Sesame Club begins year of study with Jefferson County farms

The Sesame Club recently held the first meeting of the 2013-2014 year in the home of Diane Ayers.

Bonnie McClure, president, opened the meeting with the reading of the Collect and introduced Trudy Pascale as a new member. Following a brief business meeting, McClure introduced Sharon Wyatt, who presented the first program in this year’s study, the “Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States 1861-1865 – 2011-2015.” Her study, “Plantations and Farms in Jefferson County - 1860,” is the first in a series of seven.

Most Arkansans, especially those who lived in the north or western parts of the state, were engaged in subsistent agriculture on small parcels of land. In the fertile lands along the rivers of the state’s southern and eastern lowlands, however, a plantation-style system of agriculture had developed. Cotton was the driving force behind the transformation from subsistent to plantation agriculture in this region. By 1860, Arkansas produced more than 26 million pounds of cotton and was growing. Arkansas was ranked sixth in cotton production in the United States.

For Jefferson County, the fertile Arkansas River provided the perfect setting for several large plantations and many large farms. Two Mississippi River Delta counties, Phillips and Chicot, were the only counties that out-ranked Jefferson County in plantation numbers, size and cotton production.

Two of the largest plantations were the Atkins Plantation in Richland Township and the Roane Plantation in Plum Bayou Township.

Following the study, the hostesses — Ayers, Cheryl Fox and Betty Matthews — served a lovely tea plate.