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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 199

this land averaged less than seventeen dollars per acre, while in
five of the towns where land was high, only 1,046 acres changed
hands, but the price was more than forty-five dollars per acre.
The average taken within a single town means little enough, but
when the average involves towns lying in districts so unlike as
the tobacco section and the dairy section of Dane county, the
vagueness of the result is obvious. rn reality the prices of land
in both these sections advanced between the years i885 and 1887,
and it was the mere incident of many sales in the one and
few in the other that gave the appearance of decline. In i890
the sales were well distributed among the towns. and the price was
approximately as in i885. Between i88o and 1885 there was
much excitement over tobacco growing. and choice land for that
purpose sold for one hundred dollars an acre. During the last half
of the '8o's the tobacco business experienced a relapse, and this
accounts for the small number of sales in that district, while at
the same time the interest in dairying continued, and in conse-
quence there was a marked movement in lands suitable for that
purpose. A general averge conceals these facts and appears to
show a decline in all land values.
  Coming to the latter part of the 'go's, we have some excellent
data on the subject of values. The Wisconsin State Tax Com-
mission has calculated the value of all property of the state, and
its method of computing farm values is no doubt as reliable as
any yet in use. They took the whole number of sales as reported
by the register of deeds for the years 1895 to I899, inclusive, and
after eliminating such as were obviously not bona fide sales, the
acres sold in each town were taken year by year and the rate per
cent. of assessment to selling price computed. This was done
for each town for each of the five years. Then an average rate
was struck for the period and with this ratio of assessment to sell-
ing price, or true value, and the total assessed value, the true
value of all land of the town was found, the process being merely
a case in simple proportion. With this elaborate process it turns
out that the average value of land for the entire county during the
five-year period is forty-seven dollars per acre. This, it will be
noticed, is a trifle higher than it would appear from the prices
based simply on the assumption that actual sales may be taken as
representative, but the difference between the two results is not

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