Alabama History of Farmers

Source: The Mission, History and Times of the Farmers' Union, By Charles Simon Barrett, 1909 

Not long after the Union had been planted in the mother State of Texas, an organizer found his way into the goodly State of Alabama. This State was ripe for a movement of the kind and the people felt the need for a farmers' organization. Almost every county and community seemed to be ready to embark in the movement.

Alabama had been prominent in Alliance affairs. The Alliance leaders of the State were among the foremost in political matters. The first sub-Alliance of Alabama was organized by Newt. Gresham, of Texas, who in 1902 became the found of the Farmers' Union.

The first local Farmers' Union was organized in the eastern part of the State by an organizer whose name has been lost. The first effective work began in Lamar County, the home of W. A. Morris, now President of the State Union. E. J. Cook, afterwards Secretary-Treasurer of the Alabama State Union, was the one who went into Lamar County and began organizing. The Lamar County Union was organized October 7, 1904. Wilson was elected President of the Lamar County Union. W. A. Morris, who afterwards became one of the most prominent leaders of the Union in Alabama, was present and helped to organize the County Union.

STATE UNION.

In August, 1905, delegates from twenty-two counties met at Cordova, and organized the State Union. I. A. Worley. of Guin, was elected President; E. J. Cook, of Guin, Secretary-Treasurer;

W. A. Morris, of Sulligent, State Organizer, and T. E. Pinegar, State Lecturer. H. Pearson was elected Vice-President; P. F. Parker was elected State Business Agent; G. W. Short, Conductor; J. N. Hutto, Doorkeeper, and H. T. Nations, J. A. Fanning, I. N. Bishop, W. E. Hughs, and J. W. Sorrell, members of the Executive Committee.

The second State Convention met in Bessemer, August 22, 23 and 24, 1906. Delegates from thirty-four counties with twenty-six organizers made up this convention. The report of President Worley, some extracts of which are given below, tends to show the progress made during the first year's existence of the State Union. President Worley said:

"In this grand old State of Alabama, in the year just closing, we have grown in membership from five thousand to the grand total of sixty thousand, from 202 chartered locals to 908; from twenty-two counties to fifty-eight counties. Further, the Farmers' Union of Alabama, has the honor of being the pioneer in the practical application of Farmers' Co-Operative Union Ware-houses, Lamar County being the first, and our honored and beloved brother, W. A. Morris, being the father of this paramount movement.

"Old Alabama is pleased to claim the banner for increase of membership, building of warehouses, financially, etc. Owing to our wonderful growth and prosperity, the many changes and demands upon us as an organization, it behooves us to proceed with prudence upon the various subjects that we would ask your attention, and as the conditions have not materially changed since our meeting in March last, we will be pardoned for repeating the same suggestions as will be found in my report at Canton."

The meeting at Canton was a call meeting.

The Business Agent's department had handled during the first ten months of its existence business to the amount of $263,662.81, or more than $26,000 per month. This department had saved the farmers of Alabama $4 per ton on fertilizers and ten per cent on all other articles purchased through the department. The ware house at Sulligent, which began business September 15, 1905, handled during the first ten months over $35,000 worth of business. These facts are gathered from the report of P. F. Parker, State Business Agent.

The following officers were elected: I. A. Worley, President (re-elected); John A. Rhodes, Greenville, Vice-President; E. J. Cook, Secretary-Treasurer (re-elected) ; W. A. Morris, Organizer(re-elected) ; T. E. Pinegar, State Lecturer (re-elected): P. F. Parker, Business .Agent (re-elected); J. C. Motley, Chaplain; J. F. Hill, Sergcant-at-Arms; G. W. Short, Conductor (re-elected); J. N. Hutto, Doorkeeper (re-elected) ; H. P. Nations, J. A. Fanning, I. N. Bishop, W. E. Hughs, and J. W. Sorrell, were re-elected members of the executive committee. Both of these State Unions were outspoken in favor of better educational methods, cotton schools, and other demands of the Union. These demands were rapidly fastening' themselves upon the people of the State, and the Union was fast growing in every section and everv county.

This year, I. C. Gibson, J. F. Bishop, H. F. Nations, Walter Hill, and F. M. Self, represented the Alabama State Union as delegates in the National Convention held at Texarkana.

NEXT STATE CONVENTION.

The next State Union met in the town of Andalusia. August 28, 29 and 30, 1907. Sixty counties had representatives at this convention. During the year the Union had made progress. A number of warehouses had been built and a cotton grading school had been held at Auburn. A volume of business aggregating $350,257.16, had passed through the Business Agent's department. Of this amount $45,611.15 was for flour, and $240,010.00 was for fertilizers.

J. F. Duncan, of Pickens County, was elected President; J. M. Pearson, Lauderdale County, Vice-President; E. J. Cook, Jefferson County, Secretary-Treasurer; W. A. Morris, Lamar County, Organizer; O. P. Ford, Talladega County, Lecturer; I. N. Black, Conecuh County. Chaplain; M. J. Taylor, Lawrence County, Doorkeeper, and J. N. Hutto, Talladega County, Conductor. J. F. Baker, Lamar County; J. C. Hicks, Bibb County; J. J. Robinson, Chambers County; B. L. Hill, Jackson County; R. F. Orr, Morgan County, members of the Executive Committee. National delegates were elected as follows: J. F. Hill. Shelby County; J. O. Collins, Walker County; T. H. Wilson, Talladega County; W. M. Eiland. Perry County; Fred Streit, Colbert County; J. F. Duncan, Pickens County; C. O. Beasley, Covington County.

T. E. Pinegar. who had been elected State Lecturer at the convention of 1906, had tendered his resignation, and the place was not filled until the meeting of the convention in Andalusia. For a time it seemed that the convention would be torn asunder, but wiser counsel prevailed, and when the convention met in Birmingham all the old differences were adjusted and Alabama is moving along smoothly.

BIRMINGHAM CONVENTION.

Delegates from every county of Alabama met in the city of Birmingham, July 1, 1908. Representatives of the city of Birmingham, the Commercial Club, the Board of Trade and the State Federation of Labor, delivered addresses of welcome. Fraternal delegates from the United Garment Workers of America, the Alabama State Federation of Labor, the Birmingham Trades Council, and the Ladies' Label League, were received during this convention. The offices of President and Organizer were consolidated. The State Business Agent was made elective.

The following officers were elected: W. A. Morris, Lamar County, President; J. W. Kelsoe, Coffee County, Vice-President; T. F. Johnson, Lauderdale County, Secretary-Treasurer; J. C. Wallace, Limestone County, Chaplain; O. P. Ford, Calhoun County, Lecturer; J. F. Hill, Shelby County, Sergeant-at-Arms; H. O. Dean, Tallapoosa County, Conductor, and M. J. Taylor, Lawrence County, Doorkeeper. The executive committee consisting of J. J. Robinson, Jr., Chambers County; J. F. Barker, Lamar County; R. F. Orr, Morgan County; Ben L. Hill, Jackson County, and J. C. Hicks, Bibb County, were elected. The following were elected to the National Convention: Mrs. O. P. Ford, J. H. Wilson, J. J. Robinson, Jr., J. M. Pearson, L. O. Cox, William H. Hundley, and G. D. Grant. Every county in the State of Alabama has a county organization and the work under the administration of W. A. Morris is moving along splendidly.

Submitted by C. Anthony

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