Source material for this story is from the Museum L-A.
Mary Neowarth was not afraid to work. The young woman from Lewiston accepted a temporary job at the Bates Mill beside the Androscoggin River in 1861.
Nathan Bradbury, the Mill’s overseer, kept track of Neowarth’s work to ensure that she was paid for her labor.
The Bates Mill worked under contracts, providing textiles to order for clients, such as the railroads and the government. The term, "Entitled to a Discharge," at the bottom of Neowarth’s paycheck meant that she was one of thoser hired on a temporary basis.
During a time when other New England textile mills were exhausting their cotton supplies and trimming their work force, the Bates Mill was hiring new workers – such as Mary Neowarth – and using cotton it had stockpiled to make war products including blankets and tent cloth.
Neowarth went to work in the "No. 2 Weave Room," helping in the weaving process of production in Building Number Two of the Bates Mill.
The Mill's employment practice was to provide an incentive to work. Bates employees were paid per cart filled with product in addition to an hourly or daily base pay. Workers could earn more money by producing more product.
In her December paycheck, Bradbury credited Neowarth with 10 and three-quarter days of work. During that time, she filled 23 carts with product at 35 cents per cart. She received $8.05 for filling the carts, and $12.25 in base pay, for a total of $20.30.
By comparison, Army privates received $13 per month, although they were provided food and shelter.
Because she was a woman, Neowarth would not have knowingly been allowed to join the military and participate in combat. She and many other women contributed to the war effort by working in the mills, filling positions that had been previously held by men.
- What other types of jobs did women have during the Civil War?
- Were the roles of women during the war different in the South than they were in the North (Maine)?
- Who were some famous women who made an impact during the war?