Back in August of 1991, many Richland Parish residents will remember the excitement and buzz about the first annual “Pickin’ and Ginnin’ Festival.” The festival always drew large crowds, but after a while, the work involved to pull off a successful festival became too great, and the festival eventually ended. Jennie Joe Siscoe, who often wrote several great historical columns for the Beacon, penned this history about growing cotton in Richland Parish.Excerpted from the The Richland Beacon-News. Rayville, Louisiana. 15 Aug 1991, Thursday, Page 4.
PICKIN’ AND GINNIN’ WAY BACK
1904 – Rayville Compress and Warehouse Company
Last Monday Dr. R. D. Webb, of Minden, closed a deal with the Rayville Compress and Warehouse Co., to erect a two thousand ton Webb Compress with all the new improvements. The compress is to be completed and turned over to the first of October next, or pay $25.00 per day in default upon his contract. The compress complete will probably cost more than $50,000 and will be new and up-to-date in every particular. The charter of the compress appears in this issue and is designed by some of our most enterprising and progressive citizens, such as Chas. Titche, W. T. Cook, W. J. Coleman, C. J. Ellis, H. B. Wren, J. W. Simms, H. W. Whatley, R. B. Mhoon and J. W. Summerlin.
Richland a Big Cotton Grower
In looking over bulletin 10 of the Department of Commerce and Labor showing the quantity of cotton ginned, in the United States (crops of 1809 to 1903) inclusive), we note that Richland Parish produces more cotton in proportion to the number of square miles than any other parish in the state of Louisiana, with the possible exception of Red River parish. We ginned from growth of 1903, 22,133 bales while Red River ginned 20,941, but taking into consideration that nearly all of Red River Parish is in cultivation and only one-tenth of Richland, and the parishes are nearly the same area, we can readily see we are by far a better cotton producing parish than Red River.
Comparing some of our neighboring parishes with Richland, such as Caldwell which ginned last season 7,069, Franklin 12,748, Ouachita 20,754, Madison 17,322, West Carroll 4,133, Morehouse 27,174, Catahoula 11,429, we are enabled to see just how much cotton we do produce. In all those we have named, some nearly twice as large in area, there is only one which actually ginned more cotton than our own parish, namely, Morehouse, which greatly exceeds Richland in area. Another fact about our lands that is so very important, is that we make a good crop every year, the nature of the lands of Richland seem to be such as to stand more drought or wet season than most any other. It is a well known fact that this parish makes a better average crop than is made in other sections. This taken into consideration with the fact that our lands are the most fertile, makes Richland absolutely the best cotton producing parish in Louisiana. This undoubted information regarding the quantity of cotton ginned in this parish will come in the nature of a surprise to some of our people, who, while they knew their land was very fertile, did not know it was the most productive, in so far as cotton is concerned, in the whole state of Louisiana.
With this kind of land to be had at a price as cheap as is demanded for land of inferior quality, we see no reason why home-seekers should not prefer Richland Parish to any other.
Planters’ Gin Is In Daily Operation
The Planters’ Gin Company, Inc., began operation of its Rayville plant by ginning a bale of cotton Thursday of last week, followed by several bales the following day, and continuing operation daily since that time. The first bale was that of D. R. Pettit, planter of two miles east of Rayville, who is also connected with the Planters Gin. Mr. E. S. Stewart has been selected to manage the gin this season. The wonderful success of the gin under his previous management guarantees a successful ginning season of the present crop. ‘Mr. Stewart tells us that the gin is in first class shape to handle the crop, and he solicits the ginning of the public, promising the best service possible.
Richland’s Largest Cotton Crop
Richland raised its biggest cotton crop in 1925, a fact evidenced by the ginners’ report, which shows that 32,766 bales of cotton were ginned in this parish prior to December 13th, which report was made public on December 21st. This is the largest number of bales of cotton ever raised in one season since the Parish was created. The amount ginned up to a corresponding time during the season of 1924 was 18,749 bales. These figures are interesting not only in disclosing the enormous increase in cotton production in Richland Parish, but the report shows that our little parish of Richland with only a small part of its land in cultivation, ranks seventh in cotton production in Louisiana. This is a wonderful showing for this parish and is conclusive evidence of the wonderful fertility of our soil.
A Cotton Oil Mill for Rayville
Several Tennessee capitalists were directed to Rayville by the map with the idea that this was an excellent location for an oil mill. They had only in mind then the location as regards to railroads, and the additional advantage of Boeuf River was disclosed to them upon their arrival they were particularly pleased with the situation. They straight-way submitted to our business men a proposition which means an oil mill for Rayville, if we can come up with our part of the finances.
1990 Cotton Crop
In 1990, Richland Parish ginned 157,000 bales of cotton and ranked 2nd in the state.