The home at 211 South Liberty was one of the larger households in the Loray Mill Village, with 18 people living there between the Carnes and Fulbright families. Like many families that moved to Gastonia for work in the mills, the Carnes and Fulbright families came from surrounding rural areas in the mountains to the northwest. Some families were recruited by agents of the Loray Mill who went to farming and mountain communities in search of cheap labor. The Fulbrights were likely enticed by other relatives already in town, including John’s brother and his wife Iva Lee Fulbright, who was coincidentily quite involved in the famous 1929 strike at the Loray Mill. Read more about the Fulbrights here.
The Carnes family moved to Gastonia from the Waynesville area in Western North Carolina where father James Washington Carnes was a farmer. James and wife Lura had 7 daughters: Dollie, Willie, Nova, Mary, Sallie and Annie (plus daughter Flossie who was older and lived elsewhere). Some families, like the Carnes, stayed only a short time and returned to farming. Others made mill work their new professions and Gastonia their new home, as in the case of the Fulbright family. Turnover was high at Loray Mills. Many workers in Gastonia continuously moved from mill to mill in search of better pay or living conditions. By 1921, just one year after the Carnes family is listed as living within the Loray Mill Village, they have already moved on and were now working at Winget Mills in Gastonia. Within a year of that the Carnes family had returned home to Haywood County. The Fulbrights had also moved elsewhere by the next year, although to only a few blocks away at 103 S. Weldon, where they still worked for Loray Mill. In the 1921 Gastonia City Directory the Anthony family is listed as living at the house at 211 South Liberty. Read more about the Carnes family here.
Researched and written by Karen Sieber