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

Chapter VI: Land values,   pp. 192-202 PDF (2.3 MB)

Page 196

  Before I845 little land sold under warrantv deed, and the land
that did change hands was for the most part in the nature of
transfers of preemption rights or a sale of the improvements
where the land itself was reckoned at government price and the
purchaser of the improvements took his chances of getting it
whenever it should be put upon the market. By i845 many mort-
gages fell due and in very few instances was the mortgagor ready
to meet his obligation and this nlust have been the cause of many
transfers. There was so much fairly good government land
still to be had it is unreasonable to suppose that the land,
asxle from the imnproven-,ents. could be worth much above the
original dollar and a quarter an acre. This supposition is well
borne out in the price for which land sold. for on an average
thbre was a margin of hut one dollar fifty-nine cents to include
both the value of the imiprovements and the rise, making it prob-
able that the rise was practically nil. Ten years later the matter
had a dccidedlh cfianged aspect. The reasons are apparent: gov-
ernment land had ceased to be a factor in land values, since little
of a (ltsiral)le qItality remained: the excitement over wheat dur-
ing tl'e boom of 1854 resulted in a marked rise in land, and al-
thotughI the boom \vas exceedingly brief, a considerable part of
its force w\as expended between September i, 1854. and the fol-
lowing spring. that is. within the year for which the figures are
taken. Thus in all likelihood the average price is not only higher
than for any previous year, but the rise during the year ending
September T. 8    was proportionally greater than for any pre-
violls year. The inabilitv to meet payments was still a great fac-
tor in land sales; in fact, it was during the '50's that the influ-
ence wvorked out its greatest results, and. as is often remarked by
the old settlers. a comparatively small proportion of the pioneers
kept the land first entered. They sold out when compelled to do
so. and moved to a location a little less desirable, or to one where
a farm could be had on tinme and began again.
   In i865 the results are interesting. The number of sales was
less than half that of I855, while the price seems to have ad-
vanced in about the same ratio as in the preceding decade. But
it must be remembered that this seventeen dollars an acre was
reckoned in greenbacks. which were worth about seventy cents
cn the dollar. Thus it is entirely fair to say that land had not
risen over about two dollars per acre, and this would certainly

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