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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Eva Hopkins, March 5, 1980. Interview H-0167. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Health hazards in the mill village

Hopkins describes the homes and neighborhoods of the mill village in Charlotte. The neighborhood had several health hazards in previous years; some were fixed by the health department, by forced removal, or by lawsuits brought against the mill company.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Eva Hopkins, March 5, 1980. Interview H-0167. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

EVA HOPKINS:
I don't know. There's some had a few chickens, I think. The mill village wouldn't allow it, smell to bad. Not at Mercury. They had men from the health department that came out. He broughtover the village, and if you didn't keep the place clean, he'd report to the mill company. They'd make you move. The Mercury Mill village that we lived on, then, was much cleaner than it is out here now since they've sold these houses to the rental agencies. So many people
LU ANN JONES:
Did people from the mill come through too to look at the houses or was it just somebody from the health department?
EVA HOPKINS:
He worked with the mill, but he was from the health department, but he would come out and go over the village, then he would report back to the mill office anything he found that wasn't up to snuff. They'd make them clean it up-shape up or ship out-they'd fire them. They had to move. Now you can't get the real estate company to make them clean up around their house. We have so many around here, it's just terrible. We have a North Charlotte Action Committee. We have meetings every so often. We had tried to get the City Council and people like that to do something about this out here. So far, we haven't had too much luck, They have cleaned up some in some of the places, but there's still a lot that needs to be done.
LU ANN JONES:
Is that like a neighborhood community. . . .
EVA HOPKINS:
It's out in here, where they sold these houses.
LU ANN JONES:
How old. . . .
EVA HOPKINS:
This house that we live in, it's almost one hundred years old.
LU ANN JONES:
EVA HOPKINS:
Well, it didn't look like this when we bought it. We've done so much work to it. These other houses around here don't look like this, because they haven't done anything to them. A lot of them did inside, but this was huge back room back here. My husband, he knocked this wall out here in that living room. He re-finished all the floors, lowered all the ceilings, put in new windows, just really underpinned it. We just really did a lot of work. This is the church that I go to down here. That's Whiting Avenue Baptist. It started in a one room cottage down at Highland Park Mill. I was going to show you. There used to be a mill pond, Mercury Mill Pond out here, right around the corner from Davidson. This is the first church they built. It's been bricked up now on Thirty-sixth Street.
LU ANN JONES:
That's still standing. It's a really elaborate and beautiful looking church.
EVA HOPKINS:
There was a Mercury mill tank. You saw that big tank out there. Then they had a big pond out there; it was a muddy pond-huge thing. Two little boys got drowned in it. They didn't have a fence around it. They tried to get them to drain it then, and they wouldn't do it. So across the street from me over here, this lady had a little boy, two years old. He got drowned in it. So they sued the mill company, and made them drain the pond.
LU ANN JONES:
Were these people who worked in the mill, and they sued the company?
EVA HOPKINS:
Yeah, um-hum.
LU ANN JONES:
That must have taken some guts to sue one of your employers.
EVA HOPKINS:
They sued them and they made them drain that pond. They told them to put a fence around or drain it. They told them they wanted to drain it.