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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 173

other parts of the county toward the tobacco section that he is
coming to land worth a quarter or a half more than that which
he has been viewing.
  In the dairy and general farming districts the houses are large,
well painted, often as fine in appearance as average city resi-
dences, the barns have a capacious, substantial look, and the whole
homestead gives the impression of prosperity and comfort. In
the tobacco section the houses are little more than a story in
height, and are often in poor repair; there can hardly be said to
be any barns, and the omnipresent tobacco sheds are seldom
painted or shingled. Nor is this all; the crops, other than to-
bacco, present rather a neglected aspect. At the time of my visit,
when almost every acre of corn in other parts of the county was
in the shock, and the fall plowing well under way, there was not
a quarter of the corn in the tobacco district cut, and hardly a fur-
row of the stubble ground had been turned. This was as late as
September 20th, and the corn was long past its best as a fodder
crop, though the tobacco farmers expressed themselves in favor
of late-cut corn. Mr. F. A. Coon of Edgerton writes of the to-
bacco crop: "It is a great monopolist of manure and attention.
If any crop is neglected it is not the tobacco crop. That must be
cultivated and fertilized even though the corn is wrapped in
grass, or the hay crop suffers for want of cutting,  . .  . it
is usually the petted crop." This testimony is from one of the
strongest friends of the plant, yet it can be duplicated at pleasure,
and any observer who does not happen to approve of the business
will express the same sentiment in stronger terms. It is not
denied that many men have become rich growing tobacco, but it
is by no means self-evident that they have done better than their
neighbors who have farmed on other lines; they, too, have grown
rich, as wealth is counted among farmers. Often, side by side,
two farmers have lived for twenty years, the one growing tobacco
continuously, the other raising corn and cattle, and as they are
both about to retire it is remarked that one is worth as much as
the other and the opportunities have been equal. This proves
very little either way, but it does seem to show that there are
as great possibilities in ordinary farming and dairying as in the
much-lauded tobacco farming.
  The poor appearance of the tobacco district is partly explained
by the system of renting land out in small tracts and putting up

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