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What is: Abandoned sharecropping home at the edge of the fields, Money, MS


What was:
Typical sharecropper shack was usually located with the crop entirely surrounding the house. After the Civil War, former slaves sought jobs, and planters sought laborers. The absence of cash or an independent credit system led to the creation of sharecropping.

Sharecropping is a system where the landlord/planter allows a tenant to use the land in exchange for a share of the crop. This encouraged tenants to work to produce the biggest harvest that they could, and ensured they would remain tied to the land and unlikely to leave for other opportunities.

In the South, after the Civil War, many black families rented land from white owners and raised cash crops such as cotton, tobacco, and rice. In many cases, the landlords or nearby merchants would lease equipment to the renters, and offer seed, fertilizer, food, and other items on credit until the harvest season. At that time, the tenant and landlord or merchant would settle up, figuring out who owed whom and how much.

High interest rates, unpredictable harvests, and unscrupulous landlords and merchants often kept tenant farm families severely indebted. Approximately two-thirds of all sharecroppers were white, and one third were black. Source: PBS’s Slavery By Another Name, https://www.pbs.org/tpt/slavery-by-another-name/themes/sharecropping/

What is: This is just around the corner from where Muddy Waters lived on the Stoval Plantation, Abandoned Sharecropping Home at the edge of the fields, Stovall Plantation, MS

What was: Typical sharecropper shack was usually located with the crop entirely surrounding the house. After the Civil War, former slaves sought jobs, and planters sought laborers. The absence of cash or an independent credit system led to the creation of sharecropping.

Sharecropping is a system where the landlord/planter allows a tenant to use the land in exchange for a share of the crop. This encouraged tenants to work to produce the biggest harvest that they could, and ensured they would remain tied to the land and unlikely to leave for other opportunities.

In the South, after the Civil War, many black families rented land from white owners and raised cash crops such as cotton, tobacco, and rice. In many cases, the landlords or nearby merchants would lease equipment to the renters, and offer seed, fertilizer, food, and other items on credit until the harvest season. At that time, the tenant and landlord or merchant would settle up, figuring out who owed whom and how much.

High interest rates, unpredictable harvests, and unscrupulous landlords and merchants often kept tenant farm families severely indebted. Approximately two-thirds of all sharecroppers were white, and one third were black. Source: PBS’s Slavery By Another Name, https://www.pbs.org/tpt/slavery-by-another-name/themes/sharecropping/

 

What is: Abandoned Buildings, MLK and Yazoo Avenue area, Clarksdale, MS

What was: The neighborhood was known as the New World from the beginning of the twentieth Century.  A breeding ground for ragtime, blues and jazz.

Clarksdale was a prosperous Cotton town.  African American slaves cultivated and processed cotton, worked as artisans, and cultivated and processed produce and livestock on the plantations. They built the wealth of “King Cotton” in the state. The 1860 U.S. Census data shows Coahoma County, where Clarksdale is located, had a population of 1,521 whites and 5,085 slaves.

By the beginning of the 20th Century, Clarksdale was known as the “Golden Buckle in the Cotton Belt”  — a home to a multi-cultural mixture of Lebanese, Italian, Chinese and Jewish immigrant merchants along with African-Americans farm laborers and white plantation owners. Brothels attracted black and white clientele. On Saturday’s the sharecroppers filled the streets shopping, socializing, drinking in the jukes and listening to blues.  On Sunday’s a sabbath calm prevailed with everyone filling local churches.

In 1944, the first commercial, machinery produced, cotton crop was produced near here on 28 acres owned by the Hopson Planting Company of Clarksdale. The machinery took over everything from planting to baling, changing the demand for labor and more.

What is: Sharecroppers home, hot tin roof at the edge of the Stovall Plantation

What was: The Stovall Plantation is about 6 miles northwest of Clarksdale.  It’s 4000 acres of cotton and soybeans and been in the family since 1836. Clarksdale made the blues and sent the music north; it was the starting point of the Great Migration during which 5 million blacks left the South from 1940 to the mid-’60s, each heading for a new life in the North.

McKinley Morganfield moved there when his mother died in 1915. He was just 3 years old, and he came to be raised by his grandmother in her sharecropper’s shack on the plantation. He picked up a nickname, Muddy Waters, and started fooling around with music in his early teens, first the harmonica, then guitar. He played all around town, at suppers and get-togethers; he played on the front porch of the shack, on Saturday nights turning the place into his own juke joint, complete with homemade whiskey.

It took years, but he built a reputation, and it brought him recognition before he was 30. In 1940, Alan Lomax, the folklore collector at the Library of Congress, traveled to the Delta to record the music of Robert Johnson, the undisputed wild man of blues music. Trouble was, Johnson had been dead for nearly three years, poisoned by strychnine-laced whiskey one hot Saturday night at a roadhouse in Three Forks. Legend has it he had been fooling around with the roadhouse owner’s wife, and that was that. Or maybe he was stabbed; after more than 50 years, details remain sketchy.

So Lomax discovered he’d missed Johnson, but he heard about this guy named Muddy Waters at the Stovall Plantation. Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/travel/1993/07/04/where-the-blues-were-born/8efc1c14-e178-45df-b79b-3e15ba8ea3f6/).

 

What is: Cotton Gin near Friars Point, Mississippi. Abandoned cotton gin between Clarksdale and Friars Point, MS.

What was: Founded in the 1830s and continuing to operate into the 20th century, the King and Anderson Plantation was an enormous spread of seventeen thousand acres just northwest of Clarksdale and reputed to be the largest family plantation in Mississippi. It was located near this Cotton Gin.

Originally, large plantations had their own private cotton gins. Over time, the increasing number of smaller farms, the emergence of sharecropping after the civil war and new technologies led to the rise of public gins. By the early twentieth century, large, public facilities that not only ginned cotton but also sold seeds to cottonseed oil firms, populated nearly every town and county in the state’s cotton belt.

In addition to the economic function, public gins served a social function. “Trips to the gin provided farmers living in the far reaches of Mississippi’s counties with breaks in the tedium and solitude of toiling on small, isolated farms. The same gins served black and white farmers, and gin operators made no efforts to serve whites before blacks. While waiting in line to gin their cotton, farmers of both races came together to discuss pests, weather patterns, and prices. As shared public spaces, therefore, gins offered brief respites from the stifling confines of Mississippi’s racial caste system.” Source: https://mississippiencyclopedia.org/entries/cotton-gins/.

What is: Mose Wright’s share cropping home,  Money, Mississippi

Emmett Till was kidnapped from the location seen in the historic image. It no longer exists.  The image Im sharing is about half a mile from the original location.  On the evening of August 28, 1955. He was staying at the home of his great uncle and aunt, Moses and Elizabeth Wright, who sharecropped 25 acres of cotton on the Grover Frederick Plantation. Source:https://tillapp.emmett-till.org/items/show/13

What was:  On Saturday, August 27th 1955, Mose Wright, his three sons, the three relatives from Chicago including Emmett Till and some of the neighbors went into the city of Greenwood for some fun. The boys walked the busy streets, gazed at the nightclubs and were amazed by the large crowds of the city.  They would drive back to Money, MS and by 2am all were asleep after a big night out.  Simeon Wright and Emmett shared a bed.

Suddenly there was a loud knock at the door.  Mr Bryant identified himself saying he needed to talk the boy who did all the talking.   Another man had a flashlight and a gun. They cased the house and found Emmett Till.  They made him get dressed and took him.  They told Mose Wright, who had said he was 64 years old, “if you ever know any of us here tonight, you won’t live to be 65.” Mose asked them to just give Emmett a whipping and Moses’ wife offered money for any damages Emmett had caused. Emmett was driven away into the night.

Home of Mose Wright, Emmett Till’s great uncle, where Till was staying when he has abducted and murdered. Sept. 1, 1955

What is: Abandoned Homes at the edge of the fields, Greenwood, MS

What was: Typical sharecropper’s shack were usually located with the crop entirely surrounding house.  After the Civil War, former slaves sought jobs, and planters sought laborers. The absence of cash or an independent credit system led to the creation of sharecropping.

Sharecropping is a system where the landlord/planter allows a tenant to use the land in exchange for a share of the crop. This encouraged tenants to work to produce the biggest harvest that they could, and ensured they would remain tied to the land and unlikely to leave for other opportunities. In the South, after the Civil War, many black families rented land from white owners and raised cash crops such as cotton, tobacco, and rice. In many cases, the landlords or nearby merchants would lease equipment to the renters, and offer seed, fertilizer, food, and other items on credit until the harvest season. At that time, the tenant and landlord or merchant would settle up, figuring out who owed whom and how much

High interest rates, unpredictable harvests, and unscrupulous landlords and merchants often kept tenant farm families severely indebted.

Source: PBS’s Slavery By Another Name

What is: an abandoned cotton gin between Clarksdale and Friars Point, MS.

What was: Founded in the 1830s and continuing to operate into the 20th century, the King and Anderson Plantation was an enormous spread of seventeen thousand acres just northwest of Clarksdale and reputed to be the largest family plantation in Mississippi. Originally, large plantations had their own private cotton gins. Over time, the increasing number of smaller farms, the emergence of sharecropping after the civil war and new technologies led to the rise of public gins.

By the early twentieth century, large, public facilities that not only ginned cotton but also sold seeds to cottonseed oil firms, populated nearly every town and county in the state’s cotton belt. In addition to the economic function, public gins served a social function. “Trips to the gin provided farmers living in the far reaches of Mississippi’s counties with breaks in the tedium and solitude of toiling on small, isolated farms. The same gins served black and white farmers, and gin operators made no efforts to serve whites before blacks. While waiting in line to gin their cotton, farmers of both races came together to discuss pests, weather patterns, and prices. As shared public spaces, therefore, gins offered brief respites from the stifling confines of Mississippi’s racial caste system.” Source: https://mississippiencyclopedia.org/entries/cotton-gins/.