Sunday, May 26, 2024

Cotton, History And A Passion For Giving Back

“It is not about us, it is about the industry and agriculture in general. We are not trying to promote ourselves. We are glad we are in a position to give,” said Dan Taylor, a cotton producer and current president of the FiberMax Center for Discovery (FCFD) board of directors.

“Cotton has fed and clothed many people on the High Plains of Texas and we need to remember the past,” Linda Taylor said.

Together, Dan and Linda are the sponsors of the new Cotton Heritage Center currently under construction at the FiberMax Center for Discovery in Lubbock. This new wing will tell the story of cotton production with an emphasis on the history of cotton ginning. It will house the 1875 Goodman Gin, an entire 1912 Lummus gin line out of Brookshire, Texas, in addition to Dan and Linda’s collection of unique cotton artifacts.

The Taylor’s love and appreciation for the cotton industry has grown over their time on the High Plains. Dan grew up in Blum, Texas, on a cotton farm, and had never set foot in Lubbock until he arrived for college at Texas Tech. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, but after hand-harvesting cotton from childhood till he graduated high school, he knew he didn’t want to work with cotton.

West Texas Cotton Farming

It was at Tech that he met Linda Featherston who grew up on a ranch in Goldthwaite, Texas, where they did a little farming, but never grew cotton in her lifetime. Dan jokes that Linda thought wool and mohair was the fiber of choice until she moved to West Texas. When Dan graduated with an agricultural education degree in 1964, he married Linda and started teaching agriculture science at Lubbock-Cooper.

He bought a used 1953 Super M Farmall and started a 6-acre project farm at Cooper, Texas. The Taylors then rented their first farm in 1968, a 10-acre tract at 78th and Elgin. Dan started renting acres wherever he could — corners and undeveloped sections, too small for other farmers to mess with.

Family-Owned Buster’s Gin

His experience and reputation grew and in 1975, Dan became the manager and part owner of Buster’s Gin in Ropesville, one of the only family-owned cotton gins left in Texas at the time. In 1986, Dan and Linda bought Buster’s. His first year at Buster’s, there were 34 active gins in Hockley County, and Buster’s ginned 1,664 bales. 2007 was the record season for the Taylor’s and Buster’s ginning 116,358 bales.

In addition to growing Buster’s, the Taylors built an elevated classroom at the gin and began providing educational tours to local schools and civic groups. They also started collecting artifacts related to ginning and cotton history. Today, they are looking to the future, donating the artifacts to FCFD.

Speaking of others, their love of cotton, history and education has been passed down to their three children and four grandchildren, who encouraged and supported their parents’ decision to donate to FCFD.

“We are so excited to see Mom and Dad’s passion for cotton shared because this industry was their life’s work,” said their daughter, Davon Taylor Cook. “It’s been a labor of love over decades to both collect the cotton gin equipment that it will house and to help build this museum. I am so proud their legacy will live on here.”

The original article by Marshal Gillit and Lacee Hoelting first appeared in the Summer 2023 issue of The Plow, the official publication of the FiberMax Center for Discovery. This is an excerpt.

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