Dillon County History and Genealogy, graphic by Victoria


Oral Histories
by Victoria Proctor

Contributor prefers to remain Anonymous.

Mom is 89+ years old. Her family moved from Horry County to Dillon when she was 10 years old. She attended schools to the 6th grade and the last school she attended was East Elementary in Dillon and her last teacher was Anice(sp) Webb.

Mom began work in the Maple Cotton mill in 1927 on her 14th birthday. (She remembers the 'Old Mill' (old mill hill) was Mill #1, the Maple Mill (Maple mill hill) was mill #2, and the Hamer Mill was Mill #3.) Her Pa took the family Bible to the mill office to prove her age. She was small for her age, less than 5' tall and weighed less than 100 lbs. She said the 'Boss' sent her to the 'water house' (toilet) one day to hide because they were expecting a government inspector and thought the inspector would not believe her age because of her size. Following are things she remembers about the Maple Cotton mill.

The mill owners (1927) were the Cannon brothers from Charlotte, NC. Mr. (?) Brown was in charge of the three mills. Mr. Browns wife was related to the Cannon brothers and they were the parents of Phil Brown, who was well known in Dillon.

Bales of ginned cotten were stored in a warehouse and taken to the 'Card Room' . The cotton was dumped into machines that churned and broke it up and turned it out into a very thin sheet, so thin it was transparent. These sheets were put into another machine that converted the sheets into a 2" loose rope. The next machine would take two of the ropes and make a smaller and stronger rope and wound on big bobbins. All the people who worked in this area were men, and she only remembers that one of the machines was called a 'picker'.

These big bobbins were taken to the spinning frames where they were spun into threads and wound on other wooden bobbins. The size of the thread was called 'numbers' and was determined by the gear used in the spinning frame. The spinning machine was approximately twenty feet long and had 2 sides. Spinners could be responsible for as many as 12 sides, or 6 spinning frames. She doesn't remember how many spindles (held the bobbin) there were per side but probably a hundred or so.

After spinning the full wooden bobbins were taken to the "Spoolers', 'Warps' and the 'winders'. The 'Winders' finished product was on a paper cone. The 'Warp' machine product was on a large spool maybe 3' wide (similiar to the spools power and telephone wire is on). These spools were shipped to other mills to be used in woven products, such as cloth. The product from the 'Winders' on paper cones were usually shipped also.

The 'Spoolers' full bobbins were taken to the 'Twisters' and plyed (made into a twisted double thread). Then taken to the 'Winder' and put on paper cones for shipment. Spinners were paid by the number of 'sides' they worked. Doffers (who removed full spools from frames and replaced them with empty ones) were paid by the hour. Spoolers were paid by the boxes of full bobbins they produced. Winders were paid by pounds of full cones they produced.

All of these machines twirling cotton produced a large amount of lint which settled on the floor as well as the employees. (A derogatory term for the workers was well known - "Lintheads"). New employees at the mill started as 'Sweepers" and often mentally handicapped people were used as sweepers. They did a good job and the income was needed by the families.

Mom remembers making less than 10 cents per hour, the figure 7 cents per hour stirs a memory, but that could be because of a raise in pay. When the state put the minimum wage at 25 cents per hour, production requirements of the employees were raised and those who failed to meet production a few times were usually "laid-off".

Other jobs were shift foremen, janitors and fixers. And each mill had a superintendant. The mill company owned all the houses on the 3 "mill hills" and the rent for the houses were deducted from the workers wages. There was a 'bossman" house on the Maple and Old Mill hills that I know of and the most skilled workers usually got the best choice of houses. There was usually a hand pump and double-sided outside toliet between two houses to serve two families.

Four of the names on the Veterans Memorial in Dillon were boys raised on the Maple Mill Hill. There might be more, but I'm sure of four.

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