Alabama History of Farmers
Mission, History and Times of the Farmers' Union, By Charles Simon
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
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.
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.
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,
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
"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.
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.
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