Norment Household: 315 Hill Street

 Without the industrialization of the New South and the Loray Mill, the Norment family would never have existed. Thomas Norment was born in Orangeburg County, South Carolina, located in the state’s coastal plain between Columbia and Charleston. His wife Lena and her family, however, traced their origins to the Piedmont region of North Carolina in Alexander County. It is extremely unlikely that the two would ever have met had it not been for the Loray Mill’s demand for workers and their families’ willingness to relocate for economic gain.

In 1920, the Norments were a typical example of a family in the Loray Mill village. Thomas and Lena Norment lived at their rented house at 315 Hill Street with Cecil and Ralph, their two sons. Thomas was a carder in the Loray Mill. A carder was responsible for disentangling and cleaning cotton fibers before they could be made into single strands. Lena did not have a formal occupation, although with two young children she certainly would have worked hard in the home. Lena also was pregnant at the time that that 1920 census was taken. Cecil, age seven, and Ralph, age five, were too young to work, and it is likely that Cecil also attended school.

Before 1920

Thomas Norment's World War I draft registration card

Thomas Norment’s World War I draft registration card

Mill work brought the Norments together in Gastonia. Thomas was born on October 4, 1888, in Orangeburg County, South Carolina to Stephen Douglass and Elmira Jane Norment. Sometime before 1910, Stephen and Elmira moved their family north to Gastonia. This move was certainly caused by the job prospects in the textile industry
but could have also been a homecoming for the family, since both Stephen and Elmira were from North Carolina. In 1910, Thomas worked as a spooler in a Gastonia cotton mill, and on July 10, he married Lena Lippard. Lena’s family had moved to Gastonia from Alexander County, North Carolina, sometime before 1910, and at the time of her marriage, she was also an employee of a local cotton mill. After three years of marriage, the couple relocated within Gastonia to the Loray Mill village and before 1920, they had had their first two children.

After 1920

The Norment family would continue to relocate based on economic opportunities after 1920. Thomas and Lena remained in Gastonia until 1924 when the family moved to Charlotte. In addition to Cecil and Ralph, they had two more children before leaving the mill village. Virginia Norment, their first daughter, was born on June 2, 1920, but died seventeen days later from complications. Naomi Grace Norment was born a year later on September 23, 1921. After their move, Thomas and Lena had two more daughters: Lois Irma in 1924 and Lillian Blanche in 1928. In Charlotte, Thomas supported his family by working at the Ford Motor Company until his early death from pneumonia on May 6, 1933. After his death, his children had to support the family, and by 1940, Cecil and Naomi were employed at a local silk mill. Cecil served in the military during World War II, and afterwards he moved to Washington, D.C., where he and his wife opened a store, appropriately known as “Norment’s.” Ralph took a different path than his father or brother. He gained an apprenticeship with the Charlotte News in 1937, and by 1940 he was a full employee at the paper. World War II, however, derailed his plans. At the end of the war, Ralph moved first to Florida where he was a bookbinder and then to Washington, D.C, where he worked for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Less information is available about the Norment daughters. Naomi, Lois, and Lillian did remain in Charlotte for the majority of their adult lives, and they each married a local man from the surrounding area.