Rollins grew up in the village, she raised her own family there, she lives there still and now her daughter’s family is living there, too, as are Rollins’ parents.
So when the village’s new neighborhood association decided to have a yard sale this weekend to raise money to buy a historic marker there, it was natural for her to pitch in. Rollins spent Saturday morning greeting customers and taking payments from buyers at the sale in the parking lot of the now-abandoned mill.
“I think it means a lot to her because it’s all she’s ever known,” said Kelly Walz, Rollins’ daughter. “It’s nice to see people who do care about it and want to make the neighborhood better.”
The neighborhood association formed in March and the Saturday sale was its first organized event. Planners hoped to raise $1,200, or about half the cost of a historic marker and by 9:30 Saturday they had already collected $300, one organizer said.
“We really want to be more of a community,” said Joseph Munster, a member of the Profile Mill Village neighborhood association
Munster said he was drawn to the village in Jacksonville, in part, because of what he learned about the historical significance of cotton mills. He also said that he has seen successful mill village revitalization and restoration projects completed in Huntsville, where the Merrimack Mill Village is a highly regarded old neighborhood.
Munster moved to Jacksonville from Huntsville and decided to make the village his home in 2007. He finished restoring his home in 2008 and is a proponent of revitalization there.
“It’s an important neighborhood in Jacksonville,” Munster said.
The Profile Mill Village was built in the first decade of the 20th century and was home to families of the workers in the nearby cotton mill. There the city’s first power system brought electric light to the village and the city’s first water system brought clean water into their homes.
Munster said life in the mill village was the first step out the country and toward economic freedom.
“It got people out of being sharecroppers,” Munster said.”It was a huge step not just for Jacksonville but for the South.”
The mill life was a big step for Rollins’ father, Thomas Wilson, who at 84 still lives in the village. Wilson moved there as a teenager when he went to work there.
Wilson may have never imagined when he moved there, that three generations of his family members would also call it home. But Walz, who lives on A Street with her husband, Matt Walz, and daughter Allison Walz, said she doesn’t want to call any other place home.
“It’s just part of my heritage,” she said.
Staff Writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LGaddy_Star.