“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Rolling Fork in Sharkey County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)

What is a Shotgun Shack?

Once common across the South, these tiny cabins are disappearing

What is a Shotgun Shack? Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cajun Scrambler, October 5, 2020
1. What is a Shotgun Shack? Marker
Cabins once lined roadsides in the Delta
Known as shotgun shacks, these houses were common in the Mississippi Delta near agricultural fields. Each home featured three to five rooms with no hallway just a series of doors leading from room to room. They were called shotgun houses because you could shoot a shotgun through the front door and it would go out the back door without hitting a wall.

Sharecroppers lived here
From 1865 until the 1960s, sharecropping was used in the Delta. A plantation owner would supply a home to a sharecropper's family. In exchange, the workers (both black and white) would farm "on shares" and settle up with the landowner at the end of the season. Once the owner deducted expenses, however, the families received little profit.

Comforts were limited
With no insulation, these single-wall houses were often freezing in winter and blazing hot in summer. Pages of newspaper were used as wallpaper, adhered with glue made from flour.

Mechanical cotton pickers replaced sharecroppers
When workers moved north to find better paying jobs in the 1930s, owners discovered

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faster, cheaper ways to harvest their cotton. The Rust mechanical cotton picker (above), introduced in 1935, picked in an hour what four workers would need a day to gather.

Few shotgun shacks remain
This symbol of the South is rapidly disappearing. This shack was located on the Helena Plantation before being moved here. Though less than half the size of a complete cabin, this home depicts the type where many Southerners were born, including McKinley Morganfield (Muddy Waters), who lived in a shotgun shack until he was three.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureSettlements & Settlers.
Location. 32° 54.467′ N, 90° 52.594′ W. Marker is in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, in Sharkey County. Marker is on Delta Street north of East China Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Rolling Fork MS 39159, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Muddy Waters (a few steps from this marker); The Story of Teddy Bears (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sharkey County Courthouse (about 300 feet away); Rolling Fork Mounds (approx. 0.8 miles away); Carter Mounds (approx. 1.2 miles away); Mont Helena (approx. 2˝ miles away);

What is a Shotgun Shack? Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cajun Scrambler, October 5, 2020
2. What is a Shotgun Shack? Marker
Grace Mounds (approx. 7.8 miles away); Cary Mounds (approx. 7.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Rolling Fork.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 9, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 9, 2020, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana. This page has been viewed 1,441 times since then and 208 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 9, 2020, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Verify marker is still installed after March 2023 tornado. • Can you help?

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Jun. 6, 2023