To truly love a place is to know its history, Fort Mill History Museum Director LeAnne Burnett Morse said.
The museum’s newest exhibit, “130 Years of Springs,” pays homage to the fabric of Fort Mill – cotton manufacturing. The popualr exhibit was scheduled to close Jan. 31, but the museum decided to keep it open to March 1.
“Prior to the incorporation of the mills, there was a farming community here. But the mill created an industry that changed the whole fabric of the town,” Morse said. “Mill villages were built around each plant. People would walk to work and to shop at grocery stores or clothing stores on Main Street.”
The exhibit includes enlarged photos of mill employees working in the spinning room or carding the cotton – a process of untangling, cleaning and fluffing the fibers for spinning. Showing what life was like for mill employees, one display case contains employee time books. They worked six days per week and earned 56 cents to $1.68 per day.
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“Most lived in three- and four-room cottages within walking distance of their plants,” Morse said.
“Rent was free for the first few years, but a weekly fee of 20 cents was eventually charged. The early cottages had outdoor privies, but indoor plumbing was added in the 1920s. Most also had space for the residents to keep a garden and one cow, a few pigs and several chickens.”
The exhibit also displays photographs of several children at work, a common practice in the late 1800s and early 1900s before child labor laws were enacted. Morse said child labor was an important element to helping families make ends meet.
WANT TO GO?
The exhibit “130 Years of Springs” runs through March 1
When: Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m
Where: The museum is located at 107 Clebourne Street, Fort Mill
How much: Admission is free
For more information call 803-802-3640 or go to fmhm.org.