Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The life of a cotton farmer's wife

This is a photo of my grandparents with four of their six children taken sometime around the early 1960's. Both of my grandparents grew up on cotton farms and were also cotton farmers themselves.

I am taking a Texas History class this semester and each chapter we read a biography of a different person from the time period that the chapter is covering. Most of them have been characters from a very long ago past that I find fascinating, but no real connection to. We have moved our way past the American Indians, through the conquistadors, multiple battles & wars, and now have landed at the turn of the century. My last biography was about a farm wife in the early 1900's. I feel like I just read pages from my family scrapbook. I realized that I come from a long line of farm wives who shared the same struggles as this lady.
Here is some of her story....

A husband, eight children, and the rhythms of cotton farming: these are the factors that shaped the life of Hester McClain Calvert. Daughter, wife, and sister of cotton farmers, Hester represents millions of Texas women at the turn of the twentieth century who led their lives in relationship to their families and rarely had existences away from the farm. But these women are important because their families depended on them. A rural household without a wife and mother had a difficult if not impossible, time. In the story of Texas, the farm woman is an unsung heroine. The efforts of these women ensured that Texas led the United States in cotton production before World War II, growing one-third to one-fourth of the raw cotton for the entire nation.

I have heard so many stories about life on the farm from my grandmother and great grandmother. I knew that they played a very important role in my heritage, but had no idea how important they were to changing face of Texas. Here are just a few of my favorite farm stories from my grandmother.....

  • The kids often chased down the chicken that they would have for dinner and "mom" would ring its neck and fry it.

  • There was no heat in the house so "mom" would take bricks from the oven, wrap them in a towel and put them by the kids feet so that they would stay warm at night.

  • In the summer time "mom" would put water in a large tub out in the sun to warm for bathing because to heat water in the house in the summer would make the house hot and their was no air conditioning.

  • Sometimes there would only be two trips to town all summer because most of the food was raised or grown on the farm.

  • Water had to be drawn from a cistern and poured into a bucket to take inside.

  • Children played outside with the chickens, cows, pigs, goats, and milk cows.

These are just a few exerts from my grandmothers journal. I am working to write the entire story, but for now these are some of my favorite lines. I am always amazed at the strength of the women in my past and reading other stories about Texas women makes me swell with pride at the story of my family.


Stachia said...

I loved the picture! I hope the history class is not getting you down, she can really pile on the work. I don't know what you got on your paper but I would have given you an A.

Mommysmart said...

Thanks Stachia! This professor just might be the death of me. So far I have an A, but I have a sneaking feeling that it may be only a memory by the end of this course.

ran said...

Having grown up in Texas and living a block away from a cotton patch,and literally surrounded by cotton growing on every available lot....I really enjoyed your bit of history. Can I ask what town the picture was taken in? It looks so familiar, but most small towns in TX in the 60's looked just like that.

Reading your blog, and reading about Nazareth just takes me back home. It is still a real treat, on the rare occasions that we go to TX in the fall, to see the fields of cotton.

Monalea said...

I love hearing about life back when. Thanks for sharing.