Monument to a Pest

Monument to a Pest

A Story by David Kent

 By James Cotter

In southeast Alabama stands the only monument ever erected in commemoration of a pest: The boll weevil monument in Enterprise. Perhaps such a tribute begs an explanation.

The boll weevil entered the United States at Brownsville,  Texas in 1892 and began to make its way across the South, leaving cotton crops devastated in its wake. By 1915 the insects had reached southeast Alabama. King Cotton was the major crop in the region at the time, but—thanks to the boll weevil—that was soon to change.

When the weevils reached Coffee County, they wreaked such havoc that many farmers found themselves in dire financial straits and the economy was left in a slump. A local businessman, H.M. Sessions, suggested that peanuts would be a profitable alternative to cotton, and in 1916 persuaded C.W. Baston, a farmer who was deeply in debt by now, to plant peanuts that year.

Baston's crop was such a success that he was able to pay off his debtors and have money left over. As a result, other farmers were now eager to start growing peanuts. Hence, though cotton never left the picture, farming was diversified, bringing renewed prosperity to the area.

Bon Fleming, another local businessman, thought the bugs should be given some recognition for forcing the planters to diversify their crops. The monument, built in Italy, is a statue of a woman holding over her head a spouting water fountain, surrounded by a walled basin. The dedication ceremony, on December 11, 1919, was to have featured George Washington Carver as the main speaker, but rains washed out some railroad tracks, delaying his arrival.

(Carver, because the increased peanut crop necessitated a larger market, did extensive research to assist in that effort. He ultimately found more than 300 commercial uses for peanuts.)

For some reason, the boll weevil itself was not depicted on the monument until 30 years after its dedication. In 1949 an artist, Luther Baker, made a boll weevil of metal, and it was placed in the statue's upstretched hands.
The monument survived many incidents of vandalism over the years. Then, in July 1998, two teenagers—later apprehended--ripped the boll weevil from the statue, tearing off parts of the lady's arms and causing cracks in her back. A replica was created as a temporary replacement for the original statue. Unfortunately, the damage was too severe for the statue to be repaired without great expense, so the replica is still filling in for the original.

The replacement stands where the original monument stood, at the intersection of College and Main streets, while the original can still be seen at the Depot Museum, less than a block away. A security camera atop the nearby WKMX radio building may deter future vandalism.

The plaque at the base of the monument reads:
In profound appreciation
of the boll weevil
and what it has done
as the herald of prosperity.
This monument was erected
by the citizens of
Enterprise, Coffee County, Alabama

This article brought to you By BreadStreet Investors' Union at http://BreadStreet.com

"Bringing Investors and Entrepreneurs Together for Profit"
 

 

© 2009 David Kent


My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register




Reviews

hrm...who knew?

Posted 12 Years Ago


Wow, interesting, I cant see us Irish building a monument to potatoe blight that forced so many to emigrate though!!!

Posted 12 Years Ago



Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

263 Views
2 Reviews
Rating
Added on March 12, 2009
Last Updated on March 12, 2009

Author

David Kent
David Kent

Las Vegas, NV



About
With 5 years in the business, and close to 10,000 Private Investors & lending Firms. Breadstreet seeks to bring small business back into the forefront of free living. We just seek to have fun,.. more..

Writing