Exhibit#1 Emitte Roque Merchandise Roque Brothers Store Collections
In the aftermath of the Civil War, the abolition of slavery and the destruction to crops by Union armies left much of the South in economic ruins. During Reconstruction, the sharecropping system developed, many ex-slaves and poor whites found employment on plantation and farms. However, goods and hard currency was scarce, plantation owners and wealthier landowners built merchandise stores on their property to provide provisions for their laborers.
Tokens were predominately used in merchandise stores located on plantations and centered around farms. Sharecroppers and tenants were paid or advanced tokens against future wages. In addition, some cotton planters would pay monthly allowance in tokens. These tokens were barter (goods) only at the company store printed on the token and would be redeemable for cash only at specific times.
During the fall, usually in October, the cotton was harvested and taken to the gin for processing. The cotton, husk (dried boll), and cotton seed would be separated. After separation, the cotton and seed would be weighed. The cotton bale and seed receipts were used to record the weight of the cotton and seed for payment, record and inventory.
Since post colonial era, cotton has always been the chief product in Natchitoches Parish. Of the 6,109 farms in the parish in 1935, 5,469 were classed as cotton farms. By 1940 the number of farms had decreased to 4,889 and in 1945 the number had fallen to 2,940. However, as the number of farms decreased the average percentage size of the farm increased from 57.4 acres to 72.1. This increase in average farm size indicates that mechanization had arrived in Natchitoches Parish.