Federal Writers' Project - Life Histories/2017/Fall/Section 26/Jim Eubanks

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Jim Eubanks
Unknown Birthplace
ResidenceNorth Carolina
OccupationHorse Trainer, Livestock Trader


Jim Eubanks was a livestock trader, horse trainer, and an interviewee for the Federal Writer’s Project in 1939.[1]


Horses aided in harvesting crops on large plantations. [2]

Eubanks was born around 1878 in an unknown location. Before the Civil War, his grandfather immigrated to the United States. Eubanks’ father inherited a portion of a large slave plantation when his grandfather died. Eubanks’ father raised horses and dairy cattle on the farm and grew wheat, corn, oats, and cotton. While in the Civil War cavalry, Eubanks’ father was trained to break horses. [3] His father taught Eubanks this skill. In 1894, Eubanks began working as a mail carrier. He rode on horseback to deliver mail from Pittsboro to Siler City, North Carolina. [4] In 1900, Eubanks began working as a horse trainer for the Sanford Cotton Mill in Sanford, North Carolina. While training horses to pull a wagon, Eubanks also began to buy and resell show horses for extra income. A few months later, Eubanks joined the Standard Oil Company as a kerosene hauler.[5] He drove a two-horse team to deliver 400-500 gallons of oil across North Carolina. Between 1904 and 1905, Eubanks ran machinery in a veneering plant, but he quit in 1906 to trade livestock. Eubanks would travel across North Carolina in a covered wagon for months at a time to trade livestock.[6] Due to automobile highway congestion in the mid 1920s, he was forced to stop. He then moved to Durham, North Carolina. Between 1912 and 1928, Eubanks owned his own meat market, served as riding foreman in the construction of Fort Bragg, traded tobacco, bought and sold small-scale real estate, and trained saddle horses for resale.[7] Frequent cholera outbreaks at the end of the 1920’s and beginning of the 1930’s put a strain on Eubanks’ livestock. The Great Depression caused Eubanks to lose more than 1500 dollars because he sold products and livestock on credit. Eubanks married a Lee County native and raised four daughters and two sons in Sanford, North Carolina. As of February 3, 1939, Eubanks had eleven grandchildren. Eubanks’ death date is unknown.[8]

Social Issues[edit]

The American Equine Industry in the Early Twentieth Century[edit]

Higher class individuals often rode for pleasure through town in the early twentieth century. [9]

Prior to the American Civil War, horses were used in agricultural industries for manual field labor. From 1865 to 1929, the equine industry shifted from being used in agricultural industries to multiple refined sports industries for upper-class individuals. Wealthy Americans began to use horses for leisure and competitive events.[10] Horses were owned out of necessity because the agricultural economy required strong animals to pull plows and haul farm materials such as crops to and from the fields. Around the turn of the twentieth century, a gradual transition took place that turned horses into animals that were perceived as luxury property. In the early twentieth century, businesses specifically began catering to boarding, showing, breeding, training, and care of the horse on a national scale. The specialization of the equine industry involved creating different disciplines and breed organizations.[11] Wealthy individuals used the equine industry to create social status. More refined breeding and competition legalities were implemented.[12] Specific breed associations started hosting Breed shows, where upper class Americans would showcase a particular ideal form of horse. Categories ranged from traditional uses of the horse like urban industry and agriculture to more refined categories within pleasure such as driving and riding under saddle. Horse shows became more popular in the early twentieth century, and professionals within the horse breeding and competition emerged.[13] Training methods and sport standards became more refined as well. [14] The American horse industry became split between members of the high class who had individual stakes in the business and corporations looking to expand their particular breed or discipline to large-scale business models.

How the Automobile Industry Reinvented Transportation[edit]

Roadways that were traditionally traveled by wagon trains and livestock caravans were altered to accommodate automobiles. [15]

Between 1890 and 1920, the automobile became the most prominent form of transportation in America.[16] It replaced actual horsepower and trains, also known as the iron horse. Individuals across all social classes gradually purchased the automobile.[17] The nation's road systems began to transition from accommodating tradesman wagons and horse carriages to Ford Model-Ts.[18] Prior to 1920, the country’s developing road system only involved the horse and carriage system. The railway system handled large-scale transportation.[19] However, the railroad system did not replace the horse because it functioned independently and served a different purpose.[20] The automobile required a more substantial initial investment, but the relative upkeep was more reasonable for the American population. Gasoline was readily available and rising feed prices for horses made the horse inferior to the horseless carriage.[21] Due to this shift in transportation, road builders had to respond to new technology like the rubber tire. They constructed roadways to make transportation efficient for these technological innovations. Uneven paths used by the horse-drawn carriages and wagon trains driven by tradesmen had to be evened for gas-powered automobiles.[22]


  1. Jim Eubanks Federal Writers Project Interview.
  2. The wagon has carried them into the fair and now the horses will try for the blue ribbon.
  3. Jim Eubanks Federal Writers Project Interview.
  4. Ibid
  5. Ibid
  6. Ibid
  7. Ibid
  8. Ibid
  9. Riding with Father
  10. Jennifer Beisel, The American Upper Class and the American Horse Industry from 1865 to 1929.
  11. Ibid
  12. Ibid
  13. Ibid
  14. Charles Gerena, Happy Trails.
  15. U.S. 99. Near Tulare, California.
  16. Ann Norton Greene, Horses at Work: Harnessing Power in Industrial America.
  17. Ibid
  18. Christopher W. Wells, Car Country: Automobiles, Roads, and the Shaping of the Modern American Landscape, 1890–1929.
  19. Ibid
  20. Greene, Horses at Work.
  21. American School, Automobiles; a practical treatise on the construction.
  22. Ibid


• American School (Lansing, Ill ). 1909. Automobiles; a practical treatise on the construction, operation, and care of gasoline, steam, and electric motor-cars, including mechanical details of running gear, power plant, body, and accessories, instruction in driving, etc. United States. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=wu.89090514001;view=1up;seq=7

• Beisel, Jennifer (Perky). The American Upper Class and the American Horse Industry from 1865 to 1929. Order No. 3194581, Middle Tennessee State University, 2005. http://libproxy.lib.unc.edu/login url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/305446763?accountid=14244.

• Gerena, Charles. Happy Trails. Region Focus 9, no. 1 (Winter, 2005): 36-38. http://libproxy.lib.unc.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/201525577?accountid=14244.

• Greene, Ann Norton. Horses at Work: Harnessing Power in Industrial America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008. Accessed October 1, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Jim Eubanks Federal Writers Project Interview, February 3, 1939, Folder 708, 03709, Federal Writers' Project Papers, 1936-1940, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina.

Riding with Father. East Versus West - An Undeclared Civil War. In Sidesaddles and Suffragettes The Fight to Ride and Vote. Accessed October 11, 2017. http://www.lrgaf.org/articles/Sidesaddle%20with%20Father.jpg.

The wagon has carried them into the fair and now the horses will try for the blue ribbon. Prints and Photographs Online Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Albany, Vermont. In Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives. Accessed October 11, 2017. https://www.loc.gov/resource/fsa.8a02447/

U.S. 99. Near Tulare, California. Entered California fall of 1938. En-route to pea harvest in Imperial Valley. Car broke-down. "Want to get back to Missouri if they can ever get the money. "Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Tulare County, California. In Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives. Accessed October 11, 2017. https://cdn.loc.gov/service/pnp/fsa/8b32000/8b32900/8b32935v.jpg

• Wells, Christopher W. Car Country: Automobiles, Roads, and the Shaping of the Modern American Landscape, 1890–1929. Order No. 3143151, The University of Wisconsin - Madison, 2004. http://libproxy.lib.unc.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/305109870?accountid=14244.