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Morganton Full Fashion Hosiery Mill 1949, Photo Courtesy of Picture Burke- History Museum of Burke County and NC Room -John T. Oxford, Jr.'s Walt Greene Collection 


To tell the stories and honor the children, women and men of Burke County, North Carolina, 

who worked in the textile and hosiery mills & furniture factories, desiring a just and rewarding life for their families while building good and strong communities. 


Providing a portrayal of another time and way of life, from the resettling of poor farmers to mill villages and the importance of community life, to providing personal memories of those days that ought to inspire others to examine their lives today. With an inside 

perspective and personal point of view, understanding how this generation of hard workers sets the bar high for today is presented.



Listen to the conversations of 20th-century workers whose experiences are brought to life by audio and visual testimonies. Enter the social and cultural worlds of Burke County and imagine how a day in the life of a mill worker compares to life today in the 21st Century.



The Sacrifices Made by a Mother.


"At the age of 16, my mother worked at the same sewing machine for 33 years, in the Garrou-Morganton Full-Fashioned Hosiery Mills, now the site of Morganton's City Hall . And as a young person, I was sensitive to the sacrifices she was making while going to work everyday, at the same time raising three children".  Jim Warlick 


While working with the History Museum of Burke County, Jim Warlick, born

and raised in Morganton, North Carolina, identified that the History

Museum did not have an extensive exhibition on the mill workers of

Burke County.  


In 2017,  Jim established the Workers' Legacy Foundation to celebrate

and honor his mother's life’s work.  This Exhibition Is as much a

tribute to all the working people and families from the communities

of Burke County and surrounding areas, who worked so hard and

selflessly, in the textile and furniture factories and hosiery mills,

while seeking an honorable livelihood for themselves and their families.


The role of the workers’ and their stories may be known to some,

however their achievements are less often publicly acknowledged.

We invite you to join us in paying tribute to these thousands of workers

represented here in this special Workers’ Legacy Exhibition at the

History Museum of Burke County.

This undertaking, has since grown to include the recording, preservation

and collection of video testimonies, stories told by furniture, textile and hosiery

workers remembering what it was like to push the limits of hard invaluable archive for future generations. And, edited from the testimonies, will be a short-form documentary. 

In addition, the DIGNITY of WORK historic monument, a unique public art installation commemorating the workers, will be installed on the grounds of the History Museum of Burke County that will forever honor the workers for generations to come. 

Come join us on this memorable journey that all began with a son's loving memory of his mother, Mary Harrison Warlick, known by all friends and family as "Sweet Mary". As we celebrate  ALL these admirable people who literally built Burke County and the community that we live in today, we ask you to imagine how your life today may have been impacted.

Mary Warlick Obit Photo copy.JPG
Mary H Warlick

Share your story with us!

Worked in the mills or know someone who did? We would love to hear from you. 


201 W Meeting St. Morganton, NC 28655  Tel: 202-302-0243

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