Way of Life

In the 1700s, cotton was grown and processed at the missions around San Antonio. By the mid-1800s, East Texas marked the westernmost edge of the United States’ “Cotton Belt,” and one of the most productive regions was the Blackland Prairies. Thanks to their climate and rich black soil, the Prairies were one of Texas’s most important cotton sources. In 1920, almost 40% of the Texan cotton crop came from the Blackland Prairies—which made up just 8.8% of the total land area of the state. And in the Prairies, as it was in most regions dominated by cotton, sharecropping and tenant farming were significant to the local economy and lifestyle.