Hilton Goff and wife Tonnie raised their family in southern Berrien Co., Georgia. Their daughter Louise married Preston Williams, son of Calvin and Carolyn Williams.
Calvin was disabled but still remained a vital part of the farming operation. He followed the family around in his automobile while they worked in the fields. He gave directions as they hoed, chopped and picked the cotton in the 30’s and 40’s. He and his wife, Rhea, had thirteen surviving children. Preston says he remembers his mama having a baby during cotton picking time. She had the baby one day and was back in the cotton field the next.
Preston and Louise married in 1956 and he began growing cotton that same year. He continued until the 70’s when the boll weevil forced him out of the cotton field.
Preston’s son, Don, remembers his mother sewing him up a cotton sack out of material that came from a flour sack. He was young but wanted to pick cotton like everyone else.
Don remembers seeing his dad weighing up the workers in the afternoons. There was a piece of metal that two of the strong men would set on their shoulders. The cotton had been placed in a burlap sheet, the ends were tied in a knot. A hook was slipped under the knot and two of the workers hoisted the cotton in the air. A weight was placed on the scale to measure how much cotton each person had picked, and they were paid daily.
Don also remembers their first cotton picker, a Farmall, which picked in reverse. Some farmers sat on the steering wheel and guided the machine by the seat of their pants.
Don and his wife Pam followed the family tradition and invested their life’s work in the land he grew up on. Pam has been a vital part of the farming operation, supporting Don in every way.
In 1984, during the boll weevil eradication program Don grew his first 150 acres of cotton. Today he and son, Joey, cultivate around 1400 acres.
Joey began growing cotton as a freshman in high school. A school program encouraged him to plant two acres, which he did in 1995. By 1997 he had increased his crop to forty acres.
Stomping cotton to pack it down in the trailer was a daily job for Joey during harvest season. It was a proud moment when he was introduced to a module builder that did the pressing for him automatically.
Joey’s wife, Melissa, is an integral part of the farming operation. She never used day care when their children, Annah and Landon came along. Where she was, the children were.
The Williams team have grown tobacco, soybeans and grain sorghum. Presently they raise peanuts and corn as well as the cotton.
Don says growing cotton intrigues him. He likes the challenge of trying to out yield himself each year. He likes to see the “southern snow” growing in the fields. With the weather and price fluctuations cotton is indeed a test of faith.
The Williams team is also concerned about the synthetic factor. Don believes anything naturally created will break down as it was designed to do. Synthetics, however, will not and are causing major problems worldwide. He hopes cotton regains its rightful position in the market place.