Would You Dedicate A Monument To A Pest?

By Andrea Cooper
December 11th, 2013

On 11 December 1919, the citizens of town of Enterprise, Coffee County in Alabama USA, honoured the Boll Weevil, by dedicating a monument to it.  The inscription at its base reads ‘In profound appreciation of the Boll Weevil and what it has done as the herald of prosperity’. This event occurred only three years after the boll weevil had devastated the staple cotton crop of the area. What had occurred to bring the residents of this town to build such a large and lasting legacy?

Boll Weevil MonumentThe minute Boll Weevil beetle, even today is the most destructive cotton pest in North America. It entered the country from Mexico in the late 19th century, reaching and devastating crops in Alabama in the 1915-16 season.

In early 1916, local banker Moultrie Sessions travelled to the states of Virginia and North Caroline to investigate alternative crops to cotton. On his return Sessions, he was able to convince local famer CW Baston to plant an experimental crop of peanuts. This crop was successful and the failure of the cotton crop was spectacular. In the following season, with banker Moultrie Sessions support, the majority of local farmers diversified and planted peanuts. This crop was so successful that over 1 million bushels of peanuts were produced in 1917.

Prosperity in the area was assured and by 1919, the year the Boll Weevil monument was dedicated. Coffee County became the largest producer of peanuts in the USA - all thanks to the Boll Weevil.

 

Boll Weevil Monument text

 

*please note Mango Salute does not own the above images.

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