Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Jacob Gingrich of Wheatland Township

Here is another letter published published in the Pioneer Magnet (Big Rapids, Mecosta County, Michigan) from Thursday May 9, 1878.

Jacob Gingrich (Page 1 Column 6)
I have had nine years experience in farming in the town of Wheatland, Mecosta county.  Have 160 acres of land; 90 acres under cultivation.  My wheat has yielded from 25 to 35 bushels per acre; oats, 35 to 40 bushels; rye, 15 to 20 bushels; corn - shelled - 40 to 50 bushels; and potatoes 300 bushels per acre.  Hay, from one to two tons per acre.  Fruit is rather scarce as yet, but is expected to do well.  The prices I have received for my crops average about as follows:  Wheat, per bushel, $1.25; oats, 40 cents; corn, 65 cents; rye, $1.00; potatoes, 45 cents.  Hay, $14 per ton.  My plan for preparing ground for crops is as follows:  For fall or winter wheat - plow six inches deep just before haying; harrow well, and let it lay until seeding time; then apply a heavy coat of manure, and plow again nine inches deep.  For oats and corn, plow in the fall.  For seeding with clover, sow buckwheat in July, and sow clover seed before harrowing the last time.  Buckwheat yields from 75 to 80 bushels from one bushel of seed.  Unimproved land in the vicinity are worth $8 to $10 per acre.  Timber, splendid beech and maple, and soil mostly clay loam, with plenty of good water for house and stock purposes.  Improved lands are worth from $25 to $30 an acre.
Jacob Gingrich dated April 5, 1878.

Jacob Gingrich is another example of why we should not just assume an individual is not in the census if they do not appear in the index.  I did a soundex search on Gingrich (with no first name) in Mecosta County, Michigan.  No hits were returned.  

It seemed to me that the farm Jacob was describing in his letter had to be at least eight years old as it seems quite prosperous.  So I did a page-by-page search for Jacob in the Wheatland Township enumeration.  Sure enough, Jacob is there.  The census enumerator listed him as Jacob Ginglick rather than Jacob Gingrich.  I clipped the household from the 1870 census image at Ancestry.com.  This family is spread across three contiguous households on two census pages.
The reason I started with the 1870 census is because I know something about Jacob That he and his family didn't.  Jacob would be dead in a little more than two years, though he did make it to the 1880 mortality schedule.  It always gives me an odd feeling when I know these individuals death dates.  I have always viewed census records as 'living documents'.  These endless lists of names really are snapshots of living families.  

Just like you and I, when we completed our 2010 census form, these individuals were very much alive fighting the good fight that we all do every day.  It's rather strange but when I see these records, I almost can smell the wood burning on the hearths and in the stoves of these households.  I hear the farm animals and smell the freshly cut hay.  I'm sure Jacob probably had no clue that his time on earth was rapidly drawing to a close.

Here is Jacob's death return for Mecosta County.  You can find this record at FamilySearch.org.

The 1880 census shows quite a change for this large family.  Barbary Gingrich is now enumerated in her own household.  John Gingrich is enumerated several households away.     

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