Farming, especially cotton farming, was very hard work during the 1800s. Toward the end of that century, cotton was the main cash crop for the southeastern part of North Carolina, but all of the work was done by hand, with only mules for added power. During this time, many forward thinking people across North Carolina were inventing machines to make farming easier. One such person was John Blue.
As a young man, John Blue was interested in making items in the family’s blacksmith shop. Being a cotton farmer, he was very interested in designing tools that would make cotton farming easier. Many of the tools he made were crude, since he had no real training in the field. Nonetheless, it was there that John invented the first cotton-stalk cutter.