In early 1915 the Noxall Bottling Works was dissolved as a business and became the Hillsboro Bottling Company, with Abner B. Fitch (of Fitch Lumber fame) as its proprietor. Why did the company change hands at this time? There are many possible factors, from bottle production methods (semi-automatic bottle-making machines were becoming commonplace amongst bottle-making companies, which made bottles much more cheaply available to beverage bottlers) to government regulations (i.e. the Gould Amendment to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which stated that the volume or quantity of the contents of a container be "...plainly and conspicuously marked on the outside of the package...") to money and/or business relationships. I feel that the business partners of Noxall (J. Zeb Waller, Landres M. Squires, and William M. Miles) were likely offered good money for their company and that they wanted to move onto other things (Squires, for instance, soon started the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Works in Burlington).
After 1900, Coca-Cola started to get serious regarding its identity in the growing soda market: In 1906, Coca-Cola began successfully suing competing beverage brands that had similar names and/or used the term "cola" in their name and/or had a similar logo, and in 1916 a new style of bottle was introduced, as it was felt that the straight-sided bottle Coca-Cola bottlers were using was easily confused with competitors and imitators (this "new style" of bottle is virtually the same highly-recognizable style of trademarked bottle that Coca-Cola uses today). In October 1918, Coca-Cola sued the Old Dominion Beverage Corporation and lost; the court's decision was appealed in March 1921. The 1918 decision was reversed, and the Old Dominion Beverage Corporation/Taka-Kola Bottling Company had to cease use of the Taka-Kola name and brand. The Hillsboro Bottling Company must have seen the writing on the wall (and/or was pressured by Coca-Cola) and in 1920 it decided to only bottle Coca-Cola as its main cola product line.
In 1920, the Hillsboro Bottling Company changed ownership and was renamed the Hillsboro Coca-Cola Bottling Company, with Owen S. Robertson
as its manager (Owens was a University of North Carolina alumnus, World War I veteran, and was a cotton mill manager when he was hired). A new brick building was built a few blocks to the west, new machinery was purchased and installed (a 1,000 bottle-capacity Miller Hydro soaker, two Crown Cork & Seal Company
foot-powered crowners/bottle cappers, a 250 gallons an hour-capacity Liquid Carbonic Company Magic Carbonater), and new cases and bottles were purchased and utilized. In addition to bottling Coca-Cola, the bottling works continued to bottle a "general line of sodas." Some of the employees at this time were William Simms, Dave Payne, and Willie C. Shanklin.
Bottles utilized for Coca-Cola from this Hillsboro Bottling Company period (circa 1914 to 1920) were marked "Property of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Hillsboro, N.C."
Another part-time employee during this time (the summer of 1925) – long-time Hillsborough resident (now deceased) Clarence Jones – in 1980 recalled his time working for the bottling works: "One day a week, I helped in the bottling plant, and the other two and a half days I delivered bottled drinks to retail customers. Coca Cola was 80 cents for a crate of 24. Ginger ale and fruit flavored drinks were a little less, but they all sold for a nickel." Jones also noted that the term "Coke" hadn't been coined yet, and soda was nicknamed "dope" at the time. He also noted that Robertson was a good boss to him.
The bottling works ceased operations in 1939, and the corporation was suspended by the State of North Carolina for failure to file report and pay franchise tax.
Soon after the Hillsboro Coca-Cola Bottling Company went out of business, W. M. Chance opened the Premier Roller Shop (the company recovered worn out rollers from mills in central North Carolina and reconditioned them for reuse by the mills) in part of the former bottling works building (the rear of the building was utilized as a dwelling); this business closed in the 1940s.
In the early 1970s the mill (at the time, it was named Saratoga Kniting Mills
) built a new warehouse on the site of the 1920 bottling works building; it is now used as a warehouse.
1916 postcard showing the interior of a similar bottling works (the Chero-Cola Bottling Company, Winston-Salem)
The Hillsborough bottling works building, 1920s (image courtesy of Cone Mills Corporation via the Orange County Historical Museum)
1924 Sanborn map excerpt showing the Hillsborough bottling works building
1943 Sanborn map excerpt showing the former bottling works building as a "textile roller shop"
The former bottling works building, circa 1950 (image courtesy of Cone Mills Corporation via the Orange County Historical Museum)
1920s stationery header
The former Hillsborough bottling works building site, circa 1970 photo (image courtesy of Cone Mills Corporation via the Orange County Historical Museum)