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Last Week’s Reveal: The Otis Moore Gin, just off Markham, was renovated as the Old Gin Events Center several years ago. J. Otis Moore also owned the land and had a residence at what is now Laurel Park. His son’s land was later sold to build a new First Presbyterian Church on Prince.
Cotton was the main cash crop for Faulkner County farmers until after World War II because it was the most easily marketed in proportion to its value. It was also a crop in which all the children and the women in the family could contribute labor. Most of the cotton produced in Faulkner County was grown on small farms.
After the cotton was picked, the farmer had to take it to the gin to have the seed separated from the lint. All the gins were two story. The cotton was unloaded from the wagons by hand and carried in large cotton baskets up the stairs where it was poured onto small platforms above the gin stands.
The cotton was then worked down into the stand by hand. After the lint cotton was separated from the seeds, it was pushed with large brooms back to the press and deposited under the tramper as it went up and down.
The cotton fibers would then be baled and typically shipped by rail to St. Louis or Memphis. The Lollie Plantation, a 4,000-acre plantation where the new Conway airport is located, had its own gin and was able to ship its cotton by boat out of two steamboat landings. The landings were at different heights so that cotton could be shipped out no matter what the height of the river.
The Otis Moore gin closed in the mid-1960s. This artifact is part of the permanent collection at the Faulkner County Museum and is on exhibit there. To see more artifacts, visit the museum, its Facebook page or its website www.faulknercountymuseum.org. Help preserve the county’s history by supporting the museum!