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A look back to Cotton Country

Many years ago Alabama was referred to as the Cotton State because so much cotton was grown here. Over the years, as places like Morgan County have become more industrialized and as the variety of agricultural products produced has increased tremendously, the “Cotton Country” designation has become less appropriate.  

Interestingly enough, a Hartselle artist and illustrator, Mrs. Mitchie Coon, contributed immeasurably to the success of a cookbook, “Cotton Country Cooking.” A copy of this book will be found in many Hartselle homes. This cookbook was inducted into the Mcllheny Hall of fame, an award that is given to cookbooks that sell more than 100,000 copies“Cotton Country Cooking” has sold many more thousands than this.  

The book was initially published in 1971 and has gone through numerous reprintings since then. Many Hartselle husbands are thankful their wives received “Cotton Country Cooking” as a wedding gift. 

Here is a look back to the time when cotton was definitely king in Hartselle and in most of Alabama, as well. 

Dec. 22, 1887J. W. West, living near Hartselle, made 20 bales of cotton plus several other crops on 22 acres of land. He runs only two plows, so says the Hartselle Index. This is farming of the right kind. 

April 2, 1895Today representatives of Alabama’s commercial bodies assembled in the club rooms of the Commercial Club of Birmingham. The discussion dealt with sending an exhibit to the Cotton States and International exposition. Enquirer editor Rountree was appointed to the committee on credentials. 

Aug. 1, 1897Since the recent rains, crops have been improved greatly, and the outlook for good crop of cotton seems to be assured.  

April 5, 1909Farming operations have opened in earnest here during the past few days of fine weather. Farmers are now busy preparing the lands for this year’s crop of cotton.  

June 8, 1902Cotton has now had thorough cultivation and is looking well. The acreage of cotton is believed to be about the same as last year, and the present outlook for a full crop is favorable. 

June 19, 1902Rain is desperately needed in this section, and if it does not come soon, the cotton crop will be greatly damaged. 

May 16, 1904Cotton in this portion of the state is growing very slowly on account of the cool nights. Never has such a late spring been experienced here. As yet there have been but very few warm days, while the nights have been extremely cool.  

April 22, 1907The freeze of a few days ago has killed most of the produce growing in the gardens. Fortunately, no cotton had yet been planted 

May 12, 1913Notwithstanding the continued cool nights and mornings, cotton is looking well, and the rains of last week have helped wonderfully in the farming lands surrounding Hartselle.