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Cotton Then & Now

Historical cotton & plantation culture is the story told at Frogmore Plantation, and there is cotton in the fields to pick from mid-July through April; then planting begins anew. An 1800-acre working cotton plantation, Frogmore has 19 restored antebellum structures that date from the early 1800's. Along with the history of the early Natchez planters and their slaves, the tour includes a rare Smithsonian quality steam cotton gin and then contrasts the historical methods with modern day planting, harvesting, and computerized ginning of cotton.

The tour begins upon arrival and is fully guided through eight historical buildings. Complimentary golf carts are provided for those with special needs. The guides tell of the evolution of change beginning in the 1790's through the war that created the lifestyle called sharecropping.

Guides explain the chores, the crops, the duties of slaves, and the role of their mistress of the plantation in contrast to her role when in her townhome. They also relate the botanical aspects of cotton kept in the field nearly twelve months a year. Historical sacks are ready for picking.

A highlight is the tour of the Smithsonian quality steam gin listed on the National Register. This pre-civil war building houses rare 1884 Munger equipment. Robert S. Munger was the first person to invent suction in the gins and also the continuous ginning system with the double-box press, all patented in 1884.

Guides relate early French history with its unique legal system and slave code, plus French contributions of cotton and sugar cane to Louisiana. A sugarcane exhibit, historic mule-driven sugarcane mill, and nearby barn are part of the easy walking tour. (Golf carts furnished if needed.)

The historic commissary is a converted children’s center with displays explaining the life of the children, both slave and free, along with historic games that our younger visitors today may learn and enjoy.

An 1810 hand-pegged dogtrot, furnished authentically as the overseer’s cottage, resonates with secret songs of the slaves. Benches or tables on the porch beckon visitors to picnic overlooking the cotton fields.

At the cooking cabin the guide relates the blending of African and European cuisine and how it merged into southern fare today. Historical slave narrations on display describe daily meals, seasonal foods, and special dishes on Sunday and holidays.

The living quarters next door has the original shingle roof and ceiling rafters with the bark still on much of the wood. The 1840 cabin is both an authentic slave cabin and a post-war sharecropper cabin. Furnished rooms illustrate the timeline.

The washhouse/sewing cabin houses a spinning wheel, loom, quilting rack, ironing supplies, and rare 1800's washing machine.

To conclude the tour, visitors take a short stroll back to the plantation store passing by the smokehouse, three-hole privy, 1790’s log cabin, and pigeonnier. After browsing the authentically furnished 1800’s sharecropper store, the last stop is the modern facility with its 900 bales-per-day cotton gin. The gin actually operates in the fall, but other times appears to be running via 3-D video technology.

Of the eleven other buildings on the property, visitors may independently tour privies, a mid-1800’s plantation church with original furnishings, and a seedcotton house featuring a cotton buyer’s office, along with displays of architectural tools and antiques used to prepare, plant, and harvest the cotton.

This tour may be combined with the civil war tour for a discounted rate.