Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » A Photograph: Those Cotton Pickin’ Mormons

A Photograph: Those Cotton Pickin’ Mormons

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 07, 2010

I recently had the fun of searching through thousands of images of Latter-day Saints choosing pictures to illustrate a forthcoming encyclopedia of Mormon history. This is one of my very favorites. Can’t tell you who or where or when, but the image was identified as a church welfare project. Can you say “salt of the earth”?




  1. I wonder if he had any teeth left.

    Comment by Michelle Glauser — June 7, 2010 @ 3:24 pm

  2. Just another piece of evidence that corroborates my dad’s claim that “everybody has fun on a welfare farm assignment.”

    Comment by Clark — June 7, 2010 @ 3:57 pm

  3. I know this must have been much later, but I have an ancestor who was called to the Dixie Cotton mission. To her dying day she devoted at least a portion of her garden to cotton, though it never amounted to much. I wonder if there was more cotton in his hands than was ever grown in the her garden. Anyway, I look at this and think of her.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — June 7, 2010 @ 4:19 pm

  4. Great picture. Love that guy.

    Comment by Jacob J — June 7, 2010 @ 6:05 pm

  5. You should have a contest to see who comes up with the most creative caption for this picture.

    Comment by Maurine — June 7, 2010 @ 9:32 pm

  6. I also have ancestors who were sent on the Cotton mission. They were recent emigrants from the South, so maybe it was thought they could bring their know-how. The Clarks were one of the founding families of Washington, UT.

    Comment by Cynthia L. — June 7, 2010 @ 10:12 pm

  7. OK Maurine, how about “I thought I was coming out to pick strawberries. Do these look like strawberries to you?”

    Cynthia, my ancestor’s name was Woodbury. I’ll have to look up where in Dixie they settled. I think it was in St George.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — June 8, 2010 @ 7:33 am

  8. Woodbury? Orin? He was in St. George.

    From the life story of Orin and Ann Cannon Woodbury’s daughter Eleanor Woodbury Jarvis:

    In the summer she helped plant cotton, and when it was ripe she helped pick it. Then it had to be ginned [seeds removed], spun, wove, and then they had to sew their clothes….But more than anything else, the family would gather round the fireplace, at night and do their work by the firelights, – spinning, knitting, sewing or reading…

    Here’s a picture of Eleanor’s mother-in-law, Ann Prior Jarvis, in clothing of St. George manufacture.

    Comment by Researcher — June 8, 2010 @ 8:21 am

  9. Picture caption: “Smile and say Cheese.”

    Comment by Steve C. — June 8, 2010 @ 9:37 am

  10. This is picture reminds me of the lyrics from an ol’ timey song:

    I never picked cotton
    But my mother did and my brother did
    And my sister did and my daddy died young
    Workin’ in the coal mine.

    I like the Johnny Cash version especially.

    Comment by oudenos — June 8, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

  11. In the South when we are happy with our situation, we tell folks who ask after our welfare that we are in “high cotton”. This term can also be used to refer to very kind compliments ie. “Thanks for that high cotton compliment.”

    “It goes back to the days of ‘stoop labor’ in the cotton fields, where workers would work bent at the waist from dawn to dusk, “choppin’ cotton.” About the best they could expect out of their day was to be choppin’ high cotton, so that they didn’t have to stoop over as much.”

    So my phrase would be “High praise for high cotton”.

    I pray the Lord blesses this man with “high cotton” blessings for cutting his hands while he picked. Cotton bolls and their leaves are VERY sharp and will shred your hands as you reach in to pull out the fluff from the center.

    Allison in Atlanta

    Comment by Allison — June 8, 2010 @ 9:41 pm

  12. I’ve just started a series of posts on Cotton and Mormons on I make the claim that to understand LDS Preston you have to understand cotton. I’ve got about 12 or so posts lined up on the subject, so at the end you’ll either feel very cotton enlightened or textile challenged.

    Comment by peter Fagg — June 22, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

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