Life was hard for sharecroppers [pictures] in Southeast Missouri in the years after the Great Depression

Southast Missouri is known as the “boot heel”, ‘Mississippi lowlands”, or “swamp east”. Located in the northernmost portion of the Mississippi delta, it is composed largely of rich alluvial soils and includes some of the richest farm lands in the state.

Stories abound about this section of the state such as:

  1. The boot heel was added to the state because of the request of some Missourian to remain in the state “as he had heard it was so sickly in Arkansas”; “…full of bears and panthers and copperhead snakes, so it ain’t safe for civilized people to stay there over night even.”
  2. Another legend has the adaptation made by a lovestruck surveyor to spare the feelings of a widow living 50 miles south of the Missouri border, but unaware of it. At one time, the area was known locally as “Lapland, because it’s the place where Missouri laps over into Arkansas”

Most of it was swamp land until 1905 when a massive drainage project to drain the swamps was started.

Cotton on the farm by Photographer Russell Lee 1938

Cotton on the farm by Photographer Russell Lee 1938

After the swamp lands were drained, cotton farming developed. The new cotton farms included large numbers of sharecroppers.

Sharecropper family on front porch Southeast, Missouri by Photographer Russell Lee 1938Sharecropper family on front porch Southeast, Missouri by Photographer Russell Lee 1938

Sharecropper cabin in southeast Missouri by Photographer Russell Lee 1938

Sharecropper cabin by Photographer Russell Lee 1938

Children of sharecropper by Photographer Russell Lee 1938child of sharecropper photographer Russell Lee 1938

During the Great Depression, the Farm Security Administration, a New Deal agency, provided low-cost rental housing for 500 sharecropper families. It awarded $500,000 in grants to 11,000 families in 1939.

Families who received grants under the Labor Rehabilitation Program agreed to build food storages to preserve canned foods, set at eighty quarts per person. Here are two of the homemade food storages. Southeast Missouri. 1935storage containers underground

All varieties of tubers were preserved by the Labor Rehabilitation families. Here a young wife is picking up potatoes for storage for winter. Southeast Missouri 1935All varieties of tubers were preserved by the Labor Rehabilitation families. Here a young wife is picking up potatoes for storage for winter. Southeast Missouri

New Madrid, Missouri son of sharecropper cultivating cotton field by Photographer Russell Lee 1938New Madrid, Missourit son of sharecropper cultivating cotton field by Photographer Russell Lee 1938

Sharecropper family on front porch by Photographer Russell Lee 1938Sharecropper family living near Southeast, Missouri farms by Photographer

Old privy on sharecropper’s farm by Photographer Russell Lee 1938Old privy on sharecropper's farm by Photographer Russell Lee 1938

Evicted sharecroppers along Highway 60, New Madrid County, Missouri by photographer Arthur Rothstein 1938Evicted sharecroppers along Highway 60, New Madrid County, Missouri by photographer Arthur Rothstein 1938

New Madrid spillway where evicted sharecroppers were moved from highway, New Madrid County, Missouri photographer Arthur Rothstein Jan. 1938New Madrid spillway where evicted sharecroppers were moved from highway, New Madrid County, Missouri photographer Arthur Rothstein Jan. 1938

State highway officials moving evicted sharecroppers away from roadside to area between the levee at New Madrid and the Mississippi River, New Madrid County, Missouri by photographer Arthur Rothsteinn Jan. 1938State highway officials moving evicted sharecroppers away from roadside to area between the levee and the Mississippi River, N by photographer Arthur Rothsteinn Jan. 1938

Vinegar of the Four Thieves was a recipe that was known for its antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic and antifungal properties for years. It was even used to cure the Bubonic Plague. See Thomas Jefferson’s recipe in VINEGAR OF THE FOUR THIEVES: Recipes & curious tips from the past

See best-selling books by Donna R Causey

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She cohost the Podcast: Alabama Grist Mill and developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me

All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

She has authored numerous genealogy books.
RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE)
is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2)
is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series)
Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1)
is the continuation of the story. .

For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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