County Cotton Gins: “Looking Back”

Although many Faulkner County farmers brought their cotton to Conway to be ginned and then shipped on the Little Rock-Fort Smith Railroad, some farmers preferred to take their crop to a local gin. Cotton gins could be found in many of the rural communities of Faulkner County. Here are just a few of them:

The Little Plantation in the Lollie Community southwest of Conway consisted of approximately
3,500 acres and therefore had its own gin. It ginned only the cotton raised on the plantation. Plantation owner Col. J.E. Little’s son, Julian, operated the gin and plantation until his death in 1950. His brother, William, then operated it for a couple of more years before the land was divided among the children and the gin was closed.

There was also a gin on the L.B. Atkeison farm on the Arkansas River. The June 1927 flood almost washed it away and it never operated again. Several bales of cotton were sighted floating down the river during the flood.

Each of the little communities off old Highway 65 (now Ark. Hwy. 25) also had their own gins. L.N. Lee operated the first gin at Wooster and J.S. Mobbs had a gin there. The Martin Browning gin, run by his four sons, Tean, John, Mac and Bill, was operated in Bono until the mid-1940s. One of these sons also owned a gin at Martinville about halfway between Bono and Damascus.

The community of Guy had several gins; the first was built in 1887 and another built three years later one mile north of town on Wolf Branch. This gin was destroyed by a tornado in 1916 and Dr. B.F. Banister, Sr. built another gin which operated until it was removed in 1931.

H.W. Montgomery, later Faulkner County Treasurer, and J.W. McNutt, father of Conway businessman Ray McNutt, build another gin in 1928. In 1936, Henry Enderlin, Paul Enderlin and Charlie Seiter of Conway purchased the Montgomery and McNutt gin, operating it until 1949 when dairy and beef cattle production began to take over in north Faulkner County.

Fay Cates and John Oliver operated gins at Republican, north of Greenbrier. In later years, Ed Oliver owned the gin and was assisted by his son, Seth Oliver. Jim Satterwhite owned the gin at Centerville until he sold it to E.L. McNew in 1926. He later sold it to Bob Adams who later sold it to a Mr. Gattet of Naylor. It closed after the 1947 season.

The first gin in Greenbrier was said to have been owned by Henderson Moore who opened a horse-driven gin and press there about 1857. By 1905, there were four gins. Later J.S. Mobbs had a large double battery gin there. Paul Thompson also owned and operated a gin that was probably phased out in the late 1940s. Linder, about two miles east of Spring Hill, once had two gins run by Jim Lea and a Mr. Bailey.

In the eastern part of the county, there were several gins in the small communities there. John Bailey erected a cotton gin and sawmill in Enola in 1879 The Lasley family also had a gin that was started in 1900 and operated until the mid-1960s. Ted Matthews was the last owner. Roy Thompson operated the main gin in Mt. Vernon then sold it to Tean Browning of Bono. The gin at Holland was operated by J. Arthur Land and sons but the last gin was owned by M.E. Bowie.

G.W. Harris had a steam-powered gin and grist mill at Vilonia as early as 1870. Will Hunter and later Vernon Harrod also had a gin there until the early 1960s. The Carter Gin at Roden Mill off Highway 36 was erected in 1848 but was destroyed by the Third Arkansas Federal Regiment during the Civil War. Joseph Roden rebuilt the gin after the war.

Finally, in Mayflower, Mann Nichols constructed a steam cotton gin as did others due to the close proximity of the Little plantation. Morrilton Cottonseed Oil Mill owned the gin in the late teens or early twenties and Al Enderlin owned it from the early 1930s until the early 1950s when it burned. Rose City Cottonseed Oil Mill of North Little Rock also had a gin on the old highway south of town on the way to the McCollough farm.

Photo as appeared in the Log Cabin Democrat.

Reprinted here by special permission of the author, Cindy Beckman, a retired Conway High School history teacher who writes local history.

2 responses on “County Cotton Gins: “Looking Back”

  1. Bruce K. White

    Love the articles but the background makes it hard to read the text. It does look pretty but maybe make the text bigger. thank you.