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Monday, December 29, 2008

Clinchfield Mill in Marion, McDowell County, NC

Marion, NC, 1903
From History

Marion, the County Seat of McDowell County, was planned and built on land selected by the first McDowell County Commissioners. People wanted the County Seat to be built near the Carson House at Buck Creek several miles from its present location. In fact, court was held there for several years, but Sam Carson himself did not want the town there because he thought it would disrupt plantation life. Ultimately, he and his family donated 50 acres for the County Seat. Then 13 additional acres were bought at $5.00 per acre. Marion was located at a crossroads in a rather central part of the county. The date was March 14, 1844. It was not until 1845, however, that the official name Marion was sanctioned as County Seat by the state legislature. This was in spite of the fact that Marion had been used unofficially for several years. The name Marion came from Francis Marion, the South Carolina Revolutionary War hero, known as “Swamp Fox”. At the time of its founding, Marion was the “end of the line” west, and the old stage coach road west wound around from the end of Main Street through and by the pastures of Pleasant Gardens. Then it followed the hills to the wide ford of the Catawba River. Here buggies, horses, wagons, carriages, and stagecoaches could ford the river when the water was “not up”. The road then made its way to Buck Creek, the Carson House, and on westward. The devastating fire of November 25, 1894 started on Sunday morning in an old building known as the “Ark” which was located behind the Courthouse. The fire spread to Main Street and roared down the street across the railroad bridge and beyond. Next, it jumped across the street and went back up Main Street to Court Street. The few brick buildings were also gutted, as there was no public water supply. Cinders and burning timbers were blown all the way to Mt.Ida, but some houses miraculously escaped with the help of bucket brigades. The re-built houses and businesses were much sturdier and much better built. It was in 1903 that a group of local men, interested in education, got together and started the first public school, which was called The Marion Academy. This was located on Academy Street next to the old Presbyterian Church. Miss Maggie Hudgins was employed as the first teacher. Besides the Presbyterian Church (1847), there were nearby the Baptist Church (1862), the Methodist Church (1908), and the Episcopal Church (1883) was on South Main Street. The African Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1867. Farming then was a main source of income besides the business places in town and the professions. On weekends, farmers would drive into town to sell whatever they had and to replenish their needed supplies, but especially to hear the news. With the establishment of the industrial plants: Marion Manufacturing Company (1909), Clinchfield Mill (1914), and Cross Mill (1916) and Drexel Furniture (1903) with it's Marion plant (1918) there was bound to be change. Industry made it necessary to have electricity, telephones, and running water. There came the old Marion Light and Power Company, started by J.H. Morgan and R.H. Bennett, the Marion Telephone Company, started by Paul Smith with central in an upstairs room on Main Street, and the Marion Water Works.
Marion, Main St, 1920's
From History

Benjamin Stolbert, "Madness In Marion", Nation, October 23, 1929, p. 463, The mill village surrounding the Marion Manufacturing and Clinchfield Mills were described by another source as being "among the worst examples of company towns in the South."

Twelve hour shifts, wages of $8-10/week, stretch out, unsanitary work conditions, rules like not paying a new worker for the first 30 days of work

The Voice of Southern Labor: Radio, Music and Textile Strikes, 1929-1934, by Vincent J. Roscigno & William F. Danaher
Sinclair Lewis spent a summer in Marion, NC and wrote about the awful situations the workers faced. Dilapidated housing, poor nutrition, the cycles of debt to the company that never ended, sicknesses like Tuberculosis and Pellagra were rampant. It kept getting worse. Finally 3 men went to Elizabethton, TN during that strike to try and find someone who would help them organize a union. Alfred Hoffman came back with them and started organizing. By mid-June they had enough workers signed on to begin to hold open meetings. Three quarters of the East Marion Mill signed up (as compared to 20% of Clinchfield Mill) so most of the resources were directed there. But the 2 mills shared meetings and rallies throughout. The AFL of the UTW provided little help other than the organizer, Alfred Hoffman. The strikers initially did parades between the two villages and picketted. Clinchfield Superintendent Bart didn't taunt or fire his union employees at first but by July he laid them off and locked the plant. Baldwin, at East Marion Mill, fired them from the start. When Bart tried to re-open in August, they picketted again. The National Guard was called in. The picketers would try to keep the workers (who crossed the picket lines to work) from sleeping so they would throw dynamite in their yards, drive through the village shouting and singing. The strike was officially over on Sept. 11 when a "gentleman's agreement" was reached. But immediately Presidents Hart (Clinchfield Mill) and Hunt (East Marion Mill) disregarded the terms by blacklisting employees who participated in the union and the strike. More than 100 strikers were refused employment and evictions from mill homes followed.

"Monday, Sep. 09, 1929-North Carolina's labor troubles were by no means confined to the Communist-led strike at Gastonia and its aftermath, the Charlotte murder trial (see above). At the Blue Ridge foothill town of Marion, another textile strike, directed by the conservative United Textile Workers of America, an affiliate of the American Federation of Labor, "went rough" last week, led to the summoning of National Guardsmen.
"Two months ago workers were organized by A. F. of L. agents in the cotton mill of Marion Manufacturing Co., owned by Spinster Sallie Baldwin of Baltimore. When the union hands struck, the mill closed down. Unionization spread to the mills of the Clinchfield Co. which also shut down temporarily. When Clinchfield tried to reopen, strikers massed before the gates, manhandled the superintendent. Guardsmen were sent in to restore order. Mill owners commenced to eject union strikers from company houses.
"Last week when a non-union worker attempted to move into one of these shanties, strikers blocked his way. County Sheriff Oscar Adkins and his deputies rushed the strikers. Stones flew. Pates were cracked. Noses bled. Sheriff Adkins swore out 148 warrants for 'riot, insurrection and rebellion against the constituted authority of the State of North Carolina.' After 74 strikers and their leaders had been arrested, the county jail was filled. More troopers came to town. Minor dynamitings occurred in the mills. A Labor Day parade was banned by the county commissioners and the mill owners moved to evict 230 families of strikers from company homes. "
Declared President B. M. Hart of the Clinchfield Mill: "I will meet only with my own employees. I cannot see that there is any difference between this so-called conservative union and the Communist union at Gastonia. They act alike."

History of the Labor Movement In The United States, The T.U.E.L. (Trade Union Educational League), Volume X, 1925-1929
There was no formal agreement, but rather a handshake agreement. The mill reduced hours as promised but blacklisted a hundred workers for union activities and even evicted families from their mill homes that were known to sympathise. The mill management would not discuss their actions so a night shift spontaneously walked out on Oct 2, 1929. The County Sheriff, Oscar Adkins, and 11 deputies showed up and threw tear gas at the strikers. One 68 year old lame man began struggling with the sheriff and they began beating and clubbing him while the deputies fired into the crowd of retreating strikers. They killed 6 by shooting them in the back and 25 were seriously injured. This is called the Marion Massacre. B. M. Hart, President of Clinchfield Mill, praised the Sheriff and Deputies. There were 26 arrests with 4 convictions but all the deputies were acquitted quickly of 2nd degree murder. Union activity ceased and the governor refused to do a special investigation into the deaths.

13 APR 2005 by Perry Dean Young
"The Marion Massacre By Mike Lawing Wasteland Press, 119 pp., $12
'Twas in Marion, North Carolina,
In a little mountain town;
Six workers of the textile
In cold blood were shot down.'
--From 'The Marion Massacre' by Woody Guthrie

"In the early dawn of Oct. 2, 1929, the McDowell County sheriff and several deputies faced a group of workers outside the fence in front of the Marion Manufacturing Company, whose 600 employees had been on strike for four months.
"Sheriff Oscar Adkins would later swear in court that the strikers opened fire first, although no weapons were ever found on any of the strikers. And, more important, none of the deputies was shot. When the dust settled, however, six strikers had been killed and 24 were wounded. Charges were brought against the sheriff, the mill superintendent, two mill foremen and 14 deputies. A preliminary hearing exonerated the sheriff, the mill employees and six deputies. Eight deputies were brought to trial on second degree murder charges, but a jury in nearby Yancey County quickly acquitted them. The deputies were the beneficiaries of a "Dream Team" of lawyers that included a future governor and U.S. senator as well as a future chief justice of the state Supreme Court. All of the strikers were fired from their jobs and evicted from their company-owned homes.
"It was an historic moment in the history of labor in America. Sinclair Lewis came down and wrote six articles for the Scripps-Howard newspapers, later published as a union pamphlet entitled Cheap and Contented Labor, the phrase used to lure factories to the South. Socialist leader Norman Thomas contributed to the strike fund. Woody Guthrie wrote two (still unpublished) songs about the martyrs in the "Marion Massacre," as the Raleigh News & Observer headlined its report from the scene.
"Mike Lawing grew up in Winston-Salem, but frequently visited relatives in Marion. He drove past the mill dozens of times, but had never once heard anybody mention what happened there. He was well into middle age when his father pointed to the site one day and started to tell him about it. The elder Lawing had three uncles working in the Marion and Clinchfield mills--two supported the strike, one was "loyal" to the company. Lawing's mother was related to a deputy accused of shooting at strikers as well as the attorney who represented the Union. "It was as if both sides were ashamed of what had happened, and nobody wanted to talk about it," Lawing says now. Only in recent years have we begun to see local historians or historians of any kind paying attention to the dramatic story of the efforts to organize labor unions in the textile mills in our state.
"Fascinated by the story, Lawing began collecting information about the strike and its bloody aftermath. He interviewed everybody he could find and collected news reports of strikes in Marion. His research resulted in a series of articles published in the McDowell News, and he has now published the story in The Marion Massacre.
"Lawing is modest about his efforts, explaining, "I am not a writer--I prefer to be thought of as a storyteller." The truth is, Lawing lays out the story in far more sensible and readable prose than the great muckraker Sinclair Lewis did.
"Lawing traces the precise cause of the walkout at Marion to an overload of work that Lewis apparently did not know about. This extra work was on top of the 12-hour day that the men, women and children were expected to work every week for $13, minus the cost of housing and whatever they'd charged at the company store. All they were striking for was a reduction in the work load from 12 to 10 hours with the same pay. Lawing also explains how each of the major strikes in 1929--in Marion, in Elizabethton, Tenn., and in Gastonia--was unique and unrelated to the others. Tragically, the fiercely independent workers shared their bosses' fears of any kind of union that smacked of Bolshevism and Communism. And the bosses gleefully preyed on the workers' racism. Blacks could only get the most menial jobs in the mills. Joining a union, they said, "would mean your wives and daughters would be working right alongside a Negro." And the workers would continue to operate against their own best interests--until their jobs were outsourced to Communist China.
"With admirable persistence, Lawing has succeeded in getting this story home to the folks in Marion and McDowell County whether they want to talk about it or not. After Lawing's articles were published in the newspaper, he was able to connect with many families who had ties to the incident, and their information helped him correct several mistakes. He has scheduled readings in Marion and the book is for sale in three locations there. If his book does not make it on any kind of statewide or national stage, at least he will have helped to erase the long conspiracy of silence and confronted the folks back home with the facts about this tragic event in local history."

Bailey Bright "B.B." Reese (DOB: 1/26/1878 in Joe, Madison County, NC, DOD: 12/10/1949 in Marion, McDowell County, NC) married Lillian "Lily" or "Lilly" Vianna Conner (DOB: 1/9/1887 in Marshall, Madison County, NC; DOD: 1/15/1984 in Marion, McDowell County, NC). The Reeses came down from the mountains to Marion, NC and went to work in the Clinchfield Mill. They lived in the mill village. Bailey Bright was the night watchman at the mill. They lived at 58 Virginia Road (or the house behind that one). B.B. was a member of Clinchfield Baptist Church in Marion. Lily told how she remembered him sitting in his rocking chair reading his Bible or his Biblical Recorder. How he would fall asleep until the Bible fell and woke him up, then he would pick it back up and try to read some more. Bailey Bright and Lily were living with Rass and Gertrude Young at 50 (or 52) Virginia Rd when Bailey Bright died. Their son, my Grandfather, was William Wilford Reese. He also worked at the Clinchfield Mill where he met his future wife, my Grandmother, Geneva "Ginnie" Margaret Lamb. They got married on Dec 30, 1933.

Here is B.B. and Lily on the porch of their mill house in Marion, NC.

B.B. Reese's payroll card.

Clinchfield Mill 2006

The Stethescope

Saxon Mills in Spartanburg, SC

Saxon Mills was a cotton mill founded in 1900 in Spartanburg, South Carolina by John Adger Law (1869-1949). He built his house in the mill village just across from the mill itself. He worked actively for a closer relationship between Southern and New England manufacturers. He served for many years as president of Saxon Mills, Spartanburg, S.C.

Men of the Time, Sketches of Living Notables, by J.C. Garlington, Published in Spartanburg, Garlington Press in 1902
Men of the Time Sketches of Living Notables. A Biographical Encyclopedia of Contemporaneous South Carolina Leaders By J. C. Garlington: "LAW, JOHN ADGER - Born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, September 30, 1869. Educated in the graded schools of Spartanburg and Wofford College, graduating in 1887. For two years a stenographer in Charlotte and Wilmington ,North Carolina. In 1890, was given the position as bookkeeper in the National Bank of Spartanburg. In 1891 was one of the prime movers in the organization of the Spartanburg Savings Bank of which he was elected cashier; and the following year helped organize the Home Building and Loan Association being made secretary and treasurer; now, a director in both of the above institutions. In 1895, assisted in organizing the Central National Bank .In 1900, he organized and commenced building the Saxon Mill, as its president and treasurer, near Spartanburg, South Carolina Has capital $200,000; ten thousand and eighty spindles; and three hundred looms. Married Miss Pearl Sibley of Augusta Georgia, November 14, 1895."

Men of Mark in South Carolina, Ideals of American Life, by J.C. Hemphill, Vol II, Published Men of Mark Publishing Co in Washington, DC, in 1908
JOHN ADGER LAW - son of Thomas Hart Law and Anna Elizabeth Law, was born September 19, 1869 at Spartanburg, South Carolina. His father was a clergyman the pastor of the First Presbyterian church of Spartanburg and district superintendent of the American Bible society. He was a consecrated Christian and good business man as well. The earliest known paternal ancestors in America were French Huguenots, the maternal ancestors, Adger, by name were Scotch Irish from Antrim county, Ireland. Dr. John B. Adger, uncle of John A. Law, was a missionary to Armenia. As a boy, John Law was active and robust fond of athletics, of domestic work, and horses. His early life was passed in the town of Spartanburg. He was taught to do all light forms of manual labor around the house including carpentering, gardening, and caring for animals. The chief influence in molding the life and character of John Law, were first the home in which his mother was a most potent factor; then in order men in active life, early companionship, private study, and school. For reading, he was especially fond of the historical novel, Education of both school and college grade, was given him by his parents. He attended private schools and Wofford college graduating from both. In 1887, he received the degree of AB from Wofford college. His active work was begun in the capacity of stenographer and typewriter. Into this, as into all subsequent work, he threw himself, with all his might having been taught from earliest childhood to strive for success in everything he might undertake. Mr Law was from 1887 to 1889 private secretary to the superintendent of the Southern Express company at Charlotte and Wilmington, North Carolina; from 1889 to 1891, he was bookkeeper for the First National bank of Spartanburg; from 1891 to 1901 he was cashier of the Spartanburg Savings bank; from 1901 to the present 1907 time he has been president of the Saxon mills; also, since 1903 president of the Central National bank of Spartanburg and of the Spartanburg Savings bank. As a business man, he has the confidence, esteem, and best wishes of all who know him; by nature, training, and associations, he has the promise of a brilliant career and the members of his community are glad to entrust to him positions of responsibility. Mr Law is an elder in the Presbyterian church but has declined all political honors, He is a member of the National Association of Manufacturers of the American Bankers association; and a member of the Converse College Choral club; and, also, of the executive committee of the latter organization. In politics he is a Democrat. He finds his relaxation in hunting, fishing, tennis, horseback riding, and driving. From the thwarted ambitions and shattered ideals of life Mr Law draws one lesson namely that of unending perseverance. To the young, he commends a return to the simpler and more economical methods of living of our forefathers; to old fashioned honesty, energy, and sobriety. On November 14 1895, Mr Law married Pearl S Sibley, daughter of William C and Jane E Sibley of Augusta, Georgia. Of their five children, four are living in 1907. His address is Spartanburg South Carolina"

Who's Who In Finance and Banking, A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporaries, 1920-1922, Edited by John William Leonard
Who's who in Finance and Banking: "LAW, John Adger, Spartanburg, SC. Banker manufacturer b. Spartauburg, SC Sept. 19, 1869; s. Rev. Thomas Hart Law, D D and Anna Elizabeth (Adger) Law; A. B. Wofford Coll 1887; m. Nov., 1887, Pearl Sibley of Augusta, GA. Cashier Spartanburg Savings Bank 1801 1900; pres and dir Central National Bank, Spartanburg, SC since 1903; organizer, pres and treas Saxon Mills 1900; pres and treas Chesnee Mills; organizer and treas Manufacturers' Power Co; dir Piedmont and Northern Railway; pres Spartanburg Clearing House Assoc. Trustee Kennedy Free Library, Converse Coll, Wofford Coll; dir South Atlantice Music Festival Assn. Chairmn Spartanburg County Highway Commission. Democrat. Presbyterian."

The Cotton Mills of South Carolina by August Kohn, Published in Columbia, SC, 1907
The Cotton Mills of South Carolina, 1907 Letters Written to the News and Courier By August Kohn, South Carolina Dept. of Agriculture: "At the SAXON MILL, which is in the suburbs of Spartanburg, there are two churches and a third will probably be erected by the Presbyterians who have an organization but not yet a church. The Baptists and Methodists have churches. The corporation contributed the property. The church buildings were erected by their employees and their friends, among them being a number of individual stockholders in the Saxon Mills. The company contributed to some extent to the maintenance of the churches. The churches are well attended. The school building was erected at a cost of $6,000 by the corporation and each year the company contributes between $400 and $500 towards the support of the schools which employ two teachers. One of them is paid entirely by the company and the other by the school district. The company expects to erect a very fine library in the near future."
The Cotton Mills of South Carolina, 1907 Letters Written to the News and Courier By August Kohn, South Carolina Dept. of Agriculture: pg 56"...The cow is the pet of the operative and there is not a mill community of those that I visited that has not a considerable number of cows. The mills always provide pastures. At Pelzer, there are three pastures; at Newberry, there is ample pasturage on a creek; in Columbia, the Parker Mills provide pastures and expect the operative to keep their kine on the edge of the village. At Piedmont, there are four pastures. At the Saxon Mills, cows are tabooed in the village proper but they are well cared for outside. At Whitney, no hogs or cowpens are allowed in the village but there are three pastures on the outskirts; and, so it goes throughout the cotton mills of the State. There is no reason why every mill operative should not get pure milk from the cows that are in the mill communities themselves. I found that milk is selling in most of the communities at 20 cents per gallon for sweet milk, 10 cents per gallon for buttermilk, 20 cents per pound for butter"
The Cotton Mills of South Carolina, 1907 Letters Written to the News and Courier By August Kohn, South Carolina Dept. of Agriculture: pg 66 "Not only is the labor getting more pay and better accommodations but they are having all sorts of little things done for them to expedite their work and to save them trouble and work. In former years, the operatives were expected to clean their own weave machines. At present quite a number of the mills have installed a compressed air cleaning apparatus by which all of the lint and dirt is blown from the machine. At quite a number of the mills, notably those at Newberry, the operatives are given a week's holiday annually and at very many other mills successful picnics are given. At Saxon Mills, for instance, President Law at first undertook the management of this diversion himself but the operatives are now managing their own picnics in Columbia, by way of illustration."
The Cotton Mills of South Carolina, 1907 Letters Written to the News and Courier By August Kohn, South Carolina Dept. of Agriculture: pg 71 "At Saxon Mill I found quite a number of the operatives had invested in property around the town and that they were very much pleased with their investments."
The Cotton Mills of South Carolina, 1907 Letters Written to the News and Courier By August Kohn, South Carolina Dept. of Agriculture: pg 83 "...But this same touch of fellowship extends all along and there is a general disposition among the cotton mill presidents to mix and mingle with their employees. President Jno A. Law, of the Saxon Mills, which is a high type of the successful mill, has his home in the mill community in the suburbs of Spartanburg where the mill is located."
pg 88 "Saxon Mills 450 employees and 706 mill population" pg 94 "Saxon Mills 30, 464 Spindles and 745 Looms" pg 110 "Saxon Mills 450 employees, 1 boy under 12, 0 girls under 12" pg 139 "Saxon Mills 132 children enrolled in school, 65 average attendance, 150 children under 12 in village" pg 142 "Saxon Mills, $6,000 invested in school bldg by mill" pg 149 "Saxon Mills, 2 churches erected by mill" pg 182 "Saxon Mills 3,500 bales of cotton consumed by mill, $360,000.00 value of manufactured product" pg 190 "Saxon Mills $65,000.00 amount of annual payroll" pg 196 "Saxon Mills - Print cloth and fancies are made"

History of South Carolina, Edited by Yates Snowden, LL, D, In Collaboration With H.G. Cutler, General Historian, Vol II of V Volumes, 1930
History of South Carolina By Yates Snowden, Harry Gardner Cutler: "Spartanburg - Saxon Mills; J. A. Law, president; 41,216 spindles; capital stock $1,000,000"

The main mill facility was constructed beginning in 1906, with major additions and renovations coming in 1945, 1966, 1967, and 1987. The building is broken down into various manufacturing and warehouse areas. The original facility built in 1906 is (5) five stories and is wood framing with masonry brick exterior. The photos below were taken in 1912.

Sold to Reeves Brothers, along with Chesnee Mill, in 1945 and produced print cloth. In the 1950s, Reeves Bros. converted Saxon to a polypropylene fiber facility, then sold the entire business to Phillips Fibers Company in 1964.

Plant was later sold to Amoco Fibers Co and Drake Extrusion. Closed briefly in 2001, then reopened in 2002 by a Georgia partnership, Saxon Fibers LLC, which hired 40 people and planned to grow to 75. (Textile Town, Spartanburg, SC by the Hub City Writer’s Project, Betsy Wakefield Teter, Editor, pg 315)

For more on Una click HERE.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

2008 Huneycutt Christmas

Every Christmas morning my family gets together for brunch. This year it was at our house. We missed Jenny and Kyle this year. Jenny can't travel since she's so close to her due date. But Elaine, Ronnie, Luke and Hannah are going down to Charleston to take their gifts to them and to see them. Merry Christmas, Jenny!

Ronnie fried up the leftover ham from last night. It was great!

Mom with one of the Panera Bread bagels. I bought a couple of dozen and some cream cheese.



Some of the gifts.

Lee wasn't feeling real good but he came.

Hannah was a little sleepyhead!

Luke and annah can fit together in this big chair!


I didn't feel so great today either. Knowing Christmas is over is very depressing to me and I know I'm going to have that feeling. So I get busy. I don't want to give into it. So after brunch and some visiting time, I hit the kitchen and cleaned up. Everyone left for home about 1:00pm and I did what I always do...I took Christmas down! I took down the decorations, cleaned them and put them away. Then I dusted everything. I felt too bad to vacuum and mop but Stan pitched in and did it for me. So by 2:00pm I was in my pj's and I laid down for the rest of the afternoon. I read and took a nap. My back is killing me and I ache all over but the house is in good shape with no trace of Christmas. Ronnie is the same way and we always tease each other to see who got the decorations taken down first. I bet I won this time! Video of Huneycutt Christmas

2008 Harris Christmas Eve

Every Christmas Eve, we spend it with Stan's side of the family. We missed Donnie, Joshua, Jacob, Chelsea, Dustin, Jenny and Kyle this year. I hope these photos and video bring you the family Christmas!

Luke, Hannah and Katie

Ronnie and Eddie



Gag Gifts

Angie and Logan



Logan and his disguise!




Gag Gifts

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