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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Historian Dick Hinson Entertains The Optimist Club Members


Above, Center, Dick Hinson was born in Marianna, Florida, August 14, 1926, into an old Jackson County family. His father, one of thirteen horse and mule traders in Jack-son County at the time, had moved to Marianna in 1921 from around Campbellton and Graceville, where the Hinson Family had settled many generations previously. Except for brief periods away at school and a term of duty as a Navy SEAL (Frog Man) in the Pacific during World War II, Mr. Hinson has lived all his life in Marianna where He and his wife Ann raised a family of four boys.
Mr. Hinson established and ran a successful insurance agency in Marianna for many years, and Hinson is currently a columnist with The Jackson county Times, Weekly News Paper, Marianna, Florida. Mr. Hinson is a noted Historian within the North Florida Region and a highly sought after speaker on that subject.
Mr. Hinson was, as always, well received by the members of the Marianna Optimist Club, and Tommy Grainger, above left, was congratulated on his choice of speaker for last week’s program. Mr. Hinson’s familiar, easygoing style of speaking and soft spoken words of knowledge were scrubbed from the air and into the minds of the audience, as if his words were spun of fine gold, and their minds a treasure chest in which to lock the well spun stories away.
He began by setting the stage for his experiences as a boy, growing up in Marinna during the early twenties. It was a much different time then; many of the streets were unpaved, and much of the traffic of that period was by mule drawn wagon.
Much of the State to the south of Marianna was yet undeveloped wilderness and swamp land. Also, much of the rural lands around Jackson County didn’t lend its self to farming by tractors due to the hilly terrain, tree stumps, and outcropping of indigenous lime rock, not to mention the occasional clump of impossible pipe clay that could bog down anything with wheels. This was precisely why the Hinson family set their mule trading business up in Marianna, the center of this most difficult terrain to cultivate by mechanical means. On the other hand, the lands to our west were less difficult and lent themselves much better to mechanized farming by tractors and other labor reducing implements of the period.
The Hinson’s had located their mule barn business behind the current day, Jim’s Buffet, and adjacent to the rail road tracks that exists today. The general office was located on Jefferson Street pretty much across from the County Court House and was situated inside the rather large mule barn with one small doorway going into it from the street.
In the early twenties much of the farming was done by share croppers, who for the most part were black. A share crop-per could provide their own mule and farm implements, or use the land owners mules and implements. However, the share cropper could do much better if he was able to provide his own mule, which many did. This meant that about half of the Hinson’s business in mule trading and implements would be with the black farmer.
According to Dick Hinson, his father did not racially discriminate when it came to his mule trading business, as long as, he was dealt fairly by the customer, he gladly reciprocated in kind.
Hinson recalled the depression period of the late 1920’s and 1930’s in Jackson County. Most of Florida had fallen into a depression after the, "Boom," collapsed in late 1926. By 1933 most banks in the country were closed, and Marianna was no exception. The People’s Bank of Marianna was in receivership, and the offices in Cottondale, Sneads, and Graceville, were closed.
President Roosevelt was inaugurated on March 4th 1933, and his first act was to declare a, "Bank Holiday," allowing insolvent banks to close, and allowing solvent banks to open. By March 16th, 1933, Citizens State Bank of Marianna, The Bank of Greenwood, and the Malone Bank had re-opened. Due to President Roosevelt’s Workers Prosperity Assistance (WPA) Program’s which included the Civilian Construction Corps (CCC), which completed many projects in Jackson County, and the onset of World War II, Jackson County was on its way back to prosperity by 1939.

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