Hibbard, Benjamin Horace, 1870-1955 / The history of agriculture in Dane County, Wisconsin
Chapter V: The size of farms and estates, pp. 185-191 PDF (1.4 MB)
186 BULLETIN OF TIIE tUNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN. parties, to half a dozen sections gobbled up by eastern politicians, prominent among whom was Daniel Webster, who for a time owned the land on which Stoughton now stands. The average size of these purchases was somewhat above six hundred acres. SIZE 01' F.\RNIS ACCORDING TO CENSUS REPORTS. We will pass over a considerable number of years including the panic of 1837 and the period of slow recovery which fol- lowed, since they furnish nothing of importance to our subject. Sales practically ceased for a year or so; many of the large es- tates changed hands frequently and by i850 few of them re- mained. During the early '5o's the influx of Germans and Norwegians directly from Europe, having but little ready cash, resulted in a multitude of small purchases, and in i854 the aver- age purchase was ninety-two ocres: this was raised very mater- iallv above what it otherwise Would have been by several exten- sive purchases by speculating companies. There are no figures available, but a study of the old entry-book, the various plats for the '6o's. together with the manuscript census returns for i870 show that these settlers added to their original homesteads an occasional forty or eighty. This is well indicated in the census reports, it appearing that the farms below fifty acres decreased in number about sixteen per cent., while those above that increased nearly sixty per cent. Again, in i86o the farms between twenty and fifty acres not only ranked first in numbers but comprised by far the largest aggregate acreage, while in 1870 those from fifty to one hundred acres exceeded the smaller class in the aggregate area and also outnumbered them. The census returns for i8So and I89o throw very little addi- tional light on the question under consideration; there is, how- ever. a steady falling off of the number of farms below one hun- dred acres87 and a corresponding gain of those above that figure from 1870 to I890. So far as the small farms are concerned this showing is no doubt correct and not wholly without meaning, 7 See note at beginning of this chapter. It Is impossible to discuss this Pubject without some comparison with the census returns. but It must not be forgotten that estate and farm are two distinct things. although they do not in the towns worked out minutely (see below), differ widely In number and are for the most part identical.
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