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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Frank Durham, September 10 and 17, 1979. Interview H-0067. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Mill family life

Durham describes why his father left home and how his parents met, married, and made ends meet. It includes some interesting tidbits about mill family housekeeping.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Frank Durham, September 10 and 17, 1979. Interview H-0067. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Did your father move to Bynum?
FRANK DURHAM:
Yes, he came here when he was a kid boy. His daddy died and his mother married again, and he left home, he and his sister and two brothers. Up here in the country around Brown's Chapel somewhere. They had a sort of falling out before they was any age at all, hardly. His sister had done left. She was the oldest. She'd left and gone to work somewhere. She went to work when she was about fourteen years old. Well, Papa took his two brothers and went to Saxapahaw. That's another mill town right on up by the river. And he had an aunt that lived up there. He stayed up there a while, and then they walked away from up there and walked down here. He had another aunt that lived over there. She wrote and told them to come down here and stay with her. It was his daddy's sister. So they come down here, and he went to work in the mill and just stayed there with her. He was just twelve years old when he went. But that'sthey left home. And he never went back any more. I never heard tell of them going back till his mother had some kind of stroke or something, and somebody come down here after him. And he went up there, but she was dead when he got there. They had no fuss or nothing, but they just couldn't get along, seemingly. And she told him, "Well, you all go" and told them where to go, and they took off. And they've been on their own ever since. Pa left there then andworked down there till he was about seventeen years old. got him a job down there , and stayed down there a pretty good while. He come back here and married.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
Did he come back here to marry?
FRANK DURHAM:
Yes, he come back here and married my mother. She was a Moore. And he was made, finally, overseer. Second hand and then the overseer of the spinning, and then he stayed that way till he retired. He had to retire. He left the mill-oh, a long time-in '44. And after that he just bought and sold real estate. He had a heart attack or something. And he got over it. For about two years he didn't do anything, but just like the doctor told him over here, doctor at Watts Hospital. He got over that, seemingly, went back to work just doing what he wanted to, buying and selling stuff to pick up a little money. to keep going. Never did have to sell nothing anway.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
So he managed to save all that money working in the mill?
FRANK DURHAM:
Yes. Lord, I don't see how he did it.
DOUGLAS DENATALE:
That's amazing.
FRANK DURHAM:
Him and Mama built the house on up the road up yonder in 1909. They stayed there ten years and come down here in 1919. And I don't see how he ever done that. They didn't have nothing, you see. And I think he didn't have much money, but they had a mighty good living. But there was three acres of land up there with that thing, and he tended and did everything he could. He had a wonderful garden and kept two cows, and he raised hogs and chickens, and they raised everything they ate, just about.