On March 20, 1890, J.L. Coker, Jr. developed one of the first methods for producing paper from native pine wood pulp. With the assistance of his father Major James Lide Coker, J.L. Coker, Jr. formed the Carolina Fiber Company in order to manufacture and market wood pulp and paper, specifically wrapping paper via the sulphite process. After overcoming many difficulties in the development stage, he was able to satisfactorily produce butchers’ manilla wrapping paper, which met the demands of the trade. Throughout the early part of the 20th Century, the business grew steadily, adding more machinery and more employees. Later, in 1925, J.L. Coker, Jr. proved once again his talent for innovation when he made the first commercial installation for the manufacture of pulp from black gum wood. This, along with other modifications to the process, kept Carolina Fiber Company profitable until the business successfully merged with Sonoco Products Company in 1941.
It is because of the efforts and innovations of men like J.L. Coker, Jr. that have kept my adopted hometown of Hartsville not only viable but thriving for almost one hundred years.