Saturday, September 28, 2013

Southern Mill Villages

Growing up in North Carolina you knew about ‘cotton mills’.  There were over 20 in the small town of Belmont at one time. We lived in a mill house once, when dad pastored Burlington, NC. The church had rented a house for the former pastor, so we moved into the large rental house.

My dad was always conservative with our money and the church’s money. His statement, the church money is God’s money. The church owned an older mill house right beside the church. Dad and mom were not strangers to mill houses, having worked in a textile mill before he began his ministry. He consulted the men of the church and asked what it the problem with the house?  There were some problems, and the main one was water. 

“We will dig a well!”  In fact that is what they did. Dad showed them how two use the pick and shovel with shortened handles. I was 6 at the time. I remember seeing him stand in the back yard and start digging turning in a circle making a six foot hole. Dad made a windless and they took turns going deeper. they hit rock and dad showed them how he could use dynamite.  The lowered him into the hole and he drilled a hole and planted the dynamite and lit the fuse. the men used the windless to bring him up. Then they rolled dad’s utility trailer over the hole and pretty soon we heard the WHOOMP!

Dad announced, no more digging today, we must allow the air to clear.

Anyway the well was dug and we moved into the old house. In this house Shirl and I shared a bedroom. The rental had 3 bedrooms.  But it saved the church a lot of money. That was dad.

The other day Shirl invited me to Belmont’s Historical house. It is a fine old home, and on the property they have moved an old mill house in and put it back in the condition of the 1940’s.

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Featured also was a home-made checker board using bottle caps as the ‘men’. Clothes of the day were on display

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The kitchen had the ice box and the kerosene stove. The ice box and stove are pretty fancy for the time.

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This one has a heater in the bedrooms, most did not. Kids used hot water bottles, but mostly it was a brick heated up and wrapped in a towel for cold feet.

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Shirl invited me out to the back porch where the  toilet was. It was the old high tank that you  pulled the chain to flush. Locked at this time. Shirl was cleaning the back porch Some of you remember the wringer washer. Note the spigot on the back porch.

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Many families had pianos. in the living room or in the big hall way.  Fire places were normal and also cast iron heaters.

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Entertainment was ‘watching the radio’.

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OR.. Sitting on the front porch and swinging.

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Most of the visiting, drinking sweet and just having fun was on the front porch. If the house was actually on a hill, the kids had extra places to play.

Shirl enjoys volunteering at the Historical House. I like it because it keep her out of trouble and off the streets.Surprised smile, Smile.

Thanks for coming this way.

Nite Shipslog.


The houses rented to the workers by the room. I believe it was 25¢  room per week. 3BR = 75¢.


Sherry’s family never owned a car (except for one short time), they walked or took the bus.  Mostly walked to town, work, church and visiting.


Bud Coren had one of these on the Climax Mill Village.


Jean said...

Grover and I lived in the mill village here a few years after we married, and the first house we bought was a village house. The mill company sold the houses in the late 50's. You can go through the village now and some houses are in poor condition while others have been taken care of.(more in poor condition.) The mill company kept them up and they look nice when they owned them. It's sad to see the mills gone and the houses in such poor condition. I like the house there. Take Care. Jean

Louis la Vache said...

Great post, Jack!
That took «Louis» back to growing up in Texas. The museum reminds him of his maternal grandparents' home. There was one gas heater in the living room. In the winter, everyone would stand around the heater toasting their backsides. All the other rooms in the house, save the kitchen, were ice cold in the Texas Panhandle winter...

You also made him think of the cotton gins. He remembered the long lines of the cotton trailers at the gins, waiting for the burrs to be separated from the bolls. Your post brought to mind the smell of the cotton burrs burning at the cotton gins. He remembered the sight of the fire coming from the smoke stacks on the cotton gins in the night. Occasionally, the fire would get out of control and the gin would burn down...

betty said...

I like your dad's attitude about money, Jack. That mill house at the historical society looks interesting to explore; I'm sure it did bring back lots of great memories of your growing up years.


shirl72 said...

Pictures look good..Volunteering
for Belmont Historic Society is
fun. They plant a row of cotton to show children when touring where there cotton clothes come from.

I have also learned a lot about
how people lived in early years.
As you said it keeps me off the streets from shopping. They say
I shop like I am a mission from God.

salemslot9 said...

I like the
photos on the
lamp shade :)

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I love looking at historical homes. It's good that your town is keeping that part of history alive. It's good to remember how things were. If we can learn something from those times we are all the better for it. My home is almost 100 years old and was built in a time when our town was growing and alive due to the industry here but now lots of that has moved away to other places. I live in an old neighborhood that has for the most part seen a better day. Still I love my old house. It's been a gorgeous week here filled with cool nights and warm days. Fall is putting a show on for us this week. Hope you all are having some good weather there. Happy Sunday!

Mevely317 said...

How I'd love to see this in person! Several memories from my own grandparents' farm in Minnesota.
Seeing that wringer washer and outdoor spigot, I'm a bit sad to realize how hard they worked every day ... and how much I take for granted.

Have a sweet day!


LOvely house tour.

Paula said...

Those mill houses were pretty nice for that day and time. I wonder if the houses in an area like that here for an oil boom were that nice. I wonder why they don't have something like that here now for this oil boom. People are living in small RV's not big nice ones like yours.

Woody said...

Love the pictures, I grew up with Mother cooking on a kerosene stove, wringer washer, out house, we got a indoor bathroom when I graduated high school.

Chatty Crone said...

Oh Jack I would love to see that personally. My grandmother had some of those and my MIL had the wringer washer. Such hard times compared to now - work wise - but heart wise - I think those days will be sorely missed one day. sandie