Cumberland County cotton mills - Carolina Country

Cumberland County cotton mills

Cumberland County cotton mills

The Fayetteville Observer-Times ran a picture of my dad, Hoyt Faircloth, mowing the grass at Elk Yarns.

There aren’t many cotton mills in North Carolina anymore, none in Cumberland County where I grew up. Both of my parents worked in various cotton mills throughout my childhood, and I hold them near and dear to my heart.

I never knew people more generous than those who owned and worked in the mills. I can see my dad backing up his truck to the loading dock of Tolar-Hart in Massey Hill on a winter’s day and the mill supervisors loading fruit boxes into the trucks and cars of the mill’s employees. They gave my sister and me Christmas stockings as tall as we were, filled with goodies, every year until the mill met financial difficulties.

I remember family picnics at Dixie Yarns on Cumberland Rd., and I hear the whistle blow at Holt-Williamson on Gillespie St. I can’t drive by a cotton field without thinking of my parents coming home, their dark hair covered with white cotton lint, their hands marked from working with winders and twisters. They brought home grey cardboard cones with colored tips that we sorted and repacked into colossal-sized boxes to earn extra money.

Holt-Williamson provided a college scholarship to my sister, who was the first in our family to pursue secondary education and to graduate from high school. A few years later they gave me the same scholarship.
Elk Yarns, the last surviving mill in my hometown of Hope Mills, closed June 27, 1997, the day of my mother’s funeral, when I was 25 years old.

I am 43 now, but when I pull a cotton t-shirt from the dryer or a pair of jeans from my dad’s antique dresser, or when I visit a farmers market and lift from a bushel basket a few locks of newly harvested cotton heated by the sun, I breathe in a million memories as I close my eyes and smile.

Brenda Sue Harrison, Cameron, Central EMC

Comments (2)

  • I'm, Ronnie Singletary, 64 years old ,Remember living down the street from TH&H , I was about 4 years old and remember vaguely living in a 3 or 4 room house for a while , no indoor plumbing, I tell my grand kids about that experience and they think I'm kidding, we had some hard times and also great times on the mill hill. almost all of our family on Mom and Dads side were mill workers. Grandfather help to build Jennings Mill in Lumberton many years ago He was what was known as head machinist back then

    Ronnie Singletary |
    February 11, 2021 |

  • I am a weaver and Googled Holt-Williamson as I just finished weaving some towels with a cone of yarn that reads Holt-Williamson 10/4 cotton. I used to live in Fayetteville when my husband was in the army. Your post took me back and I loved reading it. Sad how thins have gone away. I'll keep this cone forever knowing where it came from. Thank you

    Betty Morrissey |
    August 23, 2021 |

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