An early Wylie Gin – Those identified at the McCauley-McAdams Gin are Mr. Blackburn, R. N. Merritt, Dr. Baldwin, J.M. Clayton—proprietor of Clayton Ginning, H.B. Ragsdale, W.H. O’Kelly, H. Clayton, Wallace Grantham, Joe Meyers—Bailer Boss #1, Jonnie McCauley, John Bradley—Bailer #2, Bob Jackson—Cotton Buyer, C.M. McCauley—ginner, Jackson—cotton seed buyer, L.D. McCauley—owner, W.T. Reeves—Weigher, Jess Kreymer—engineer and T.P. Skelton—weigher at Wylie Cotton Yard.
The first such business began before there was a Wylie in the town of Nickleville. Grandpa Minnis, Wylie’s first Methodist preacher, owned and operated this horse powered gin to supplement his exorbitant salary of $1.50 per week which he received as a pastor. Cotton was carried upstairs in baskets. The machinery was run by oxen and mule. When they changed to steam an elevator like apparatus carried the cotton to the gin stand on the second floor.
For those who do not know, the purpose of a gin is to separate the lint from the seed. A bunch of saws with teeth cuts the lint off the seed. It dropped from upstairs and was carried in armfuls to the press where it was bailed. Today machinery does these jobs.
There were several small horse powered gins here who changed to steam by the 1890’s. Henry Minnis, Rev. Minnis’s son, was quite an inventor. One such invention was a cotton suction machine, which he showed at the State Fair. He was offered $30,000.00 for it but refused. The next year someone else came out with one, and He never received one dime.
With new and barren land fertilizer was not needed; therefore, there was no market for the cotton seeds. Occasionally someone would take these to feed their cows, but most often they were left in the gin yards giving off offensive odors.
Throughout many years this was one of the most vital industries in town.
There were so many gins here that it seems no one can remember them all. At one time there were five square bale gins here. One was on Jackson Street and run by a Mr. Chapman. Cannon and Clayton Gin was on Masters Street, and the Housewright Gin was on North First, across from the present First Baptist Church sanctuary. In 1901 two round bales gins came to town. One was near the offices of the North Texas Municipal Water District, and the other was across the street from Southwest Starter Drive. Round bales came in rolls through the stands instead of square bales.
The Housewright operation closed in 1914. Clayton Gin existed until 1924, and Chapman Gin, with Vess Housewright as manager, shut its doors in the 1930’s. Both round bale companies converted to square bales.