Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at the origins and growth of the agriculture industry in Southeast Georgia and Bulloch County.
Silk growing in Bulloch County? The March 1904 issue of the journal “Silk,” which was “dedicated to the interests of the Silk Culturalist and Manufactory,” shared a silk growing story from Bulloch.
The aforementioned piece was entitled “A Georgia Silk Raiser” and was written in November 1903 by 68-year-old Georgia Moore, who lived in Callie, Georgia.
She wrote “A farmer's wife. I tried silk culture about 25 years ago. Although I had a house full of children, I was fond of pets, such as pet lambs and mocking birds,(especially wanted) a pet that would pay.”
Therefore, “A friend of mine was looking around and came across some silk-worm eggs, so he thought of me and brought me eggs, (as) I had some very fine white mulberry trees on the place.
“I found an old agricultural book about the place and got some little instruction from it. I kept up working with them for about 10 years and learned a lot about them myself by having patience.”
Then, “I did my best to get my neighbors to try them, for I would have given them all the eggs they could have managed. Some of the people would laugh and say they were afraid of them.”
She ventured that, “All the same, I learned what kind or shape of the cocoons make male and female cocoons, and what time for them to cut out and lay, and how to feed them, and how to fix for them to spin.”
She wrote they commenced “to spin in 28 days after hatching, and I learned how to reel the silk, and prepare the floss, and the perforated cocoons (to) card and spin it on the old-fashioned cards and wheel.”
Then, she wrote, “I made a lot of fishing lines and sold them from ten to 40 cents apiece...I then discovered a piece in some paper about a silk association.”
And, “they asked me to send them a glass jar of select cocoons, and that they would give me $1 per pound and a premium for the jar of cocoons.”
So, “I don’t remember how much I sent, but they sent me a check for $5.00, and never said a thing about the jar. They were lovely, and would "run 200 yards or more to the bug.”
In time, “the children began to marry and leave me, and my health failed, so I bundled all the cocoons and waste I had from reeling (it was 15 pounds) and sent it off.”
And, “I only got $5 for it, so I left off. I had to quit, but I hated so much to give it up, for I did love to attend to the worms and I love to reel the cocoons.”
Moore ventured that “I wanted my folks to go into the business. They would laugh at me, and tell me they thought I ought to be at something else that would pay me, but...I knew that would pay me better than chickens.”
Then, she stated, “I don't know, but I do not think, that anyone else in Bulloch County worked with the worms as I have, and this is a grand old county for anything. But a poor, helpless woman cannot do it all.”
Having expressed herself, “Well, I do not know that my letter will be any benefit or be interesting. I have been wanting to write ever since I received “Silk” saying 'Cotton is silver, and silk is gold.'"
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org.