THE PINEY WOODS 151 and as padding for pillows and mattresses, while cobs became pipes or were used as hair curlers. Families and their livestock consumed much of the corn produced on the farm, but it was also a valuable form of currency in an age when cash money was often scarce. Corn was bartered for goods and services or sold to acquire cash. Cornmeal and corn whiskey also represented sale and barter by-products of corn. In addition to corn, Piney Woods residents generally produced cotton as a cash or barter crop. During the antebellum period in the American South, cotton was “king” and in great demand by the textile industry in England and the northeastern United States. Several factors prompted Southerners to engage in cotton production. First, in 1794, Eli Whitney patented a cotton gin, which made it much easier to remove the seed from the cotton lint. Second, after 1820, a new strain of the plant, Mexican cotton, both increased yield and contained large blossoms which accelerated picking rates. New hybrid cottons, such as Mississippian Rush Nutt’s Petit Gulf, further enhanced production, and by 1860 the South produced more than two-thirds of the world cotton supply. In contrast, the majority of the Pine Belt was not well suited to long-term cotton production. The yield per acre for cotton was in general much lower in the Piney Woods than in the Delta adjoining the Mississippi River or in the Black Belt region of Northeast Mississippi along the Tombigbee. While some of the more fertile bottomland along the rivers was the exception, cotton production on the higher sandy ridges proved more challenging. The average yeoman farmer of the Piney Woods also did not hold enough acreage or have enough hands to engage in plantation agriculture. Most Piney Woods residents planted small crops of cotton for market. Many could not resist the potential payoff of a bountiful cotton crop and participated at least in a small scale in the broader world economy. Only a handful of landowners produced large cotton crops. By the early 1840s, Pike County produced “several thousand bales of cotton,” and S. H. Wilkes of Orangeburg in Covington County shipped “eight hundred bales of cotton” annually to New Orleans. Other crops were important to the survival of Piney Woods families. A variety of fruits, grains, and vegetables PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS BARE-KNUCKLE BOXING The Sullivan-Kilrain bare-knuckle boxing fight of 1889 (won by Sullivan) was the last of its kind in the country, organized in secret and lasted for an astonishing seventy-five rounds. The fight became one of the most famous events in all of Hattiesburg’s colorful, rough-and-tumble history. A lack of transportation, however, limited the growth of lumber mills in the interior of the Piney Woods. Many of the mills on the interior were powered by water and also provided other functions, such as serving as a cotton gin or gristmill. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, PANORAMIC PHOTOGRAPHS COLLECTION