Mitchell Family

Averette N. Mitchell

Averette Nance Mitchell was born April 19, 1881 to Quincy Bostic Mitchell and Catherine Rebecca Nance on a farm south of Fairmont. In 1896 his father died suddenly and he became the breadwinner for his mother and five sisters. He was three months shy of his fifteenth birthday and it was time to prepare for planting.

Hitching his wagon, he travelled to Lumberton to get seed and supplies. The dealer that his father had worked with turned him down so he visited another merchant and obtained what he needed -- on credit. "Pay me when you get your crop in," he told Mitchell. He told the merchant "I'll never forget you."

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Photo credit:Jack Mitchell, Jr., used with permission

After farming for ten years, he moved his mother and sisters into a larger home in Fairmont in 1907. Late that year, on December 4, he married Elizabeth Amanda Parker, daughter of Joseph Parker and Amanda McKellar of the Iona Community. Their first son, Joseph Quincy, was born on July 27, 1908. Later that year, he built a home on Church Street at a cost of $750. Not long afterward he built another beside it for his mother and sisters.

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Photo credit:Jack Mitchell, Jr., used with permission

With his move to Fairmont Mitchell also became a cotton buyer, first as an agent for John F. Maybank of Charleston, SC, then later becoming an independent. When cotton began to lose its luster he turned his attention to the tobacco business, building packhouses for storage and renting them to buying companies. He encouraged the buying companies to build re-drying plants in Fairmont without success, so in 1919 he and other investors formed a corporation, raised money and built what became Imperial Tobacco Company's re-drying facility at Walnut and Center streets. All of this was done to help speed the removal of purchased tobacco from the warehouses, freeing up space for additional tobacco sales. As a byproduct it created several hundred seasonal jobs which lasted until Imperial closed the facility in 1960.

During this time, five more children were born -- Jack (1911), Elizabeth (1913), Linda (1915), Harry (1919) and Laura (1922) -- and A. N. was becoming one of the largest farmers in the area, eventually owning more than 6,000 acres of land. His cotton brokerage was expanding. Live was good in Fairmont in the 1920's.

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Photo credit:Jack Mitchell, Jr., used with permission

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Photo credit:Jack Mitchell, Jr., used with permission

In 1930 the Great Depression hit the area hard. Commodity prices plunged and the farmers suffered. At one point in the early 1930's A. N. had filled all of his storage buildings in town with cotton rather than selling it at a loss. He held on until he could recoup his money as the price eventually rebounded, but he and his son Jack spent much of their time checking the bales to make sure that there was no spontaneous combustion, which could financially destroy them.

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Photo credit: Paul Thompson, Jr., used with permission.

A. N. was elected a town commissioner for several terms and was Mayor at one point. As he aged, his sons Jack and Harry shared more of the responsibility of the day-to-day business operations and A. N. performed an "overseer" role, but knew exactly what was going on. He remained active into his ninety's and died on November 3, 1976 at age 95.


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