I did an interview with Bob Edmunds in 2014, McCormick County’s historian and local author, who gave insight into the history of the Dorn Mill. He mentioned that it was a principal industry for McCormick and the county during the 20th century. He goes on to say in our interview that the original Dorn Mill was founded in 1898, and the new edition was in 1917. The cooperators of the Dorn Mill were J.E. Britt, John J. Andrews, J.Q. Stilwell, M.L.B. Sturkey, and J.B. Harmon. On July 13, the newspaper reported that practically all of the buildings were to commence. Preston Finley took over being superintendent of the mill, and J. E. Britt took on the financial department.
The Dorn Mill began operating as a cottonseed oil mill. There were two enormous steam boilers, fired with wood, and propelled two ten-ton stationary steam engines. It closed because of economics and World War II. The closing impacted the town by it took away a considerable amount of income. The history of the Dorn Mill was affected by its operations and economics.
On November 7, 1898, Nettie F. McCormick deeded 0.75 acres of land to the McCormick Enterprise. Then, on April 18, 1899, the company was chartered as McCormick Cotton Oil Co. Then, on August 7, 1902, it purchased an additional 1.34 acres from McCormick. September 16, 1902, McCormick Cotton Oil Company sold the mill to Anderson Phosphate & Oil Company. Anderson Phosphate bought additional 2.12 acres of land from McCormick on January 18, 1904.
The three-story brick building was constructed adjacent to the railroad in 1899 housed a mill that began operating as a cottonseed oil mill. It consisted of steam boilers, wood, and two ten-ton stationary steam engines. Wood shavings were used as a byproduct and a waste product to power steam engines. In the beginning, it was just operated with wood. They used to fire them for wood shavings. A 10,000-gallon water tank towered above oil mill and was supplied by a submerged pump into a deep water well. By 1904, a cotton gin had been constructed at the location, and a gristmill began operating.
The reason for the Dorn Mill closing was the production of cotton going out. The three reasons why were: bow evil was a poison and control, Great Depression, and World War II. “Structure of the economy changed after World War II,” said Edmunds. Farm operations began to change when the men went off to war. “It was based on supply and demand,” said Edmunds. Cottonseed oil was not as profitable after World War II. The Dorn Mill has closed based on bow evil, the Great Depression, and World War II. The Dorn Mill’s closing impacted McCormick County because it took away a considerable amount of income. The farmers did not have a market for a corn mill. The end of the Dorn Mill was caused by the production of cotton going out, and it took away income.
A piece of history still stands in McCormick in the 21st century. The Dorn Mill has always been a staple for the town and economy because it changed the production of cotton. The closing of the Dorn Mill impacted the city by taking away income for so many workers, and many men went off to war as a result of the closing. The Dorn Mill still exists today and will be an essential industry for decades to come.