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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 198

In the first place, the number of sales is large and therefore the
percentage of error coming from the unusual instances should be
small. Another matter of consequence is the comparative insig-
nificance of the improvements throughout this period. True,
some of them were good, but on an average, they were far from
it, and thus the upper and the lower limits of prices were
not very far apart. Land could be classified as arable and
not arable, and within each of these two classes the variation was
not great. Since about 1875 these classes have almost disap-
peared, as dairy farming has made both swamp and hilly land
more valuable than ever before, and the more desirable lands are
carefully differentiated according to the crops which they pro-
duce to the best advantage. Houses and barns, fences and wind-
mills, and improvements of every description have added to the
value of many farms from twenty-five to a full hundred per cent.
The chance element is thus much greater for the later years, yet
the results do not appear meaningless.
   By 1883 business was again brisk and land was once more in
the ascendency, 32.929 acres being sold at an average price per
acre of S32.24. The year i885 shows a little drop from this in
both acres and price, but the change is not sufficient to warrant
any generalizations. Perhaps it was due to the fall in the price
of farm produce, but just as likely the discrepancy would be ex-
plained by a minute classification and comparison of the land sold.
It was at this time that tobacco land first began to command a
premium: also the hilly land in the southwest part of the county
rose in price as never before. A year is a short period in the his-
tory of land and it often happens that for a given year there will
not be over two or three sales in one town, while a dozen are made
in a town adjoining, with no visible reason, and the next year
may see the matter reversed. The sales of 1887 seem to show a
decided drop in price. 9.299 acres selling at twentv-nine dollars.
In the first place, the sales are small and it is possible that a third
of this was swamp land, which always goes at a low figure; but
without guessing, the apparent decline can be shown to be nothing
formidable. The report of the register of deeds gives the sales
by towns and we find that more than one-fourth of the land sold,
2,52I acres was in five of the poorest towns of the county, and

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