Carolina author visits Crowley
By Howell Dennis
Dr. Richard Porcher a native of Charleston, South Carolina is an author, a botanist and a retired professor from The Citadel, He has written books on various subjects such as wildflowers and the history of ‘sea island’ cotton. On Tuesday, he was in Crowley doing research on his latest book entitled ‘The Market Preparation of Carolina Rice’, which details how rice was prepared for market sale during the late 1800’s. During a visit to Crowley’s Falcon Rice Mill, he detailed the history of the rice industry in the Carolina area, its success in the late 19th century, and the factors which led to its decline which subsequently coincided with the growth of Louisiana’s rice industry.
“From 1685 up until 1911 the Carolina and Georgia area was the main rice producing area in the country,” said Porcher. “Our area was struck by two major hurricanes in 1910 and 1911 which all but decimated the industry.”
According to Porcher, however, the rice industry in the area was already in decline before the hurricanes struck.
“During the Civil War, General Sherman basically came through and set fire to everything in sight,” he said. “This was especially true of all farms and businesses because, just as happens today, one of the best ways to hurt an enemy is to destroy their economy.”
While the rice industry in the Carolinas was taking its disasterous downturn, the industry in Louisiana was just beginning to take off.
“Louisiana had already began to surpass us even before the hurricanes,” said Porcher. “While we were trying to rebuild they were developing new technology that enabled them to bypass us and basically take over the rice industry.”
While his book will focus on how rice was developed long before technology was created that rice farmers enjoy today, Porcher seemed genuinely intrigued as Falcon Rice’s Robbie Trahan took him on a tour of his facility showing him the process involved in developing rice
To say that Porcher has done his research on the subject is an understatement. He has ventured into wooded areas and swamps to find several tools and other pieces of equipment that were once used for rice production in the 1800’s. He has drawn diagrams of rice production machines based on some of the artifacts he has found.
Porcher’s book, which he has been working on for nearly five years, is tentatively scheduled for release in 2011.