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

Chapter III: Tobacco,   pp. 155-175 PDF (4.7 MB)

Page 174

buildings merely good enough to answer the purpose. It is also
urged that many of the tobacco growers began with nothing and
cannot be expected to pay for such high-priced land and put on
good improvements all within a few years. There is some truth
in both of these arguments, but the fact remains that the other
parts of the county have more of the appearance of permanent
prosperity. A system of farming which encourages investment
in land for the hopes of big returns and no work, as seems to be
the case where land is held by a man living in town, and let out
to sharemen, can hardly be commended from either an economic
or a moral standpoint.
                     ACREAGE AND PRICES.
  For the following tables no minute accuracy is claimed. The
acreage figures are taken from statistics given in the reports of
the secretary of state; they were compiled from the assessors'
books. made out in May of each year, and. therefore, based on
estimates of what was intended to be planted. The census enu-
merators invariably find more acres than do the assessors, and
this is hard to account for unless it be that there is less reserve on
the part of the farmer in dealing with an officer whose duties
are of a scientific nature and in no wise connected with taxation.
No doubt there are many inaccuracies in the best of these figures,
as tobacco fields are so often small and irregular and seldom ac-
curatelv measured. There are still greater difficulties in getting
representative prices. Each year there is some tobacco which
stlls for a cent or two a pound. and any attempt to average such
extremes is useless. The prices given are for good grades, the
highest prices are not quoted and the very lowest are not con-
sidered at all. For the years previous to 1870 the data are very
meager: since that time price lists are abundant. The average
given for i862-1865 is an estimate made by a government statis-
tician. However, the table is sufficiently accurate to show the
general tendency of prices over the main tobacco period.

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