Thursday, February 22, 2018

Negroes More Likely to Be Certified for Service Than Whites, 1918

From Trench and Camp, printed weekly for the Y.M.C.A. by courtesy of the Charlotte Observer for Camp Greene, Charlotte, N.C., February 4, 1918

Colored Men Doing Their Bit

That America’s colored citizenry is doing its bit in the war is established by statistics culled from the compiled figures on the first draft. Of the total of 9,586,508 men registered last June, 737,628, or nearly 8 per cent, were colored. Twenty-eight per cent of these colored men, or 208,953, were called by draft boards and 75,697 were certified for service. This means that out of every 100 colored men called, 36 were certified for service and 64 rejected, exempted or discharged.

In the cases of the white citizens, 25 out of every 100 were certified for service and 75 rejected, exempted or discharged.

1911 Card for Washington's Birthday

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Distilling, Rum Running in Old Trap Section of Camden County, 1935

“Where Big Liquor Biz Is Still Going On,” from the Elizabeth City Independent, Feb. 8, 1935

Distilling and rum-running operations on a large scale continue unabated in the Old Trap section of Camden County, according to reports of reliable, law-abiding citizens who live on the highway between Old Trap and Shawboro.

It is the Indiantown Road that the rum-runners use in transporting liquor to Norfolk and other Virginia points where North Carolina corn finds a ready market in competition with the green and blended higher priced goods purveyed by the ABC liquor stores.

A good citizen of the Indiantown neighborhood tells this newspaper that he and his family are afraid to venture on the road nights because of the heavy bootleg traffic. Heavy trucks and high powered automobiles going at terrific speed use the highway nightly in transporting materials to the stills in lower Camden and bringing out the finished product.

And Revenue officers complain that they are handicapped in catching the rum-runners because of inadequate transportation facilities. Under the former Prohibition laws, government agents could use cars confiscated from bootleggers and rum-runners. Under the regulations now in force they can do this, and the U.S. Treasury Department is slow in furnishing them new automobiles.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Measles Outbreak Increased Death Rate Among Soldiers in Training from 2 to 5 Per Thousand, 1918

From Trench and Camp, printed weekly for the Y.M.C.A. by courtesy of the Charlotte Observer for Camp Greene, Charlotte, N.C., February 4, 1918. Camp editor H.M. Thurston; Associate editors F.M. Burnett, D.M. Spence, J.H. Strawbridge, C.H. Ellinwood, C.E. Winchell.

So much has been written and said about the death rate among soldiers in training in the United States that a little exact and authentic information might not be amiss at this juncture.

War Department records show that from the middle of September to the last of December the death rate among the soldiers in camps and cantonments was 7.5 per thousand. In other words, out of every 2,000 men, 15 died, while 1,985 lived. The death rate of 7.5 per thousand is less than the rate would have been if all the men in the camps had remained at home in civilian clothes.

The death rate per thousand among United States soldiers in 1898 was 20.14, or nearly three times as great.

In 1916 the death rate in the Army was 5 per thousand.

But for the outbreak of measles and its complications in the camps and cantonments, the death rate from September to December would have been only 2 per thousand.

Community Group Offering Classes in English to Help Soldiers, 1918

From Trench and Camp, printed weekly for the Y.M.C.A. by courtesy of the Charlotte Observer for Camp Greene, Charlotte, N.C., February 4, 1918

Jewish Welfare Work

Messrs Seligmann and Knonwitz, representatives of the Jewish board for welfare work at Camp Greene are now permanently located at Y 105. They desire to meet all men interested in forming social and literary groups, and are now forming classes in English to help those men out who have not been able to make arrangements for classes.

Beginning Friday evening, February 8, services will be held at a time and place that will be advertised on company bulletin boards and in all Y buildings.

Monday, February 19, 2018

10-Year-Old Girl Employed at Lincolnton Mill, 1908

This 10-year-old girl has been employed at Rhodes Manufacturing Company in Lincolnton, N.C., for more than a year. I found the image on the Facebook page History Images. The picture was taken in 1908. The following information about child labor laws, which were not enforced, is from The girl in the photograph probably made from 50 cents to $1.50 a day.

“Labor” was not a new concept to children who went to work in the mills. Many spent their earliest years on their family’s farm, helping their parents with chores and working in the fields. Making a living on a family farm was difficult, especially when the family was renting the land from a large landowner. Everyone on the farm worked hard at raising enough crops and livestock to support the family, but farm families rarely made a profit. Some went into deep debt during years with poor crops.

Mill owners looking for employees capitalized on the frustrations of farm families. They sent recruiters to rural and mountain farm areas to hand out pamphlets singing the praises of mill life. For families struggling to grow enough food to feed themselves and make a small profit, the prospect of a regular paycheck was appealing. Ethel Shockley and her husband moved off the farm they were renting in Virginia to work in the cotton mills of Burlington, NC in 1921. They made about 75 cents a day working on the farm and could make 2 dollars a day working in the mills. Like the Shockleys, thousands of farmers across the South made the decision to trade in their self-sufficient farm life for life in the mill village, and they brought their children with them.

During the late 19th and early 20th century, the few laws prohibiting child labor were moderate and rarely enforced. In North Carolina, the age limit was 13 for employment in factories such as mills, and children under 18 were allowed to work up to a shocking 66 hours per week! Mill owners had to “knowingly and willfully” break these laws before they could be convicted. Even more lenient laws were in place in South Carolina, where the age limit for factory workers was 12 years old. However, orphans and children with “dependent” parents (those too sick to work) could work at any age and any amount of hours. These laws were rarely, if ever, enforced. Former child workers remember scrambling to hide in closets on the few occasions when factory inspectors would visit to check on working conditions in the mill.

The system of “helpers” was another way mill owners got around child labor laws. Very small children as young as 6 or 7 years old would visit the mill to bring meals to their parents or older siblings during the work day or simply to play amidst the machinery. These young “helpers” would begin to learn the jobs that older workers performed and try their hand at various tasks. The presence of tiny children in the mill could be explained to inspectors by saying the children were only “helping” and not on the payroll. As they got older, they spent more and more time helping until they began working full-time in the mills, usually between ages 10 to 14.

Many young mill laborers worked in the spinning room because mill owners felt their small hands were well-suited to this work. Work in the spinning room was not especially skilled or difficult, but required a watchful eye. Spinners were usually preteen or teen girls, who had to constantly attend to the cotton being spun on machines. These were the workers who “put up ends”, or repaired breaks in the thread. Doffers, often small boys, walked back and forth in the spinning room, replacing the full bobbins of thread with empty ones. Sweepers, also small boys, swept up the cotton fiber and lint from the floor and machinery to keep things running smoothly. Spinners and doffers were usually required to keep up with a certain number of machines on a side, and many workers remember “running sides” or being paid by the number of sides they worked.

Many former child workers speak of their eagerness to earn money, which pushed them to drop out of school and begin working in the mill. Some even began working against their parents’ wishes. It was difficult for some to see the advantage in continuing their schooling when recruitment ads claimed they could make as much as adult mill workers. 

Workers under 16 usually began working for 25 to 50 cents per day during the early 20th century, and could increase to $1.50 per day or more as they became more experienced.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Emmett Brickhouse Has Close Call When Car Stalls on RR Tracks, 1935

“Train Wrecks His Auto But He Escapes Alive,” from the Elizabeth City Independent, Feb. 8, 1935

Like a horrible nightmare was the experience which befell Emmett Brickhouse, 37-year-old Elizabeth City Hosiery Mill night foreman, who leaped from his stalled automobile just a second before the car was struck by a southbound Norfolk Southern passenger train at the Parsonage Street crossing Tuesday morning at 11:15 o’clock.

“I hardly know what happened,” said Brickhouse in describing the near-tragedy to a reporter for this newspaper shortly after the crash. “The car was cold and it sort of choked down when I got on the railroad tracks. I looked and saw the train bearing right down on me. I reckon I opened the door and jumped out just as quick as I could but it all happened so quick that I can’t hardly remember how I got out of the car. Anyhow, my foot hadn’t been off the running board more than one or two seconds before the train hit the car. It was an awful shock, and I’m telling you it’s a terrible experience to be face to face with Death like I was.”

Brickhouse works at the hosiery mill but lives on the Brite farm at the end of Weymouth Road. He usually sleeps mornings until 10 or 11 o’clock. Tuesday morning he started to town around 11 o’clock. He stopped for a few minutes at Weatherly & Riggs Market on the north side of Parsonage Street, extended, just west of the railroad tracks. The southbound Norfolk Southern passenger train was already blowing for the passenger station when he left the market at 11:15 o’clock, but he was talking to someone outside the market and did not notice the whistle., stepping into his Ford sedan, he started to cross the railroad tracks in front of him without looking to see whether a train was coming.

Just as the car mounted the ridge on which the tracks are laid, the engine choked down. Brickhouse’s foot reached for the starter, and his hand sought the choke. Just at that moment he sensed danger and looked round him to see the train headed straight for him. He was paralyzed with fright for a brief moment, but the impending danger spurred him into action and he lost no time in opening the door and jumping to safety. A witness said he would have been killed had he been a moment longer in getting out of the car.

The train hit the Ford broadside and carried it down the tracks for a distance of about 200 yards before spilling it over into the ditch that runs alongside Skinners Avenue, parallel to the railroad. The car was almost a total wreck.

Brickhouse sustained no injury but the incident was such a shock to his nervous system that he had to go to bed shortly afterwards.

“I am a careful driver,” said Brickhouse, “and I have never figured in any accidents. I had not driven my Ford more than 30 miles an hour all the while I owned it. It makes me sick to think that a driver as careful as I usually am lost my car and nearly lost my life in an accident like this.”