Lesson Life in Mill Villages in South Carolina 2nd Grade Objectives


SC-SS-05.2.5 STANDARD: The student will demonstrate an understanding of trade and markets and the role of supply and demand in determining the price and allocation of goods within the community



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SC-SS-05.2.5 STANDARD: The student will demonstrate an understanding of trade and markets and the role of supply and demand in determining the price and allocation of goods within the community.

Background Information

Background


Mill Villages

            Cotton mills were the most popular textile mills in the south.  By 1900 more than 92% of textile workers lived in mill villages.  Mill owners built houses that workers could rent.  Daniel Augustus Tompkins from Edgefield, SC created the plans for the mill houses (Greenville, 242).  According to Archie V. Huff, "Most mill houses built after 1900 reflected Tompkins's designs."  People who worked at mills lived in mill villages.  Some mills instigated a rule that said that each family had to have one person that worked in the mill for every room in their house that they used.  The houses had no sewage system.  The families had to get water from common wells around the village.  Some mill villages were lucky and each house had their own well.  Mill villages were like little cities set up around the mills where they worked.  The villages contained churches, stores, barber shops, and schools.  The owners would often pay the preachers that worked at the churches in the village.  Therefore, a lot of the preachers would preach what the company wanted their employees to believe and how they wanted them to behave. 



Pay/Wages

            Mill workers worked long hours for little pay.  Some workers were paid less than three dollars a week.  Employees worked ten to twelve hours a day six days a week having only Sunday off.  Many workers were faced with health hazards such as getting fingers or limps stuck in the machinery and having lung diseases.  If a person were to get sick or injured they would receive no pay.  This caused a lot of families to have to send young children to work in the mills.  When a person began working at the mill they had a six week learning period and received no pay.  Most of the workers used to have their own farms.  However, when times were bad they moved to the mills and began working in these harsh conditions.  For most workers it was hard transitioning from working for themselves to working for someone else. 

    Some mills paid their workers in cash and some paid their workers with tokens.  Tokens were known as “looneys.”  Tokens could be used at the local mill stores to buy goods.  Mill owners like to pay their workers in tokens so that they had to be used within the mill village.  The owners also avoided handling large amounts of money when they paid in tokens.  Sometimes workers would want an advance on their pay.  The owners would pay them in tokens instead of cash.  The mills that did not pay in tokens set up credit accounts with their workers.  Most workers never had cash to spend elsewhere because they owed all their money back to the mill by the time they were paid.  The Monaghan store located in Greenville was one of the textile mill stores that let workers buy on credit.  By 1900 more than one third of mills had company stores where they sold merchandise.  Company stores sold wood, coal, clothes, shoes, and groceries. 




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