After Cotton

After cotton was introduced widely around 1800, it was gathered in the following manner (as reported by Major Kinard): "Of mornings after a heavy dew, or after a shower of rain, the open bolls were picked off the stalks, taken into the house and put on a pile; and then of nights all would gather round the pile of bolls and pick out the cotton by light of tallow candles, picking off all trash. It would take three or four to make one bale of three hundred pounds—would join together and take to Billy Rutherford's to be ginned. Then in the fall, four or five neighbors would join teams of five fine bay horses—no mules—take six or eight bales of cotton and go to Charleston and sell for twenty-five or thirty cents per pound; the father with the oldest son going along, with enough provisions prepared at home by good women to last them during the trip, with the best of bread baked in Dutch ovens. They camped out at night, sleeping with their feet to the fire, with only the sheltering branches of a tree above them. It took about sixteen days to make the trip, hauling goods back for merchants in the county, getting from two to three dollars per hundred for hauling." Some Dutch Forkers raised only enough cotton for their own purposes and did not sell in this manner. After gins came to the Fork, some still separated the seed from the fiber by hand, if for their own use. Enough has been written here about cotton carding, a necessary activity for getting the cotton into shape to spin thread. This was done by the womenfolk throughout fall and winter. (Kibler, 1988,73)