Hamilton's Spring, a serene stretch of land in north Dalton, was an unlikely setting for an industrial revolution. But in 1884 the place came alive when a group of business leaders in Dalton decided to build a textile mill there. Without public fanfare, they pooled their capital with business associates from Tennessee and proceeded to form a corporation. Exactly how and when they were lured into textile manufacturing will probably always remain a mystery. None of them were industrialists. Nor were they well-known southern businessmen. Their fortunes were hardly remarkable in Gilded Age America, but as merchants and financiers in Dixie's expanding commercial economy, they had grown rich and were looking for smart investments. In time they would sink their money into a wide variety of industrial concerns in Dalton, but the Crown Mill was their initial venture. It was the first large-scale manufacturing plant in their north Georgia town, and for many north Georgians, it was the first factory they would ever see.
The plan was to build a spinning and weaving operation, in which cotton would be transformed into plain heavy cloth for the national textile market. Or, as the mill's officials originally phrased it, the business of Crown was "the ginning and conversion