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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Burlington in Alamance County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

The Rise of the Textile Mill Communities

 
 
The Rise of the Textile Mill Communities Marker image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
1. The Rise of the Textile Mill Communities Marker
Inscription. In the decades following the Civil War, the textile industry thrust the South into a period of rapid industrialization. In North Carolina, construction of railroads began through Piedmont “backcountry,” and cities sprung up in their paths. Piedmont farmers, who had always relied on family and neighbors to survive, now had greater access to the outside world. Agriculture itself was changing. The abolition of slavery transformed the plantation system, and freed people struggled to make a living in the New South.

Many merchants profited from the changing times and began to invest in industry. Charlotte engineer D.A. Tompkins and others believed the key to the Southís future was textile manufacturing, and they championed the “Cotton Mill Campaign” to boost economic development. Industrialists soon constructed textile mills along North Carolinaís railroads and rivers. To attract employees, they built centrally located villages, schools, and churches. All investors needed were workers, and they found willing takers among the regionís struggling farmers.

We sold our cotton for five and a half cents. We didnít make enough to pay the fertilizer bill and eat. I went under and failed to make enough to pay my bills. I figured it like this: wherever I would go, whatever I did, I couldnít make it any
The Rise of the Textile Mill Communities Marker image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
2. The Rise of the Textile Mill Communities Marker
worse than this.
Claude Thomas, a Union County farmer who moved to Highland Park Mill in Charlotte, 1914.


Increasingly, small farm families felt economic strain. With higher taxes, farmers needed to grow crops they could sell for cash, like cotton and tobacco. The rise in cash crop cultivation caused prices to fall, and families had to borrow money to survive. The stability of working in the textile mills provided an appealing alternative to many farmers. For large families, moving to the mills often made more sense than struggling to live off the land.

Traditionally, cooperation and hard work among family and neighbors allowed small farms to function. When families decided to move to the mills, they brought their farm values with them. The result was a unique combination of rural and urban – densely populated mill towns inhabited by transplanted farmers. The communities forged in these villages were both old and new. Community and family remained strong. Together, the mill villagers approached a new and different life – a life that revolved around production, set to the rhythm of the factory. In these close-knit communities, generations of North Carolinians made the journey from the Old South to the New.

 
Location. 36° 8.305′ N, 79° 25.67′ 
A North Carolina mountain farm in the early twentieth century. image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
3. A North Carolina mountain farm in the early twentieth century.
W. Marker is near Burlington, North Carolina, in Alamance County. Marker is on Glencoe Street, on the left when traveling west. Click for map. Glencoe Village is 3 miles north of Burlington, NC from NC Highway 62. Marker is in this post office area: Burlington NC 27215, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Living in a Mill-Centered World (here, next to this marker); Neighbors Divided (here, next to this marker); Cotton Dust and Poverty (a few steps from this marker); A Legacy of Community (a few steps from this marker); After the Whistle Blows (a few steps from this marker); Working the Shift (within shouting distance of this marker); Calling the Mill Village 'Home' (within shouting distance of this marker); Glencoe - The Mill Buildings (within shouting distance of this marker). Click for a list of all markers in Burlington.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
 
Also see . . .
1. Glencoe Textile Heritage Museum. (Submitted on July 24, 2010, by Patrick G. Jordan of Burlington, North Carolina.)
2. Glencoe Research Forum. This website provides information on historic Glencoe Mill and the restored mill village. (Submitted on July 24, 2010, by Patrick G. Jordan of Burlington, North Carolina.)
Building of the Forest City village at Florence Mills, North Carolina. image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
4. Building of the Forest City village at Florence Mills, North Carolina.
 
 
Additional keywords. Alamance Cotton Mill, Glencoe, Fabric, Textiles, Company Shops, Holt
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceNotable Places
 
The Schench-Warlick Cotton Mill was the first cotton mill in the South. image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
5. The Schench-Warlick Cotton Mill was the first cotton mill in the South.
Lincoln County, North Carolina.
Postcard of White Oak Mills, 1912. Greensboro, North Carolina. image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
6. Postcard of White Oak Mills, 1912. Greensboro, North Carolina.
Rhythm of the Factory - Series of Markers on Glencoe Mill image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
7. Rhythm of the Factory - Series of Markers on Glencoe Mill
Rhythm of the Factory Marker image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
8. Rhythm of the Factory Marker
Glencoe Mill image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
9. Glencoe Mill
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Patrick G. Jordan of Burlington, North Carolina. This page has been viewed 970 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on , by Patrick G. Jordan of Burlington, North Carolina. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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