Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bartley Davis of Hinton Township

Bartley Davis had the following letter published in the Pioneer Magnet (Big Rapids, Mecosta County, Michigan) from Thursday May 9, 1878.

Bartley Davis (letter found on Page 1 Column 5)
I have been in this county, and on the same farm in the town of Hinton, seventeen years the 13th day of April, 1878.  I have 70 acres improved, 60 acres of it in a good state of cultivation.  My soil is clay loam, with a clay subsoil.  My principal crop for the first ten years was hay.  Best yield per acre, 2 1/2 tons; average, 1 1/2 tans.  Price realized for same, $20 per ton.  Oats, best yield, 55 bushels per acre; average, 35.  Price received on average, 40 cents a bushel.  Winter wheat, best yield 34 bushels per acre; average, 25 bushels.  I have given considerable attention to raising of spring wheat.  My smallest yield has been 15 bushels per acre; largest yield, 28 bushels per acre; average 20 bushels.  Peas average 20 bushels per acre, and they have brought one dollar a bushel.  Corn does well: from 75 to 100 bushels of ears per acre.  I cannot state definitely as to the yield of potatoes.  It depends so much on the attention given to the destruction of the potato beetle.  I believe that 300 bushels per acre can be realized, with proper care and cultivation.  Grapes do well.  I have four varieties bearing, viz: Concord, Ionia, Wilder and Salem.  I have a young orchard of 135 apple trees, some of which have been bearing for five years: and they have borne every year since they commenced.  Wild land in this vicinity is worth from eight to ten dollars an acre; improved land, from thirty to forty dollars an acre.
Dated April 6, 1878 - Bartley Davis

Bartley Davis had less than a year to live from the date of this letter.  I clipped the biographical sketch from the Portrait and Biographical Album of Mecosta County.

John Dalziel of Green Township

John Dalziel had the following letter published in the Pioneer Magnet (Big Rapids, Mecosta County, Michigan) from Thursday May 9, 1878.

John Dalziel (letter found on Page 1 Column 4)
I have been engaged in farming in the town of Green during the past twenty years, and have 80 acres improved.  Quality of soil fair - being a gravelly loam.  I have raised wheat, corn, oats, rye, potatoes, rutabagas and yellow Aberdeen turnips, timothy hay, and clover, medium and mammoth, also millet.  Best crop of wheat, twenty bushels per acre; average, thirteen bushels.  Corn frequently yields 100 bushels of ears per acre; average yield for the past 12 years, 80 bushels.  Corn crop has failed only once during that time; cause, frost.  Oats, 45 bushels per acre; average, 35 bushels.  Spring rye, mixed with oats, 22 bushels.  Had a field of three acres last year that yielded 100 bushels.  Potatoes, generally from 125 to 175 bushels per acre; average, 125 bushels.  Rutabagas, 300 bushels per acre.  Last season, I raised nearly 1,000 bushels from one acre and a quarter.  Aberdeen turnips yield about the same as rutabagas.  Millet, from 1 1/2 to 2 tons per acre; timothy and clover hay about the same.  Prices for farm produce have varied during the past seven years, but the average has been about as follows; Wheat, $1.00 per bushel; oats, 35 to 40 cents; corn, 40 to 60 cents; rye, 55 to 75; potatoes, 90 cents; rutabagas, 25 cents; Millet, no sale.  Have fed mine.  Hay, $10 to $25 a ton.  Fruit raising has not been much of a success.  [May succeed after apple tree peddlers have been well "thrashed" with the dead trees.] Farming lands under cultivation, with good buildings are worth in this vicinity from $25 to $50 per acre, according to location.  Wild lands from $5 to $12 per acre.

The prices and general yield of farm crops here stated, are correct in the main; but I would say for the benefit of those who feel an interest in such matters, that the greater portion of all farm products has not been sold in a raw state, but converted into something of less bulk and greater value - consequently, a larger profit.  We would advise every one depending on farming in this region, to conduct it on very different principles from what it has been done.  We have as good and just as energetic farmers in Northern Michigan as in other parts of the state; but we want an interchange of ideas and practical experiences.  In conclusion, no place offers greater inducements to people of limited means than Northern Michigan.  We have been impressed with this idea for the past twenty-five years, having traveled extensively through all the Western States in search of a home, and never found a place to equal "My Own Michigan." Thanking you gentlemen, for your enterprise and courtesy in opening the columns of your valuable paper to the agricultural community.
                                                                                                                I am, yours truly,
                                                                                                                                John Dalziel
Dated April, 1878

John Dalziel's household for the 1880 census is listed below.  It must have been a house of sickness the census taker visited though, as both of John's children were ill with 'the fever'.  I wonder if the census taker didn't even come into the house for fear of catching whatever was in the air.

I thought I would also post a picture of a Aberdeen Turnip, but I couldn't find any.  I found numerous mentions of Aberdeen Turnips and their prolific growth, but no pictures.  You will notice John Dalziel has detailed prices and yields - he ran for county treasurer on at least one occasion.  

I did not find a whole lot about him online either.  He certainly didn't have anything nice to say about the apple tree peddlers...

Friday, September 9, 2011

John C. Lane of Grant Township

John C. Lane had the following letter published in the Pioneer Magnet (Big Rapids, Mecosta County, Michigan) from Thursday May 9, 1878.

John C. Lane found on Page 1 Column 4

I purchased 120 acres of land in the town of Grant in 1869, for which I paid $7.00 an acre.  Commenced clearing the next spring, and have 80 acres under cultivation at the present time.  Wheat has averaged twenty bushels per acre.  On new ground I have raised sixty bushels of spring wheat on two acres.  My oats have yielded sixty bushels per acre; average, thirty-five bushels.  I have raised as high as fifty bushels of buckwheat per acre; average, twenty bushels.  Corn does well.  Dent corn has always ripened, excepting only one year.  Hay has been my principal crop.  It has averaged one and a half tons per acre.  Have sold for $25 per ton at the barn, but for the last two years have only received $10 per ton.  Vegetables do well.  In fact I never saw better anywhere.  I seeded down to grass as fast as I cleared, and have commenced breaking up my meadows this spring.  Stumps are all rotted on the forty acres first cleared.  My soil is clay loam, and some sand.  Timber - beech, maple, elm, and lynn.  We have good water and a very healthy climate.  My farm is seven miles north-east of Big Rapids and my P.O. address is Paris.
                Dated April 8, 1878 - John C. Lane

I copied the section from the Atlas of Mecosta County, Michigan, below, for John C. Lane's property.  There isn't much online for this family.  His census page for 1880 is located across two pages so I didn't copy that.

A. B. Knapp of Grant Township

The letter below is from A. B. Knapp and was published in the Pioneer Magnet (Big Rapids, Mecosta County, Michigan) from Thursday May 9, 1878.

A. B. Knapp can be found on Page 1 Column 3

I have been farming in the town of Grant, this county, since 1866.  Have 110 acres of land under cultivation, all well cleared and fenced.  Soil - clay and dark sandy loam.  Land - rolling Timber - beech, maple, basswood, white and black ash, cherry, elm and hemlock.  Cost of clearing and fencing, from $12 to $20 per acre.  Best yield of wheat, thirty-five bushels per acre; lowest five bushels; average twenty bushels per acre.  Average price per bushel for the last three years, $1.15.  Oats - average yield per acre, thirty bushels; price, thirty cents to one dollar; average fifty cents per bushel.  Average yield of corn per acre, 75 bushels, average price, 35 cents per bushel in the ear.  Potatoes - average yield 150 bushels per acre; average price 75 cents per bushel.  Hay - one and a half tons per acre; price all the way from $10 to $60 per ton.  Rutabagas - average, 300 bushels per acre; average price, forty cents per bushel.  With proper cultivation, the yield of all the above mentioned crops would average much better than here stated.  Barley, winter and spring rye, spring wheat, peas, beans, and nearly all varieties of garden vegetables, do well in this locality.  Farming is a success in this country, when practically and energetically carried on.  Stock raising I find to be profitable.  Wild land is worth in this vicinity from five to ten dollars per acre.  Cleared land will average fifty dollars an acre.
April 4, 1878 - A.B. Knapp

I found Abel B. Knapp in the 1880 census for Grant Township, Mecosta County, Michigan.  I noticed he had the local minister living in his household.  Talk about an inducement to live an upright and moral life!
Abel Knapp has a lengthy biographical sketch in the Portrait and Biographical Album of Mecosta County.  The really neat thing about his entry is that it includes sketches of both him and his wife (I never get so lucky with my family).  I tried to capture them in the image below, but it didn't come out very well.
What I find interesting about the sketches, is that the optical character recognition program in didn't pick up this hit.  The moral of this story - always look for yourself!


Edgar Peirce of Colfax Township and shingle mills

Edgar Peirce responded to the editor's request for a farming history from Colfax and was published in the Pioneer Magnet (Big Rapids, Mecosta County, Michigan) from Thursday May 9, 1878.

Edgar Peirce found on Page 1 Column 3
I have been engaged in farming to some extent in the town of Colfax for five years past, and now have about fifty acres under cultivation.  Soil is sandy and clay loam.  We have in this township nearly every quality of soil one can mention, except black muck.  I have raised wheat, corn, oats, and potatoes, all with good success.  My wheat has averaged fifteen bushels per acre; corn about sixty, and potatoes 150 bushels per acre.  Have found home consumption for everything raised, and can therefore give no prices.
E. Peirce

I copied the area around Edgar's property from the 1879 Atlas of Mecosta County.  It shows Edgar Peirce and his two parcels of land in Colfax Township, one of which is listed as a shingle mill.
Edgar Peirce has a short biographical sketch in the Portrait and Biographical Album of Mecosta County.  He seems to have been quite a successful local politician being elected County Treasurer in 1878.  By 1880, Edgar is living in the city of Big Rapids, so his letter to the Pioneer Magnet arrives about the same time as major changes in his life.

Aside from the above mentioned articles, I did not find a whole lot of information on this family.  I would bet there is likely to be all kinds of interesting little 'tidbits' waiting to be discovered in Mecosta County for anyone researching this family!