Mississippi Harvest

Mississippi Harvest: Lumbering in the Longleaf Pine Belt, 1840-1915

Nollie W. Hickman
Copyright Date: 1962
Pages: 316
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2tvmx5
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    Mississippi Harvest
    Book Description:

    In this classic work of Mississippi history, Nollie W. Hickman relates the felling of great forests of longleaf pine in a southern state where lumbering became a mighty industry.Mississippi Harvestrecords the arduous transportation of logs to the mills, at first by oxcart and water and later by rail. It details how the naval stores trade flourished through the production of turpentine, pitch, and rosin and through the expansion of exports, which furnished France with spars for sailing vessels. The book tracks the impact of the Civil War on southern lumbering, the tragedy of denuded lands, and, finally, the renewal of resources through reforestation.

    Born into a family of lumbermen, Hickman acquired firsthand knowledge of forest industries. Later, as a student of history, he devoted years of painstaking work to gathering materials on lumbering. His information comes from many sources including interviews with loggers, rafters, sawmill, and turpentine workers, and company managers, and from company records, land records, diaries, old newspapers, lumber trade journals, and government documents.

    While the author's purpose is to share the history of a natural resource, he also gives the reader the panorama of Mississippi.Mississippi Harvestinterprets the state's people, agriculture, industry, government, politics, economy, and culture through the lens of one of the state's earliest and most lasting economic engines.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-288-7
    Subjects: Technology, Botany & Plant Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[x])
  3. CHAPTER I THE SETTING
    (pp. 1-14)

    The longleaf pine belt is one of the largest land divisions of the South Atlantic states. Its limits are set by soil types, moisture, and temperature. In width one hundred to one hundred twenty-five miles, bounded on the north by the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and on the south by the coastal marshes, the longleaf pine belt extends from southeastern Virginia south and westward to the Trinity River in east Texas. The longleaf pine tree is not found in swamps or prairies or alluvial soils, and is limited mainly to orange sand or Lafayette strata or post-tertiary formations. In...

  4. CHAPTER II ANTE-BELLUM LUMBERING
    (pp. 15-27)

    For countless generations the vast forests of the longleaf pine belt of Mississippi remained almost unbroken. The pioneer herdsmen and hunters removed the timber from only a few acres. To them the trees as such had no value except as wood for their crude houses, furniture, fences, and plows. The pines with their long taproots represented major obstacles to clearing the few acres of farmland upon which the settlers were dependent for subsistence crops.

    From the earliest years of the white man’s occupancy of the tidewater, timber in small amounts had been taken from the forests. The early French colonists...

  5. CHAPTER III ANTE-BELLUM LUMBERING IN HARRISON COUNTY
    (pp. 28-42)

    The lumber industry at Handsboro located on Bayou Bernard and at Delisle reached a high peak of development in the late ante-bellum period. The Bayou Bernard area was known in the 1850’s as the principal center of lumbering within a hundred mile radius of New Orleans. In volume of production, number of mills, capital invested, and related industries, the district was further advanced than other sections of Mississippi prior to 1860. Millmen had been attracted to the area early, mainly because longleaf and slash pines grew almost up to the banks of its streams. In many places logs could be...

  6. CHAPTER IV YEARS OF TRANSITION
    (pp. 43-56)

    Though the southern lumbering industry was barely beyond the pioneer stage in 1860, the yellow pine forest industries along the Gulf Coast and the neighboring railroads had experienced a remarkable growth in the last ante-bellum years. By 1860 longleaf pine lumber and logs from Mississippi were being marketed in St. Louis, in cities along the Atlantic seaboard, and in Western Europe.

    The extent of the damage inflicted on the longleaf yellow pine industry in Mississippi during the Civil War is difficult to estimate. Some of the smaller mills along the coast were unmolested. In one instance, William Griffin concealed his...

  7. CHAPTER V COMMERCIAL LUMBERING IN THE INTERIOR, 1865-1890
    (pp. 57-67)

    Apparently the small ante-bellum lumber industry in the interior, especially that located in the path of military operations, was almost totally destroyed during the Civil War. The markets that these mills served, primarily the small towns and plantations near the railroads, were likewise demoralized by the war. Postwar shipments to places north of the Ohio River, if made at all, were of little consequence. As late as 1875 yellow pine remained almost unknown in the great consuming areas of the North. Moreover, the white pine industry in the Northwest was reaching its peak, and prices of lumber in Chicago were...

  8. CHAPTER VI FEDERAL LAND POLICIES IN THE PINELANDS
    (pp. 68-87)

    At the time Mississippi became a state most of the pine forests of south Mississippi were on public lands belonging to the United States Government, and most of them remained Federal property for several decades. Not until the fifties were great areas donated to the states, and very few sales of timberlands were made to private buyers in the meantime.

    In 1850, there were approximately 6,000,000 acres of vacant land in the longleaf pine counties of Mississippi. During the period 1811-1847, 9,628,675.51 acres had been offered at public sale and only 950,713.04 acres were sold in the Augusta land district....

  9. CHAPTER VII STATE LAND POLICIES IN THE PINELANDS
    (pp. 88-100)

    While the greater part of the pinelands of Southern Mississippi was eventually transferred to private ownership by the Federal Government, the State of Mississippi also played a major role in land disposal by selling the large acreages that came to it through various types of donations from the United States. In many localities in the pine country the state became the principal landholder. From the swampland grant—to be discussed presently in more detail—the state by 1898 had received about 3,331,636 acres.¹ In addition, another large donation of approximately 837,584 acres, known as sixteenth-section lands, came into the possession...

  10. MAPS
    (pp. None)
  11. PLATES
    (pp. None)
  12. CHAPTER VIII LOGGING AND RAFTING 1840-1910
    (pp. 101-120)

    Between 1840 and 1910, logging and rafting underwent few changes. Logging consisted of two basic operations; namely, felling the trees and hauling the logs to the banks of rafting streams. Until the late eighties axmen, commonly known as “choppers,” felled the trees. Their basic tool was a pole ax having a single cutting edge and weighing about five pounds. In the seventies the double-bit ax with two cutting edges supplanted the pole ax. As long as axes were used, trees were cut about waist high from the ground, leaving a three- or four-foot stump. After notching the tree on the...

  13. CHAPTER IX THE NAVAL STORES INDUSTRY
    (pp. 121-138)

    Production of naval stores is one of the older industries in the South. During the era of wooden ships, tar and pitch derived from cone-bearing trees were used to seal cracks in the flooring of vessels and to insulate ropes against the deteriorating effects of moisture. Hence came the application of the term “naval stores” to several substances derived from pine trees. Over the years a wide variety of products used for many different purposes, including camphene, turpentine, rosin, pitch tar, and rosin oil, has been developed by the naval stores industry. In the United States the raw material of...

  14. CHAPTER X LIFE IN THE TURPENTINE WOODS
    (pp. 139-152)

    Almost all of the physical labor involved in naval stores production was performed by Negroes. Racking boxes and chipping were jobs over which the Negro exercised a near monopoly. In time Negroes came to bear the same relation to naval stores as their ancestors did to cotton in the ante-bellum South. Over the years the turpentine Negroes evolved a distinct society, rarely communicating with others except those of their own specialty. Negroes employed in agriculture, sawmills, and other occupations were conscious of the distinction between themselves and men who worked the pine trees, and usually sought little contact with them....

  15. CHAPTER XI LUMBERING REACHES ITS PEAK
    (pp. 153-166)

    Around the turn of the century, the pioneer phase of the lumber industry in Mississippi came to an end. Development of transportation facilities and markets and the flow of capital to the longleaf pine country ushered in an era of large-scale lumber production. Lumbermen from the old timber districts of the North and East migrated to the South in considerable numbers between 1890 and 1915. These newcomers, attracted by the last great body of virgin pine timber east of the Rocky Mountains, brought capital and managerial experience with them which contributed greatly to the development of the yellow pine industry...

  16. CHAPTER XII THE BIG MILLS
    (pp. 167-183)

    As we have seen, by 1915 the Mississippi longleaf pine industry was dominated by a relatively few large producers. Along the coast sawmilling had passed its peak. In the interior the big mill phase of lumbering continued to be vigorous until the late twenties, but only a few large-scale operations existed in the early thirties.

    At the mouth of the Pascagoula River, the firms operating with an annual production of between 15,000,000 and 40,000,000 board feet were Hunter-Benn, Will Farnsworth, Wyatt Griffin, and J. Bounds.¹ Only the L. N. Dantzler Lumber Company, which had two mills at Moss Point and...

  17. CHAPTER XIII MISSISSIPPI PINE GOES ABROAD
    (pp. 184-196)

    The greater part of the southern pine lumber produced on the Mississippi Coast was consumed in foreign countries. In fact, for a long time yellow pine was better known in Western Europe than in the great consuming sections of northern United States. Even before the Civil War square timber, ship masts, planks, and other timber products had been exported from the Gulf to Europe, Australia, the West Indies, and Latin America. These markets were largely responsible for the development of the first large manufacturing units on the Gulf Coast during the 1880’s. Subsequently the foreign markets continued to absorb an...

  18. CHAPTER XIV MISSISSIPPI PINE STAYS AT HOME
    (pp. 197-211)

    The greatest percentage of lumber produced in the longleaf pine country after 1895 was sold in the states located north of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi River. In 1902-1903 the overseas trade took a total of 29,600 carloads of yellow pine, the domestic market, 118,000 carloads. Before discussing this larger market, let us examine the manner in which the pine lumber was distributed from manufacturer to consumer in the United States.¹

    Wholesalers in the lumber industry in the seventies fixed the grade classification of lumber, contracted the output of the mill at a flat price, and set the...

  19. CHAPTER XV RAILROADS AND THE LUMBER INDUSTRY
    (pp. 212-232)

    The development of the lumber industry in the interior of Mississippi was almost entirely dependent upon rail transportation. The existence of millions of acres of virgin pine timber provided the initial impulse for the construction of railroads in a section where agriculture was confined chiefly to subsistence farming.

    The construction of the first two trunk lines in the late ante-bellum period, the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern (later the Illinois Central) and the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, was due principally to the rivalry of Mobile and New Orleans for the commerce of the hinterland. But in this period lumber...

  20. CHAPTER XVI THE LABOR PROBLEM
    (pp. 233-253)

    The development of forest industries in Mississippi brought social and economic changes to a section of the South that had advanced little beyond the pioneer stage. The native white herdsmen were compelled by the decline of their age-old economy to become, often unwillingly, a part of the industrial system. Like the scattered small farmers who were also drawn upon by the lumber industry, they had been bred in remoteness and isolation, and both herdsmen and farmers were ill-conditioned to live effectively in the regimented world created by modern industry.

    In the early years after the Civil War, while the lumber...

  21. CHAPTER XVII THE END AND A NEW BEGINNING
    (pp. 254-268)

    The growing concentration of lumber production in a few large mills produced uneasiness in the minds of many Mississippians, conjuring up the specter of monopoly in lumber and agriculture. They especially feared that millmen would develop profitable agriculture on the cutover lands after the timber was gone, and convert millions of acres in south Mississippi into large farms owned by absentee landlords. Many common folk believed that such a development would either doom their children to lives as tenant farmers or force them to leave the state. Politicians seeking the vote of the small farmers, therefore, advocated a limit on...

  22. Appendix
    (pp. 269-274)
  23. NOTES
    (pp. 275-300)
  24. INDEX
    (pp. 301-306)