C. Hamilton, County Agricultural Agent
Reprinted from Iuka Centennial Celebration, July 4, 1957
one-hundred year agricultural history of Tishomingo County has
undergone great scientific transformation. These transformations
consisted of hard work, disillusion, depressions, inventions, and
Agricultural growth and development for the period 1857 to 1865
found the fertile valley of Tennessee River, Bear Creek, Indian
Creek, Yellow Creek, and the Upland Plateau south and southwest of
Iuka thinly populated with large landowners. Virgin timber covered
most of the area at this time. The early settlers farmed only for a
means of a livelihood and existence, and they were not confronted
with problems of surpluses.
period from 1865-1890 found an increase in population and continued
clearing of the land for cultivation. During these early days,
there was no consideration for conservation of either the soil or
wildlife. Wile turkey, deer, squirrel, and quail were in abundance.
The thought of the supply of trees ever being depleted was never
given a thought. "Log Rollings" were held to clear land. This was
simply a gathering of neighbors and friends where men cut logs and
burned them, and the women folks prepared large meals for the
Production of cotton during this period was low. The best cotton
produced one-half bale per acre. Yields of corn in the river bottom
areas were good, running from 40 to 60 bushels per acre. It was not
uncommon for Dr. A. F. Whitehurst, large landowner of Tennessee
River bottom, to collect three thousand to five thousand bushels of
corn rent yearly.
ran loose in the hills, and a two-hundred-pound dressed hog was
considered large. The only fences during this period were rail
fences that surrounded cultivated fields. Milk cows were only used
for family milk supply. Occasionally, a beef was killed for
protracted meetings and was sold for three cents per pound for its
fore quarter and four cents per pound for hind quarter.
Cotton was planted by hand, and all plow tools that were used were
hand made. Large flocks of sheep roamed the country side.
principal farm power was supplied by oxen along with some mules.
Some of the first cotton gins run by mule and ox power were owned
by John Robertson and J. C. Jourdan, Sr. Water-powered gins were
owned by Tom Blakney, Jeff Foote, and John Foote, who also ran a
The early gins were unique in that only two bales could be ginned a
day and cotton brought to the gin was put in "Cotton Stalls." Cotton
was carried from the stall to the gin stand in baskets and also
carried in baskets from the gin to the press. The early presses
were made of wood and operated by a wooden screw pulled by either
steers or mules. The press screws were lubricated with tallow.
period from 1890-1920 was the beginning of one of the greatest
transition periods of agriculture. It was during this period that
the use of commercial fertilizer was introduced and mechanical power
was first used. The first shipment of fertilizer came to Tishomingo
County in 1890. This fertilizer was called "bone dust," and it was
manufactured at Meridian, Mississippi. It was shipped in
two-hundred-pound bags and had a very foul odor. The extensive use
of this material did not begin until around 1900 due to the fact
that some people thought it was poisonous.
first walking one-row cultivator and disc harrow was introduced in
the county in 1916. These cultivators and disc were handled by Todd
and Walton Hardware.
year 1910 found the first official one hundred bushel of corn per
acre yield in Tishomingo County. This yield was produced by J. C.
Deaton, Tishomingo, Mississippi, in a Progressive Farmer
During this period, the steam sawmill was introduced. Prior to this
time, all logging and lumber was either hewn by axes or cut with a
gig saw that was operated by hand.
first farm tractor and farm truck were introduced in the early
1920s. Mr. Ham Hubbard owned and operated the first farm tractor in
the Iuka area.
the year 1916, the first boll weevil invaded Tishomingo County.
The period 1920-1930 found agriculture in a relatively good position
with prices fairly stable and yields good. This period continued to
show an increase in mechanization, use of fertilizers, introduction
of ammonium nitrate, and the first use of cotton insecticides.
During the period of 1930-1940, many serious problems confronted the
agricultural area of Iuka. This was the period of depression and
the blooding of the "Bread Basket Area" which consisted of the
bottom lands of the Tennessee River, Bear Creek, Indian Creek, and
Yellow Creek. This era found farmers having to move to other
counties in order to continue their farming operations. This
movement was given assistance by C. G. Wallace, TVA Procurement
number of farmers moved from the flooded TVA area to Chickasaw and
Lee Counties. The average farm income during this period was less
than $300 per farm.
to present-day agriculture has seen the greatest strides of
improvements and inventions that science could imagine. This is an
era of a high degree of mechanization, the use of chemicals, and
tremendously high yields. This period has found extensive use of
chemicals to control weeds and grasses in order to lower production
cost. Liquid fertilizers have been introduced. The use of
irrigation has tripled yields. The use of scientific determination
of soil needs have come into existence for recommendations of
fertilizer needs. Many insecticides inventions have helped ensure
high and economical yields by combating natural enemies of crops and
Transcribed by RaNae Smith Vaughn.