Woolen Mill, Washington Mills

This photograph, taken in 1873 or '74, shows the old Woolen Mill, Washington Mills, and a group of the men and women who were employed there.

The mill, which employed about 200, was one of about 13 or 14 owned by a New Yorker, A. T. Stewart.

Men's woolen underwear was the chief output. Hours were from 6:30 mornings to 6:30 at night, with a 24-hour noon lunch period. The big day for the mill folk was Saturday when they got out a 5 p. m., considered a pretty remarkable concession in those days.

At the time, people took a different attitude toward long hours. The mill folk were a cheerful lot. The mill was their life and they took pride in it and in their work."

The women wore white aprons that were always spotless and crisply ironed. In the Winter, the women came to work across the fields and through the streets of the village wearing voluminous cloaks and a woolly head-covering known as a 'nubia.' Every village woman possessed at least one 'nubia,' usually brightly colored. In the Summer they wore gingham dresses and Shaker sunbonnets.

The old mill went out of business in 1876 and stood idle until 1879 when it was reopened to run for about a year. Then it shut down for good. Not long after that, the buildings, with the exception of the office (the small structure in the foreground), were torn down and the material taken to Chadwicks, where it was used to build houses for mill employees of that town.

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