The Cole Manufacturing Company was first incorporated on October 12, 1900 in Charlotte, North Carolina by four Cole brothers. The Cole brothers were born in Chatham County, North Carolina and later moved to a farm in Moore County near Carthage. It was there that the brothers began to make seed planters for neighbors around 1885. On July 17, 1900 the brothers obtained a US patent for the “Coles’ Combination Planter”.
Cole Manufacturing began operations in Charlotte, NC in a wood building just north of where the Seaboard Air Line Railroad tracks crosses Central Avenue, and struggled for the first few years. Within six years however, business had improved and the company bought more than fourteen acres nearby to expand. About 1910 Charlotte architect C. C. Hook was retained to design a new plant.
The new manufacturing complex was completed in 1911, and the company had the capacity to compete on a wider scale. The new facility had separate buildings for a foundry, grinding shed, machine shop, assembly room and warehouse.
Under the direction of Eugene Macon Cole the business achieved many years of success. According to a government official, E. M. Cole “did more in the improvement of machinery for planting seed than had been done in all preceding centuries”. By the 1940s, it was estimated that three fourths of the cotton, corn, and peanut crops in the South were planted with Cole planters, and by 1961 over two million seed planters, fertilizer spreaders and grain drills had been manufactured and delivered.
In 1953 E. A. Cole’s daughter, Jean Cole Hatcher, took over as head of the company until her retirement in 1972. At her death in 1980, Cole Manufacturing was described in a newspaper article as one of the world’s largest manufacturers of seed planting, fertilizing and farm machine equipment.
Her son, John Cole Hatcher took over and later sold the company to Powell Manufacturing Company. The Cole Planter Company was purchased from Powell late in 2003 by the Covington Planter Company and manufacturing has been reestablished at the Covington Planter facility in Albany, Georgia.
The following is a page from an early Cole Manufacturing Company catalog: