The History of Cotton Strippers


| November/December 1974

  • Hughes patent
    1. Figure 1: The Hughes patent: combs stripped cotton bolls back into the wagon in back of the stripping unit. [Author's collection]
  • Tractor stripper
    10. Figure 10: Front view of the same tractor stripper. Deere later made ten prototypes for demonstration purposes. However, they were equipped with a single pin-studded roll. [Deere and Company]
  • Tractor-mounted stripper
    11.Figure 11: Deere first marketed a tractor-mounted stripper in 1944 and soon was manufacturing thousands for this new market. Illustration shows a 1947 version of their stripper equipped with a single roll made of stee
  • West Texas harvest scene
    12.Figure 12: A typical West Texas harvest scene. [Deere and Company]
  • Hand labor still serves
    14. Figure 14: Hand labor still serves a role but far diminished from the backbreaking days of handpulling cotton bolls. [Allis-Chalmers]
  • Cotton stripper
    13. Figure 13: The latest Allis-Chalmers self-propelled cotton stripper with cleaner and bur extractor. The broadcast and narrow row head shown is a modification of the Hudspeth-Lubbock Station invention. [Allis-Chalmers]
  • Z. B. Sims patent
    2. Figure 2: Z. B. Sims patent was brought to life again in 1914 on the High Plains of West Texas. [Author's collection]
  • Pedrick stripper
    3. Figure 3: The Pedrick stripper, 1874. [Author's collection]
  • Ellis engines
    Courtesy of Odin Jole, 704 Sycamore Lane, Rockford, Illinois, 61111
    Odin Jole
  • Deere stripper
    4.Figure 4: The first Deere stripper. The design combined the inclined throat of a slot-type stripper with Pedrick's revolving rolls. [Deere and Company]
  • Slot Type Cotton Sled
    5. Figure 5: The Slot Type Cotton Sled. [Texas A&M College]
  • Finger Type Cotton Sled
    6. Figure 6: A Finger Type Cotton Sled. [Texas A&M College]
  • Tractor
    9. Figure 9: This tractor-mounted, two-row stripper used two pin-studded rolls per unit. Shields are removed to show power transmission to stripping units. Dated June 3, 1929. [Deere and Company]
  • Horse-drawn experimental stripper
    7. Figure 7: John Deere horse-drawn experimental stripper. Model had hopper at back of machine. Photographed Oct. 28, 1927. [Deere and Company]
  • Slot type stripper
    8. Figure 8: A slot type stripper.Deere continued to use studded steel rolls with doffing plates to remove bolls from the rolls. This machine performed encouragingly and prompted Deere- to eventually manufacture approximately 500 from 1931-32. [Deere and

  • Hughes patent
  • Tractor stripper
  • Tractor-mounted stripper
  • West Texas harvest scene
  • Hand labor still serves
  • Cotton stripper
  • Z. B. Sims patent
  • Pedrick stripper
  • Ellis engines
  • Deere stripper
  • Slot Type Cotton Sled
  • Finger Type Cotton Sled
  • Tractor
  • Horse-drawn experimental stripper
  • Slot type stripper

Clarendon College, Box 968, Clarendon, Texas 79226

Southern farmers have been as eager for a machine to harvest cotton as their northern counterparts were for implements to speed the production of wheat. Northern grain farmers were aided by the introduction of Moses and Samuel Pennock's grain drill in 1841 and Cyrus McCormick's reaper in 1831. These inventions came from Pennsylvania and Virginia respectively, both major grain states in that period.

No similar technological breakthrough enabled the South to expand the cotton frontier without large amounts of Negro slavery. Thus, in part the South's vehemence in defending that 'peculiar institution.' It is ironic that the South should have gained the cotton gin (1793) to process cotton fibers but was denied a simple machine to harvest cotton, the greatest bottleneck of all. If the South had had a cotton harvester would slavery gradually have disappeared; could the Civil War have been avoided?

Southerners did design and patent implements for planting and cultivating cotton. In the 1850's when the agricultural reform movement was sweeping North Carolina and cotton enjoyed its most prosperous decade, implement invention ran high. North Carolina farmers and inventors patented three cotton planters, one cotton-thinning plow, one cotton cleaning machine, seven plows, ten cultivators and numerous other implements related to other crops of the state.



In 1820, the desire to eliminate hand harvesting led a Louisiana planter to import a cargo of monkeys to train them to pick cotton. The experiment ended in failure when the monkeys fled into the woods.

The first patent granted for a cotton harvesting machine was Samuel S. Rembert and Jedidiah Prescott's, September 10, 1850 patent, number 7,631, subclass 48. The Memphis, Tennessee inventors described their machine as combining picking cylinders and disks on horizontal shafts. They anticipated future trends in cotton culture when they added, 'Our cotton picking machine may be multiplied and extended to such a width as to embrace several rows of cotton at once.'



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