Mason County News
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At the Top of Erna Hill
Wednesday, September 11, 2013 • Posted September 12, 2013

The picture of the gin in Erna depicts the industrial activity generated about 1900 with the upcoming cotton growth activity in the Leon Valley. In the late 1800’s when each of the settlers began to tame the new frontier and accumulate the basic staples, each began clearing land and more land so by 1900, I would guess that in the Leon Valley, some 500 acres of cotton was planted and by 1930, I would estimate that approx. 2000 acres were planted in the Valley, as it became the cash crop for the stock farmer.

I have done some research as to the formation of the gin and I have found nothing as to who or how it was established. I contacted the Sec. of State and there are no records of the formation of the Leon Gin and Milling Co. and it was suggested that I contact the County Clerk and there were no records of a company, partnership or co-op formed so I have to presume that it was formed by a Gentleman’s Agreement as a co-op. I suspect that Tom Rolston, Will Eckert and the Jacoby’s were instrumental in the formation as Tom Jacoby was the ginner and Sovotany was his assistant. Ed Jacoby was the cotton buyer from Brady who bought the cotton in the yard and transported via horse drawn wagons till about 1920, when roads became present connecting the towns and the Horseless Buggy came into being.

If you will notice, the picture of 1914 shows the building to be ancient at that time but I am sure that the gin was built about 1900. I remember in the late 1930’s that it looked the same as the picture of 1914, so it stood the sands of time well. All the structure was of a wooden two-story construction, especially over the bale press. The source of power was a one cylinder horizontal steam engine with a 2 flywheels about 6 feet in dia. and probably weighed a ton each. The water was heated by cordwood in 4 ft. lengths and the rock walls of the boiler enclosure still partially remain. I don’t remember the name being on the building during the operation of the gin so I suspect someone dubbed it in and took another photo of the photo. I will have more on the operation of the gin for my October article, as I will cogitate more about the operations.

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