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Hibbard, Benjamin Horace, 1870-1955 / The history of agriculture in Dane County, Wisconsin
(1904)

Chapter IV: Selection of land,   pp. 105-113 PDF (2.2 MB)


Page 105


HIBBARD-HISTORY OF AGRICULTURE IN DANE COUNTY. 105
                       CHAPTER IV.
                   SELECTION OF LAND.
  Whether or not the first settlers choose the best land is a ques-
tion which has long been in dispute, and unless other localities
can furnish more conclusive evidence than is found in the history
of Dane county the question is likely to remain without a definite
answer. However, there are some fairly clear lessons to be
learned in the varying choice of land by different classes of peo-
ple at the same time, and the changes in this respect from one
time to another. Without doubt the early farmers were "economic
men" to the extent that they intended to take, other things being
equal, the most productive land available; but it must not be for-
gotten that production meant to them, just as it does to an econ-
omist, the return for outlay; or it may not be overstating the
case to say they were looking for the greatest net gain. This net
gain is by no means a simple homogeneous quantity, and more-
over, it must be reckoned for a term of years. The farming class
is usually credited with only moderate long-sightedness, and in
the case of the pioneers they may well be forgiven if they were
more concerned for the welfare of their immediate families than
for remote posterity. They took the land that promised in their
judgment, the greatest reward within the near future; but in the
matter of judgment there was a great lack of uniformity.
   In the first place the land near the capital was taken with little
 regard to quality, and in the main this was a wise move, though
 not to the extent that might be supposed. Outside of the city
 limits the farms of the town of Madison will not average as high
 in price at the present time as those of several other towns which
 lie at the maximum distance from a market. Contrary to some
 of the histories of Dane county the first entries were not those


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