Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Finding work and more in the cotton mills

My Acuff and Luna family were like many others who left the Upper Cumberland Plateau counties to find work after WWI.  My folks ended up in Madison Co Alabama working for the Dallas Mill(Dallas Manufacturing Company.) The Dallas Mill was located north of Huntsville.  If you read thru the census records for the Dallas community in the 1920s and 1930s you can see what a big part it played in the community and the different jobs that those employed there held.  An article from the Huntsville Times in August of 1923 estimated that there were about 800 employed at the Dallas Mill.  I'd imagine it was similar to the company towns but perhaps on a lesser scale.  

If you have ever worked for a larger company you also know that they have their own social network.  Not in the way we think of social networks today.  Likes, Dislikes, Friends list and blocking someone were done in different ways than they are on today's social platforms. My grandmother's 1st cousin, Josephine Acuff Woodlee and I used to exchange letters and she had told me about some of her memories as a child.  She would hear the grownups in the kitchen discussing the "happenings" of the day.  If you are using DNA in your research(and you should be) keep in mind a person's place of employment may play a role in how two "parties" met. My mother DNA tested in hopes of finding descendants of an older rumored paternal half-sibling conceived during this time period(no suprises so far.)  I'm sure that this is just one of many DNA discoveries that could potentially be made among the families of the mill workers.  Some of the family remained in the Huntsville area and others moved back to the farm in Van Buren Co. around the time of the depression.


"Huntsville's Large Industrial Plants That Employ Thousands," The Huntsville Times(Huntsville, Alabama), 05 Aug 1923, p. 11, col. 1-3; digital images, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com : accessed 3 May 2022).

Woodlee, Sarah Josephine Acuff.  Letter to Marie Cooke Beckman(Granddaughter of 1st Cousin) postmarked 3 September 2002, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Personal Correspondence Collection of Marie Cooke Beckman. Letters from Sarah Josephine Woodlee spanning the years 2001-2004. In my possession. 

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