Near Burlington in Alamance County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
A Legacy of Community
Several factors drove owners to sell the mill houses. With affordable automobiles available, many mill workers could buy cars allowing them to live farther from the mills. During this period, new labor laws limited working hours, and most mills adopted shift work to boost production. Increasing the numbers of employees would have required owners to provide additional, expensive housing. Also, laws prohibiting young children from working caused family housing to be less cost effective. Finally, fearing that the villages fostered delinquency and promoted a distinct white lower class, regional leaders encouraged integration into the larger community.
People misses a lot by not having a community. I believe it made you more secure or something. But now you’re scattered. You work maybe one place, then work way over yonder, and you don’t get close to nobody.
Mary Thompson, draw in hand in a North Carolina millV
With the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the increasing number of higher-paying jobs available to whites outside of the mills, owners began employing African Americans in greater numbers. Still mills did not offer them equal wages and opportunities for advancement. Not until African Americans began to unite and voice their grievances in the 1960s and 1970s did their experiences in the textile mills begin to improve.
The sale of the houses did not break down mill communities overnight; rather, the process was gradual. The villages remained overwhelmingly white, and most homeowners still worked in the mill or held other blue-collar jobs. The end of mill-owned institutions, however, slowly wore away the sense of community. Town stores closed, county school systems incorporated
Today, the whirring spindles and banging looms are but an echo. The textile mills that once formed the Piedmont’s economic backbone are moving to Mexico, India, and China in search of cheaper labor. As the mills close, they leave behind a legacy of cities and towns – from Burlington to Gastonia – born during the height of Southern industrialization. The unique communities of people who lived and labored in these mill towns made a lasting imprint on our social, cultural, and physical landscape. Though most North Carolinians no longer live by the rhythm of the factory, the lives and stories of those who did form an integral part of our shared heritage.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Civil Rights • Industry & Commerce • Roads & Vehicles • Settlements & Settlers • War, World II. A significant historical year for this entry is 1958.
Location. 36° 8.3′ N, 79° 25.663′ W. Marker is near Burlington, North Carolina, in Alamance County. Marker is on Glencoe Street, on the left when traveling west. Glencoe Village is 3 miles north of Burlington, NC from NC Highway 62. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Burlington NC 27215, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers Cotton Dust and Poverty (here, next to this marker); After the Whistle Blows (here, next to this marker); Neighbors Divided (here, next to this marker); Living in a Mill-Centered World (a few steps from this marker); The Rise of the Textile Mill Communities (a few steps from this marker); Working the Shift (a few steps from this marker); Calling the Mill Village 'Home' (a few steps from this marker); Women in the Mill Village (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map 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.
Additional keywords. Alamance Cotton Mill, Glencoe, Fabric, Textiles, Company Shops, Holt
Credits. This page was last revised on October 12, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 10, 2010, by Patrick G. Jordan of Graham, North Carolina. This page has been viewed 774 times since then and 8 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on July 10, 2010, by Patrick G. Jordan of Graham, North Carolina. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.