Sunday, September 11, 2011

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...

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