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Cotton Gins At Tap, Texas

The story of the cotton gins at Tap, Texas, their beginning and their end. The first cotton gin to be located at Tap was near the little store at Tap. It was located just south of the store about a quarter of a mile out in the John Luce Pasture. Mr. E. Luce drove down in Stonewall county near Peacock on the Double Mountain River and bought a deserted cotton gin. It was dismantled, loaded on freight wagons, hauled to Tap, reassembled, and used again. It was bought for the sum of $400.00 and was moved by the men of the community at their own expense. Everyone was so pleased to have a cotton gin nearby to save trouble and expense of hauling their cotton to the railroad. Among those who helped with the hauling was a man by the name of John Hill. By his own work he was called contrary and lived up to the name. Others who helped to move the gin were: Alf Manning, Elzy Cross, Clint Garrett, Uncle Elve Garrett, J. E. Sparks, Sam Smith, and many others of whom I won't try to name. Anyway, the whole community helped out. It was a one stand hand operated affair fired by a wood furnace. It was run by Claud Mayo and Sam Smith fired the boiler. Fred Danforth ran the stand, this was in the year of 1903-1904. This operation only lasted about two years before another gin, something of a Co-op was constructed. At this first gin, the cotton was hauled to the gin by the farmers on wagons, then unloaded by the owners and carried in wire baskets and poured into the stands. They had to tromp the cotton in the press with their feet. The baskets were made of wire and lined with cotton cloth duckin. Fred Danforth and Lee Peacock weighed the bales on a large set of scales with a big iron pea as a balance.

An amusing story was told to me by Fred Danforth. He said since he and Lee Peacock had been out late one night, they decided to sleep in the gin in order not to be late for work the next morning. Then as the story goes, Lee Peacock was a person who walked in his sleep. Sometime during the night, Fred heard a terrible scream and on investigation he found Lee had fallen into the press hole, about nine feet below, while walking in his sleep. It was covered with bagging but it was still pretty rough to land on. So, he made a pretty rough landing and was unable to tromp cotton for some time.

Jeff Smith and Sam McKay were working for Mr. E. Luce at this time and farming the Luce land at Watson, later called Kalgary. They hauled their cotton to Tap to be ginned, a distance of about 15 or 20 miles. It was a slow process but still far closer than having to go to Rotan and Colorado City. Jeff ever remembers the names of the horses he used; Old Tom, Old Ben, Dime and Button. They were practically members of the family. Incidentally, everyone considered their stock one of the family. They were their pride and joy and a necessity.

The first gin had a crew of four men and could gin about six or seven bales of cotton in a day. This was during the years of 1903 and 1904. In the years of 1905-06, the farmers of the community formed what is correctly known as a Co-Op, something on one had ever heard of at that time. With each farmer doing all that he was able to do, they bought a small plot of land off of the original Airheart place, which I believe was owned by Uncle Bobbie Williams at that time. About 15 acres on which to build a new gin, about a mile or more from the location of the old gin at Tap. It was placed near a windmill with plenty of water, later a large dirt tank was made and was called the Sam Smith gin tank. Sam Smith was hired to run this gin, others who worked there were; Fount Harroll and Brookie Martin was the fireman.

Most everyone in the community helped to finance this gin. Some of the men whose names have been brought to my attention were: J.T. Perkins, Alf Manning, Uncle Jimmie Sparks, Uncle Tobie Smith (W.A.), Uncle Billie Smith, Uncle Jeffie Smith, Uncle Bobbie Williams, W. H. (Will) Martin, W.C. (Clint) Garrett, Mr. W.C. McArthur and sons, Tom, Jim, Bill and Edd. The Luces helped and Elzy Cross, Bud Turner, T.S. Lambert (Uncle Sebe), Johnnie Sparks and I am sure the people who lived across the shinnery, John Self and Firm Self, A.J. McClains, the Fuquas, Lon and Edd, and the Uncle Tandy Smith family of about four or five sons.

Source: Dickens County History...its Land and People © Dickens Historical Commission; Printer: Craftsman Inc. Lubbock, Texas 1986

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