Minnie Mae Perry and Putting the Bits and Pieces of Memories Together

Lane, Minnie Mae Perry

A Poor Picture of Minnie Mae in Later Years

Childhood memories float in our minds like ethereal pictures of bits and pieces of our experiences…bits and pieces that may or may not accurately reflect the true happenings of the moment. Such is my memory or lack of memory of my great-grandmother Minnie Mae Perry. 

Minnie Mae Perry was the mother of my grandfather, William (Will) Everett Lane. Her parents, Joseph Calvin Perry and Irene Reville/Revels were from Martin County, North Carolina. They migrated to Crockett County, Tennessee sometime around 1868. Minnie Mae, the fourteenth and last child of Joseph and Irene was born on 26 February 1875 in Maury City, Crockett County.  

Joseph only had two sons. All the remaining children were girls. In 1880, Joseph was farming the land with the help of his girls who ranged in age from nine to twenty. Minnie Mae, at the age of five, was too young to help. Unfortunately the 1890 census records were lost in a fire so we have no record of Minnie during that time-frame. Most likely she followed in the footsteps of her sisters in helping on the family farm until she married or until Joseph died sometime before 1890. 

Minnie Mae and my great-grandfather, Edgar Lane married in Crockett County on 20 July 1894. Minnie was nineteen, and a cradle robber, as Edgar was only fifteen. On 13 June 1895, my grandfather, Will was born. 

It could not have been a happy marriage. Edgar was known to be a gambler and it’s calculated that sometime around 1898 he disappeared. He may have walked away from gambling debts and family responsibilities too heavy for his young age of nineteen. It was possible back then to disappear and start a new life somewhere else. Or, as some family members believe, he came to a premature end due to his unsavory life style. However the cause, he was gone from Minnie and Will’s lives forever.

In those days, family helped to pick up the pieces of a shattered life. Fortunately Minnie’s mother Irene lived across the river in Gayoso Township located in Pemiscot County, Missouri. She was living with her son John, her widowed daughter Mary Mullins and Mary’s son Lloyd. Most likely Minnie and Will moved in with her extended family after Edgar’s disappearance as they are shown living with the family in the 1900 census. Minnie helped John with the farming and Mary helped with the domestic work.

Cosey, Sam picture with mules

Sam Cosey and Charley Bowers, 1901

The next year Minnie married Samuel Cosey on 3 August 1901 in Lake County, Tennessee. Sometime before or after their marriage, Sam and his neighbor, Charley Bowers, took a break from pulling logs to have their picture taken. The picture was subsequently published years later in an unknown newspaper and, fortunately, the clipping was saved by the Lane family.

Minnie and Sam added to their family when their daughter Gladys was born in 1902 and son Raymond was born in 1907. The entire family was living in Gayoso in 1910 including Minnie’s mother Irene and brother, John. John had changed his profession from farming to carpentry. Perhaps this is where my grandfather Will, fourteen at the time, learned his profession. 

Through the 1920s and 1930s the Cosey’s lived in Little Prairie, Pemiscot County. In 1939 Minnie lost Will to a bus accident with a Grey Hound bus in Caruthersville. The accident was on one of the major thoroughfares of this small town. Perhaps the reminder of the loss of her son each time she passed by this place was too much to bear for in 1940 she and Sam moved to Rombauer located in Butler County, Missouri.  

When I was about five or six I recall visiting “some people” who had mules. I believed that they lived in either Tennessee or Arkansas. I recall a rustic fence with mules inside. There were several older people standing around with my mother, father, brother, and me. My father, laughing, climbed over the fence and jumped on the back of one of the mules. He was immediately bucked off. When he got up, he was still laughing, a little sheepishly though, and climbed back over the fence. This picture of my dad being bucked off the mule is as clear today as it was back then. 

Cosey, Sam portrait

Sam Cosey

The reality of this memory is we visited my great-grandma Minnie and step-grandpa Sam. I didn’t even know Minnie existed until I started my genealogy quest a few years back. We were in Rombauer, Missouri not Arkansas or Tennessee. And Sam was known for his mules. I imagine he got a kick out of my dad trying his hand at riding one of his prize mules.

Sam Cosey died at the age of seventy-five in November of 1954.This was probably a year or so after our visit.  Just a little more than four months after Sam was buried, their son Raymond died of peritonitis of the gallbladder. This was a sad time for Minnie. Minnie lived another nine years joining Sam on 13 December 1963. Both are buried in Maple Cemetery in Caruthersville.  

Through interviews with cousins I was able to put the people and places together to form the accurate accounting of this wonderful memory.  Like all of us, I have a lots of bits and pieces of memories floating around in this old brain of mine. However, this was a reminder to me that I have to check, and re-check those bits and pieces to make sure I relate them as they really were.

Maw’s Purse

The pursuit of my family history has been a wonderful journey. Not only have I found new cousins, but have reconnected with cousins I haven’t seen for many years. My cousin Carla is one of those cousins. She is the daughter of my father’s sister Helen. Carla was closer to my age than other cousins so it was natural for us to play together. Not too long ago I visited Carla. We had not seen each other for many years. I had anticipated that Carla might have pictures that I didn’t have and I had pictures to share with her. Unbeknownst to me, she had a treasure in her possession, maw’s purse.

maws-purse

Maw’s Purse

As I mentioned in an earlier post about Ruberta, my paternal grandmother, she was not a warm and fuzzy person. In fact she came across as a cold. I really didn’t know her and, in the half-dozen times we visited her, I was never to know why she was unable to show the slightest bit of warmth to me or my brother. It is only through talking to my cousins, and finding records about her, that I have come to understand her better.

Maw knew heartache. She lost her father, Aub Hood, about the age of fourteen. Not too long after that she married John Wayson, a man who was forty-one years of age. By today’s standards it’s hard to understand how her mother could allow her marry someone twenty-seven years her senior. The family was poor so perhaps marrying her off provided one less mouth to feed. The marriage didn’t last as Ruberta was back with the family in 1910.

On March 12, 1913, Maw was married to my grandfather William Everett Lane. Between 1914 and 1924 six children were born to the couple. Life was difficult. The great depression was going strong, beginning in 1924 and ending in 1939. Jobs were difficult to come by. Grandpa Lane was a carpenter and through the years the children picked cotton to supplement the family income.

The life of the family changed on June 4, 1939 when Will was instantly killed when his car was struck by a Greyhound bus. There was a settlement with the bus company that provided some relief to Maw, but I’m sure she would have given anything to have Will back with the family.

Tragedy struck again when my uncle Vernon was killed aboard a ship that was hit by a Kamikaze plane in the Pacific Ocean close to the end of the war. Maw had lost her husband and her son in the span of six years.

When Carla brought out Maw’s purse, I was amazed at the discoveries waiting for me. The purse was stuffed, and I do mean stuffed, with what appeared to be every receipt that Maw received during her lifetime. There was a receipt for a car that Grandpa Lane purchased in 1922; an Overland automobile that was already fifteen years old at the time he purchased it.

There were receipts for lumber, windows, doors, nails, and other items for use in the building of houses. There were insurance receipts, a delayed marriage certificate, grandpa’s social security card, mortgage papers; receipts that obviously meant something to Maw.

And the most poignant treasures in the purse were four letters from Vernon written to Maw while he was at sea in the Pacific Ocean. Written two weeks before he died close to the end of the war, he was responding to the fact that Maw had visited his wife Evelyn and two sons recently. In his letter he said, “Did you think the boys had growed [sic] very much? I would give anything in the world to see them but I guess it will be some time yet before I get to see them.”

He told Maw there was nothing to worry about. Was he trying to reassure himself that he would be fine as he wrote those letters to comfort her? We will never know. The saddest of all was the telegram advising Maw of his death at sea; the words so black and final upon that piece of paper.

The letters have been reunited with Vernon’s sons. My cousin Dick, who was a baby when Vernon died, told me after reading the letters he felt, for the first time, he was hearing his father’s words.

Perhaps Maw had so much loss in her life that she kept herself at arm’s length from people to insulate herself from extreme loss again. Did the receipts from her life somehow give her a feeling of closeness to the events that represented her life and the loved ones she had lost? Whatever the reasons, the contents in Maw’s purse assured me that she was a feeling woman, just not one to wear her heart upon her sleeve.

Finding Edgar Lane and Doing the DNA Happy Dance

Edgar Lane lived a short life. And he was my great-grandfather. He was born to John C. and Marietta (Vaughn) Lane about 1878 or 1879 most likely in Dyer County, Tennessee.

I searched for Edgar in census records for a long time. And finally I found him in 1880 living in Crockett County, Tennessee in the home of George Vaughn, enumerated as G. W. Maugham¹. Edgar was between the age of one and two years of age. His brother Isaac was four months old. Their mother, Marietta, had died before the census was taken leaving their father John with two very young children.

Like all good genealogists I questioned many times whether I had the correct person; there were so few documents for Edgar. One day, while looking for Lane’s and Vaughn’s in Crockett County on the GenWeb.com website, I found a link to people who were listed as contacts for surnames. This led me to Jean, my genealogy angel. She was listed as a contact for the Vaughn family surname. I took a chance and emailed her. And lucky me, she replied back. In the beginning we shared family stories, and the more we communicated, the more we felt that there was a family connection. A year later I sent my DNA to FamilyTree and eagerly awaited the results. The happy dance commenced when I found that Jean was listed as one of my matches. I was on the right track.

TonyaandJean

Tonya (left) with genealogy angel and cousin, Jean in Crockett County, Tennessee.

Edgar married Minnie Mae Perry on 19 July 1894 in Crockett County.² He was about fifteen, which seems very young to be married. A year later, my grandfather, William Everett Lane, was born. Why did he marry at an early age? Perhaps his age was incorrectly enumerated, perhaps he was a wild child, or people just got married at a young age back then. We may never know.

A relative told me that Edgar liked to gamble and disappeared one day. Speculation was that he owed someone money and wound up in the river as fish-food; a gruesome thought. Or it’s possible he was one of those men who shirked their responsibility by leaving their families and taking up a new identity somewhere else in the United States.

Life went on for Minnie Mae and their son William Everett. She married Sam Cosey in 1901. In a probate document recorded in June 1906, after the death of George Vaughn, was the sentence “Due on settlement to be equally divided between Minton Vaughn and the Lane minor heir of Edgar Lane deceased.”³  All of the clues, plus the DNA, have confirmed to me that indeed John and Marietta Lane and George Vaughn are my ancestors.

I was fortunate to meet my genealogy angel, and cousin, Jean  last year when she and her husband Jim met me in Crockett County. They took me to the location where the Vaughn homestead once stood and to Lebanon Church Cemetery where Richard Vaughn, my gggg-grandfather, and other Vaughn family members are buried. She has been so kind in sharing her well-researched genealogy with me.

And recently I enjoyed another happy dance. I located a cousin, via DNA and Ancestry.com that connects me to John Lane. Life is good!

If anyone has information about this cast of characters that are my ancestors please contact me. I would love to hear from you.

My Lane genealogy line is:

Great, Great-Grandfather, John Lane b. abt. 1859, d. abt. 1898
married Marietta Vaughn b. 1860, d. abt. 1880

Great-Grandfather, Edgar Lane b. abt. 1879, d. abt. 1898
married Minnie Mae Perry b. 26 Feb 1875, d. 13 Dec 1863

Grandfather, William Everett Lane b. 13 Jun 1895, d. 5 Jun 1939
married Ruberta Hood b. 14 Oct 1894, d. 5 Feb 1969

Father, Talmadge Hollis Lane b. 21 Nov 1914, d. 22 Jan 1993
married Bonnie Lee Schwegler b. 25 Mar 1927, d. 29 Jun 2002

 

 


¹1880 U.S. census, Crockett County, Tennessee, population schedule, Maury City, enumeration district (ED) 007, sheet 240-C, dwelling 121, family 121, George Maugham (Vaughn) household, digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 Mar 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1249.

²Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002, indexed database and digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 Jun 2015), Crockett, 1894, image 3 of 4 : Edgar Lane to Minnie Mae Perry.

³Crockett, Tennessee, Tennessee, Probate Court Books, 1795-1927, 3: 235, George W. Vaughn; FHL film 179819001, Image 415 of 524, Settlement record for George Vaughn.

 

Bertha Lane…A Woman of Many Names

Ruberta, Rueberta, Bertha, Birdie, Robert A, Ruby … all names found in census records for my paternal grandmother Bertha Hood Lane. But I knew her as Maw.

Maw was born on October 14, 1894 in Mississippi to Aub Hood and Amanda (Mandy) Belle Pennington Hood. I suspect she was born in Itawamba County, Mississippi where Aub and Mandy were married. She was their fourth child. By today’s standards, Maw was very young when she married John Wayson on August 29, 1909. She was only fourteen years old. This marriage apparently did not last long because she was shown living again with the family in Lake County, Tennessee in the 1910 census. However Aub was no longer with the family and Mandy was widowed.

Lane Kids

Back Left, My father Talmadge, Belle, Vernon, Front Left, Pauline, Margaret, Helen

On March 12, 1913, Maw married my grandfather William Everett Lane. She was listed as Birdie in the 1920 census. Children came quickly. My father Talmadge Hollis Lane was born in 1914, Rosa Bell was born in 1917, Vernon Everett was born in 1919, Pauline was born in 1921, Helen was born in 1923, and Margaret was born in 1924. They moved to Caruthersville, Missouri sometime in 1920 where she would live for the rest of her life.

Living on a farm, particularly as tenant farmers, couldn’t have been easy in the 1920s and 1930s. Maw birthed each child at home with the help of a midwife. As the family had no electricity until the early 1930s, Maw would have cooked over a wood stove and would have washed the clothing of eight people by hand. The water for cooking and bathing probably came from a pump in the yard. Most likely she was also responsible for the henhouse and the family garden. Cotton was king in the Bootheel so the children probably were sent out to pick cotton as soon as they were able. And it is likely that Maw picked cotton some time during her life as well.

At the age of forty-four Maw’s life was to change forever. On Sunday, June 4, 1939, her husband of twenty-six years was suddenly killed in an accident with a Greyhound bus. The bus driver was found to be at fault in the accident. No doubt there was a settlement that allowed Maw to own her home and live a modest life. Six years later however tragedy was to strike her life again when her son Vernon died, the result of a kamikaze plane hitting his ship in the Pacific.

My memories of Maw are few. I can only remember visiting her perhaps a half-dozen times. She was not a warm and fuzzy grandmother. She was a large woman for her height. Maw used snuff and Sen-Sen, a breath freshener. Most likely the Sen-Sen was to cover the smell of the snuff. Her cooking was wonderful and my father bragged on her biscuits. One of my memories is walking down the dirt road that ran in front of her house to buy a chicken for our dinner from a neighbor. Much to my horror she wrung its neck when we got home. I know too well what a chicken with its head cut off looks like.

Another memory was seeing a wooden leg in someone’s bedroom. Who belonged to the wooden leg was a mystery to me for a long time. It wasn’t until recently one of my cousins said that Maw’s sister Den lived with her for awhile and Den had lost one of her legs. I believe the mystery has been solved. I don’t remember Aunt Den but I certainly remember that leg.

My cousin Donna was always in the picture. She lived with Maw while her mother Margaret and her father were away earning a living. Donna was more like a daughter to Maw than a grand-daughter. Eventually my Aunt Margaret divorced her first husband and married Walter Kulpeksa. Walter was a beautician. They set up shop in the front of my grandmother’s house. Walter gave me a perm when I was five. I looked like a poodle had settled on my head but that was the style apparently.

Amand Pennington Lane (r), Bertha Lane, Talmadge Lane

Left, Maw, Little Granny, Talmadge

 

Sometime before her death, my great-grandmother Mandy (Little Granny) went to live with Maw. Little Granny was a tiny woman and very child-like. She loved ice cream. Little Granny passed away at home at the age of ninety-eight in 1961. I was fourteen when we went to her funeral. That was the last time I saw Maw.

When my oldest son was born I received an un-expected gift from Maw. It was a yellow and white crocheted baby blanket. The gift of that blanket touched me deeply. Not but a few months later we received word that Maw had died February 3, 1969 at the age of seventy-four. She was laid to rest a few days later in Maple Cemetery in Caruthersville, Missouri.

William Everett Lane

William Everett Lane was born in Crockett County, Tennessee in 1895 to Edgar Lane and Minnie Mae Perry Lane. I have never found a document that shows his middle name but I know my brother Bill is named after him. Hopefully someday I’ll find a document that proves his middle name is Everett.

Edgar Lane died about 1898 leaving a widow and orphan. Since women did not have a means of support when their husbands died they were often left at the mercy of family for help. There probably was no question that Minnie’s family would take her in. The 1900 US census shows her living with her brother John Perry, mother Irena, younger sister Mary, also a widow, and Loyd, Mary’s son. The family lived in Gayoso Township in Pemiscot County, Missouri.

Until Grandpa Lane ventured out on his own he lived with his mother and extended family. In 1901 Minnie Mae married Sam Cosey. By 1910 Sam and Minnie added two children to their family, Gladys and Raymond. And Uncle John and Grandma Irena still lived with the family. Down the street lived their Uncle Robert Whitaker and his wife Laura Perry Whitaker. This blending of families was normal for my family and families throughout the United States.

Grandpa was a handsome boy. I recently discovered my cousin Carolyn has a picture of him hanging in a room in her home in Caruthersville. Grandpa is surrounded by a room full of dolls. I wonder what he would say. The picture, more than a hundred years old, is slightly tattered but in a beautiful frame. As an adult he was tall, of medium build, had brown eyes, and dark brown hair. During World War I men had to register for the draft. Fortunate for us genealogists these forms tell us a lot about our ancestors including their physical attributes.

Will Lane

Will Lane

On March 12, 1913, Grandpa married Ruberta Hood in Lake County, Tennessee. Lake County is east of Pemiscot County, Missouri with the Mississippi River dividing the two counties and states. The couple moved to Little Prairie township in Pemiscot County around 1919. Their first three children, Talmadge, Rosa Bell, and Vernon were born in Lake County. Pauline, Helen, and Margaret were born in Pemiscot County.

Will Lane, Date Unknown

Will Lane, Date Unknown

I don’t know much about Grandpa, only what I have gleaned from census records and what my half-sisters and cousins have told me. In fact when I inherited pictures from my parents there was a picture of a man with no name written on the back. I had never seen the picture before and it turned out to be Grandpa Lane.

School was a luxury for poor families. Grandpa didn’t attend school but he could read and write. He worked in a box factory as a laborer when he was twenty-four. By the time he was thirty-four he was a farmer on rented property. I understand he was a good father. He was also a carpenter; he helped to build the grandstand at the Caruthersville fairground. His Uncle John Perry was also carpenter. Perhaps this occupation was inherent to this family.

Grandpa Lane’s life abruptly came to an end on Sunday, June 4, 1939, around noon, when the car he was driving collided with a Greyhound bus just north of Caruthersville at the intersection of Highway 84 and Ferry Road. Much of what I know about the accident came from articles that appeared in The Republican and Democrat Argus, both newspapers in Caruthersville at the time.

Picture of Collision that took Will Lane's Life

Picture of Collision that took Will Lane’s Life

According to witnesses at the scene of the wreck, Grandpa drove onto the highway in the path of the bus apparently unaware of the approaching bus until too late. Joe Wagner, a witness and owner of the filling station who witnessed the accident, said that he was told Grandpa had driven from town to test out a leaky tire and circled around his filling station onto Ferry Road to come back into the highway. It was then the accident happened. I find it interesting the bus driver was charged with reckless driving when it appears to me, in hindsight, that the accident was caused by my grandfather. Funeral services were held the next day at H. S. Funeral Home. He is buried in Maple Cemetery in Caruthersville.

My dad Talmadge was twenty-four when his father died. His siblings ranged in age from fourteen to twenty-two. Despite the fact that these children were older at the time of their father’s death, I’m sure they were left with a great hole in their heart. I know my dad was.

Playing Tricks on the Family and Various Events of Toes, Cars, and Switches

Billy Goat

Billy Goat

My dad often told me the story about a goat and his Aunt Margaret. I can still hear him chuckle as he visualized the story he was telling me. The Lane family owned a mean billy goat that butted anyone who turned their back on it. When my father was ten years old he was in the barn and saw his Aunt Margaret walking in the barn yard. Aunt Margaret was very stout and couldn’t run very fast. Dad let the goat out of its stall, and climbing up to the loft watched the goat chase his aunt around the yard.

Halloween was a time for tricks rather than treats. Come Halloween night, dad turned over outhouses or put buggies on the top of barns. Whether his brother or sisters joined in I don’t know, but these are time-worn tricks that children through the decades have pulled to amuse themselves.

The Lane family were Methodists but also attended outdoor revivals. One time dad and his brother Vernon took the goat to a revival and let it loose in the tent. The preacher ran out of the tent and chaos reigned. Dad got into a lot of trouble for that one.

The family was strictly disciplined but my grandfather, William, never touched the kids. Dad’s sisters fought and yelled a lot but never hit each other. My grandmother, Ruberta, used a switch on the children when things got out of hand. My mother did the same with my brothers and me. Most of the time we were threatened with the switch, but I know one thing, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of a switch.

When dad was five he cut his toe on a broken bottle. His toe was cut almost in half. During those days you rarely went to a doctor. Instead, his mother made a mixture of turpentine and coal ashes and used this to put his toe back in place. Several times over the years he showed me the thin dark line running around his big toe.

The family’s first car was a used Baby Overland. It had a canvas top that could be pulled down and snapped on when it rained. As their cars wore out they would replace them with other used cars. The family later owned an Essex and a Dodge.

Probably one of the most exciting things from dad’s childhood was seeing a meteorite that lit up the night sky and landed close to the family farm. The next day everyone from the surrounding area went to see the meteorite that was almost completely buried by the impact.

Fact or fiction, these are great stories and but a few memories of a lifetime. Like most genealogists I wish I had taken the time to glean more stories or listen more closely to the stories that were told.

 

Talmadge Hollis Lane…Tom to Me

Tom on left with

Back L to R Tom, Bell and Vernon Front L to R Pauline, Margaret and Helen

Growing up in a sharecropping family in southern Missouri can’t be easy. But that’s the early life of my father, Talmadge Hollis Lane. He was born on November 21, 1914 in Ridgely, Lake County, Tennessee to William Everett Lane and Ruberta Hood Lane. He was interviewed in 1991 by his grandson Brian, and much of what we know about his early childhood was taken from this interview and stories that he told me when I was growing up. Some of the information doesn’t jive with records I’ve found. Whether this is a function of a failing memory, or fudging stories, I’ll never know. He was a complicated man.

His extended family called him Talmadge. I knew him as Tom. He was the oldest of six children, with brother Vernon and sisters Bell, Pauleen, Helen, and Margaret coming after him. About 1919 dad’s parents moved from Tennessee to the Bootheel, located in the southeastern corner of Missouri. The family moved a half-dozen times from farm to farm sharecropping. Dad was seven when the family moved to Caruthersville in Pemiscot County. There the family rented land and farmed for themselves. They grew cotton, corn, and hay and raised chickens, turkeys, ducks, pigs, cows, and goats. They used mules to pull farm machinery.

The Lane’s were poor. The children were born at home with the help of a midwife. They lived in a four room house that had a kitchen and three bedrooms. Each child had their own bed, which was a luxury. There was no running water; water for cooking and bathing was gotten from a pump in the yard. At first the home was heated by wood, but when wood became scarce, the family switched to a coal burning stove. The house didn’t have electricity until dad was eighteen. The out-buildings included a barn, henhouse, and outhouse.

Like the Lane’s, most people in the area were poor. If holidays were celebrated, they were celebrated sparsely. For Christmas the children would get an apple, orange, and six walnuts. The items were usually placed at the ends of their beds or on a chair. One year my dad received a football. And the school hosted a Christmas Pageant for the families of the pupils. Mr. Clark, a wealthy cotton farmer, would have an Easter egg hunt for the kids of the community.

At a time when many children did not go to school, the Lane’s had the fore-thought to send their children to school, at least until they got older and decided on their own not to attend. The school was one room and about two miles from their home. Each child was furnished with school books, paper, and pencils. When dad was twelve he received a scholarship to attend high school; it cost money to attend the higher grades. The scholarship was in track because he was a good runner. The high school was four miles from his home, and he didn’t like running, so he dropped out of school. Despite this he was an intelligent man who always read and stayed abreast of the news.

Everyone in the family worked in the fields picking cotton, or doing whatever needed to be done. The boys helped with planting in April and helped with the harvest in August. The family had a wooden planter that was pulled by mules. The planter had a hopper that held seeds. As the mules pulled the planter, it dug two rows, and seeds dropped evenly into the furrows.

Cotton Pickers

Cotton Pickers – Picture from the US Library of Congress

For most of his teen years dad picked cotton. Cotton pickers used a bag that held about one hundred pounds of cotton. After their bag was full, they carried it to a wagon that held up to two thousand pounds of cotton. Dad picked about six hundred pounds of cotton a day. The family took their cotton to the gin where they sold it for fifteen cents a pound. If they wanted to take a chance on the price rising, they had the cotton baled. They took the bales home and stored them in the barn until later. The family ran a tab at the local store and paid it off when the cotton was harvested and sold. While the life was hard, the family was able to survive through the fruits of their labor. I remember, during the few times when we visited my grandmother, asking about the loud noise that could be heard all day. It was the sound coming from the cotton gin, an everyday sound to the people who lived close by, but alien to me who lived a few hours north.