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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)

Page 188

railroad bonds and the like taking precedence. The soldiers were
inclined to do business on a larger scale than they had been con-
tented with before, and this tendency was manifested in at least
two lines; they either sold their small farms and went west or
they bought out their neighbors and so increased their acres.
These causes together with financial changes resulted in a rise
in the price of land finally, and by I88o the large farms of
over five hundred acres had risen to forty-three, the greatest num-
ber since the early days of speculation. The average size of
farms for the county at this date was one hundred twenty-eight
acres. The falling off of large farms during the period since
i88o will easily come within the more detailed discussion of the
different parts of the county.
  The data on which the following comparisons are based are
taken from the manuscript census reports of I870, from the
Dane County Atlas, by Foote & Company, of i890, and the Atlas
by L. W. Gay & Company, 1899. These are fortunate dates, the
first being about on the dividing line between the wheat period
and the time of diversified farming, and the atlases dropping in
so closely to the census dates since that time.88
   Eight towns chosen with reference to physiographic and social
conditions have been considered separately at these dates: Albion
and Christiana in the southeastern, Vermont and Perry in the
southwestern part of the county, the others variously located.
The estates are divided into seven groups, which happens to be
the same number used for farms in the census, the main differ-
ence being the more minute classification of the estates of over
one hundred acres.
   The towns of Albion and Christiana lie almost wholly within
the rich Trenton limestone area which has proved to be the
choicest tobacco district of the state. Vermont and Perry are in
the 'driftless" portion of the county, are rough and broken, and
in consequence have gradually turned to dairying. Vienna and
  8"The federal census reports do not give town returns, and the mannscripts
  are not to be had subsequently to 1870 because of the mortgage statistics
  kindred matter which Is thought to require secrecy. The state census reports
  contribute nothing of value on the subject.

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