August 5, 1939
I went to work at Caroleen sometime during the latter part of June 1895. Mr. R. R. Haynes had charge of the house building and Mr. Lewis Robinson was suprintendent and general foreman of the work. They started me at seventy-five cents a day. I worked two days at this price then I was raised to eighty-five cents per day. (Remember, we were working twelve hours per day.) After about two weeks, I with about ten other carpenters were raised to about ninety cents per day, then in two weeks more, we were raised to a dollar a day. A short time later the superintendent came around and made me foreman of the framing squad and raised me to one dollar and ten cents per day. Devaney Wall did the shop work making door and window frames and he was paid a dollar and 25 cents. All other carpenters were paid one dollar per day and common laborers were paid sixty-five cents per day. Men came from all parts of the country hunting for a job and they asked no questions as to what wages were being paid, but a job was what they wanted at some price. They worked several hundred men in the erection of this mill and building houses, grading out for the race and building the dam. A man that had a job on this work had to work if he stayed there.
There were a lot of good men on these works and there were a number of rough characters also. Mr. “Jud” Mckinney was the superintendent on the mill building and Sam Proctor was his chief foreman. A man by the name of “Alec” Abernathy was foreman of the masonry work and he had a sub-foreman by the name of Dick Ramsey. Several years later Mr. Ramsey became an evangelist, or what we called a “tent preacher.”
Before the building of the Caroleen Mill there was no railroad nearer than Henrietta station on the Southern railway, so everything that was shipped in the way of material had to be hauled on wagons from Henrietta station. I recall taking a four-mule team to the station and hauling the first boiler that was put in operation at Caroleen. It was first used for operating a brick mill for making brick to build the mill. Two of these mules belonged to Bill Young and the other two to Billy Morris. When I got on top of the spot later called Beasontown, the mules fagged out and I had to stop for dinner and feed them and let them rest an hour or so before they would pull the load any further. Then I got Uncle Lee Eskridge with three mules to hitch them in front of my teams and help to pull the boiler to where we unloaded it.
Mr. Roberson, the superintendent of the house work was a fine man to work for. I thought a great deal of him and he proved to be a good friend of mine. He married sometime that year to a Miss Dill of Greenville, S. C., a fine young lady. I believe it was in the spring of 1896 that Mr. Roberson died of blood poison. Some years later Mrs. Roberson married Mr. J. W. Biggerstaff of Sunshine and after Mr. Biggerstaff died she married Mr. Don Melton and they now live between Forest City and Rutherfordton.