He raised from four to eight bales of cotton from an aver age of thirty acres each year. Usually he ended the farming season with nothing.
Thinking Texas offered better opportunities for the tenant farmer and believing health conditions better, he decided to move west in 1903. The history of his farming follows: Rented 50 acres of black land in Lamar County. Moved after the first year. Rented 45 acres of sandy land. Moved at the end of the year. Broke even both years; made 11 bales of cotton and 1,000 bushels of corn. Went in debt at the beginning of the next year. Cut wood at times to increase earnings. Lived on this farm two years, making $200. Wet land prevented good crops. Moved south of Paris in 1907. Cultivated 55 acres, five of which were in corn. Incurred doctor's bills and gave notes for store accounts. Moved at the end of the first year. Made $200.
He did not stay on this farm, he said, because the house was not good, no schools and unsuitable surroundings. Lived two years 13 miles from Paris. Worked 35 acres of corn and 75 acres of cotton, making 34 bales of cotton and 750 bushels of corn. No more than broke even the first year because of high prices of commodities and low price of cotton. Gave mortgage for provisions. Raised fair crop next year. Sold cotton to buyers who told him the grade. Steward does not know anything about grading cotton.
Moved three miles away the following year and cultivated 125 acres. This year he bought the implements and team of the farmer who left the place Steward rented. He then began as a "third-and-fourth" farmer. Made 48 bales of cotton and 100 bushels of corn. Paid for his pair of mules and wagon and tools and had 800 bushels of corn worth 650 a bushel, but no money. He moved at the end of this year be cause the landlord sold out.
In another part of the county he farmed 120 acres. Made 52 bales and 800 bushels of corn the first year. Cotton sold for 120 to 150. Broke even. Store account for this year totaled $1,700. Said he did not keep check on what he purchased. Did not know how much he owed till time came for him to pay up. Groceries consisted of meal, flour, meat, some canned goods, syrup. Lived very well but not elegantly. Did not dress any better than when living in Arkansas. Clothing bill for the entire family at that time amounted to about $75 a year. Ten-dollar suit lasted him five years. Usually
wore overalls and duck trousers.
Second year on this farm he made 57 bales. Store ac count totaled $1,250. Cotton cheaper. Made 87 bales the third year, selling at from 60 to 110. Store account $750. At the end of the three years worse off than at the be ginning. In 1913 he worked 90 acres for the same man and made only six bales of cotton. Finished $700 in debt. Se cured debt with his live stock and implements. Moved to Mulberry Bottom. Made 27 bales from 100 acres. Went deeper in debt. Paid for corn and cotton picking, but still owes $600 grocery bill. Moved to Fannin County. Living today in a house which he has rented for two weeks. Has no prospect for getting a farm this year. He has lived in not less than 20 different houses, produced at least 450 bales of cotton, several thousand bushels of corn, made two at tempts to purchase a home, is the father of eight living children, is in debt $700 and practically is without means of sustenance.
School advantages for the children have not been good. His oldest son spent parts of three years in school. At times he had lived too far from the schoolhouse for his oldest boy to attend. Then when he lived near town later on the boy was ashamed to go on account of his clothing. His oldest son started work on the farm at the age of seven. That is the "corn dropping" age, he said. The next step in farm employ ment for the child, he told the commission, was to chop cotton.
"Always I wanted to do as best I could," Mr. Steward said. "I never had a roaming disposition. I was dissatisfied because I had little to say about what I planted. My ob servation is that tenant farmers do not stay in the same place very long. If the tenant farmer gets to making money, he's got to move. If the landlord don't get all the money, he wants the tenant to go farther." Mr. Steward said he is a member of the Woodmen and Odd Fellows' Lodges. He said he had voted three times in his life, and once in Texas. Asked why he did not vote, after he had said he always paid his poll tax, Mr. Steward said "it didn't do any good, for things went the other way." His view about renting on the "third-and-fourth" plan is that a person having good land can make a living. He be lieves landlords should better the rent houses. He said he thought much of the sickness in his family was caused by poor housing conditions.