Preacher Riley’s Place

preacher rileys

The chimney marks the site of Preacher Riley’s place. This was one of fourteen or fifteen tenant homes on the farm in the 1930s and ‘40s. It was probably the largest tenant house. Clearly, Riley who despite his nickname was not a preacher enjoyed a special status among the tenants. The L shaped building had… [Continue Reading]

Seed House

seed house

During ginning operations about 800 pounds of cottonseed were collected for every 500-pound bale of cotton produced. Many of the local farmers who brought their cotton crops to the Ethridge gin would pay for the service by leaving a portion of their seed. Cottonseed was stored in this seed house from which most of it… [Continue Reading]

Cotton Gin

cotton gin

Photographs in the family collection show a bustle of activity in this area during the ginning season. One dated March 1918 entitled “A busy day at the gin” shows seven or eight mule-drawn wagons fanned out across the slope above the building as farmers waited to deliver their seed cotton. Wagons would approach the gin… [Continue Reading]

Gin Office

cotton gin office

Mr. Ira would oversee ginning operations from this small white building to the east of the gin. The interior of this building is neatly finished with beaded boards on the walls and ceiling, and built-in counters and shelves for his record books. It was made comfortable in winter by a small stove and well lit… [Continue Reading]

Tractor Shed


This shed was added to the central building complex in the 1950s when Lanis Ethridge replaced old ways of working the land with mechanized methods. Today it provides a gathering place for visitors to the farm. Tractors were used on the farm from an early date, but until the 1950s the main tasks associated with… [Continue Reading]

Blacksmith and Carpenter’s Shop


This blacksmith’s shop was the place where many of the tools used on the farm were made and it was also the center for the maintenance and repair of farm equipment. Inside the shop the forge is located in the rear northwest corner leaving plenty of space on the dirt floor for equipment brought in… [Continue Reading]



Tenants from this farm and neighboring farms came here to purchase a wide range of household supplies – many no doubt relying on credit advanced by Mr. Ira – so its crossroads location near to the main house was ideal. In its heyday, this commissary and especially its front porch would have been a gathering… [Continue Reading]



This garage was built in 1923. Its prominent location opposite the main house and substantial construction using concrete blocks reflect Mr. Ira’s enthusiasm for automobiles. Joyce Ethridge remembered that he liked to buy the latest models and enjoyed motoring to Florida for winter vacations. As the front faces the main house, some care has been… [Continue Reading]



This building was constructed in 1900 and stands near the center of the farm complex close to corncribs and the wheat house with its granary. It is also located close to the blacksmith’s shop and it is probable that hands working in the shop would also operate the mill machinery. Inside the building, shelled corn… [Continue Reading]

Warehouse and Watertower


This warehouse with its three wide bays and sliding doors at both ends provided space where bales of cotton produced at the gin could be stored before they were shipped. One of the last bales of cotton produced at the gin can still be seen inside. But for much of the year its main use… [Continue Reading]

Teacher’s House

teachers house

This house was built around 1912 as a tenant sharecropper’s place and would probably have had three or four outbuildings including a chicken house, a small barn, a well house, and a privy. The original building was a two-room cabin. The chimney at the front of the house was built of stones, bricks, and concrete… [Continue Reading]

Milking Barn

milking barn

Susan Ella Ethridge kept a small herd of milk cows, and sold butter at the commissary and in Jefferson. The family still has wooden butter molds that imprinted slabs of butter with the name ‘Ella’. The long, low barn with its plank siding and six stalls stood at the end of a path leading from… [Continue Reading]

Mule Barn, Yard and Cribs

mule barn

Although Mr. Ira was keen to keep abreast of the latest developments in farming, most of the work on his cotton farm was still done by a combination of mule and human muscle-power. In the 1940s there were 26 mules on the farm that were used to till the fields and pull wagons and other… [Continue Reading]