1. Furman Owens
Furman Owens, 12 years old. Can't read. Doesn't know his A,B,C's. Said, "Yes I want to learn but can't when I
work all the time." Been in the mills 4 years, 3 years in the Olympia Mill. Columbia, S.C.
2. A Girl worker in a Cotton Mill
One of the spinners in Whitnel Cotton Mill. She was 51 inches high. Has been in the mill one year. Sometimes
works at night. Runs 4 sides - 48 cents a day. When asked how old she was, she hesitated, then said, "I don't
remember," then added confidentially, "I'm not old enough to work, but do just the same." Out of 50 employees,
there were ten children about her size. Whitnel, N.C.
3. Little Boy Working in New York City
“I started working as soon as I could pull out basting threads. No, I don’t have time to go to school. We all sew
pants here. We start early in the morning and eat lunch while we work. Most nights we work late, too.” p. 98
(Adapted from Jacob Riis’ How the Other Half Lives p. 140)
Some children were apprenticed or bound-out to others. They would work for a certain number of years before
being master craftsmen or being given tools and livestock to start a farm.
4. Asa Sheldon- A Bound Boy
In 1797, when I was 9 years old, Mr. Daniel Parker came to my father’s house to get a boy to work for him. After
working for 3 years, I was bound to him to my mother’s anguish. Yet he promised to give me 100 dollars when I
turned 21. I also had the opportunity to better myself. One snowy April day I found a wee little lamb. Mr. Parker
said, “Now Asa, if you will make that lamb live, you may have it to pay for going after the sheep. All the ewe lambs
she has I will keep for you for the wool, and all the male lambs you may sell to the butchers.” It was with great joy
that I watched MY lamb nurse and grow.”
(“Incidents in the Life of a Bound Boy” 1797 by Asa G. Sheldon in How Our Grandfathers Lived.)
5. Miss Maud Shaw- 6 or 7 years old.
These mites of five and six had their "musicals," their parties, receptions, and promenades, as well as their
elders. Maud had her tiny card-case, and paid calls, "like mamma and Fan"; her box of dainty gloves, her jewel-
drawer, her crimping-pins, as fine and fanciful a wardrobe as a Paris doll, and a French maid to dress her.
Louisa May Alcott, An Old Fashioned Girl
58. Kate Stone: Christmas In Texas During the Civil War
“Last Christmas morning when dear little Beverly raised up in bed, and looking at her stockings saw only some
homemade toys, bedstead and chairs made of white pine…[She] hid her head, sobbing that she “would not have
the ugly common things.” Aunt Laura told her how bad she was, and she was sorry.”