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Pioneer days of Evansville and vicinity

Chapter II: Experience of Elder Phelps entering land,   pp. 9-15

Page 14

one-half had been to supper and the landlord said they had eaten everything
up and he could not feed any more. They had come there    and paid their
money and they would not leave until they had something to eat. He told them
to wait a few minutes and he would see what could be done. He went down to
the office and asked Mr. Grannis what the trouble was. H. said there were
so many more than they had expected, or had provided for, and they had eaten
everything up and he did not know what to do. Mr. Tolles said: "Let
me tell you something. These people have got to be fed or they will tear
the house down. Now you get     busy. 
You have plenty of potatoes, salt pork flour, milk, butter, cream and coffee.
Now you go into the kitchen and give everyone of your help one dollar each
and if it is needed send in more help, and tell them these people must be
fed. Give them plenty of warm biscuits and coffee and I will attend to the
rest." Mr. Tolles went back to the ball-room and rapped on his fiddle
for order. He said: "Gentlemen we have a much larger number here than
we expected They have eaten the cakes and knicknacks, but we will give you
just as good a supper as we can prepare and plenty of it, and in thirty minutes
I will call so many numbers, and when they are through eating, I will call
as many more, until you are all fed. We will play for you to dance until
the last couple go down to  supper." They gave him three cheers and
in thirty minutes called for the number they could seat at the tables and
 they played until all went to supper. They danced until 4 o'clock in the
morning. He said as far as he knew, everyone went away satisfied. 
High prices of living seems to be the prevailing topic at the present, and
I hear a great many say that 
labor has not advanced in proportion to other things. Let us make a little
comparison-take the years from 1840 to 1860 the wage for a good farm hand
was from ten to twelve dollars per months, harvest wages from 75 cents to
one dollar per day; school teachers' wages were from twelve to fifteen dollars,
perhaps  some  got twenty  dollars per  month. Lady teachers received $1.50
to $2.00 per week, which would be from six to eight dollars per month, and
board around  the   district. Girls  doing housework would get from one to
two dollars per week. I know of one lady that did sewing for the neighbors
for 25 cents per day. How was that for wages? Some say it did not cost as
much to live then as now. Let's see, I will quote a few prices: Brown sugar
cost 10 cents per pound, tea 50 to 75 cents, flour $2.00 per hundred, calico
cloth 10 to 12 cents per yard and that was the dress mostly worn by the ladies.
Cotton cloth cost from 10 to 12 cents per yard, a daily paper 5 cents per
copy, beef steak from 8 to 10 cents per pound, ribs 5 cents per pound. A
suit of clothes then would cost nearly double what they do now. 
What are the prevailing prices today? Farm hands, $35 per month, harvest
hands from $2.50 to $3.00 per day, school teachers from $50 to $100 per month.
Girls doing housework get from $3 to $5 per week. Sugar is 5 cents per pound,
tea 25 to 50 cents per pound, flour $3.00 per hundred, calico cloth 6 cents
per yard, daily papers 2 cents a copy, beefsteak 20 cents per pound, roast
16 cents, ribs 10 cents. Way back there   in  the '40's farmers would hitch
a pair of oxen to a lumber wagon and drive to town; the whole outfit would
be worth perhaps $50 or $60. Now the farmer of today steps into his $1,500

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