World War II had a tremendous effect on the mill; most noticeably, was the reduction in the mill's labor force. In a letter Mr. Hauss, stated "old handicapped Negroes were moved from one area to another in order to supplement the shortages at the mill and logging camp." Many employees left the mill and joined the military. One individual, David Miller, Assistant to the President, Alger-Sullivan Lumber Company, enlisted in the Army and became a captain. He served from 1942 to June 12, 1944. At one point the labor shortage was very critical and the mill considered hiring foreign workers to supplement its labor force. In 1944, a conference was being held in Atlanta to determine the feasibility of using Honduran labor in the United States. Captain David Miller was in Atlanta at the time and represented the mill at the conference.
Edward Hauss was not too happy about using Honduran labor. The issues of foreign labor was sparked by a telegram from Frank A. Constaguy, Deputy Regional Director, War Manpower Commission, Atlanta. The telegram "asked that the mill select someone to represent employees in our section at the conference." Mr. Hauss wrote "I see no reason why we should interest ourselves in other employees." However, he felt compelled to have a representative at the conference. He stated that "being short of men and not having endeavored to obtain prisoners of war to work in our camp, it may be that in case of shut down on account of shortage of labor, we would be subject to criticism if we do not show real interest in the employment of Hondurans."
There were numerous questions on Mr. Hauss' mind concerning foreign labor. First, the amount of freedom given to them and whether or not the men would be free at the end of the work day. He wrote "the mill would have no control over the Hondurans after working hours or in employment and going to parts unknown to us."
A second problem concerning the mill was where would the Hondurans work or what position would they hold. The manpower office wanted the mill to employ the workers as wood laborers but hiring the workers as wood laborers would not help the mill. The mill needed workers in other areas and if this restriction was not removed, the mill would not accept the workers.
The third major problem to consider was race. The lumber company needed to know the race of the Hondurans so that the company could provide housing. Being unaware of the foreign workers race, Edward Hauss specified the type of worker that would be acceptable for the lumber company. Edward Hauss stated it plainly, "We stress Negroes for the reason that we have an intimation that the Hondurans might be Negroes and Whites, and we do not approve of the mixture, and if we are to enter into a contract Negro Hondurans alone are wanted."
No contribution to the war effort was small. The mill, like many businesses and citizens made sacrifices for democracy. Near the end of the war, the mill received a letter from George N. Comfort of the George N. Comfort Lumber Company, the letter revealed that the "longleaf yellow pine lumber, from Century, was used in the development and construction of the Super Fortress Bomber B-29--some of which was used in the bombing of Japan." The news pleased Edward Hauss and increased the morale of the employees.
The second event which affected the mill occurred in 1945. An area approximately one mile north of Century became a town called South Flomaton, Florida. This event is significant because it begins the erosion of paternalistic control of the area. The first mayor of South Flomaton was C.W. Nall. It will take Century forty more years to establish a formal government.
The Black Experience in Century
This page last modified on Saturday, February 25, 2012