In the early 1900s, cotton was king in the South as well as in Coffee County, home of Enterprise, Alabama. Since cotton crops in the area were expected to fail as many as 7 out of every 10 times, farmers struggled to make enough to support their families.
In 1892, the Mexican Boll Weevil invaded Texas, ravaging and rapidly destroying cotton crops. This species, native to the Kapok silk cotton trees of Mexico and Central America, invaded the state of Alabama in 1909. By 1915, it had destroyed 60% of Coffee County’s cotton crop. The local economy was devastated due to its dependence on “King Cotton”. Local farmers had to turn to something else. They began to diversify their crops. Livestock, potatoes, peanuts, hay, and sugar cane soon began to thrive on Coffee County farms. Peanuts, however, seem to be the most popular of the new commodities. Soon Coffee County became the top peanut-producing county in the nation! “King Cotton” had been dethroned. The local economy thrived and was saved thanks to the lessons taught by the boll weevil.
The Boll Weevil showed Enterprise and Coffee County that by diversifying their crops, farmers could plant more reliable crops. In appreciation to the boll weevil for lessons learned, the citizens of Enterprise, Alabama on December 11, 1919 erected a monument in its honor. It stands in downtown Enterprise at the intersection of Main Street and College Street. The base of the monument has an inscription that reads:
“In profound appreciation of the boll weevil and what it has done as the herald of prosperity
this monument was erected by the citizens of Enterprise, Coffee County, Alabama.”