was a time in East Texas
when almost every farming town had a cotton gin where farmers had
their cotton cleansed of field
debris and processed into bales that could be sold and converted into
money that kept the family prepared for the winter months.
But most of the cotton
gins have disappeared as relics of our agricultural past.
Thanks to the Depot Museum at Henderson,
a cotton gin has now taken its place among other relics of the past,
including a peckerwood sawmill, a dog-trot home, a railroad depot,
an oil derrick, a working printing shop, a doctor’s office, a broom
factory, a syrup mill, a carousel and an outhouse.
The cotton gin at Henderson was moved from Mount
Enterprise, a community about 19 miles south of Henderson.
For years, it sat beside U.S. 259, slowing rusting away.
Today, it occupies a prominent place beside the Depot Museum and the
town’s library. It is one of the few restored gins in East
| In their heyday,
cotton gins were
not only essential to the cotton
economy; they became gathering places for townsmen and farmers alike.
They came there to look at the year’s cotton
crops, to exchange gossip and talk politics.
With their massive machinery, the gins were exciting to watch. Unprocessed
cotton, usually straight from the
fields, was dumped into one end of the gin and emerged as white bales
that went to mills where clothing and other cotton goods were manufactured.
Sue Weaver, director of Henderson’ Depot Museum, said the restoration
cost of the Mount Enterprise gin, once owned by Mark Bates, was around
$100,000, plus dozens of donated services.
The gin was built on a concrete footprint of the Mount Enterprise
gin. “We hope to make it a working gin when we’re finished,” said
Weaver. “It’s the biggest project ever undertaken by the Museum.”
“Regrettably, we couldn’t save the original tin building. It had rusted
over the years, so we had to build a new tin building,” said Weaver.
If you want to visit the Museum, drive to 514 North High Street in
can’t miss the cotton gin beside the street.
Bob Bowman's East Texas
14, 2009 Column
See Texas Cotton Gins