BALED in a BALE
Late Summer and early Fall is cotton ginning time in Texas…
Depending on a growing area’s average temperatures, which of course vary from South to North across the State. The process of transforming boles to bales starts as early as July and extends into October each year.
Ever wonder how removing seeds from the fiber came to be called “ginning”? According to the Burton Cotton Gin Museum’s web site, after Eli Whitney invented the machine that transformed the industry in 1793, it came to be called “The Little Cotton Engine.” Soon, engine got shortened to “gin” and a new noun entered the language.
Though most of the ginning is done by brainless machinery, the industry’s human element has developed a colorful folklore with a range of stories. But, no ginning story can top the occasional tale of a body in a bale.
The following story was run in an Erath County newspaper in 1909. It outlined the solution of a missing child case.
The previous Fall, the newspaper said, a two-year-old boy had disappeared without a trace. He had last been seen playing near a cotton gin. The following Spring, the toddler turned up in England-dead in a bale of fine Texas cotton.