Hibbard, Benjamin Horace, 1870-1955 / The history of agriculture in Dane County, Wisconsin
Chapter III: Tobacco, pp. 155-175 PDF (4.7 MB)
HIBBARL1) HISTORY OF AGRLICULTURE IN DANE COUNTY. 159 ple are fairly good. It was the Ohio immigrants who happened to enter the section best adapted to tobacco growing; it was they who persisted in its culture through adverse circumstances; and it was in their communities on "Tobacco Prairie," "Wheeler Prairie," and "Albion Prairie," that the first considerable quan- tities were raised. It was from these neighborhoods that tobacco culture spread among the Norwegians who have ever since been its principal cultivators. During the next ten years the same little farce was played again. In i86o the price was high and it seemed that tobacco was going to be raised in considerable quantities, but again the price of wheat came to the rescue, and the farmers were saved from pros- perity. The shutting off of the southern supply of tobacco cre- ated a new demand on the northern grown crop but this was no greater comparatively than the increased demand for almost all other farm products. There was a tendency to quit wheat and go into tobacco, but the expense of building sheds, and the ques- tion of the required fertilizers were hindrances,60 and by the close of the war the prices had dropped again. This depression was of short duration and by i868 the sixteen to twenty cents a pound-in depreciated money of course-was sufficient to coax the growers into new ventures.61 All went well for two or three years, but in i87I the price slumped to one-third of that of the year before, and remained below remunerative figures for an en- tire decade. The acreage naturally declined, reaching low water mark in i876, when Dane county had hardly more than is now planted in a single town. Again, the new decade opened auspi- ciously. The price climbed steadily upward and the acreage in- creased correspondingly, until in i883 the unprecedented price of a quarter of a dollar a pound was paid by a few reckless buy- ers. Within the next two years the acreage had doubled. Men who knew nothing of the business beyond the startling fact that more than three hundred dollars had been made on a single acre in one year, became growers on a large scale.82 The beginners always produce a poor quality and are thus a constant menace to the business; but, seeing their neighbors reap more profits from G°Wieconsin State Journal, April 20, 1864. "Pat. Office Rept.. Agrfculture, 1871, p. 405. *Wisconsin Tobacco Reporter, February 15, 1884.
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