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Historical / architectural resources survey, Village of Thiensville, Ozaukee County

Chapter 4: agriculture,   pp. 15-17

Page 15

Historical and Architectural Resources Survey
Village of Thiensville                                                      Page 15
Ozaukee County in general and the Town of Mequon in particular share an agricultural heritage
similar to that of all of southeastern Wisconsin. The primary focus of the region's first settlers was
agriculture. As previously mentioned, development within the county was rapid and, by 1850, the
area (which was part of Washington County until 1853) boasted 4.1 percent (42,963 acres) of
Wisconsin's cultivated farmland. That amount grew quickly and, by 1870, the county reached an
agricultural highpoint with 1,921 farms occupying over 133,294 acres. While the number of farms
declined slightly, farm acreage continued to increase, reaching a peak of 141,233 in 1890, before
dropping to 138,993 acres and 1,479 farms by 1945. [Note that the total acreage of Ozaukee County
is 148,480.]31
Wheat was the first major cash crop in the rich agricultural region of southern Ozaukee County. In
1850, Washington County had 123,806 acres devoted to wheat production. As an independent
county in 1870, Ozaukee County farmers grew 22,610 acres. But the area's wheat boom declined
as rapidly as it developed; the number of acres planted in wheat dropped to 11,987 by 1890, and
continued to fall to 710 in 1910.32
As wheat production declined, the area's farmers shifted their focus to raising livestock and dairy
farming. Pigs and hogs were among the first forms of livestock to be raised in the region. There
were 5,820 swine present in 1870, a number that jumped to 10,113 by 1910 before falling slightly
to 9,840 by 1945. Sheep were raised in the mid-nineteenth century within the county. From 5,482
in 1850, the number of sheep declined significantly to 1,205 in 1910. Cattle also proliferated in the
county. There were 9,320 head of cattle present in 1870, a number that steadily increased to 19,214
in 1890, 26,285 in 1910, and 30,373 in 1945. According to state business gazetteers, farmers in the
Thiensville area usually possessed cattle from the Holstein breeds.33
The growing number of livestock found in Ozaukee County and the Town of Mequon required that
feed crops be raised, of which corn, oats and hay were most important. Corn acreage, which was
only 853 in 1870, but grew to 3,226 in 1890 and to 17,023 by 1945. Similarly, oat acreage expanded
from 7,448 in 1870 to 14,384 in 1890 and to 27,967 in 1945. Hay acreage also grew consistently
31United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of the Census (USDI.BC), An Appendix to the Seventh
Census of the United States, 1850 (Washington, D.C.: Robert Armstrong, Public Printer, 1853); A Century of Wisconsin
Agriculture, 1848-1948 (Madison, WI: Wisconsin Crop & Livestock Service, 1948), 87.
32A Century of Wisconsin Agriculture, 90.
33Ibid., 104-05; Wisconsin State Gazetteer and Business Directory [ 1927-1928], 982.

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