MADE BY THE
DEPARTMENT OF CHURCH AND COUNTRY UFE
BOARD OF HOME MISSIONS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
IN THE U. S. A.
Warren H. Wilson. Ph.D., Superintendent
Anna B. Taft, Assistant Superintendent
1 56 Fifth Avenue, New York City
-rv JJD .T4 P7
Presbyterian Church in the
U.S.A^. Board of Home
^ '"~ ' ' Tennesse*
MADE BY THE
DEPARTMENT OF CHURCH AND COUNTRY LIFE
BOARD OF HOME MISSIONS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
IN THE U. S. A.
Warren H. Wilson, Ph.D.. Superintendent
Anna B. Taft. Assistant Superintendent
1 56 Fifth Avenue. New York Cily
The Field Work of this invesligalion was done by Anion T Boise n
a Cennessee ^ur\jep
Within the past seven years the Presbyterian Church in the United
States of America has entered the South. The Cumberland Union
opened up to it this new field. As a result, new responsibilities have
been placed upon it and new and perplexing problems have arisen. The
present survey is a step in the direction of assuming that responsibility
and solving the problems which it presents. It has been undertaken
for the purpose of determining the conditions in the country communities
MAP NO. I OUTLINE OF TENNESSEE SHOWING LOCATION OF GIBSON COUNTY
of a typical county of West Tennessee, to discover what are the present
needs of such communities, whether or not these needs are now being
met by the church and other agencies, and finally to offer constructive
suggestions designed to make the church work more efficient. This
work was undertaken entirely without any sectarian motive, and was
conducted without regard to denominational lines. It is not an attempt
to advance the interests of the Presbyterian Church, but rather to deter-
mine how the Presbyterian Church may best cooperate with the other
denominations at work in this field in the performance of the function
for which the Church was founded and for which alone it should be
maintained — that of helping men to live together in loyalty to each other
and to their common Father in Heaven.
The field work for this survey was done in the fall of 1911 and occupied
two months. The investigator drew freely upon all published reports,
county records, and visited in person all parts of the county. There were
three main steps in the process of collecting the field data. In the first
place the investigator sought out some man in each neighborhood who
was especially well informed and public-spirited. From him he obtained
such general information as could be given without guess work or random
generalization. He also asked him to locate on a map the churches,
schools and stores. He then visited twenty or thirty different families
living in that community, to make a more detailed inquiry. These two
methods, which together gave him an accurate general knowledge of the
county, were later supplemented by the "Sample Plot" method used by
many timber cruisers. Certain neighborhoods or "Sample Plots" were
chosen for intensive study. These were carefully distributed over the
county to avoid the danger of a selective bias. In all, twenty-one of
them were studied, covering 9.1 per cent, of the total area of the county
and including 607 country families.
Throughout the work the investigator received the hearty cooperation
of all with whom he came in contact and carried away with him very
delightful remembrances of the far-famed Southern hospitality.
Topography and Resources
Gibson County, which was selected as the type county, after consulta-
tion with men most familiar with West Tennessee, is located near the
northwestern corner of the State, separated from the Mississippi River
by only one county, and from the State of Kentuckty by only one county.
The land is level to rolling. The mean elevation is perhaps 300 feet
above sea level. The maximum difference in elevation is hardly more
than 50 feet. There are no mineral resources and no water power.
Several lazy streams cross the county. In the winter these overflow
their banks and their course is marked by swamps of gum and cypress
from one-fourth to one-half mile wide. Most of the merchantable
timber is culled out and engineers are now hard at work on plans for
draining the swampy areas. The uplands were originally covered with
a splendid forest of oak, yellow poplar, hickory, ash, basswood and
walnut, but nine-tenths of this has been cleared away and the remainder
is poorly cared for. Agriculture is therefore the chief source of income,
and the deep, fertile alluvial soil is suited for widely diversified farming.
Gibson County is not, however, exclusively an agricultural county. It
is fortunate in having three good railroads located within its border and
largely on account of the advantages thus affc^rded, manufacturing has
assumed some importance. There are approximately 22 cotton gins, 16
saw mills, 13 roller and grist mills, i large box and basket factory, i large
cotton mill, i large cotton seed mill, and 10 other manufacturing plants.
These manufacturing establishments are engaged in converting the
products of farm and forest into a form available for use. The raw
material is for the most part secured from within the county, although in
the case of the box and basket factory in Humboldt and certain of the
roller mills, much of it is shipped in. Gibson County was formerly an
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MAP NO. II
A VIRGIN FOREST
important lumbering center, but the lumber produced annually is not
now sufficient to supply the local demand. The amount of wealth
annually brought into Gibson County each year through its manufactur-
ing industries may be roughly placed at $5,000,000. Farming is, how-
ever, the chief source of wealth. Not only do the manufacturers depend
upon it for most of the raw material, but it brings into the county the
bulk of the money which supports the population. Table I shows the
amount and value of the various farm products exported annually.
TABLE I. —AMOUNT AND VALUE OF FARM PRODUCTS, EXPORTED
Cotton 35,950 bales ^1,510,000
Strawberries 204,000 crates 310,000
Tomatoes 632 cars 268,000
Miscellaneous vegetables 150 cars 75,000
Poultry 7,500 coops 60,000
Eggs 20,000 cases 120,000
Horses and mules 625 head 75,000
Cattle 3,000 head 120,000
Hogs 1,500 head 40,000
Besides these crops, which are the source of the cash income, large
quantities of corn are produced throughout the county, and wheat is
grown in the northern parts. The corn goes chiefly into meat and horse
power, and the wheat is all required for home consumption. In fact, a
considerable amount of wheat is imported.
Computations on tenure of farm property from the 572 farms included
in the sample plots show that 402 of these farms are operated by the
owners. The variations in size are shown in Table II.
TABLE II.— VARIATION IN SIZE OF FARMS
.y . f Per Cent. r^^^^. Per Cent
Area in Acres ^I'^rZ ^^ Total ,^otal ^^ ^otal
^^'""^ Number Acreage ^^^^
20 or less 29 7.2 440 1.3
21-40 86 21.4 2,920 9.1
41-80 148 36.8 8,977 27.9
81-160 109 27.1 12,218 38.0
161-240 23 5.7 4,499 14.0
Over240 7 1.8 3,095 9.7
Total 402 32,149
Average area of farm, 80 acres.
Besides the 402 farmers who own and operate their own farms, there
are 170 tenants. Of the families living in the county 70 per cent, are
farm owners. Table III shows the number of each class of tenants:
TABLE III.— TENANTS AND CROPPERS
Among the tenants 63 per cent, rent land from neighboring farmers.
This land is in many cases under the direct supervision of the owner, who
designates what crops are to be raised, and sees to it that the soil does not
become too much worn out. In many cases the renters, although retain-
ing their independence, are thus virtually hired men, who are paid in
produce instead of in cash. This is particularly the case with the "share-
cropper," who owns neither land nor tools, but has tools, horses and seed
furnished by the owner of the land. The cropper as a rule cultivates
from 20 to 30 acres, and gives half the produce to the owner. Most of
the croppers are negroes. The "share-tenant" or "renter," who fur-
nishes his own tools and horses, pays to the owner one-third of the corn
and one-fourth of the cotton. The cash tenant pays usually $4 an acre.
There are only 10 hired men. Their wages are from 75 cents to $1.00
a day and keep. Table IV shows the proportion of negroes and whites
engaged in the different classes of farming.
TABLE IV.— PROPORTION OF NEGROES AND WHITES ENGAGED IN
DIFFERENT CLASSES OF FARMING
Class of Farmers Number f Totil Number ^f 'Tofoi
Owners 359 80.1 43 32.7
Cash-tenants 33 7.3 17 12.7
Share-tenants 25 5.6 27 20.1
Share-croppers 25 5.6 43 32 . 1
Hired men 6 .... 4 3.0
Total 448 134
Total amount of land owned i)y whites, 34,403 acres; by negroes, 2,184
Methods of Farming
As a rule, the Gibson County farmer is not as progressive as the average
American farmer. This is shown })articularly in the lack of labor-saving
machinery. Gang plows, binders, etc., are not in evidence. Cotton and
corn are the chief crops, and 11 acres of cotton or 20 acres of com are
considered a one-man crop. Most of the work in the cotton-fields is
done by hand. The single-handed farmer will usually put in only
5 or 6 acres of cotton and 10 or 12 acres of corn, for they are competing
crops and require attention at the same time. Most farmers, however,
pxxt in more and depend upon the help of wife and children, or of hired
hands. It is a common sight to see whole families working together in
the cotton fields.
The treatment of the land is improving. Many acres which were
once " cottoned-out " are now productive again. The use of clover,
cow-peas and barnyard manure is chiefly responsible for this. The fact
that this county is not important as a stock-raising section makes the
proper rotation of crops the most important means of maintaining the
fertility of the soil. A rotation often practised is cotton or corn (2 or 3
years), wheat (1 year), clover (2 years.) The majorit)' of farmers, how-
ever, still make no pretense of rotating their crops and plant cotton or
corn for years in succession on the same ground. In truck gardening
fertilizers are used.
A serious matter in some sections is the washing away of the soil.
This occurs chiefly with heavy clay soil on hillsides that have been
exposed by cultivation.
The Truck Growers and Their Association. — Most of the truck garden-
ing is done within three or four miles of some railroad shipping point.
This business is naturally a cooperative undertaking. It does not pay
AN EXAMPLE OF SOIL-WASHING
where only a few are engaged in it. There must be enough strawberry
and tomato raisers to make it possible to send out the produce in carload
lots each day. This fact and the need of eliminating the excessive profits
of the middleman have led to the formation of the Fruit Growers' Associa-
tion, the function of which is to handle and market the produce. This
Association has not been very successful. In some cases the officers have
been suspected of making excessive profits. The members themselves
have not been loyal to their association, but have sold to outside buyers
whenever they offered better prices, which they have done in many
instances in order to put the Association out of business.
lite Farmers'' Union. — The same difficulty in organizing the farmers
has been met in other fields than in the truck-growing business.
The Farmers' Union was organized with special reference to the cotton
grower's interests, and once had its locals all over the county, and owned
and operated at least two cotton-gins. This is now in a decadent condi-
tion. Of the 31 or more locals which flourished a few years ago 13 are
now extinct, and only 3 are in a really vigorous condition. One of the
cotton-gins has passed into the hands of private owners. The sample-
plot figures show that out of 441 farmers, 127 are nominally members of
the Farmers' Union. There are, however, devoted Farmer Union men
in Gibson County who have served the cause faithfully and, in spite of
the waning of the initial enthusiasm the Farmers' Union is still a force
for good, not only economically but also socially and morally.
Need of Organization.— The need for organization among the farmers is
already apparent here. Most of the farmers recognize it, but they
simply fold their hands and say, "It isn't possible." This need was
forcibly driven home in the fall of 1911, when a cotton bale, which the
year before sold for $75, sold for only $45. Many farmers attempt to
meet this fall in price by holding their cotton. The investigator counted
hundreds of bales in the open, exposed to rain and dust, held for a higher
price. Whatever the effect upon the price, the quality of the cotton
would certainly deteriorate. The great need is for concerted action on
the part of the farmers. Their inability to organize successfully places
them at the mercy of those who buy and those who sell.
The over-multiplication of stores and banks and trading places is
shown in Map 3. These stores employ altogether about 796 people, and
support about 2,500 dependents. In other words, 6 per cent, of the
population, or one family out of seventeen, is supported by keeping
store, and if we add to these the others who are engaged in trading,
the commercial travelers, the peddlers, the agents, the commission men,
etc., the total will be close to 7 per cent. It is clear that this is a larger
number than is necessary to do the business, and a large porportion of
the wealth that the farmer earns goes to support them.
AN EXPEKIMKNT IX C()01'1';K.\ I H )N ((i|I()X-(;iN OWXKI) AND OPERATED BY
THE farmers' union
SPECULATING IN COTTON
A HERALD OF THE NEW ORDER
Means of Communication
Gibson County has three railroads, the Illinois Central giving it an
outlet to Chicago, the Mobile & Ohio to St. Louis and the Nashville,
Chattanooga & St. Louis to Memphis and Nashville. The most inacces-
sible farm is not more than ten miles from some railroad station.
There are no graveled or macadamized roads in the county, and there
is no stone with which such roads could be built. There are, however,
no bad grades and dragging and scraping helps to keep them in fair shape.
Telephone lines run through the county, but only 208 out of 503 white
families had telephones. None of the negro families has a telephone.
There are 80 rural routes in the county and 90 per cent, of the
farmers have free delivery.
According to the census reports, the population of Gibson County in
I9I0 was 41,629, in 1900, 39,408. There has been, therefore, an increase
of 2,221 during the last ten years. The increase was shared alike by
town and country. The total population of the towns increased from
10,600 in 1900 to 11,429 in 1910, a net gain of 829, or 7.8 per cent., that
of the country districts from 28,800 in 1900 to 30,200 in 1910, a net gain
of 1,400, or 4.8 per cent.
The town population includes eleven towns ranging in size from
3,600 to 200. Six towns have over 800 inhabitants. The density of
MAP NO. Ill
population in the country districts is 52 per square mile. Gibson County
is, therefore, thickly settled. Table V gives the population of the
towTis in Gibson County with more than 200 inhabitants.
TABLE v.— POPULATION OF TOWNS
Humboldt 3,446 2,866
Trenton 2,402 2,328
Milan 1,605 1,682
Dyer 1,166 1,204
Kenton 815 *
Rutherford 766 677
Bradford *400 *
Medina .' 320 *
Yorkville *300 *
Brazil. *250 *
Gibson 233 *
Total 11,703 10,918
* Not reported separately in census.
The original settlers came chiefly from North Carolina and Virginia,
and are largely of English and Scotch-Irish descent, with an admixture
of Germans and Irish. During the past fifteen years there has been no
important new tide of immigration. An analysis of the sample plot
figures shows out of 517 country families only 19 or 3.6 per cent., that
have moved in from outside of West Tennessee. Of these 7 came from
Middle Tennessee, 3 from Alabama, 2 each from Missouri, Indiana and
Illinois and 1 each from North Carolina, Arkansas and East Tennessee.
It will be seen, then, that practically the entire population of the country
districts are native Southerners. What is true of the country districts is
substantially true of the towns. The white population of Gibson County
is, therefore, of unmixed American blood of the best quality. The
absence of immigration has, however, this effect: It shuts in the people
of the county from contact with people of different training and modes
of thought. This tends to make the people less progressive.
Locally there has been some shifting of population. Of these same 517
families 194 were newcomers in their immediate neighborhoods, having
moved in within the last fifteen years.
The Drift from the Farm
There does not seem to be any widespread tendency to leave the farm
in this county. In 19 neighborhoods, with 517 families in all, only 47
farm owners (9.1 per cent, of the total number) had left within the last
ten years; 26 of these had gone to town, and 21 had taken farms in
other places. Of those who went to town, 10 had retired on account of
advancing age, 9 were engaged in the mercantile business, 1 had left to
educate his children, 1 was a carpenter, 1 a miller, 2 had left on account
of ill-health and 2 were "loafing."
Of the 21 who are still farming, 17 had merely bought other farms in
the neighborhood, 3 had sought cheaper lands in Texas, and 1 had gone to
Arkansas. It should be noted that no account is taken here of the
naturally shifting tenant class.
Table VI shows the occupation of 200 country boys, who have grown
up in the same neighborhood in the last ten years, and are now between
twenty and thirty years old.
TABLE VI.— OCCUPATION OF 200 COUNTRY BOYS
Number of Total
Farmers 145 72 . 5
Merchants 16 8
Laborers 15 7.5
Teachers 8 4
Railroad men 5 2.5
Mechanics 3 1.5
Traveling men 3 1.5
Manufacturers 2 1
Ministers 2 1
Doctors 1 .5
Table VII shows the occupation of 159 girls who have also grown up
in these neighborhoods and are now of the same age.
TABLE VII— OCCUPATIONS OF 159 COUNTRY GIRLS NOW BETWEEN
TWENTY AND THIRTY YEARS OLD
Occupation Number of Total
Farmers' Wives 86 54 . 1
Wives of men in other occupations 21 13.2
At home 38 23.9
Teaching 9 5.7
Clerks in stores 2 1.2
Students 3 1.9
These figures show a healthy preference for the country. The number
going to the towns involves no excessive drain upon the country neighbor-
The occupation of the people in Gibson County is shown in Table VIII.
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d on the
ft the Far
TABLE VIII.— NUMBER OF WORKERS AND DEPENDENTS IN
1^ I Per Cent.
Occupation Number y>, j ^ of Total
Farmers 7,000 31,000 74 .4
Manufacturers 900 3,000 7.3
Tradesmen 900 2,900 7.0
Laborers 300 1,900 2.1
Mechanics 200 700 1.7
Railroad employees 200 600 1.4
Mail clerks and carriers 100 350 .8
Teachers 234 600 1.4
Doctors 90 360 .9
Ministers 42 160 .4
Lawyers 30 120 .3
Unclassified 960 2.3
Attention should be drawn again to the large proportion represented in
the tradesmen class, one family out of 17. Of the boys who leave the
farm the largest per cent., 27 per cent., go into business, likewise of the
farmers who move to town, and yet there are already more storekeepers
than are necessary to do the business. The result is not only the inevit-
able failure of many who make this venture, but more serious still from
the standpoint of the economist is the great waste of human energy
involved. In the professional class are included 85 doctors and dentists,
30 lawyers, 32 ministers and 100 teachers. The proportion represented
in some of these professions seems large. There must be many lawsuits
or else very high fees must be charged to support one lawyer to every
440 families, and so with the seventy-odd physicians.
The educational advantages of the heads of the families now living in
the 21 neighborhoods studied is shown in Table IX.
TABLE IX.— EDUCATION OF HEADS OF FAMILIES
TT- L ^ c I. 1 A.^ I J Number of Per Cent.
Highest School Attended Persons of Total
College 9 1.9
High School 21 4.4
Country School — Secondary 210 44.4
Country School — Primary 198 41 .8
None — illiterate 35 7.5
Of those who had had some college training, 6 are doctors and 1 is a
minister. The percentage of college-trained men in the country districts
of the county as a whole will not be so large as this, for there is only one
country minister in the county and only 10 country doctors.
Table X shows the educational advantages of the 200 country boys
who have gro\vn up in the neighl)orh()()ds, studied, and are now between
twenty and thirty years of age.
TABLE X.— EDUCATION OF COUNTRY BOYS
Those Who Ha\-c Tliose Who Have
Stayed on the Farm Left the Farm
Highest School Attended Number ^ ^ ,' Number r^ ,'
2d Grade or less 4 2.7 6 11.1
3d to 5th Grades 37 25.3 10 18.5
6th to 7th Grades 64 43.8 12 22.2
8th Grade 25 17.2 4 7.4
High School 14 9.6 14 25.9
College 1 .7 6 11.1
Professional School .0 2 3.2
Agricultural School 1 .7 ....
Total 146 54
Table XI gives the corresponding figures for the girls in the same
TABLE XL— EDUCATION OF COUNTRY GIRLS
,,;• ( Wives of Men Girls Who ^-- ,
Wives of • r\,^u c ,-• (jirls at
T- m Other are Supporting tt
Farmers r\ . • t-u i Home
Highest School Attended No. P. C. No. P. C. No. P. C. No. P. C.
2d Grade or less
3d to 5th Grades 12 14.4 3 14.3 .. 10 28
6th to 7th Grades 34 41.0 6 28.6 10 28
8th Grade 32 38.5 7 33.3 2 17 13 36
High School 5 6.0 4 19.0 6 50 3 8
College 1 4.8 3 25 ..
Professional School 1 8
Total 83 21 12 36
Attention should be called here to the higher average education of the
girls. Of the total number of girls 52 per cent, went through the Eighth
Grade, or beyond, as against 33.5 per cent, of the boys.
Attention should also be drawn to the fact that the education of the
young men who stayed on the farm is inferior to the education of those
who have left. Of the latter 41 per cent, have gone beyond the Eighth
Grade, as against 11 ])er cent, of the former. On the other hand, of those
who left 30 per cent, did not go beyond the Fifth Grade, while only 28
per cent, of those who remained did not go lieyond this grade. The great
body of those who remained on the farm, 61 per cent., belong in the class
which dropped out somewhere between the Fifth and Eighth Grades,
while only 30 per cent, of those who left fall in the same class. Thus the
best educated and the poorest educated tend to leave the farm, while
those with the average education remain. It would not be fair to say
that the boy who goes beyond the Eighth Grade is necessarily superior
to the boy who drops out before he reaches this grade, but the proba-
bilities are that among those who do best in their school work are
included the best minds and the most of those who dream dreams and
have high ideals and a large vision of the future. Thus the country
districts are losing their best and their poorest, and are retaining those
of mediocre ability.
Out of 340 families the investigator was told of 8 consumptives, 3
feeble-minded, 5 insane, 1 epileptic, 1 deaf and dumb, 1 blind, 3 cripples,
7 toughs, 17 drinking men and 1 loose woman.
Gibson County has, indeed, no immigrant problem, but it has the
great problem of the South, the negro problem. It is not the special
purpose of this report to investigate the negro problem. The investi-
gator, born in the North, is no more than an observer of the negro. " It
is our problem," the Southerner says, and the solution of it obviously
must come through the Southern people themselves. However, an in-
vestigation of the social condition in this county which leaves the negro
out of account is no investigation at all.
In all, the negroes constitute 28 per cent, of the population, or about
11,000 people. According to the school enumeration, the proportion of
negroes in the county is decreasing. Of the total number of children of
school age only 25 per cent, are negroes, as against the 28 per cent, for
the total population.
There is said to be a general tendency among the negroes to move to
town. Sixty per cent., however, still live in the open country. For the
most part, both in town and country, they live in settlements of their
own. Some civil districts have no negroes at all. Map No. 4 shows the
distribution of the negro population within the county.
The negroes work as farmers, as laborers in factory and shop, and at
odd jobs. Outside of the laboring classes there are 45 teachers, 10
ministers, 1 or 2 doctors, and perhaps a dozen storekeepers. Forty per
cent, of the negroes in neighborhoods studied are land owners, although
in many cases their farms are heavily mortgaged. As a laborer the
negro earns low wages, from 75 cents to $1.25 a day. This cheap negro
labor keeps down the wages of the white laborer. It is also one explana-
tion of the coni])arativc lack of labor-saving machinery in this region.
About GO per cent, of the negroes can read and write. The illiterate
negroes are largely the older ones, who had no ojij^ortunity to learn
when they were young.
The negroes live for the most part in small houses of less than three
rooms, generally unpainted. Many of the negro settlements are back
from the main highway. Some of these can be reached only after opening
a number of gates. The average size of family for 84 families on which
figures were secured was 4.8.
Some of the negroes are guilty of petty thieving, but for the most part
they seem quiet and orderly. "Every nigger gets drunk" and ''Every
nigger steals," the investigator was told by more than one white neighbor,
but when pinned down and asked in regard to particular negroes, "Did
you ever know of this man being drunk?" "Did you ever know him to
steal?" the charge in many cases fell flat.
Gibson County has never had large plantations. The small farmer
has occupied the land, and it is he who has built the houses. The pre-
vailing type of house is a long, low building with two rooms in front and
a dining-room and kitchen, separated by an open vestibule in the rear.
Occasionally the vestibule runs the other way, separating the two front
rooms. There are no modern conveniences, but almost invariably you
find one luxury, the open fireplace. The genuine, old-fashioned fireplace,
which burns real wood and creates an atmosphere of dreamy charm and
romance, all in keeping with the delightful Southern hospitality that you
find there. Practically without introduction, the investigator was
received over night into fourteen of these homes. Only twice was he
turned away, each time with good reason, and only twice would his host
consent to take any pay.
The average size of family is 4 5-10. Family affection is strong. " The
fact that agriculture is still a family industry, where the work and the
home life are not divorced, and where all the members participate in the
common toil for the support of the home, gives a natural basis for a
type of family life which it is very difficult to maintain in the city," says
Professor Carver. Nowhere is this truth more apparent than here,
where the whole family not only cooperate, but also actually work
together out in the cotton-fields. Even little children, six or seven years
old, can make themselves very useful picking cotton. Children are
therefore an economic asset in any country family. This is perhaps the
reason why the average family is larger here than it was in Missouri.
A GIBSON COUNTY FARMHOUSE
This type of child labor is not an unwholesome one, for parents and
children and neighbors and neighbors' children work together out in the
open air. The lessons learned here, and at chore time, are not the least
valuable part of the farm boy's education. School is supposed to let out
during cotton-picking time, from the middle of September until the
middle of November, so as not to interfere with what is really an economic
necessity. Sometimes, however, the cotton is not all picked when school
begins; in this case the average attendance at school is very low. As late
as November 24 the investigator visited one schoolhouse which enrolled
normally 130 pupils, and found only 20 present. "The cotton is not
picked yet," the teacher explained, and across the road was good evidence
of this — a farmer and four flaxen-haired youngsters, hard at work, in
Diagram No. 1 shows the age of marriage for 193 young people in
eluded in the sample plots.
Centers of Informal Meeting
The country store plays its usual important role in bringing men
together informally. There are 45 of these scattered through the county.
It is here that the farmers meet each other most frequently, and swap
DIAGRAM NO. I
yarns and exchange views on the crops, on the weather, on politics and
on religion. The stores of town and village are also frequent meeting
places, especially on Saturday afternoon, when farmers and farmers'
wives and children come in large numbers. County Court Day, the first
Monday in each month, has also become an important feature of country
life. Farmers from all over the county come in to swap horses and mules
and meet friends. The investigator knew nothing of the custom, when
one beautiful first Monday in November he started in the country on a
tour of investigation. He did not know there were so many people in the
county as he saw on the road that morning. When he called at the
homes of the men whom he wanted to see he found none of them at home.
The whole countryside was deserted by its men-folk. The women had
generally stayed at home.
Gibson County, like most of the South, is strongly Democratic. The
sway of tradition is very strong and men do not readily break across party
lines. In the last State election, however, when the temperance question
was involved, many men who had never in their lives voted anything else
than the straight Democratic ticket violated all precedent and voted for
a Republican governor. The investigator talked with one such man, a
fine old Confederate soldier. He seemed to be a little doubtful as to
whether he had done right, but on the whole he thought he had. With
him it had been a case of religious duty against political tradition, and
For the most part the country districts are without wise and public-
spirited leaders. There are some splendid exceptions to this and the
influence of certain men could be very clearly seen in the vigorous condi-
tion of three of the farmers' union locals, and the excellent condition of
the schools in the same neighborhoods. A fine monument to the devotion
and self-sacrifice of a little group of men under the leadership of a country
doctor is to be found in Laneview College, the most interesting school in
the county. Two of these four neighborhoods have vigorous community
churches. Leadership is also shown in the formation of the Fruit-
growers' Association and the original spread of the Farmers' Unions
through the county.
Social and Economic Standards
There is unquestionable difference between the different neighborhoods
in this respect. Some seemed to have a fine democratic spirit, with little
or no class distinctions, while in others class lines were shar])ly drawn
among the young peoi)]e and the older i)eoi)le as well. As a rule those
communities where there are no negroes, are one-standard communities,
where everybody who is at all decent is at home with everybody else.
Class distinctions are most strictly observed in the neighborhoods where
the larger slave-holders lived before the War and where the negroes are
still much in evidence. These class distinctions are based partly on
moral worth, partly on family, partly on wealth and partly on culture.
A few of the better educated and more well-to-do country families seem
to associate preferably with the town people.
Of good wholesome social life there is much right in connection with
the farmer's everyday work. Picking cotton, threshing wheat, killing
hogs, are occasions for friends and neighbors to get together. The prac-
tice of trading work is still common here. It is also the custom for
whole families to work together out in the cotton fields.
Besides these incidental forms of association there are other forms of
social life. These differ widely in the different districts, depending
chiefly upon the number of young people and the amount of initiative and
leadership present among them. In some neighborhoods the young
ONE OF THE OCCASIONS WHEN FARMERS GET TOGETHER
people complain that things are dead; in others there seems to be too
much society. Generally there are two or three parties a month during
the fall and winter, and a few picnics during the spring and summer.
Most of these parties are held in the homes. The Sunday evening church
service is also a time for the young people to get together and these
evening services are usually better attended than the morning services.
Dancing and card-playing are frowned on in the country and are rarely
indulged in, but in the towns a livelier pace is set. For the married
women in the country the opportunities for meeting friends are, as usual,
Amusements and Recreation
Aside from the parties and the picnics and the buggy rides and the
games played at school, there are few recreations in the country. Of
baseball, football, basket-ball, amateur theatricals, there is nothing. In
the towns some baseball is played and moving picture shows are popular,
Trenton and Milan have picture shows most of the year and Humboldt
has two or three. Each of them is well patronized. The investigator
dropped in twice and each time counted over two hundred present,
including many children. The shows themselves are harmless, although
the themes are often inane. In the smaller towns the shows come in for
shorter periods, from a month to one or two nights, depending upon the
amount of patronage.
Table XII shows the membership and the number of lodges of the
different fraternal organizations in Gibson County.
TABLE XII.— MEMBERSHIP AND ATTENDANCE OF FRATERNAL
X f 1 V Total
., No Member- \°/^V- °- Monthly
N--» Lodges ship Meet,ng ^„^,„j.
Odd Fellows 12 855 32 730
Masons 15 712 16 288
M. W. A 16 808 25 380
K. of P 4 240 10 190
W. ofW 14 1,067 20 500
Elks 1 125
Eastern Star 4 142 5 96
Total 66 3,949 110 2,184
Average attendance per meeting, 19.8.
It is to be noted that nearly half the membership is in orders in which
insurance is an important feature, and these orders are the most largely
represented among the country people. Out of 419 farmers about whom
inquiries were made, only 99, or 23.6 per cent., belonged to any lodge, and
the majority of these belonged to one of the orders of Woodmen. The
conclusion would be, therefore, that while the lodge plays an important
part in the social life of some of the farmers, it does not vitally affect the
great mass of them. The Farmers' Union, which has already been
mentioned, is a social as well as a business organization, and is really
much more influential than the lodges among the country people.
Unfortunately, however, it is on the decline.
Of open organizations or clubs there are a few in the towns but none
in the country.
The social life of the negroes is, of course, absolutely distinct from that
of the whites. They are by nature a sociable people. They like to live
together and work together. Their drift toward the town is largely due
to the tendency to congregate. Their social life centers around the lodge
and the church. Even in the open country you often find their lodge
hall side by side with the church, and in the towns they have many
different lodges. These lodge halls are the scenes of many dances and
receptions. The church is really no less important as a social center than
the lodge and on meeting days they drive 8 or 10 miles to attend service.
Gibson County has adopted the new County Board system of school
management, and is, therefore, among the more progressive of the
Tennessee counties. According to this system the county and not the
district surrounding each school is the unit. The control of all the
country schools is vested in a board of five men, who, with the county
superintendent, determine the various schools districts, apportion the
school funds and fix the teachers' salaries. These are determined accord-
ing to the enrollment. The plan works well, although there is opposition
to it in certain quarters. It is said that it takes away the old sense of
responsibility on the part of the people and is less economical. The
people will not board the teachers at special rates and will not provide
wood and make repairs as they did under the old system. In two cases
where the county board refused to authorize the erection of schools which
were clearly unnecessary, the opposition went so far as to build a school
house independently. In one case a little hamlet of 160 people took out
a city charter in order to establish a new school of its own.
There are in all 135 schools in the county, 97 white and 38 colored.
Of these, 11 white schools and 6 colored schools are in the towns. The
rest are country schools. Map No. 5 shows the distribution of schools.
An important feature of the school system is the division of the
country schools into "primary" and "secondary." Forty-eight are
MAP NO. V
A ONE-ROOM PRIMARY SCHOOL
classed as secondary and forty-two as primary. The primary school is a
school that teaches nothing beyond the Fifth Grade. It is always a
one-room school, taught by one teacher. These schools are maintained
because of the greater difficulty which the younger children would have
in going the longer distances to and from school. The secondary school
teaches all grades as high as the Eighth Grade and over, including some
high-school courses. With two or three teachers it is possible to secure
much more efficient teaching and in most cases they have introduced
special courses in music and elocution.
Of these secondary schools 28 have 2, 10 have 3 and 1 has 4 rooms. In
no case is there transportation of the pupils. Gibson County has no real
The country schools are all frame structures. Some of them are
attractive in appearance and well kept up, but for the most part there is
room for improvement. Out of 17 schools inspected, 10 are situated in
attractive groves and the rest have trees planted around them. The
condition of three of the buildings may be classed as good, of nine fair
and of five poor. Of these same schools 1 has a blackboard of slate, 3 of
hyloplate, 1 of cloth and the rest of wood. Four of 12 schools have no
water supply. The sanitary arrangements are much neglected. Out of
16 schools inspected 7 have 2 privies, 7 have only 1, and 2 have none
A THREE-ROOM SECONDARY SCHOOL
at all. Of the buildings themselves 1 may be classed as good, 1 as fair,
3 as poor and the rest wretched. The total value of the school property
is reported at $170,000.
The assessed valuation of Gibson County is $8,680,000. The county
school levy is 30 cents, and the State school le\y 15 cents on the $100
valuation. Besides these sources of revenue the schools receive the poll
taxes of $2 each, the revenue from the special privilege tax, and the
interest from certain school funds. The total expenditure this year was
$73,582. Of this amount $60,000 in round numbers went for teachers'
salaries, $3,500 for new buildings, repairs and equipment, $270 for
school libraries and $124 for charts and globes. Table XIII gives some
of the important data concerning teachers and pupils.
TABLE XIII.— PUPILS AND TEACHERS. NUMBER, SALARY, COST
Country Towns Country Towns
Pupils enrolled 6,641 1,904 1,504 786
Per capita cost of tuition $5 . 77 $10 . 00* $3.11
No. teachers 137 70 27 13
No. pupils per teacher 43 27 56 60
Average salary per month.... $45.50 $52.00t $31.52
* Figures for previous year.
t General average for White and Colored teachers, both
The data for the town schools is lacking in some cases because the
town schools are not under the county board of education and the county
superintendent has no authority to make the town superintendents send
in their reports.
Attention should be called to the higher per capita expenditure for
town pupils than for country pupils, also to the lower number of pupils per
teacher in the town schools, together with the higher salaries paid there.
Attention should also be called to the low expenditure for the colored
pupils and to the excessively high number of pupils per teacher.
There arc six circulating libraries among the country schools, with a
total of 600 volumes, and seven such libraries in the town schools, with
a total of 900 volumes. These libraries are paid for partly by the com-
munity, through basket dinners and socials, and partly by the State,
under the new school library law.
A few of the schools make an effort to provide playgrounds. The
investigator came across one country school with basketball grounds and
one with croquet grounds. Usually, however, such facilities are lacking.
There is occasionally a social or entertainment in the schools, but the
school buildings are not important social centers. They do serve, how-
ever, as meeting places for most of the Farmers' Unions.
Most of the schools teach a little agriculture and nature study, but no
domestic science or manual training. Most of the secondary schools
have music and some have elocution. Some of them have special music
rooms. The music and elocution teachers are paid by private subscrip-
tion and by tuition fees.
In some of the schools the regular appropriation for school puqioses
is supplemented by private subscriptions, making possible a longer term
of school and the employment of better teachers. It is in these cases
that leadership and community spirit are most in evidence. Schools
whose income was supplemented in this way were found in the communi-
ties which have the really live Farmers' Unions.
The most interesting of all the country schools is the Laneview College.
This school is supported partly by county funds, partly by tuition fees
and partly by direct subscription from the community. The people of
the community — and it is not a wealthy community — dig down into
their pockets and pay out $800 a year for its support. In their devotion
to the school and in the sacrifices they have made for it, they have built
up an unusually tine community spirit. Hand in hand with the school
has gone the church. The Baptist Church in that community, the one
to which most of the people belong, is the only country church in the
county that has a resident minister, and is one of the two that has
preaching more than one-fourth of the time. Results like this indicate
the presence of a persevering, self-sacrificing leader. This man we found
here, a fine country doctor, where work has been splendidly seconded
by loyal friends.
"^^^^ZZv NEIGHBORHOOD HAS UONE
«»" ONE COUN«. ^^^^^ ^^_^^^_^^^^ ^^ ^^^^^,^„
SALEM BAPTIST CHURCH AT TANEV.EW ^^^^^^^^^ ^^ ^^^^„,„ SCHOO,.
The school itself, while giving degrees under a State charter, is really
an academy. It has done some excellent work, but from the standpoint
of the country life enthusiast it has this fault — it has taken the boys and
girls from the farm and labored to teach them Latin, Greek, elocution
and music. It has made of them doctors, lawyers, teachers and ministers
— anything but farmers. It has trained them for the stiff collar instead
of the flannel shirt.
There are 179 churches in Gibson County, all but one of them Protest-
ant. Of these 134 are white and 45 are colored. This means that there
is one white church to every 224 white people and one colored church to
every 210 colored people. If the white churches were evenly distributed
there would be one church to every 4.8 square miles. The overcrowding
of churches is shown strikingly in Map No. 6.
Nearly all of the country churches and half of the town churches are
served by non-resident ministers, as is shown in Table XV.
TABLE XV.— CHURCHES WITH RESIDENT MINISTERS
Churches with Churches with
Town 22 22
Country 2 80
Table XVI shows the number of preaching services per month in the
town churches and in the country churches.
TABLE XVI.— PREACHING SERVICES PER MONTH
Full /^Tr Half Fourth , ,
T^- fourths T>. T^- Irregular
Time T- lime lime ''
Town 10 1 18 13 2
Country . 2 74 6
Of the 134 white churches 47 are in the towns and 87 in the country.
Of the colored churches 20 are in the towns and 25 in the country. The
record of the white churches for the last 10 years is shown in Table XVII.
TABLE XVII.— RECORD OF CHURCHES FOR THE LAST TEN YEARS
Class No. P. C. No. P. C.
Growing 23^9% 28—32%
Stationary 4—9% 14—16%
Losing 10—21% 17—20%
Dying 1-2% 8-9%
Dead 1—2% 6—7%
Organized within 10 years 8—17% 14—16%
Total 47 87
MAP NO. VI
These figures show that the town churches are growing more rapidly
than the country churches, in spite of the fact that the ])oi)ulation of l)oth
town and country has increased aljout equally. Api)arently the tendency
to concentrate the church work in the towns and neglect the country
fields is present also in Gibson County.
The total membership of the white town churches is 5,600 and of the
white country churches 6,900; that of the colored town churches is 1,573
and of the colored country churches 1,808. The total church member-
ship, therefore, is 15,880, or 38 per cent, of the entire population.
The total number of accessions during the past church year in the
white churches is 536 for the town churches, an increase of 9.6 per cent.,
and 578 for the country, an increase of 8.4 per cent.
The church relation of 317 young people who have grown up in country
neighborhoods in the last ten years and are now between 20 and 30 years
old, is shown in Table XVIII.
TABLE XVIII.— CHURCH MEMBERSHIP OF YOUNG PEOPLE
BETWEEN TWENTY AND THIRTY YEARS OLD IN THE
Boys 200 45% 55%
Girls 117 75%) 25%
The church attendance of the young people is shown in Table XIX.
TABLE XIX.— CHURCH ATTENDANCE OF YOUNG PEOPLE
BETWEEN TWENTY AND THIRTY YEARS OLD
Total Per Centage Attending
Number Well Occasionally None
Boys 127 61.4 19 19.6
Girls 110 81 15 4.
These figures emphasize the generally recognized difference between
the religious susceptibility of boys and girls.
A study of 484 white country families showed that 72 per cent, of the
heads of these families were church members. It showed further that
57 per cent, attended church well (i.e., more than 75 per cent, of the
preaching days), 21.5 attended church occasionally, while 21.5 per cent,
did not attend at all. Diagram No. 2 shows the church attendance of
heads of families arranged according to the degree of wealth. In the
diagram the width of each block indicates the proportionate number of
men represented in it and the length represents the percentage of church
WhoT the Church isVomc^ f-orthe
^ 't±"f ^
DIAGRAM NO. II
It will be seen that the bulk of the church membership is of the more
well-to-do families and that the poorer families are not so apt to belong.
Among the 82 white country churches there are 61 which have Sunday
Schools. The others either have none or else in a few cases hold a Union
Sunday-school with some other church. In many of the country Sunday-
schools the session lasts only six months. The total enrollment for the
white town churches is 4,029, for the country churches 3,412. The
average attendance is roughly about 60 per cent, of the enroUment in
both towTi and country. Out of 2,949 enrolled in the town schools 1,111
are adults, 1,083 are children, and 755 are young people between 15 and
21 years old. Of 2,228 enrolled in the country 656 are adults, 872 are
children 14 or under, and 700 are young people. There are 237 teachers
in the towns and 191 in the country. Only one Sunday-school was
found in which regular teachers' meetings were held, and only one in
which the graded lessons were used.
The total value of the church property is estimated at $340,000, which
is just twice the valuation of the school property. Of the total valuation
$210,000 is invested in the white town churches, $95,000 in the white
country churches, $15,000 in colored country churches and $20,000 in
colored town churches. The country churches are generally, one-room
buildings situated in a grove or surrounded by planted trees. The
average seating capacity is slightly less than 200. They are usually
heated by wood stoves and lighted by oil lamps. They are as a rule kept
up better than the schools. Many of them have cemeteries in connection
The total expenditure last year for all church purj^oses was ^63,140,
almost as much as that for schools. Of this amount ^34,600 was paid
out by the white town churches, ^20,524 by the white country churches,
and ^8,000 by the colored churches. Of this amount 52 per cent, went
to pay the ministers. The average country church pays its minister
^108 a year and the average town church ^455 a year.
There are 33 white and 10 colored ministers living in the County. Of
the white ministers 22 are resident town pastors. The other eleven
preach wherever they can get work. Usually they have three or four
churches and in a few cases as many as five. Of the resident pastors ten
give full time to one church. The rest divide their time between two or
three churches. In addition to the ministers living within the county
there are 14 students from neighboring colleges who do supply work here.
Five country ministers are also farmers, three are teachers. The highest
salary paid is ^1,800 and seven of the thirty-three receive over ^1,000.
The salaries of the rest will hardly average o^'er ^700.
Most of these men secured their education at neighboring colleges and
academies. Only seven of them have had seminary training.
Gibson County, lenn.
OneWhife Church to every 4-8square
miles and to every 248 people.
OneColoredChurch to every 210people.
Trained Religious Leaders
In O'ibson Coiudi/,^ruL
82 Whte Gountry Churches
t have resident Ministers
80 are without resident Ministers
80 have preaching fourth time
Not one has preachin^eveiy Sunday
Their libraries will average about 200 volumes and are chiefly theo-
logical and homiletical books.
Table XX shows the names and the membership of the different
TABLE XX. — NUMBER AND MEMBERSHIP OF THE DIFFERENT
RELIGIOUS BODIES— WHITE
Southern Presbyterian. . . .
Presbyterian, U. S. A
F. W. Baptist
Attention should be called to the strength of the Baptist and the
Methodist bodies and the "Anti-Unionist" Cumberland Presbyterians.
There is often a good deal of interchurch attendance and the
churches have stood together splendidly in the great prohibition cam-
paign — a splendid augury for the future — but for the most part the
different denominations are rivals. Instead of cooperating they are
competing with each other; and the founding of 33 new churches
within the last 10 years in this already badly overchurched region
shows how little they understand the common cause for which all
churches exist. The investigator could see little hope for any scheme
of church federation in the near future. The attitude of a very large
proj)ortion of the church members is well summed uj) in the reply of a
member of one of the four Trezevant churches to the suggestion that
perhaps some time these churches could get together and support a
resident pastor on full time. This man appeared startled and replied
with some heat, "Not so long as I have any breath in my body."
The most unfortunate situation exists here as a result of the Cumber-
land Union. This union undertaken to solve the difficult overchurching
problem, has failed of its purpose in this county. Instead of fewer and
stronger churches the result has been more and weaker churches. Be-
RIVALS — TWO COLORED CHURCHES blDK BY SIDE IN THE OPEN COUNTRY
fore the union there were twenty Cumberland churches in the county
and there are still twenty. Each of the three "U. S. A. " churches is the
result of a split which has generated in many cases the bitterest of feeling.
The Power of the Church
Throughout this region the church is strongly entrenched in the affections
of the people. The church together with the school is the great institu-
tion of the country people and their interest in the church and in religion
is deep and genuine.
There is little hostility to the church and there are few in these coun-
try neighborhoods who do not believe in the church and in Christianity.
Gibson County, Tennessee, is shown in this survey to be a fine farming
country, with unusual promise for the future. When this survey is
read there is very little left of the common complaints which we hear
about country life. The population is contented in the country. Those
who go away to the cities are not too many in number. There is a
measure of leadership in the country and there is a diversity of occupa-
tion to interest and employ the people. A wholesome variety of crops
is raised and last of all, the people of the county manufacture a great
deal of their own products.
Record of White Churches
for the last Ten Years in
Gibson County, Tennessee
2% Dead 7%
17% Organized within j^^
The first thing to recommend, therefore, is that Gibson County main-
tain the ground it has and irhprove in these very particulars. Churches
and schools must take warning from the ill condition of other regions
which have lost very many of their people, from the closing down of
country industries, the indifference to country people's needs, the neglect
of social life and the exhaustion of the soil. If the churches in Gibson
County desire to maintain their influence, they must keep their people
around them. To keep their people they must teach that the soil is
sacred. They must praise the farmer who fertilizes and who improves
the rotation of crops, who keeps cattle, who plants clover and who in
other words is a farmer for the future as well as for the present. The
churches must teach the iniquity of speculation in land and the fact
that the farmer who has made only cash has failed.
Second. The ministers in Gibson County, however, are not helping
the farmer to stay in the country, because they themselves are moving
into town. This was not so in former times. The old-fashioned preacher
used to live with the farmer. There were no towns in those days. The
modern preacher has nothing for the farmer but a sermon. Three hours
a month is the stint he gives for the pay he gets. Of course he comes out
to a few weddings and funerals, but sermons and marriages and burials
are a dismal kind of religion. The minister if he is going to bring the
people in Gibson County into the Lord's ways must live with them and
walk with them in those ways himself. His wife will then be of more
use in the country, perhaps, than he will be, and certainly she will be
of more use to the people in the country than she is now when she lives
in the town. His children will have religious value if his home is with
country people; for they too have children.
The churches of all denominations are alike in desertion of the country
by their preachers. How can the minister teach anything but an ab-
sentee religion when he lives an absentee life? He talks of course about
Heaven and Hell and Palestine, none of which the farmer has ever seen.
The Bible men talked about a holy land in which they lived with their
people, about cows and mules and camels, about grasshoppers and
storms and about rent, about ownership of land and other things that
are in the country.
For the country churches to have pastors they must pay the bill.
Two or three country churches must be grouped together. This country
is full of Baptist Churches. It would be a blessing to Gibson County
if three Baptist Churches could be grouped together withing driving
distance of one another to support a pastor living among his people.
The Home Field says, "There are thousands of country churches in
the South that could easily employ a pastor for two Sundays in the
month and two of these churches by forming a field would find no trouble
in providing a comfortable support for the pastor. There are hundreds
and hundreds of country churches in the South that could easily support
a pastor for his whole time." We believe that any christian living in
such a neighborhood should give his support to such a Baptist pastor
in the country, because no greater help could be given to a country com-
munity than the service of a wise and devoted pastor living with his
people. The problem of country life for all people in Gibson County
will be greatly affected by such rural ministry.
Third. We commend to the attention of Christian folk in Gibson
County that the churches of all denominations in this county are failing
to get hold of the men and the young men of the county. It is a bad
of Gibson County, Tenn.
NOT IN SUNDAY SCHOOL
IN SUNDAY SCHOOL
are now of school age
are enrolled in Sunday School
are not Enrolled in Sunday School
Is the Church making the
most of its opportunity?
thing for a church, and it a very serious thing for all churches, to fail
to interest the men. Men are not any more wicked than women and true
religion has just as much hold on a man as on a woman. But the men
have a harder strain upon them in supporting the family. They have
more things to contend with outside the home. The kind of religion
that interests a man is religion that helps him to be a good farmer, a good
citizen, a good man among men. He has to use his religion the same
week. He cannot afiford a religion that must be kept in storage for use
in another place or another world. He is not a dreamer. He has to be
We suggest two lines of interest for country churches. Both of these
are meant to help men and young men live the life they must live.
First of all the church ought to make the farmer a good farmer. It
ought to study his needs and help to satisfy them. The preacher ought
to talk the language of the country. He ought to know the events of
the week. He ought to be able to "heal the hurt of the people." The
minister will be greatly helped in this if occasionally the church is open
for a lecture on good farming. It puts things in the right light if good
farming and good Gospel are made one, as they are in the Old Testament.
Furthermore, the young men of the community are interested in the
play life. They will soon get over it, but for the time being they think
more about play than about work. This is not wicked on their part;
it is natural, and they will soon get to be sober and staid enough; that
too is natural. While they are young they ought to have encouragement
from the church. The women of the churches feel this; and attempt
to give some social life to the community, but the men are generally
against it. The church ought to be open, and the homes of the people
ought to be open, regularly, for social opportunities that will enable the
young people to work off their steam, to get acquainted; and to feel that
the older people, and the leaders of the church especially, are their friends.
It will do a great deal to cultivate good sense among the young and good
feeling among all, if religious people take the lead in providing recreation
and social life for the young people of the community. It is another
way of getting the church in the right place as a leading organization
for the good things in the community. Everything that is good is dear
to the Lord and ought to be upheld by God's people.
Fourth. The survey shows that the people of this county believe in
organization among country people. A wise old farmer in Iowa, who
knows the people of the country generally, says: "What the farmer needs
is organization." The farmers' union and the fruit-growers association
are serious attempts on the part of the farmers to organize and they
should not be allowed to fail. We have no interest in these unions, but
we believe that the farmer should be organized in the interest of getting
a better income, for the purpose of taking care of his own business and
for the protection of his home and his community against the big organi-
zations which threaten him from without. The lesson of working to-
gether for the common good, of subordinating our own interests to the
welfare of all, is the most important of Christian teachings, and we
believe, therefore that the churches of Gibson County ought to lend
encouragement to these attempts at cooperation.
The duty of cooperation among farmers ought to be taught in gather-
ings of church people, not necessarily on Sunday, but on the days of the
week. At picnics, on social occasions and at other times the church
ought to make very plain its support of the leadership of farmers among
"four IN A ROW." ALL OF THEM ARE CHURCHES. THREE OF THEM HAVE PREACH-
ING ONCE A MONTH AND ONE HAS PREACHING TWICE A MONTH AND
THERE IS NO RESIDENT MINISTER IN THE TOWN
farmers and the loyalty of every farmer to his own leaders. The great
lesson to be taught by the country church is that of obedience not
merely to great leaders who are dead, but to living leaders of today.
It will be a good thing for the country churches when farmers learn to
cooperate in buying and selling and in manufacturing their own pro-
ducts, for it will train them in obedience, in loyalty, in truth, in honorable
action, in responsibility and chief of all will train leaders among farmers,
the need of whom at the present time is the greatest need in the country.
Fijth. We recommend that the schools in Gibson County devote
more attention to training men for the work they will have to do. Farm-
ing is now coming to be a learned profession. We are beginning to see
how noble and dignified farming may be made. Behind the tiller of the
soil are learned men investigating in chemistry, in physics, in physio-
logy, in botany. Some day the common farm hand, the careless negro
or renter may till the soil under learned instructions. This is coming to
pass already. The farmer is the botanist. He is the man who practices
the lessons about chemistry which learned men discover in their secret
Now the common school ought to teach to the ordinary boy and girl
who never go to any other school these lessons and this learning.
This kind of a school is homely and this seems like common talk, but
there is needed much more common sense and much less learned non-
sense in the common schools in order that the ordinary boy and girl may
stay longer in the school than the fourth grade.
Sixth. We recommend that there is needed in Gibson County a great
Sunday-school movement. The Sunday-schools of the county are very
weak, especially in the country. There is a big difference between the
number of children in the town Sunday-schools and the number of
children in the country Sunday-schools. In the town schools more than
five-sevenths of the children are in the Sunday-school; in the country,
less than one-fourth. Not all the country churches have Sunday-schools,
though, of course, we recognize that about twelve of them are doctrinally
opposed to the Sunday school and about eight of them are dying.
But the study of the Bible by the young under the leadership of grown
folks of good sense and of devout spirit is the best religious training the
church can give. It is even better than preaching. Throughout the
whole country most of the membership of the churches were converted
during the Sunday-school years, from fourteen to eighteen years. It
would be the greatest possible blessing to Gibson County if in all the
churches of all denominations the leaders would build up the Sunday-
school, going after the children that do not attend, organizing them
in classes and teaching all the lessons of religion and morality while
their minds are open and their characters are being formed.
Seventh. We recommend, therefore, that Gibson County organize
no more churches. It has too many churches already. When somebody
proposes to build a new church let someone else say, "Stop! Would
it not be better to build rooms for the Sunday-school children?" Only
1,572 children are in the country Sunday-schools, but in the day schools
there are 6,641. Something should be done to get these country children
under the teaching and training of the grown folks who are so generally in
the churches. If these young people are going to be kept in the country,
they must come to respect their elders, and learn to love them. Not all
parents are good teachers of religion. The Holy Spirit has not made
every man a teacher, even though he be a father. Not every mother
who can bring children into the world can bring them into the Kingdom.
Only a few men and women in every community are able to teach. The
Sunday-school gives these few an opportunity.
We recommend a building movement in the country churches in
Gibson County in which there shall be ropms erected for the teaching
of religion. Upon every country church should be built several rooms
large and small. There should be one room for a Bible class where some
Godly man of mature years and devout spirit shall teach the men and
women the deep lessons of the spirit. Then there should be a room for
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the boys in their teens; another room for the girls in their teens, where
each should have a teacher of their own, wise and warm-hearted, who
will take up the great lessons about the heroes of the Bible and teach
them to the young while their minds are open to these stories. There
should be also a room for boys and girls where several classes might be
taught. In this instance the teachers may be young men and women
not so wise nor so mature in judgment as the few great teachers in the
school, but sensible and good and knowing the Bible. Then there should
be a room for the little children where no one else shall come in to dis-
turb and where a Godly woman of leadership and with a tender heart
for the young shall preside.
The church of whatever denomination that builds a building like
this will do great service to the whole country side. All christian people,
even if they cannot agree to the doctrines of that church, ought to give
their money to support it, ought to worship with its people and pray for
its success, for that church will be the social center. It will be the
neighborhood church and it will help every other church within ten
miles by the success and the spiritual service which shall be within its walls.
Eighth. The pressing necessity of Gibson County is a new kind of
school. There should be established at the best point in the County,
for farmers to attend it, a school for grown-up folks, where no one under
eighteen years should be admitted, and no one over fifty should be re-
jected. It should be a religious school, full of the sound of hymns and
beginning every class with prayer. The teaching should be about farm-
ing, and the scholars should be country people, who have farms or are
working on farms. The courses should be short, each person being ex-
pected to stay no more than six months. A man or woman can learn a
great deal in six months, if he has a farm or a country home to practice on.
The teachers in this school must be trained men and women, as good
as are at the University, but they must not try to make their scholars
too learned. They are to train farmers, not to make professors. There-
fore they ought to use few books and many examples. When they talk
about trees, they ought to draw a tree on the board and talk about it
for a while, then take the class out in the orchard and show what they are
talking about, on an actual tree. When they talk about butter, instead
of a book about butter, they ought to have cream and a churn and salt
right there, and make butter before the class.
This kind of a school will make Christian farmers, who will stay in the
country. If we can keep our church people in the country, we can keep
up the churches that are there. If the farmers prosper and are happy
there, we will have preachers to live with them. If the schools will turn
their hand to making good farmers, there will be no great trouble about
maintaining the churches in the country.
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