Glencoe Cotton Mill & Village Historical Quick Facts 1880-1954

WORKERS – in general, about 110 to 150 workers
            1890 = 133 workers
            1924 = 134 workers

(In 1905, 500 persons were dependent on Glencoe; however, about half lived outside the village.)

            1890: Women & children comprised 70% of Glencoe’s work force.
            1908: Men comprised 60% of the workforce.
            1924: Men comprised 70% of the workforce.
            1924: Only 2 children were employed at Glencoe.

By contrast, in 1907-08, 90% of all spinners in the South were children under 21.  Half were under 14.



1889        11 hour days—66 hours per week—6 day week
Men earned          $1 to $2 per day
Women earned     50 cents to $1 per day
Children earned     40 cents per day

1905        10.5 hour days—63 hours per week—6 day week
Men earned         75 cents to $2.75 per day
Women earned    60 cents to $1 per day
Children earned    40 cents per day

1925        10 hour days—55 hours per week—half day Saturday
Men earned         $2.10 to $6.60 per day
Women earned    $2.10 to $2.38 per day

1930s   8 hour days



Glencoe Mills provided a 3-room schoolhouse for village children from grade 1 to 8 from 1880 to 1936.  It was located at the northern end of Glencoe Street.  In 1936, Alamance County built the brick building at the top of Glencoe St., on Union Ridge Rd., as the Glencoe Elementary School, which operated until 1963.  From 1963 to 1979, this building was used as the county school offices.


1882            186 looms                    3120 spindles
1900            186 looms                    4000 spindles
1905            206 looms                    ———–
1907            206 looms                    5000 spindles
1926            206 looms                    ———–
1940s-50s                                         5760 spindles



There were 44 village homes built in Glencoe in the 1880s and 1890s, on 2 streets, Front St. and Back St., now known as Glencoe St. and Hodges Rd., plus a few homes on River Rd.

$1.40 a month for a 3-room house
$2 for a 5-room house, or 50 cents a week

1930s   Autos and improved roads ended isolation of villages and allowed workers to live outside villages and drive to work.

After the mill closed in 1954, Glencoe owner continued to rent the houses to former workers.  Gradually, people moved away from the village, leaving Glencoe village abandoned to nature.



1930s & 40s—Burlington Industries begins to sell off its mill housing. 
Other large mill complexes did likewise and that continued through to 1982. 
Reasons for the sell-off:

  1. There were fewer workers from each house as child labor was banned.
  2. Minimum wage laws were being passed and mill owners felt they could better use money normally spent on housing to pay wages. 
  3. New generation of mill owners did not have the “paternal” drive their forebears did.
  4. Mill owners blame the close-knit mill village community for the discontent of laborers.



1880                    Log and stone
1909                    Wooden dam on cement foundation
Mid 1940s          Reinforced concrete dam

Glencoe Cotton Mill was very slow to convert to electric power.  Glencoe ran on water- power from 1880 to the late 1930s, but it did use some electric power–starting in1894– from the Latonia Power Plant a short way upstream on the Haw River. 



A one story with basement was added to the front of the mill in the late 1940s to 1950s, costing $350,000.



Glencoe Cotton Mill produced all cotton checks, stripes, and woven plaids from bale to bolt.  In 1880, bales of cotton were brought by mule, 3 miles from the RR depot in Burlington and later, by truck.

1890—produced napped goods and outings for blankets and sleepwear.
1900-15—production of cotton flannel for outer clothing increased when napping machinery was purchased in 1902, 1904, and 1909.



In the beginning of Glencoe Mills African American employees did not work directly in the mill with the actual manufacturing process. African American workers did labor for small wages throughout the village; the men moving the cotton and finished products from building to building, loading wagons and eventually trucks, sweeping floors, cleaning, and other limited skilled but rigorous jobs. Women worked in some of the homes as maids and cooks.

Mr. Robert Holt, president of the mill during his tenure, had a personal cook and property caretaker, Mr. Richard Duck (August 25, 1873-March 1, 1941), who resided in the village of Glencoe. Mr. Holt built a house for Mr. Duck and his family to be on property to take care of the president’s home.

  • 1920: In North Carolina, African American workers constituted less than 5% of the textile workforce.
  • 1950: In South Carolina, African American workers consisted of 4.8% of the textile workforce.
  • 1960s: Significant increase in the number of African American workers were employed in textile mills throughout the South.



  • 1886: Augusta GA –Knights of Labor led an unsuccessful 3-month strike of thousands of employees.  Graham and Burlington, NC also had strikes.
  • 1900: As Alamance County was the center of the textile industry in NC, the National Union of Textile Workers organized many locals here. In Haw River, a fired worker set off a strike that spread throughout Alamance County. Mill owners did not recognize the union, evicted union members from mill housing, and the union withdrew support from the strike. This defeat broke the union in North Carolina.
  • 1918: United Textile Workers of America organized workers to keep wartime pay gains.
  • 1919-21: Walkouts in Georgia, South Carolina, & North Carolina.  Armed forces were brought in to stop the uprisings.
  • 1920: Stretch-out with lowered wages up in the northern textile mills.
  • 1921: Northern mill migration en mass to the South for lower labor costs and no worker aggravation.
  • 1929: Strikes at Elizabethton, Tennessee and Marion, North Carolina were put down by armed force. Violent conflict at Loray Mill in Gastonia, NC ends in 2 deaths—the police chief and Ella May Wiggins.
  • 1934: Widespread strikes led by United Textile Workers brought mills to a standstill.  This was the largest industry-wide strike in American history. The strikes were futile because the unions and the federal government failed to support the workers when mill owners ignored the new National Industrial Relations Board regulations.