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Whites Working with Slaves in the Fields?

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by Belle Montgomery, Jul 10, 2018.

  1. Belle Montgomery

    Belle Montgomery First Sergeant

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    Do you think this is after the war? I do notice that the white men aren't holding the cotton bags so maybe not? Or are they all free and paid labor? The overseer on horseback makes me believe it's before emancipation or is he just the "boss man" to the field labor? cotton filed slaves.jpg
     

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  3. AndyHall

    AndyHall Colonel Forum Host

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    This really looks postwar to me, maybe a few decades postwar. Cotton harvesting didn't change much for a LONG time.
     
  4. RobertP

    RobertP Major

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    That appears to be a steam powered cotton gin in the background. Those probably weren’t common pre-War, if existing at all. The whites in the photo aren’t wearing work clothes.
     
  5. Belle Montgomery

    Belle Montgomery First Sergeant

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    "Cotton gins were a huge improvement over hand processing, but early gins were hand-operated and each machine could process barely 40 pounds of cotton per day. Horse and mule powers were eventually tried, which raised the daily output per gin to 400 pounds. It was soon found, however, that three men and a steam-powered gin could turn out approximately 4,000 pounds of clean cotton each day. Steam power was also ideal for driving large presses that made big cotton bales. In 1839, a Louisiana plantation owner wrote "Very much (pleased) with Wm. H. Barrow steam mill. Ginning, grinding and sawing by steam … ginning by steam from 5 to 10 bales a day …"
    source: Farm Collecter.com -"Evolving Uses for Steam Power"
     
  6. Belle Montgomery

    Belle Montgomery First Sergeant

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    So what were the white guys doing out there not in work clothes? Walked that far for a photo?. … then the guy on the horse drew the longest straw. LOL Unless the photo was taken from a road then they drove a wagon or something.
     
  7. RobertP

    RobertP Major

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    I guess then it could be a pre war steam gin. Maybe someone could help out with the clothing style of the whites and date it that way.
     
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  8. AndyHall

    AndyHall Colonel Forum Host

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    The camera is up high, likely in a wagon of some sort. So they probably didn't hoof it out there on their own.
     
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  9. RobertP

    RobertP Major

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    Probably taken from a turn row or a farm lane. That is a big field and it isn’t flat ground like you would see along the Miss. Delta.
     
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  10. AndyHall

    AndyHall Colonel Forum Host

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  11. Belle Montgomery

    Belle Montgomery First Sergeant

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    Good work Andy! and I thought the term "overseer" was not used after emancipation.
     
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  12. RobertP

    RobertP Major

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    Also looks like large wagons/trailers lined up and full of cotton to the right of the gin. I don’t know when those came into common use but I bet it was post war.
     
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  13. Aaron Rider

    Aaron Rider Private

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    Indeed. Heck, Waylon Jennings was so scarred by cotton harvest time in 1940/50s west Texas that he wrote a song about not wanting to go back. He mentions it in his autobiography too.

     
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  14. Belle Montgomery

    Belle Montgomery First Sergeant

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    LOVE Waylon Jennings's music!
     
  15. Rusk County Avengers

    Rusk County Avengers Corporal

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    Definitely post-war, looking at their cloths, the background buildings, their hats, and what I can see of the rider's saddle, I'd say this photo is somewhere between 1899 and 1925. At least that's my best observant guess.

    White's in the South definitely picked cotton, my Grandad was pulled out of school in the third grade in the 1930's to go pick cotton with his Mother and Grandparents, my grandmother still has my GG-Granddad's cotton receipts, (and other receipts) from 1880 to 1939, (I really should have grabbed on to the offer a few years ago for me to take them lol). It was a hard way to make a living, here in NE Texas my GG-Grandad's receipts show they would work from dawn till dusk picking cotton for month and make around $25 dollars to survive them for till the next harvest
     
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  16. WJC

    WJC Moderator Moderator

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    The word was not restricted to one who 'oversees' slaves. It is still in use today, though generally avoided in the US because of the slavery connotation.
     
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  17. archieclement

    archieclement Sergeant Major

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  18. lelliott19

    lelliott19 1st Lieutenant Forum Host Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner

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    Sorry, I dont have any relevant information to add.....

    Just noticed the official/dictionary pronunciation and thought it interesting to note that here, in Alabama, we still pronounce the word as "over-see-ur" - three syllables - not two. :nah disagree:

    In fact, it seems we add an extra syllable to most words.....whenever possible.:D
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
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  19. Stony

    Stony Captain Trivia Game Winner

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    My mom and her siblings were picking cotton in the 30's and 40's.
     

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