Gibson Mill, Concord, North Carolina 1910An article The Charlotte Observer caught my eye yesterday. Written by freelancer Lisa Thornton, it’s a charming account by old-timer Martha Kee of the past 100 years in Concord, North Carolina.

The area around Concord is lovely and you can still see remnants of a once thriving cotton industry. Today, many of the well preserved old red-brick mills have been turned into flea market-type shops or offices. The Gibson Mill (pictured left) in north Concord has been renovated, but shoppers can still walk on the original creaky wooden floors and, if you close your eyes, you can almost feel the essence of the past.

Martha Kee’s description of past events is so valuable because she actually lived during the era. Folks like her are hard to find. She lived at a time when there were no phones, no electricity and no indoor plumbing. The mode of transport for a large portion of her life was “Shanks pony” (your feet- originated in Scotland in the 18th century), or a real horse.

Mrs Kee and her husband bought an acre of land in 1927 at the corner of George Liles Boulevard and Weddington Road. Weddington Road was once a dirt path with a few homes surrounded by woods and cotton fields.  Martha’s house, which was once a Lutheran church and school, is still there today. It’s isn’t lived in now, but appears to be  in good condition.

Cotton was the main source of income during that era and Martha used to pick their own cotton and her husband always had it ginned and then sold the bales. She made a name for herself in the community as a seamstress, turning cotton into skirts, blouses, men’s jackets and even a wedding dress. “If the right pattern couldn’t be found, she would make her own out of old newspapers.”

She made all of her 5 daughters and 4 sons clothes. The girls’ dresses were often crafted from four sacks–flour was sold in cotton bags with pretty designs.

As for the telephone, Martha said that she was doing fine without it. She gets tired of watching television and would still rather have a needle and some cotton.

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2 Comments on Living history – old-timer shares the past 100 years in Concord, North Carolina

  1. Jennifer F says:

    Great post! I have been to Gibson Mill since the renovation and you can hear, see and smell the history.

  2. Morton G. says:

    Hearing personal account first hand is a great way to connect and understand the past,rather than seeing names and dates in a book, which doesn’t mean so much. This is the real thing. God Bless Martha Kee.

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