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Vermont Mill Boys: 1910

Vermont Mill Boys: 1910

August 1910. Every one of these was working in the cotton mill at North Pownal, Vermont, and they were running a small force. Dave Noel, 14; Theodore Momeady, 15, working three years. Albert Sylvester, 16, working one year; Eugene Willett, 13, working one year; Arthur Noel, 15, working one year; P. Tetro, 15, working one year; T. King, 14, working one year. Clarence Noel, 11, working one year. View full size. Photo and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.


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Vermont Mill Boys

This is Joe Manning, of the Lewis Hine Project. My comment below, dated 1-31-08 included a link to my story of Addie Card, who was also photographed at this mill. That link has changed. It is now:

Vermont Mill Boys

I have been down Route 346 and by the mill. My grandfather James Daughton married Vitaline Bechard in 1901 at St. Joachim RC Church in Readsboro, Vermont. They both worked in that mill. One of Vitaline's sister married a Tetro. Could be the boy P. Tetro as shown in the picture. Both families moved to Adams, Massachusetts, and worked at Berkshire Fine Spinning until they died. Their kids worked there too. What an existence working in the mills. My mother worked there at 14. I would be interested in any info you might have on the North Pownal Mill and North Pownal in general during that time.

Dan Harrington

North Pownal

Our family lives in one of the foreman houses on Route 346, sold by the Berkshire Spinning Mill to Arthur Smith right before the mill was turned into a tannery. My daughter is doing a research project on the spinning mill. Her focus is the daughter of Arthur Smith; her name was Naomi. Wondering if you can provide any more on North Pownal between 1880 and 1930?


My father in law and his brother (both born around 1925 in Oregon) got shoes for Christmas more than one year. That meant going to school barefoot until then, as they'd grown out of last year's shoes by summer.

Noel family of Pownal

The Phillip and Rosa Noel family of Pownal (per the 1910 census) have children Lilian age 16, Arthur 15, David 8, Clarence 11, Nelson 8, and Mabel 5. The parents had 7 children so one has died. They are listed as born in Massachusetts and French Canada with all the previous generations born in Canada. The dad is a foreman at the cotton factory and the children include 2 spoolers -- but these are the two oldest. The four younger children are listed as unemployed.


I have to admit that the look on the face of the middle boy (the short one) is absolutely haunting. He looks worn out and old beyond his years.

Many of the kids who worked in the mills of upper New York state and Vermont were kids of expatriates from here (Montreal) looking for jobs.

Dave Noel, Theodore Momeady, Albert Sylvester (Sylvestre), Eugene Willett (Willette), Arthur Noel, P. Tetro (Thétreault) and Clarence Noel are all French Canadian names (some like Sylvester and Willett are Americanized).



The boy third from the left appears to be rolling a cigarette ... and how could they work barefoot all day?

[The farther back in time you go, the more kids (and people in general) you'll find without shoes. - Dave]

Vermont Mill Boys

This is Joe Manning, of the Lewis Hine Project. The first child laborer I researched was Addie Card, a girl who was photographed at this mill, probably on the same day. You can see the whole story of the search for Addie at

Mill Boys

Not sure what Hine meant by these boys "running a small force." At least he didn't say they lived in filthy tenement flats with untidy kitchens and beer-swilling fathers.

You can tell by the lint on their clothes what the air was like inside the mill. I've been inside one. The noise of all the looms clattering away is deafening. The workers wore earplugs.

[Hine is saying the mill was "running a small force," i.e. work was slack, not many employees. - Dave]

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