Paying Room and Board
The George Barney Hill family moved to Cliffside from a farm called the Logan Place somewhere in the Westminister-Mount Vernon area of Rutherford County about 1918, when G.B. and Maggie Forbes Hill were both 43 years old. Their eldest son, Walter, was in the army, and did not move to Cliffside with them. Their other children were Bill (Jimmy Lee) who was 17 years old, Roy who was 14, Annie who was 11, Rose who was three, and Ada who was two.
As did most families when they moved from the farm to the mill villages to work in the mills, the Hill family brought their farm animals with them. This provided them with milk and butter, and they could buy their other provisions from the Cliffside Company Store with wages that G. B. and the older boys would earn.
G. B. and Bill took jobs in the mill, and Roy, not yet able to hold a job on his own, worked alongside his father to increase his earnings, since there were seven mouths to feed. These three supported the seven of them until Annie became fourteen and went to work in 1921.
In many families, when the children went to work, it was common practice for their wages to go into the family “pot” to provide for the whole family, with a small allowance for personal expenses being returned to the worker. Others paid “room and board,” which also took most of their earnings. These practices could work out quite well when there were several family members employed, and they usually continued until the worker married. If the new spouse moved in, there was additional family income, but it cut drastically into household funds when the family “boarders” chose to marry and leave home, taking their earnings with them.
Each of the Hill children, as they grew up and went to work, paid room and board to their mother. Their grandson, Sam, recalls Grandma Hill asking him to count her household money for her when he was about nine or 10 years old, and the fact that she kept it rolled up in the bottom of a long leather change purse with a snap top that she kept on her person.
Even though women’s rights were still in the future, they were already in full effect in the Hill household. According to family members, Grandma Hill held the family purse strings, and it was apparently a matter of “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” so everyone in the household usually did as Mama pleased, including G. B.