IT’S A SOUTHERN SUNDAY AND TODAY AUTHOR ALLE WELLS IS TAKING US ALONG AS SHE VISITS A COTTON MILL FROM YESTERYEAR, So settle down, put your feet up and be glad it’s Sunday as we take a look at the history of a North Carolina Cotton Mill

Note…author Alle Wells novel about the Mill People of North Carolina will be published in the later part of 2012…watch for it and be sure to add it to your TBR list! For more information on Alle Wells and her work, visit her at


Remnants of the past sprinkle the plains, foothills, and gullies of the South. They are the abandoned mills that thrived during the twentieth century. This patchwork of history belongs to millions of Americans. Heavily populated mill towns produced many of today’s leaders in business, education, journalism, politics, professional sports, and their own communities. Children grew up in these close-knit communities with a strong sense of integrity and pride. The mill town was a place where people worked together and played together. In those days, neighbors helped each other, and relied on one another to lend a helping hand. The hometown values instilled in mill children shaped the American middle class. Their legacy lives on through the work of dedicated volunteers.

Recently, I had the rare pleasure of visiting the Textile Heritage Center in Cooleemee, North Carolina, where I was transported to the glory days of the mill town by local historians, Jim and Lynn Rumley. For over thirty years, the Rumleys and their neighbors have worked diligently to preserve the legacy of mill families. Grassroots for the Cooleemee Historical Association started in the late 1980s with a bulletin board at a local festival. Since then, dedicated citizens of the former mill village have raised a sizable endowment which preserved Cooleemee Falls RiverPark and two museum sites. Today, the Textile Heritage Center, located in the Zachary-Holt House, is home to over 105 hours of video interviews, more than 600 images, and over 400 documents pertaining to the thriving, long-gone days of the mill town. The Mill Family Life Museum is an exact replica of the typical home of a mill hand in the 1930s. Every piece of furniture and fixture in the museum is original and representative of the Depression era. The Cooleemee Historical Association communicates with 160 other mill town communities committed to preserving the memory of mill town life and its values.

The people of Cooleemee, their rich heritage, and the unique treasures they hold so dear, left a strong impression on me. The Textile Heritage Center and the Mill Family Life Museum was an unforgettable look at a little known, yet valuable, piece of American history that I look forward to exploring further, maybe in my next southern story.

To find out more about The Textile Heritage Museum, click here

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