The Bulloch Herald announced on March 23, 1939, that a farmer in Bulloch County had won "Best Negro Farmer of the Year," a prestigious competition of the Atlanta Constitution.
Eddie Wilson was a 40-year-old former sharecropper whose hard work allowed him to buy his own farm. He had 124 acres under cultivation, upon which he grew cotton, raised livestock and managed a stand of 144 acres of timber.
Visited at his farm by representatives of the Atlanta newspaper and the Bulloch County farm agent, Wilson was taken aback by the honor. He told visitors he applied thriftiness to all that he did.
"I didn't buy what I couldn’t raise, and I grew everything that I could that we needed," he said. "If any farmer grows what he needs, and changes his crops around using all of his lands, he can make a profit from his farm."
Wilson said his 18 bales of cotton gleaned from 21 acres had earned him a profit of $735, and his sale of 34 pigs from the three litters of his hybrid sow Bessie had earned him a profit of $959 — in what he called a bad year.
Wilson explained that he sharecropped from 1920 until he was able to buy some land, and he took the profit from his labor on his original land to buy 73 more acres. He put 20 acres of that land under cultivation, then harvested much of the timber on the rest.
Asked what he would do with the $500 prize money that accompanied his award, he said he would finally put some plumbing in his house, doing away with all those trips to the well. Then, he would add a new fence around some of his property with the rest.
The reporter commented that Wilson's farm was clean and orderly, his house was spotless, and his kitchen shelves were lined with cans and jars of fruits and vegetables from his own gardens.
Wilson was not one to sit on his laurels. According to the Washington Afro-American newspaper on March 6, 1956, Wilson was selected one of the "two best colored farmers in Georgia” along with John W. Hunter of Early County.
It was reported that the judges of the competition couldn't decide who was doing a better job, so they declared them both the best.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. He provides a brief look at the area's historical past. Email Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org.