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

Chapter III: Tobacco,   pp. 155-175 PDF (4.7 MB)

Page 156

hamton, New York, to Jefferson county, Wisconsin, and raised
a small quantity of tobacco for home use. This makes it appear
that tobacco was introduced here as early as in the Miami val-
ley, Ohio, where it became important long before Wisconsin was
reckoned among the tobacco-growing states. The next testi-
mony is contemporaneous and gives the status of the new indus-
try in i840.
  "The resources of the west are continually developing.
W'e are informed that a number of inhabitants on Rock River
whose granaries have been filled to overflowing the past two years,
and who have found it inconvenient to dispose of their surplus
products, have resolved to direct their attention to other means
of obtaining profit from the products of the soil. Accordingly,
the experiment of raising tobacco has been tried the past sum-
mer and has been found to succeed beyond expectation. The
growth of the plant was astonishingly rapid, and it was brought
to perfect maturity and completely ripened about the middle of
August last. Many of the leaves measured three feet in length
and twenty inches in width.  . .  . It has been demonstrated
that one acre of land can, with the greatest ease, be made to pro-
duce one ton of tobacco. The price of one ton at twelve cents
per pound would amount to $240. The cost of preparation and
manufacture after the crop is gathered is estimated at three cents
per pound. . . . The allowance for sowing and cultivation
cannot possibly exceed three cents per pound.
  "We understand that the prospect of success in the raising of
tobacco is regarded in so flattering a light that arrangements are
making for engaging extensively in the business the coming sea-
son, especially in that section of the country on the Pecatonica
and on Rock River, between Beloit and Rockford."54
  The interest in this quotation lies principally in the reasons
given for launching into the new business. It was a question
of transportation: the granaries were full. The price of tobacco
was then high and continued so for a long time, and it seems
strange that after once getting the idea definitely in mind to raise
a crop comprising more value in less bulk, that wheat continued
to hold first place for more than a score of years. Tobacco,
though for a long time insignificant in quantity, was not wholly
  1Wseconsin Enquirer, September 16, 1840.

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