In 1802, Joseph Nichols dammed the Pawcatuck River and built a grist mill near the present location of Carolina Mill, and for a time, the area was called "Nichols' Mill." At that time, the only buildings were the grist mill, a few small houses and outbuildings nearby. There also existed a bridge, known as "Nichols' Bridge".
The grist mill was replaced by a textile mill for cotton goods in the mid-1830s, but was not successful until it became the property of Rowland G. Hazard of Peace Dale, South Kingstown in 1841, and was run as a woolen mill. By 1840, the Providence and Stonington railroad was built, making it economically feasible for factories to be built on the river. Mr. Hazard assembled 1,000 acres of land on the Nichols' grist mill site and built a dam, a mill pond and a larger cotton mill. He also built a mill town that he named Carolina, after his wife, Caroline Newbold Hazard.
Mr. Hazard was a brilliant business man. He was also a social visionary active in social justice issues throughout his life. Carolina was consciously designed to be a model mill town with a school, good housing, clean water, a church and social organizations. From 1840 to 1870, about two thirds of the houses in Carolina were built by people who lived and worked in this thriving village, names familiar in the Cross' Mills and Quonochontaug areas.
In 1868, Hazard sold the mill to Ellison Tinkham and Franklin Metcalf, who also proved to be good businessmen, as well as good people to work for. The Carolina Mill thrived and so did the village. Employment was steady and social life was busy. Music and theater, baseball and expeditions to the beaches were frequent. There were also a wide variety of small businesses in town: a cigar factory, for example, operated for years. The factory was owned and operated by William D. Cross, a direct descendant of Joseph Cross, founder of Cross' Mills, and who with his son and grandson, were tax collectors of Charlestown for many years.
By the 1890s, the name Carolina Mills had become Carolina. Edward C. Brown had built a good-sized store which became highly patronized under the name of "Edward C. Brown and Sons." Mr. Brown and his son traveled all over the Charlestown area by horse and wagon delivering meat and groceries. By 1932, Linton L. Brown operated his grandfather's business and was elected to the office of Charlestown Town Clerk. The office was located in the old store. Linton served faithfully and well as the town clerk for the next forty years.
During the early 1900s, the village fell on hard times. Over-expansion during the 1920's, the Depression and the departure of the textile businesses for the south, and then the Hurricane of 1938, left the town with little to keep it going except Wright's Garage and strong families. In the 1970s, Rt. 95 made it accessible to newcomers and the village began to grow again to the present day. It has survived remarkably intact and it is much as it was when it was created in 1840.
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