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Full text of "A rural survey in Tennessee"

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MADE BY THE 

DEPARTMENT OF CHURCH AND COUNTRY UFE 

OF THE 

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 



BR 

555 

.T4 



-rv JJD .T4 P7 

Presbyterian Church in the 
U.S.A^. Board of Home 
^ '"~ ' ' Tennesse* 







MADE BY THE 

DEPARTMENT OF CHURCH AND COUNTRY LIFE 

OF THE 

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 



• /«a^l,.^llc 




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. 

METHOD 

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 

FROM COUNTY 

Amount Value 

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 

Total $2,578,000 

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 



Cash-tenants. . 
Share-tenants. . 
Share-croppers. 

Total... 



NiiiubiT 



50 
52 
68 



170 



N limber 
J^cntinj; 

from 

Absentee 

Owners 

34 
20 

7 

61 



'iotal 

Acreage 

Rented 

from 

Absentee 

Owners 

2,461 

1,348 

250 



4,059 



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 

White Negro 

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 
acres. 



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 

9 



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. 

10 




AN EXPEKIMKNT IX C()01'1';K.\ I H )N ((i|I()X-(;iN OWXKI) AND OPERATED BY 

THE farmers' union 




SPECULATING IN COTTON 
11 




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. 



POPULATION 

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 

12 




MAP NO. Ill 



13 



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 

1910 1911 

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 

14 



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 

Per Cent. 

Number of Total 

Number 

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 

Total 200 

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 

Per Cent. 
Occupation Number of Total 

Number 

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 

Total 159 

These figures show a healthy preference for the country. The number 
going to the towns involves no excessive drain upon the country neighbor- 
hoods. 

Occupation 

The occupation of the people in Gibson County is shown in Table VIII. 

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TABLE VIII.— NUMBER OF WORKERS AND DEPENDENTS IN 
DIFFERENT OCCUPATIONS 

1^ I Per Cent. 

Occupation Number y>, j ^ of Total 

Dependents ^^^^^^^ 

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. 

Education 

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 

Total 473 

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 

17 



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 
neighborhood. 

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 

Occupations Ihemselvts 

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 

18 




MAPNO. IV 



19 



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. 

Defectives 

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. 

The Negroes 

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 

20 




AT EVENTIDE 
21 



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. 

THE HOME 

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. 

22 




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 
their cotton-patch. 

Diagram No. 1 shows the age of marriage for 193 young people in 
eluded in the sample plots. 

SOCIAL INTERACTION 

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 

23 




DIAGRAM NO. I 



24 



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. 

Politics 

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 
religion won. 

Leadership 

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 

25 



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. 



Social Life 

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 

26 



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, 
limited. 



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. 

Fraternal Organizations 

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 

ORDERS 

X f 1 V Total 

., No Member- \°/^V- °- Monthly 

N--» Lodges ship Meet,ng ^„^,„j. 

^ ance 

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 

27 



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. 

SCHOOLS 

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 

28 




MAP NO. V 



29 




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 
"consolidated schools." 

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 

30 




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 

OF TUITION 

White Colored 

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 

31 



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. 

32 




"^^^^ZZv NEIGHBORHOOD HAS UONE 
«»" ONE COUN«. ^^^^^ ^^_^^^_^^^^ ^^ ^^^^^,^„ 

SALEM BAPTIST CHURCH AT TANEV.EW ^^^^^^^^^ ^^ ^^^^„,„ SCHOO,. 

LANEVIEW SCHOOL 



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. 

CHURCHES 

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 

Resident Absentee 

Pastors Preachers 

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 '' 
Time 

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 

Town Country 

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 

34 




MAP NO. VI 



35 



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. 

Membership 

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 

COUNTRY 

Total Church 

Number Members 



Not 

Church 

Members 



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 
attendance. 

36 



WhoT the Church isVomc^ f-orthe 
Voor Man. 



^ 't±"f ^ 



a-tt&nai 
occdLsioTtal'li 






cuifTendm 
none 



1 



nireJ, Aten 

Shojre len<xnt<y 




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. 

Sunday School 

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 

37 



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. 

Church Property 

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 
with them. 

Church Budget 

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. 

The Ministers 

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. 

38 



l73(Ehurches'm 
Gibson County, lenn. 

OneWhife Church to every 4-8square 

miles and to every 248 people. 
OneColoredChurch to every 210people. 



NEEDEDl 

Trained Religious Leaders 

for the 

(Country Communities 

In O'ibson Coiudi/,^ruL 

82 Whte Gountry Churches 

t have resident Ministers 

80 are without resident Ministers 

2havepreachinghalftinie 

80 have preaching fourth time 

Not one has preachin^eveiy Sunday 



39 



Their libraries will average about 200 volumes and are chiefly theo- 
logical and homiletical books. 

Sectarianism 

Table XX shows the names and the membership of the different 
religious bodies. 

TABLE XX. — NUMBER AND MEMBERSHIP OF THE DIFFERENT 
RELIGIOUS BODIES— WHITE 



Denomination 

Baptist 

Methodist 

Cumberland Presbyterian. 

Disciples 

Southern Presbyterian. . . . 

Presbyterian, U. S. A 

Catholic 

Episcopalian 

Christian Science 

Primitive Ba])tist 

F. W. Baptist 

Methodist Protestant 

Holiness 

Adventist 



No. 

10 
11 
9 
9 
3 
3 
1 
1 
1 



Town 

Total 
Mem'ship 

1,950 

1,952 

676 

483 

265 

202 

50 

10 

15 



No. 

22 

23 

12 

10 

4 











Country 

Total 
Mem'ship 

2,709 

1,956 

1,023 

542 

185 









321 

100 

50 

20 

30 



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- 

40 




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. 

RECOMMENDATIONS 

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. 

41 



TheTownward Drift 

Record of White Churches 
for the last Ten Years in 
Gibson County, Tennessee 



41 Town 
Churches 


< 


81 Country 
Churches 


49% 


Growing 


32% 


9% 


Stationary 


16% 


21% 


Losing 


20% 


2% 


Dying 


9% 


2% Dead 7% 

17% Organized within j^^ 

Ten Years 




CHART V. 





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 

42 



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 

43 



Future Citizens 

(White) 

of Gibson County, Tenn. 

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii^ 



NOT IN SUNDAY SCHOOL 



40% 



IN SUNDAY SCHOOL 

8545 

are now of school age 

3400 

are enrolled in Sunday School 

5195 

are not Enrolled in Sunday School 

Is the Church making the 
most of its opportunity? 



CHART VI. 



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 
practical. 

We suggest two lines of interest for country churches. Both of these 

44 



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 

45 




"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 
laboratories. 

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. 

46 



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 

47 



1012 01235 2961 ] 

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. 

48 




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