The history of agriculture in Dane County, Wisconsin

The purpose in choosing this subject for a thesis was to make a beginning in an interesting and unexploited field of economic history, rather than to produce anything of widespread interest. Yet as limited as the subject is, it has proved to be too extensive for a monograph of this kind, and several chapters are withheld, while still others remain for future research. There is an opportunity for much work on the live-stock industry, but it can be treated more advantageously for the state than for the county. The tables in the appendix give a few bare facts on the subject.

There is a wealth of material for the writing of agricultural history, but as indicated in the short bibliography of this thesis, it is in newspapers and various government reports for the most part, and great patience is required for its discovery and collation. The information to be had at first hand is also of prime consideration. Such work as this, when further developed, ought to find a place in college courses on scientific agriculture or general industry.

Should this study seem to be overburdened with minor detail, it is largely due to the fact that it involves the interpretation of the simple pioneer's life, of the locality studied. To strip it of these amplifications would, in the estimation of the writer, rob it of its main value.

The writer wishes to acknowledge his obligations to Professor Ely and Professor Turner of the University of Wisconsin, under whose direction the work was undertaken, and to whose kindly suggestions and encouragement much is due. Valuable criticisms have been offered by Dr. H.C. Taylor of the same University. But thanks are due no less to the good people in various parts of the county who so generously assisted in bringing back the spirit of the early experiences of the pioneer, without which it would have been impossible to give meaning to much of the data available. Lastly, the librarians of the Wisconsin Historical Society; and the University earned the writer's gratitude by assisting him more than mere duty required.

 

Table of Contents

PART I EARLY CONDITIONS.

CHAPTER I.
Introductory 77

CHAPTER II.
The Movement of Settlers to Wisconsin 86

CHAPTER III.
The Purchase of Land From the Government 91

CHAPTER IV.
Selection of Land 105

CHAPTER V.
Difficulties of Early Farming 114

CHAPTER VI.
The One-Crop Period 121

Section I: Wheat.
Section II: Transportation

PART II - DIVERSIFIED FARMING.

CHAPTER I.
Transition from Simple to Complex Agriculture 145

CHAPTER II.
Hops 149

CHAPTER III.
Tobacco 155

CHAPTER IV.
The Dairy Industry 176

CHAPTER V.
The Size of Farms and Estates 185

CHAPTER VI.
Land Values 192

CHAPTER VII.
Density of Population 203

APPENDIX.

Map I. General Geology 208
Map II. Soil and Vegetation 209
Map III. Glacial action 210
Table I. Principal Farm Crops 211
Stable II. Principal Farm Stock 211
Table III. Miscellaneous Products 212
Bibliography 213

 

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It is the purpose of this work to give a view of the agriculture of Wisconsin both past and present. As it is, however, impracticable to deal with the state as a whole, the choice of a part of the state which shall at once be suitable in size and representative in character is a matter of no small consequence; and fortunately the county of Dane seems to contain within its borders a very generous share of the agricultural activities and possibilities of the entire state. More especially is it representative of the southern portion of Wisconsin, that is to say, of the agricultural portion. The name Dane was given to the county in honor of Nathan Dane of Massachusetts, the reputed author of the Ordinance of 1787 for the Northwest Territory, and not because of the presence of Danes as is frequently supposed. The county was set off from the west part of Milwaukee, and the east part of Iowa counties in 1836 but was not organized as a separate county until 1839.