Today I did some research into the cotton mill around the year 1900. What I found gave me further insight into Grandpa Canty's childhood experiences. The U.S. Census is just a beginning. It told me that Thomas Walter Canty, my Grandpa, at the ripe old age of 13, was working in the cotton mill as a sweeper. His father James A. Canty, at this point a widower with four children, age 46, was working also at the cotton mill as a sweeper. So I went to Google Images and found an image which could have been my Canty "boys."
At first, the picture looks harsh to me. Most 13-year olds I've been around (and raised) could barely clean their rooms, let alone have to work to make a living.
However, in looking a little deeper into what was going on at that time, I found that in Augusta, Georgia, the cotton mill business was thriving. The mill worker often lived in what was referred to as "mill villages." These villages were communities of company-owned homes that grew up around the factories. They evidently were places of commraderie and support. Everyone knew each other and they functioned like a large extended family.
Learning this helped me to picture Great Grandpa Canty getting the help he needed not only in finding employment in tough economic times, but in raising his children without their mother. It was a tough life as mill workers often worked six 12-hour days. However, they relied on each other for support and encouragement and that kept them going.
If you would like to know more about this era, you can go to www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-260.