Enslaved people were instrumental in the construction of the mill and the infrastructure abutting the mill, specifically the road and the original bridge over the Tar River. However, from the 1850s to the 1960s, African Americans did not work at the mill until the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After Integration, the mill went from an all-white workforce to a mainly black workforce by the time it closed in 1996.
Slave genealogist and oral historian Bernetiae Reed of the Southern Historical Collection has scoured countless records and archives for information regarding the mill’s African American history to not only understand the African American experience at the mill but also to identify the individual slaves the Battles owned. For her work, interviews with community members are instrumental.