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James Cross Reid

My Great grandfather, James Cross Reid, it had been told in the family came to the United States to supervise a textile mill in North Carolina. I found an old letter to his son, James Cross Reid II written to return some family pictures to him.

The letter was dated April 27, 1942.
"to Mr. James C. Reid
Dear Jimmy,
Ran across a couple of old photographs which I think must be of you and Clarence. Am enclosing these herewith, thinking that you would value them. These pictures must have come from our old home. We had the pleasure of meeting Clarence here. Believe it was last summer, and wish that if you ever come this way you would pay us a visit. With every good wish,
Sincerely yours,

Allen Erwin Gant"

Glen Raven Technical Fabrics, LLC

I decided to track down this factory in North Carolina in the summer of 2000. Paul and I pulled up the the factory (expecting that it might not even still be in existence). It is still a booming textile factory, near Burlington, North Carolina. The nice people in the executive office showed me around in the little history museum they have set up. I found the book below there, then found it in a used book store.

(From "The Raven's Story" by Margaret Elizabeth Gant, published 1979 ISBN 0-9603138-0-x)

John Gant was not the only one who worked first at Altamahaw, and then at Glen Raven. There may have been a number of people who moved with him, but one who certainly did was an overseer by the name of James C. Reid or Mr. Jimmy Reid. He was a Scotchman, the story goes, and he was an excellent and very tough supervisor at Altamahaw before he moved to Glen Raven around 1905. After there was a boarding house at Glen Raven, Jimmy Reid lived there for years and like the majority of employees walked to work each day. Edgar Barbee, who had a 47 year career with Glen Raven, recalled a story about this "super" which occurred one winter day. The employees had 40 minutes for lunch and since most of them lived in the mill village, they ate at home, particularly young fellows like Edgar Barbee and some of his pals. On this day in question the boys had already run home to eat and were back in the mill yard ". . . under a big old pine tree, cutting up, playing and carrying on" right in plain view of the door to the mill. There had been a sleet it seems, and just as Mr. Reid ". . . came out the door his feet flew out from under him and down the steps he went" and the derby hat he always wore went the other way, making quite a scene to the delight and amusement of the boys who were playing under the pine nearby. After collecting himself the superintendent promptly ". . . raised particular sand" with the boys and it was not very long after the incident that the steps were enclosed to prevent further accidents.

Mr. Jimmy Reid was a stalwart protector of the apple orchard, various sources report. The children from the village loved to play in the orchard which was located on the spot which is now the parking lot beside the Personnel office. Those trees, like the pecans which still stand beside the mill, were planted by Mr. John Gant and Jimmy Reid considered them Mr. Gant's property and he thought the children should not be allowed to pick those apples. When he caught some young boy or girl with the tell-tale evidence, he would reprimand the youth and usually threaten to report it to the appropriate parents. One night an apple pilfering escapade was in progress when the watchman, who had no doubt been schooled by Mr. Reid, stepped outside to discover Edgar Barbee and several other boys and girls collecting the red fruit. Edgar had stuffed his shirt to the throat with apples and as the watchman hurried over to box a few ears the culprits dashed off for home. As Edgar ran the weight of the apples pulled his shirt tail out and down tumbled his spoils in a trail behind him.

Although not many specific episodes are still told about Jimmy Reid, he is well remembered by everyone associated with the mill in his era. Like all the Gants, Mr. Reid had a great personal involvement with the industry, and it is said he had a tremendous attachment for the Gants and all the people he worked with at the mill. After a long career with the company, his health finally forced him to retire and on the morning he Ieft work, they say he thought so much of the Gants that he was unable to tell them good-bye, so he came in very early, left a note in the office and the key in the door.