The Story: The Mills

And in the mill, well, there was some little bitty children to grown old people worked in the mill, doing different things...from the cards onto the spinning and then to the weave room.

- Letha Ann Sloan Osteen, former child mill worker - Laurens County, SC

The Spinning Room of Wymojo Mills at Rock Hill, S.C.
The Spinning Room of Wymojo Mills at Rock
Hill, S.C. - Mill News, 1920

The process of turning raw cotton into cloth was a complicated one. First, bales of raw cotton were delivered to the opening room of the mill, where they were fluffed by machines. Next, the cotton was sucked up through vacuum tubes to the picking room, where pickers cleaned the cotton and carders fed it into carding machines. Carding is the process fibers like cotton go through before being spun into thread. Metal teeth in the carding machines pulled apart the mass of fluffy fibers in order to form a long rope called a sliver.

The sliver then went through the process of spinning in order to be made into thread. Spinners watched the cotton on the spinning machines to make sure there were no breaks in the thread; if a thread broke, the spinners quickly “put up the ends”, meaning they twisted the end of the broken fiber and fed it back into the spinning machine. After they were spun, some of the bobbins of thread were taken to the weave room, where weavers worked at machines called looms to produce the cotton fabric used for clothing and household items.

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