Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Louise Riggsbee Jones, September 20, 1976. Interview H-0085-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Living in mill housing

Jones describes mill housing in Bynum, North Carolina, during the early twentieth century. Giving her interview in a home near the one in which she was born in 1897, Jones explains how her family had lived in that vicinity during her entire childhood. Noting that most of the housing in that area was mill housing and that rent was paid to the mill, Jones description illustrate what it was like to live in mill homes and her comments suggest deep generational ties within the community.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Louise Riggsbee Jones, September 20, 1976. Interview H-0085-1. 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

MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you live in the house where you were born for a long time?
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
I don't know just how long, but I don't think so because I don't remember living there then, but I have lived (Laughs) . . . . Since I've been married, Paul and I moved down there before my mother died. She had a slight stroke, and the doctors told her not to walk, not to get out much, you know. Well, I had a sister. . . . I mean a aunt, and her sister lived down in our house then.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
This house right here?
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
Uh-huh. And she asked us-the family was moving from that house-she said, "You all move down there," and she said, "Madlena will enjoy it so much." It's home more down there than it was up on the hill where we lived, up the street, we call it. And we moved out there, and she lived about three years after we moved down there. She died out there at that house.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How far is it that way? Is it very far, like. . . .
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
What, the house?
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Right.
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
Right there, the next house to us here.
MALE VOICE:
That house right here, right there, right there; that's the one right there. This one right here.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Oh, this house right next door?
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
Uh-huh, right there. That's where I was born. And that's where my brother was born, too, next to me.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. So that wasn't considered on the hill, on the mill hill.
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
Yes, it was.
MALE VOICE:
Yes, it was.
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
These were the first houses down this-a-way, and they kept building up the other way, you know, as they built more houses.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So up the street is just the newer houses.
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
Yes, but they don't lookit to look at them.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But when you were small, they were new.
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
They were built a good while after these were.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I see. But why would your mother feel more comfortable in that house, just because she'd lived there for a long time?
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
Yeah, it was home to her, because she lived there a right long time, you know, and that's why my aunt thought she would like it better. When she had to stay in, she could be on the porch and see more of what she'd lived around. But before then, when I was a little girl, we did live up on the hill at a three-room house; that's where my father died when I was about six years old. And then after that, a few years after that we moved out yonder in the next house, right across the street. And she lived there several years. I was a little girl for a good while out there at that house, so down this-a-way has been my home more or less, you know, than living up the other way was.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Why did you move to the three-room house and then to the house next door?
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
Well, I just don't know their reasons for that. The people would change houses sometimes, and I don't know why they ever lived out there. I don't know, because I just remember living up there in that house. That's the only one I remember living in, because I don't remember living out here. I remember living in that one up there first.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Could you choose the house you wanted to live in?
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
No, they had to go to the head of the company here and ask for a house. And they would let them have it if it was convenient for them to have it, you know. And pay rent through the mill.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
So your family always lived in some sort of mill housing, right? These were mill houses, too?
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
Yes, it was all mill . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I mean, rent was paid through the mill?
LOUISE RIGSBEE JONES:
Yeah.