over a direct line from the Franklin exchange.

Mr. Parker, J.E. McGowen, and R.A. Pretlow Jr. were on duty in shifts of four hours each yesterday, as observers. Working with them was a group of assistants who served two together on series of two-hour shifts during the twelve-hour period 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Participating assistants are Jonah Soble, Kenneth Pillow, B. T. Watkins Jr., Allen Cobb, Buddy Sykes, L.E. Brett Jr., Mrs. G.H. Parker Jr., Mrs. M.B. Raiford, Mrs. Roy T. Matthews, Mrs. Leroy Smith, Mrs. J.E. Wright, Mrs. Jack G. Holland, and Misses Ouida Cook, Carolyn Brown, Erin Pace and Virginia Bristow.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is