German farmers demonstrated that slavery did not increase the yield or value of a crop. In fact, some historians believe non-slave owning cotton farmers received 1-2 cents more per pound than slave-holding farmers.
The cotton boom in Burton – a small agricultural community established by German families – came after the Civil War. Following the practices of German farmers who grew “free cotton” before the war, many of Burton’s families made their living in cotton.
As railroad expansion helped cotton become one of Texas’s cash crops, thousands of cotton gins were built across the state. The oldest functioning gin is here, in Burton. Built in 1914, the structure now houses the Texas Cotton Gin Museum, where visitors learn about the crop’s impact on the state’s economy, and even have the chance to pick some for themselves.
Texas Cotton Gin Museum