3. Cotton Field

An important part of North Carolina’s agricultural industry, cotton was the leading crop in Wake County and throughout the Southern United States from the late 18th century to the early 20th century. While today, the Oak View cotton field is only a fraction of its former size, in the 1860s the farm spanned over 900 acres and produced 23 bales of cotton annually. Cotton is a labor-intensive crop, requiring difficult and back-breaking work. Oak View began producing cotton in the 1830s, when the Williams family owned the farm. During that time, the family owned 12 enslaved men, women, and children, and depended on their labor to produce the cotton.

Cotton seeds are planted in the spring, with the first flowers blooming in the beginning of July. By early fall, the cotton can be harvested. Take a look at the panel next to the cotton field, and see if you can determine what stage Oak View’s cotton plants are in their growing cycle.

The beehives installed at the edge of the cotton field are cared for by the Wake County Beekeepers Association. The resident bees help to pollinate the fruit orchard and pecan grove.

For more information about slavery at Oak View, dial 24.

Oak View produced cotton until the late 1920s, when the infestation of the boll weevil forced an end to its production and devastated the southern cotton industry. To learn more about the Boll Weevil and its effect on Oak View, dial 25.