By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Bulloch History with Roger Allen - Cotton: Tobacco becomes a local staple crop
roger allen
Roger Allen

    John Rolfe of Virginia established his plantation in 1616 “at West and Sherley Hundred … (with) twenty-five (workers) … imployed onely in planting and curing tobacco”.
    Soon, the crop was being introduced into other colonies: first to North Carolina, then Maryland, and then into Kentucky. Ironically, Georgia’s first crop of 350 pounds was sold in 1871.
    In the Bulloch Times of August 22, 1895, Nick Foss announced he had planted five acres of tobacco, expected to produce 1750 pounds of tobacco, for which he should get $70.
    By 1915, H.M. Robertson was growing tobacco in Brooklet, and Judge Cone was growing tobacco on his land in Ivanhoe. In 1918, local merchant J.F. Fields began giving away free seed to those interested in trying to grow tobacco.
    In 1917, E.L. Anderson, T.H. Cook, and others reported they were growing ten acres of tobacco in the Sinkhole District. Then, in 1918, W.R. and J.H. Anderson, along with Dr. R.J. Kennedy and the Starlings, announced that they were growing some fifty acres of tobacco outside of Statesboro.
    In 1924, E.G. Cromartie formed the Tobacco Farmers Club, and announced that he would plant at least 200 acres of tobacco.
    In the same year, J.E. Brannen of Stilson announced that his 4 acres of tobacco had produced 4000 pounds of tobacco.
    In Bulloch County, Cecil W. Brannen, R.J. Kennedy, and J.L. Mathews soon established the Statesboro Tobacco Warehouse Company. S.J. Proctor built them two warehouses that ended up costing nearly $40,000.
    Other investors were Hinton Booth, Howell Cone, Fred Hodges, S.W. Lewis, S.L. Nevils, C.P. Olliff, J.C. Parrish, and Brooke Simmons. They leased one warehouse to H.W. Gauchat and the other to W.E. Cobb and H.P. Foxhall.
    J.C. Hurdle, a “Tobacco Demonstrator,” came down and grew 500 acres of tobacco in Bulloch as a test crop. N.J. Cox of Nevils planted 400 acres of Gold Dollar, Bonanza, and Virginia Bright Leaf.
    When the tobacco market auction opened for the 1927-8 season, buyers came from tobacco giants Imperial Export, R.J. Reynolds, Liggett and Meyers, J.P. Taylor, Chino-American, and P. Lorillard.
    On the first day, 338,980 pounds of tobacco sold for between eight and thirty-five cents per pound. Dr. R.L. Cone’s crop was declared the best, with his entire crop selling for an average of thirty cents per pound.
    Over the next four weeks, area farmers sold 2,684,192 pounds of tobacco for $289,199.04. As a result of this success, the Southern Tobacco Journal wrote “Statesboro is located in one of, if not the best, tobacco sections in the State of Georgia.”
    Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look at Bulloch County's historical past. E-mail Roger at rogerdodg

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter