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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with George and Tessie Dyer, March 5, 1980. Interview H-0161. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Second generation of cotton mill workers in Tessie Dyer's family

Tessie Dyer worked in a Charlotte cotton mill for several decades, as did her parents. Her grandparents farmed cotton for a living and raised cows. Her other set of grandparents left their farm to live in the town of Concord.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with George and Tessie Dyer, March 5, 1980. Interview H-0161. 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

LU ANN JONES:
You say you grew up here in Charlotte?
TESSIE DYER:
No, I didn't. I grew up in Cabarrus County, but I moved to Charlotte when I was eleven years old.
GEORGE DYER:
You can't hardly say you grew up in Cabarrus County. You must have grew up. . . .
TESSIE DYER:
No, I said I was eleven years old when we moved to Charlotte, but I attended school here in Charlotte-over here at Villa Heights School. When I was old enough to go to work, I was signed up and I went to work down here at Highland Park. First went in the spinning room, and then from there, I went to the draw-in room. I stayed there until 1969. The mill closed down.
LU ANN JONES:
What had your parents done in Cabarrus County?
GEORGE DYER:
Mill work, textile. That was all was in these towns. They call them textile mills, but they called them cotton mills back then.
TESSIE DYER:
They're not any cotton mills here now in Charlotte. They're all closed down.
GEORGE DYER:
They were small works but didn't manage too much.
TESSIE DYER:
This was the last one-Highland Park #3. Highland Park #2 and Highland Park #1 is in Rock Hill. I guess it closed down too; they all closed down.
LU ANN JONES:
Had your grandparents also worked in textiles?
TESSIE DYER:
No, my grandparents didn't work in the mill as I know of.
LU ANN JONES:
Did they farm? Do you know what they did?
TESSIE DYER:
On my father's side, they farmed. On my mother's side, I believe they did live on a farm one time. Moved from Albemarle here, I mean Cabarrus County.
LU ANN JONES:
Did your grandparents live close to you?
TESSIE DYER:
Oh, yes.
LU ANN JONES:
Did you visit them on their farm?
TESSIE DYER:
Yes, my grandfather did. My mother's parents, they didn't live on a farm. They moved to Concord off the farm.
LU ANN JONES:
What do you remember about visiting on the farm? Did you like that?
TESSIE DYER:
Oh, yes. I enjoyed it very much.
LU ANN JONES:
What kind of crops did they grow? Did they have animals?
TESSIE DYER:
Cotton.
GEORGE DYER:
What else?
TESSIE DYER:
I remember I went there one time and it was a-blooming; it was red. I asked him when it opened up good would it still be red. He said, "Oh no." The first time I'd seen it, I didn't know that, but I enjoyed going to the farm very much.
LU ANN JONES:
Did your grandmother help him work the farm, or did she primarily stay in the house to work?
TESSIE DYER:
Not too much, she didn't.
GEORGE DYER:
I guess she had a full-time job looking after the cooking, and milking cows and things, like all them women.