Office of Oral History

David Allen - Shrapnel
Shrapnel removed from David Allen’s jaw during WWII service.

David Allen - Cotton Plant painting
Coker family painting given to David Allen and depicting the Coker Pedigreed Seed Company’s agricultural interests.

David Allen Oral History Interview

“Mr. Coker said his greatest ambition was to be a pall bearer at the boll weevil funeral.” ~ David Allen

David Lewis Allen, born June 4, 1923 in Bennettsville, South Carolina, grew up in Hartsville and Darlington, South Carolina. He was one of six children. His father was a farm manager for Coker Pedigreed Seed Company. David attended Presbyterian College, graduating in 1943. He was immediately called to active duty, serving in WWII, and involved in the Battle of the Bulge where he was injured. Following his military activity, David joined Coker Pedigreed Seed Company where he worked in various departments including the farm operation, the corn department, head of the experimental work for nine years, and visits to experimental stations in association with cotton and soybean testing. He’s one of the few people still living who knew all five presidents of the company.

In this interview, David discusses growing up in South Carolina, the move to Darlington during the Great Depression, WWII service and experiences, the life-long relationship his family had with Coker Pedigreed Seed Company, descriptions of field work and field workers, tenant farming, and his and his father’s work for the company. Descriptions of the Coker family, the Boll Weevil eradication program and details of how that worked.