The Cedar Hill foundry and machine shop was established before the Civil War by Clapp, Huffman and Company. The manufactory was located on the Alamance River in Guilford County and produced a variety of farm machinery in addition to providing equipment and tool repair services. The firm was managed by George W. Clapp and his family throughout the life of the foundry. At the beginning of the Civil War, Clapp and others with interests in the foundry leased most of the property to the firm of Jones and Mendenhall for that company to produce guns for the Confederate war effort.
Jones and Mendenhall produced ordnance equipment for the state until early 1862 when they relocated to their own facilities in Jamestown, also in Guilford County. After their tenants moved out, the owners of the foundry at Cedar Hill began making bayonets for the military but were persuaded by state officials to continue manufacturing badly needed guns for North Carolina’s troops at twenty dollars per gun. Their first contract quota in March 1862 was for 2,500 guns. The company re-organized in late 1862 and was renamed Clapp, Gates and Company, incorporating the name of Charles Carol Gates, a school friend of the manager, Jacob Crawford Clapp. Clapp and Gates attended Amherst College together in Massachusetts. Gates, a native of Vermont, decided to move to the Tar Heel State to assist the firm as a marketing agent between the company, the state of North Carolina, and the Confederacy.
Cedar Hill produced over 1,000 rifles for the Confederacy during its years of operation from 1862 to 1864 in addition to producing other items such as screw drivers, vises, and gun wipers. According to Clapp family tradition, the foundry was destroyed by Union forces that occupied the region at the end of the war, putting an end to all work at the site. The Clapp family remained in the area, farming and doing other machinery work while Charles Gates fled with funds intended for the foundry, moving to Chicago where he become a successful lawyer who hid his past from his new circle of friends in the North.
(NOTE: a lawyer stealing money in Chicago??? Hard to believe???)
Frank L. Clapp, “A Story of Cedar Hill Foundry and Machine Shop” (1971), unpublished manuscript in files of Research Branch, Office of Archives and History
John Bivins, Long Rifles of North Carolina (1968)