Ossipee is a small town in the northwestern part of Alamance County,
North Carolina. It was incorporated December 9, 2002. According to the 2010 Census, the town had a population of 543.
This community, that once was inhabited by the Saxapahaw Indians, was originally the location of the Ossipee Cotton Mill, a factory that Capt. James N. Williamson and sons founded in 1878 along the Haw River.
By then, the North Carolina Railroad had already built its tracks from Goldsboro to Charlotte. It wasn't until a decade later that a depot was built nearby, in what is today the town of Elon. The depot, called Mill Point, served as a shipping yard of the county, including the Ossipee Cotton Mill.
Soon after the mill opened, a store and mill houses started to appear in the landscape. Workers were given a roof over their heads but were not allowed to buy their homes. This, combined with low wages and long work days, led mill workers to strike in the 1880's.
In 1916, the mill was sold to Consolidated Textile Corporation. During the Depression years, the mill was sold again, this time to Burlington Mills Inc., later Burlington Industries.
Perhaps to avoid possible strikes, Burlington Industries started selling the mill houses to the workers.
Life remained calm in the small community and in the mill. The most disturbing event being an armed robery on August 31, 1934. That day, men armed with machine guns came to the mill office and forced employees into the safe after taking what they thought to be payroll money.
As it turns out, there wasn't much money in the office. The robbers left with their small bounty, leaving behind a group of scared employees locked in the safe for quite some time. It's not known if the culprits were ever found.
In the 1970's, the mill was sold to Glen Raven Mills, which still owns it to this day. Though the mill is gone many of the mill houses have remained.
With a little more than 700 residents, Ossipee was incorporated as a town in 2002 after being a sanitary district for 16 years.
Historical information obtained from Don Bolden's "Alamance in the Past."
Times-News, August 27, 2006
"BANDITS GET $200 IN OSSIPEE HOLDUP"
That was the heading in big black type across all eight columns of the Dailey Times News.
A drophead under that one read: "Bandishing Machine Guns, Quartet Kidnaps Two Girls, Lock Six People in Vault."
And still a third smaller headline read: "Abducted Girls Madelle Lamberth and Lucy Eckner, Are Released at Liberty as Police Take Trail of Escaping Criminals; Admitted They Were After Payroll But Finally Decided They Couldn't Wait; Holdup Is Perpertrated With Brazen Nonchalance."
Missed that story did you? I'm not suprised. The quotes are from the front page of this newspaper on Friday, August 31, 1934- 74 years ago today.
The first paragraph of the story written by Robert Hodges pretty well tells us what happened.
"Four machine gun-menacing bandits driving a car with Tennessee license plates held up the Ossipee branch of the Burlington Mills this afternoon at 12:45 o'clock, locked six people in the vault, kidnapped two girls as hostages, took $200 - all the money in the office at the time - and fled."
(This part of the article is not readable) .....and made an employee, E.B. Cobb, take them inside. They told the two girls and Cobb to go on with their work while they waited for the money, and one of the men lit a cigar for Cobb. Another of them said "We're after big dough."
When the payroll did not arrive, they locked six people - Cobb, J.C Cowan, R.A. Desoto, Mrs. Laura McRey and Mrs. Kearns Roberts - in the vault, along with Mrs. Tysinger who happened to come by. Then the men forced the two girls into the car "and the car roared off."
C.M. Garrison, office manager, came in and went about his work awhile before hearing muffled noises from the vault. The bandit had taken the vault keys with them, so the people inside had to break the lock on the inside.
The story told of the girls being released unharmed, but there was no word if the men were captured. The last paragraph of the story said this:
"The men all talked with northern accents, spokesmen observed, and despite the Tennessee license on the car were obviously from some northern or Midwestern metroplis, it was generally agreed."
Don't know who they were, but John Dillinger, the most famous bandit of that era, was not one of the four. He had been killed in Chicago only a month earlier. But there were many others out there engaged in bank robbing and hitting company payrolls in an era of crime that swept much of the nation during the Depression.
Luckily noone was injured in this caper.
And it was, to say the least, a big day in the history of Ossipee 74 years ago today.
Times-News, August 31, 2008 - Don Bolden