Monday, August 16, 2010

Genealogist uncovers Clayton mill's history, troubles

CLAYTON -- Most folks nowadays probably don't know that crossing Mulberry Street toward the west side of town once meant entering a different community entirely.

That's what genealogist and longtime Clayton resident John McPhail discovered while typing up 1930 census data for the Johnston County Heritage Center. The 80-year-old document listed Liberty Mills as a separate place within Clayton Township. It was home to many prominent Clayton families, whose members all had now-unheard-of mill jobs, such as doffer.

Digging into the Heritage Center archives turned up more about textile maker Liberty Mills and the village surrounding it. It opened in 1907, and the area was later referred to as Cotton Mill Hill and Bartex as the company name changed. McPhail also found photos from the Library of Congress documenting child labor at the mill.

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