It never eclipsed tobacco, but for almost a century the manufacture of cotton products was one ofPetersburg’s most important industries. Beginning in the 1820s Petersburg became the northernmost city in the UnitedStates where cotton was received from nearby fields and then processed into manufactured goods. Leading the way was the Petersburg Manufacturing Company which opened in 1826. This industrial growth was enhanced by the invention in 1829 by Francis Follett and Jabez Smith of the cotton seed huller. Their machine separated the cotton seed kernels so oil could be extracted and products fabricated from it.

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