ARIZARD-L ArchivesArchiver > ARIZARD > 2000-09 > 0968981100
From: Jeri Helms Fultz <>
Subject: [ARIZARD-L] Pearlin' 3
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2000 20:25:00 -0500
I'll a better job of this and put the page up on the Lawrence site. :-)
Oh, I'm so happy with my new scanner!!!!! Jeri
edge gripped by tongs and pushed against the rotating saw by a wooden
peg in a mechanically operated pusher. The result was a pellet-Iike
portion of the shell that could be polished and drilled to become a
button. Only one button could be cut at a time. The pellets, already
called buttons, fell into buckets below the machine. Once a week,
on Saturday morning, each cutter would take his weeks work to the
grading room. The inspector would then take a quarter of a pound of the
pellets and examine them, counting the good ones and discarding those
not correct in size. He would determine the percent of acceptable
upon the examination of this quarter of a pound. If th~ cutter's "test"
was 308, he had 45 pounds, and he was cutting line 18 regulars his take
home pay would be about $5.43. The cutter was paid 5 to 16Y2 cents for
each 168 (gross) acceptable buttons he cut. The buttons were washed, put
in a power shaker to discard all but the correct size buttons -then they
were put into a drum with ridges on its interior surfaces where the
buttons were polished. After polishing, the smooth buttons were sent to
a factory in Amsterdam, New York, which drilled the eyes and placed the
buttons on cards.
The Button Factory was a major industry for Black Rock from 1900 to
the 1950's. It reached its peak in the mid 40's and finally had to bow
gracefully and give way to the mass produced synthetic button, which
could be turned out more quickly and cheaply.
There are all kinds of nostalgic memories connected with button-
cutting by those of us reared at Black Rock where our fathers made their
living at this tedious work. Some of these memories are happy ones;
others, when the factory shut down, are not so pleasant to recall, but
former fa r outweigh the latter .
If you are interested in viewing a button cutter's tools, there are some
on display at the Old Powhatan Courthouse Historical Library and
This article could not have been written without the invaluable help of
Garnet Vance who furnished all the newspaper clippings from which I
gleaned my data, also I want to thank my dad for letting me use his
journal recording all his years of cutting buttons and for sharing his
memories which brought life to this article.
"but I remain your affectinate cosin untill death."
Thank you again Greatgramdpa Davis for those words.
Never dreamed I'd get to use em!
Fax# : 1-314-524-2850
Personal webpage: http://idt.net/~jfultz19/
AR Civil War Pg: http://www.couchgenweb.com/civilwar/
Memorial Pg: http://members.tripod.com/~egerdes/index.html
Lawrence Co. AR: http://www.couchgenweb.com/lawrence/
Helms Research PG:http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~helmsnc