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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Eva Hopkins, March 5, 1980. Interview H-0167. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Relatives move around the country looking for better wages

Relatives of Eva Hopkins moved throughout the country and Canada in search of better wages and a more sustainable lifestyle, but they always returned south to the Carolinas.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Eva Hopkins, March 5, 1980. Interview H-0167. 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:
Did you say it was her father who had been a farmer?
EVA HOPKINS:
Un-huh.
LU ANN JONES:
What kind of farm did he have?
EVA HOPKINS:
I don't know. They were in the mountains. It was up above Asheville, up in there. I know I've heard her talk about my grandmother taking the baby out and putting it under the shade tree and having one of the bigger children to watch it while she worked in the field with him. So evidently, they had kind of a truck farm. I don't know. But he did own a lot of property up there at one time. Things got bad, times got hard, and he sold off a lot of it. Then that's when he came to the mill, when the children were bigger.
LU ANN JONES:
He went to work in the mill in Asheville.
EVA HOPKINS:
Asheville, North Carolina.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you know what he did in the mill?
EVA HOPKINS:
I think he-they had a elevator-he ran the elevator. You had to pull it up and down by ropes back then.
LU ANN JONES:
No buttons then?
EVA HOPKINS:
No buttons. You pulled it with ropes, and I think he took bobbins from one department to another on that elevator. He never did learn to run a machine. He didn't ever do that. He died in a soldiers' home in Columbia, South Carolina.
LU ANN JONES:
How long did your mother work in the mill?
EVA HOPKINS:
My mother worked till she retired, till she was sixty-five.
LU ANN JONES:
When did you all move to Charlotte?
EVA HOPKINS:
When I was nine years old.
LU ANN JONES:
Why did you decide to move?
EVA HOPKINS:
My daddy fell off and got sick. He was in the sanitorium in Columbia, South Carolina. We lived in Rock Hill at that time. My dad and mother both working at one of the mills in Rock Hill. I can't remember just which one because they worked in two. They worked in one called Blue Buckle and Highland Park.
LU ANN JONES:
Why did they move from Asheville down to South Carolina?
EVA HOPKINS:
Well, after the children all got grown, they moved first from Asheville. I think they moved to Charleston, South Carolina. That's where my mother was married, in Charleston, South Carolina. Then, they just scattered, how people will do. They would get offers from another mill. They would see advertisements in the paper about it. They would want the help at another mill. They would send a fare and even pay for the freight on the furniture to have it moved. I know my mother and daddy, when I was a baby, they lived in North Adams, Massachusetts, they lived in Utica, New York. Every place they would offer more money, and they would go.
LU ANN JONES:
Do you remember how much they were making?
EVA HOPKINS:
No I don't, but they paid more up there than they did in the south, and that's why they went. One time, daddy and mama lived in Ontario, Canada. They worked over there inI think it is.
LU ANN JONES:
Was that pretty usual that people would travel that way?
EVA HOPKINS:
Oh yes, they moved from place to place. Every pasture was greener. They'd go there because they'd make more money. They always came back down south. They wound up back down here. They came back home.