Filed Under Agriculture

A Cotton Growing Community

The original pioneers settled in the area around the current city of Peoria in about 1886. Settlers started planting a variety of plants to see what would grow best. Additionally, early farmers raised horses and cattle, sheep, hogs, and grew grains and alfalfa to support their livestock.

Some of the early farmers tried growing sugar beets, but the soil was not conducive to growing beets with good sugar content and the crops failed. The area supported many citrus crops and was also dotted with date, olive and pecan trees. Alfalfa had been the major crop of Peoria from the start, but after the area expanded and more farmers began to grow cotton, three gins were built in the area, and cotton became the principal crop.


Family member weighing her pickings. Cotton was collected and weighed as part of the harvest. Here, young woman is weighing her bag of cotton bolls. Source: Peoria Historical Society Creator: Willliam M. Bercu Ph.d. Date: c. 1940
Cotton plants growing on one of the farms surrounding Peoria. Cotton was a major product in Peoria's farming community. Source: Peoria Historical Society Date: c. 1940
Farming family with freshly picked cotton. Until the 1950's, most of the Pima Cotton was picked by hand in Peoria's fields. Migrant workers, when available could supplement the farming family's help. Source: Peoria Historical Society Creator: William Bercu, Ph.D. Date: c.1940
Picking the product: Cotton. Picking cotton was hard work. Here a farm worker is harvesting bolls and placing them in his bag. Migrant workers camped nearby and provide the necessary manpower for these important crops. Creator: William Bercu, Ph.D. Date: c. 1940
Loaded cotton truck. Truck loaded and heading for market. Usually the cotton was transported to downtown Phoenix. Source: Peoria Historical Society Date: c. 1951



William M. Bercu, Ph.D., “A Cotton Growing Community,” Salt River Stories, accessed December 5, 2023,