Glencoe Cotton Mills was the first major cotton gin in America. Established by James Henry Holt and William Erwin Holt.
James and William Holt, sons of textile pioneer E.M. Holt, built Glencoe Mills, Inc. on a picturesque mile-long stretch of the Haw River in 1880. The last water-powered mill developed by the Holts, Glencoe remains one of the North Carolina’s most significant undisturbed early textile mill and village complexes. Though the buildings are silent they provide a comprehensive picture of the social and commercial organization of late 19th century Southern water-powered cotton mills.
The principal building of Glencoe Mills is a three-story structure. In it was located the carding, spinning and weaving departments. The mill began operations with 186 looms and 2120 spindles. Other buildings contained the dying and finishing operations. A two-and-a-half-story machine shop, office and company store were each very important to the operation. The front addition to the mill was added in the mid to late 1940's.
The mill produced a high quality cotton fabric which was woven in many colors and designs. At its peak, the mill regularly employed up to 500 people, with approximately half of them living in the mill houses.
In 1889 the average Glencoe mill hand worked six 11-hour days, or 66 hours per week. Men earned from one to two dollars per day; women earned from 50 cents to a dollar; children earned 40 cents per day. In 1905 the average worker worked six 10.5-hour days, or 63 hours per week. Men earned from 75 cents to $2.75 per day; women earned between 60 cents and one dollar; children still earned 40 cents per day.