Tag Archives: Huntsville AL

Just Trembling All Over—the Textile Strike of 1934 in Huntsville, AL

Yes, a new grievance structure was established that removed control from the hands of the mill owners. Yes, workers had the legal right to organize. But the stretch-out and wage system were referred to a committee to be studied, and little practical change in the daily lives of the workers was apparent. Many were turned away from their jobs as retaliation for their union efforts. New complaints piled up unredressed. Families were turned out of their homes. And the bitter taste left from the pyrrhic sacrifices of the strike lingered in the hearts of many.

The mill industry in Huntsville rebounded during World War II, but shortly after the war, another slow descent began as manufacturing moved offshore. Once employing hundreds of thousands of workers, the industry vanished. Today, many of those mill buildings and villages still exist in Huntsville, having been repurposed into a community theater (the former Merrimack Hall), artists’ studios and shops (Lowe Mill) and commercial space (Lincoln Mills). They are the last reminders of this once-critical industry in the region, and the movement it generated.

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Underneath the Huntsville courthouse, yawning caverns

“From the year 1830 to 1840, though embracing a period of great financial distress, yet was included a period of great improvement in [Huntsville, AL] and vicinity. “The old brick court-house on the public square had become dilapidated and insecure, and after discussing ways and means for several years the commissioners finally let out the […]

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Frank James, of the James Gang, acquited in Huntsville

On a cold day in March 1881, three masked men on horseback, brandishing revolvers, held up an army paymaster on the banks of the Tennessee River near Muscle Shoals, AL. The paymaster was on his way with the payroll to pay the construction workers digging a canal near Muscle Shoals. The masked men kidnapped the […]

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A family spat among the Baptists

Alabama’s oldest Baptist congregation will be 205 years old this year. Or not, depending on whom you ask.  Elder John Nicholson led the first worship on October 2, 1808 at the home of James Deaton in Killingsworth Cove (now part of Huntsville.) And for 170 of those 202 years the congregants who’ve adhered to the […]

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Sipping free whiskey and acting like they’re in hog heaven

Daddy got caught the first time in about 1916 or ’17. The law was paying informers to tell on people. They put his bail bond at fifty dollars. That was on a Friday, and we didn’t have any money, so the next morning Mama gets me to hitch up the mule and we loaded up […]

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