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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)
 

A Legacy of Community

 
 
A Legacy of Community Marker image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
1. A Legacy of Community Marker
Inscription. Following the labor turbulence of the 1930s and the strain of the Great Depression, World War II brought relative calm and increased productivity to the mill communities. Immediately after the War, however, mill owners revived a movement that had begun during the Depression Era: the sale of the mill villages. By 1958, owners had sold off 73% of the textile mill villages in the South. Though a few mill towns remained as late as the 1970s, today the mill village community is largely a memory.

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.

Ironically, while the sale of mill villages ultimately eroded unique communities some mill workers benefited from the change. Owners often sold houses directly to workers who lived in
A Legacy of Community Marker image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
2. A Legacy of Community Marker
them. During a period when home ownership rose nationwide, many mill employees also switched from renting to owning.

People misses a lot by not having a community. I believe it made you more secure or something. But now youíre scattered. You work maybe one place, then work way over yonder, and you donít get close to nobody.
Mary Thompson, draw in hand in a North Carolina mill
V

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 mill town schools, mills no longer formed baseball teams and clubs – ultimately mill workers became part o the larger community.

Today, the whirring
A Legacy of Community Marker image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
3. A Legacy of Community Marker
spindles and banging looms are but an echo. The textile mills that once formed the Piedmontís 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.
 
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. Touch 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. 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
The Old Mill closed in December 2003 image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
4. The Old Mill closed in December 2003
after over 100 years of operation. 2004, Cliffside, North Carolina.
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.
 
Also see . . .
1. Glencoe Textile Heritage Museum. (Submitted on July 10, 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 10, 2010, by Patrick G. Jordan of Burlington, North Carolina.) 
 
Additional keywords. Alamance Cotton Mill, Glencoe, Fabric, Textiles, Company Shops, Holt
 
Categories. 20th CenturyAfrican AmericansCivil RightsIndustry & CommerceNotable Places
 
A female worker adjusts the wheels in a textile mill in Hunbaei, image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
5. A female worker adjusts the wheels in a textile mill in Hunbaei,
East China's Anhui Province, May 17, 2005.
Rhythm of the Factory Marker image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
6. Rhythm of the Factory Marker
Rhythm of the Factory Series of Markers - on the Glencoe Mill image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
7. Rhythm of the Factory Series of Markers - on the Glencoe Mill
Glencoe Mill image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
8. Glencoe Mill
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 10, 2010, by Patrick G. Jordan of Burlington, North Carolina. This page has been viewed 676 times since then and 27 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on July 10, 2010, by Patrick G. Jordan of Burlington, North Carolina. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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