The John A. Winston and Company papers consist of incoming business correspondence pertaining to Winston's cotton-growing operation in Alabama. Letters were written to John A. Winston and Company in both Mobile, Alabama, and Gainesville, Alabama, and primarily concerned the trade of cotton. Correspondents in the collection represented a number of different business interests throughout the South, and often requested payment for or shipment of the raw materials. Occasionally, the clients discussed the success or failure of a certain crop, and asked for reasonable adjustments to be made to the financial agreements. The company's correspondents represented a number of business interests throughout the South, mainly in Alabama, Tennessee, and Louisiana. In 1854, S. O. Nelson & Co. and Rich[ard] Reynolds wrote five letters, on unused printed leaves of the New Orleans Price-Current. Commercial Intellingencer and Merchants' Transcript. This publication listed the amount of goods shipped to international and domestic ports, wholesale prices in New Orleans, and current rates of exchange for specie. Also, each copy included an additional prose-based newsletter printed on the reverse side of the financial charts.
The letters contain a few topics not related to the cotton business. Of note is a letter from J. Binns, written on April 13, 1852, wherein Binns reported, "The Negro Boy Sam I succee'd [sic] in getting on Tuesday morning- he believes that I own Him & is satisfied I have put him to work at Mr. Littles, untill [sic] I come down- at which time I will bring him as requested- should he get intimation of the Hoax played on him I assure you that you will be troubled to get him again. Sam is a shrewd rascal & has white friends." The collection also contains two post-Civil War items: a brief business note from G. Watson & Co. and a bill of lading for bales of cotton shipped aboard the Lotus on February 2, 1871.