Cotton was always
an important crop in the Independence area.
"I can remember that gin running day and night. So much depended on the weather. I can remember when wagons lined up on this road [now 390] waiting to get into that gin."
Marion Blue, 2004
Now and Then: Stone weigh station built in 1939 for Lueckemeyer gin;
and weighing cotton in
the fields, early 1900s.
Prior to the Civil War, plantation owners in the Independence area were among the highest cotton-producers and largest slaveholders in the state. After the war, cotton remained central to the Washington County economy well into the twentieth century as evidenced by the number of cotton gins that dotted the county. When Alvin Schawe’s family moved to Independence in 1929, he says, “We could go from here to Brenham—on each side of the road, cotton and corn, cotton and corn, cotton and corn, all the way. Now, it’s not one patch.”
When Walter Lueckemeyer bought the store property across the street in 1926, he also bought this property where he built a cotton gin, one of three he owned. Lueckemeyer’s Independence gin operated until the mid-1970s and was demolished in the early 1980s. A reduction in the cotton crop and technological advances in the processing of cotton made the older gins obsolete.
Stones from the ruins of the Baylor Male Campus on Windmill Hill are shown piled up to build the two storage buildings and weigh station still standing on this property. The gin is on the right in the 1939 photograph.
Early 1900s photo: Texas State Library and Archives Commission, W.D. Hornaday Collection. 1939 photo: The Texas Collection, Baylor University. Other photos: Ellen Beasley. Research and content by Ellen Beasley.