A picture of African American “pepper pickers” from a late-nineteenth-century article in Scribners.

Origins of the pepper? One source says a soldier from the Mexican War brought McIlhenny the peppers from the Tabasco region of Mexico: “McIlhenny … had been a refugee in Texas, and during his absence the cultivation of the pepper had been neglected and only a few wild plants had by chance survived in a neglected hedge where birds had dropped the seeds.”1

  1. H. S. Kneedler, Through Storyland to Sunset Seas: What Four People Saw on a Journey through the Southwest to the Pacific Coast (Cincinnati: A. H. Pugh Printing Co., 1898), 34, available on Google books.