Saturday, August 27, 2011

John V. Armstrong & John Eaton of Chippewa Township

The next few posts come from the Pioneer Magnet (Big Rapids, Mecosta County, Michigan) from Thursday May 9, 1878.  The editor of the Pioneer Magnet had called on several citizens to write letters describing their farming experiences in Mecosta County.  I started with Chippewa Township as this is the township my ancestor William Perry lived in (though he did not respond to the call for letters).  I thought these brief sketches provide a snapshot of what life was like in Mecosta County in the late 1870s.

John V. Armstrong (Found on Page 1 Column 3)
I have been on my homestead, in the town of Chippewa, eight years, and now have forty acres improved.  Have experimented with most kinds of crops raised in northern latitudes, and most of them have done well.  My land was very heavily timbered, and a considerable portion of the soil is yet encumbered with stumps.  I cannot give a minute statement of the yield of any crop, except wheat, as nearly all my other grain crops (except corn) have been threshed with two sticks, and fed as fast as threshed.  But I think I am safe in saying that in both yield and quality, they compare very favorably with crops of the same kind in any other part of this state.  My best yield of wheat was thirty-two bushels per acre; average, about twenty.  It has always been number 1 in quality.  Have not done much with fruit.  Have about fifty apple trees; but only a few (Wagner's) are bearing as of yet.  Plum trees have done well.  I have five varieties, all of which grow and bear well.  I have also two varieties of cherries, both of which grow and bear well.  Of both these latter kinds of fruits, have all we want for family use, and some for our neighbors.
                Dated April 1878 - J. V. Armstrong
The map above is from the 1879 Atlas of Mecosta County for Chippewa Township and can be found on the Mecosta County GenWeb site.  I highlighted how close my William Perry lived very close to John Armstrong.  I'll bet the families must have known each other.  Mr. Armstrong mentions his Wagner's apples, so I went in search of the apple and found a listing for Wagener apples in the Apples of New York, Volume 1 on page 354.  So the image below is what John Armstrong's Wagner's apples probably looked like.

One other individual from Chippewa Township also answered the call for letters - John Eaton.  

John Eaton (found on Page1 Column 3)
I moved upon my land in the town of Chippewa, in January, 1869, and now have sixty acres cleared and fenced.  In 1877 I harvested four and a half acres of wheat which yielded 27 2/3 bushels per acre.  I cut twenty-two acres of grass, which turned out one and three-fourths tons of hay per acre.  I had five acres of corn, from which I harvested sixty-five bushels of ears per acre, and half an acre of potatoes which yielded at the rate of two hundred bushels per acre.  In 1876, I harvested ten acres of wheat, yielding 19 1/2 bushels per acre; two and a half acres of corn yielding 80 bushels of ears per acre.  In 1875, I harvested nine acres of wheat yielding thirty-five bushels per acre, and it brought me $1.25 per bushel.  I have usually floured my wheat, and sold it in small quantities.  Corn and oats I feed on my farm.  Have sold some hay the last seven years.  During the first five, it brought me from $20 to $25 per ton; during the last two years, $10 to $15.  Wild land is worth in this vicinity from $4 to $8.50 per acre, according to the quality of the location.  Cost of clearing and fencing with hired labor, from $10 to $15 per acre.  The wheat crop in this vicinity is about double the acreage ever sowed before, and it looks well.
                Dated March 20, 1878 - John Eaton

I also found his property listed in the Atlas of Mecosta County, Chippewa Township.  He lived some distance from my ancestor, so I am not so sure William Perry would have known him that well.

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