Dillon County History and Genealogy, graphic by Victoria


1908: Dillon's Cotton Mill Workers
by Victoria Proctor

Goud Family
Photo courtesy of NARA

Dillon, S.C. Mills. Smallest girl - Corrine Goud, runs 3 and 4 sides. Been in mill 3 years. Oldest sister said she goes to school, but couldn't spell her own name. Dillon, S.C., 12/05/1908
Photographer: Lewis W. Hine

Soarbar Seris
Photo courtesy of NARA

Maple Mills, Dillon S.C. Soarbar Seris has worked off and on in the mill for 5 years. Winds. Gets 70 [cents] and up. "Reckon I'm about 14." Didn't look it. Has worked more nights than day time. Dillon, S.C., 12/05/1908
Photographer: Lewis W. Hine

Conyers Family
Photo courtesy of NARA

Nearly all of family works in mill. Father in doorway, Mrs. A.L. Conyers (at end) not in mill. Llewlyn, Bessie, Ramsey, Sammie, Andrew. Sammie has worked and helped in mill for 8 years. Maple Mills. Dillon, S.C., 12/05/1908
Photographer: Lewis W. Hine

1909 Report: Child Labor in the Carolinas

The following photos and text are selected extracts from a 1909 report:
Child Labor in the Carolinas.
Account of Investigations Made in the Cotton Mills of North and South Carolina
by Rev. A. E. Seddon, A. H. Ulm and Lewis W. Hine, Under the Direction of the Southern Office of the National Child Labor Committee.
McKelway, Alexander Jeffrey, (1866-1918), Secretary for the Southern States.
20 p., ill.
National Child Labor Committee (New York: 1909)

The full text of this pamphlet may be found on the excellent web site Documenting the American South.

Page 11
"As to conditions in South Carolina, Mr. Hine states his opinion thus: "In general, I found these were considerably worse than conditions in North Carolina, both as to the age and number of small children employed, though several of the mill towns in North Carolina approached the worst ones in South Carolina. . . . In Chester, South Carolina, an overseer told me frankly that manufacturers all the South evaded the child labor law by letting youngsters who are under age help older brothers and sisters. The names of the younger ones do not appear on the company books and the pay goes to the older child who is above twelve." No. 5 of Plate 15 shows four boys at work in the Eureka cotton mills at Chester. The tallest has been at work in the mill for ten years. Standing next to him boys who have worked three years each, while the smallest, ten years old and 52 inches high, has been at work for two years.

The South Carolina Child Labor Law.

  • Age Limit for Employment In Factories, 12 YEARS.
  • Exemptions: Orphans and Children of Dependent Parents Allowed to Work at Any Age.
  • Children Who Have Attended School Four Months of the Current Year and Can Read and Write, Allowed to Work at Any Age During June, July and August.
  • Certificates for Children Under 12 Furnished By Magistrate on Affidavit of Parents or Guardian.
  • Age Limit For Night Work, 12, Except that Children Under 12, as Above, May Work Until 9 P. M. To Make Up Lost Time.
  • Hours of Labor for All Operatives in Textile Mills, 60 Per Week.
  • No Factory Inspection. Employers Must "Knowingly" Violate the Law Before Being Convicted.


Dillon is another mill town with an evil reputation for the employment of children. I quote from Mr. Hine: "I heard many complaints among the workers about conditions, especially the low wages, long hours, pressure of work and the use of young children. During the past year some children have been turned off but plenty of them remain, many under the guise of 'helping'. The children themselves overstate their ages, their parents have mis-stated their ages so long. Illiteracy seems to prevail here, many boys and young women even could not spell their own names. The mill school house is a shed-like structure and very small. The mills are not now running at night, though the men expected them to start up soon."

Children at Dillon Mill

Plate No. 15:
1. [top left--vp] DILLON MILL, DILLON, S. C.--Tallest girl has helped six months in mill; Mamie, holding baby, three years.
2. [top right--vp] MAPLE MILL, DILLON S.C.--Larger sister one year in the mill; the mother said the little sister "helps", but a bystander said "She works regularly".
3. IVEY MILL, HICKORY. N. C.--Doffers and sweepers. The president of this mill says: "Not over ten per cent of the mills observe it" (the child labor law).
4. SPRINGSTEIN MILLS, CHESTER, S. C.--Saturday ball game. Boy with ball is twelve years old, fifty-two inches tall, a weaver running six looms. Two years in mill.
5. EUREKA COTTON MILL, CHESTER, S. C.--Tallest, ten years in the mill; second three years; shortest, ten years old fifty-two inches tall, two years in the mill, spinning, earns sixty cents a day.

Maple Mills, Dillon

No. 19.
S. C.
Taller boy has doffed four years, gets forty cents a day. Shorter boy, ten year old, three years in the mill, runs three sides; gets thirty cents a day.

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Dillon County History and Genealogy

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