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    Farming in Iowa 19th Century

    Hawk-Eye Yeomanry:
    The State of Agriculture in Iowa in 1861,
    with anecdotal information for 1862-1864
    Robert Welch

    The purpose of this summary document is to allow living historians portraying Iowa soldiers during the Civil War with the opportunity to understand the farm economy of their “home” state at the time of their probable enlistment in 1861. Additionally, this paper will also include information about farming in Iowa during the war years that soldiers may have received from home through family letters as well as newspapers and periodicals. While this will be as inclusive as possible, this paper is meant only as an overview of farming in Iowa during the period as available primary and secondary sources; as such, there will be issues that lay beyond the parameters. It should also be noted that this piece has been written with the assumption that the reader has no previous knowledge of the evolution of nineteenth century agriculture; as such, the advanced reader will no doubt encounter information already known to them. I find it best to cover all the bases in order to provide a basic grounding in the topic. I will include a bibliography at the end of this paper that the living historian can use to flesh out their impressions or investigate further at their leisure. If you have any questions about agriculture in the antebellum upper Midwest during the period, please feel free to contact the author at cowsandplows@gmail.com.
    Introduction
    Agriculture in Iowa was in a state of flux at the beginning of the 1860s. A generation after the first settlers set foot on the prairies of the new territory, farmers shed their initial fear of the “barren” prairies and fanned out into what we now know is perhaps some of the most fertile soil in the world. The only major barrier that prevented the agricultural settlement of the entire state was a lack of practical and cheap tiling equipment necessary for dealing with the pothole prairies and “wet” soils of northwestern Iowa. New technologies became available on a growing scale, changing the social and economic dynamics of the rural community. These changes happened quickest in areas related to planting, harvesting, and processing technology, although many crop-related tasks had not changed significantly from previous generations. Farm crops remained fairly stable, with limited experimentation in new crops based on needs derived from the loss of Southern crops like sugar and tobacco, as well as war profiteering in the form of increased interest in wool. One aspect that remains relatively unexplored with any depth by historians is the loss of agricultural markets in the South suffered by Midwestern farmers during the war. Southern “plantation-style” agricultural production of cash crops like cotton, tobacco and rice placed an emphasis on the production of marketable commodities and not the large-scale production of foodstuffs to feed the owners or the slaves. As such, the closing of the Mississippi River in 1861 not only cost Iowans access to the trade center of New Orleans, it also cost them Southern markets for their crops. Combined with increased shipping costs for rail transit, this sent the agricultural economy of Iowa into an initial downturn with the onset of the war. As noted in The Report of the Iowa State Agricultural Society for 1861,
    If the advancement of the agricultural interests be measured according
    abundance of the crops, we may say the past year has been one of
    average prosperity; but if it be determined by our ability to convert
    these crops at remunerative prices into means whereby to supply the
    comforts and meet the necessities of life, it is far below average.
    While farmers persevered with this initial downturn, by 1863 the economic situation changed drastically. Farmers were able to capitalize on the need to feed an army and a nation; as a result prices dramatically increased. As Willard S. Eddy stated in the report of the Jackson County Agricultural Society’s report for 1863,
    During the past year our farmers have had a season of financial
    prosperity, seldom equaled, and the times have been good for making
    money, everything bringing a good price. During the past fall many
    of our farms have been released from under the pressure of the money
    lenders’ mortgages’, and those just starting partly on borrowed capital
    feel relieved and breathe much easier than before at the enlarged prospects
    now spread out before them.
    With this new influx of war funds, Iowans invested in new farming technologies, improved the livestock raised for market and for labor, and laid a foundation for profound agricultural changes to come.
    Crop Reports
    Wheat was the main cash crop in 1860s Iowa. While far more corn was produced, no commodity market per se existed for corn, save for “marketing” corn on the hoof as hogs and beef. The other main crops of the farm were potatoes, one of the primary sources of home-grown sustenance in the period; oats increased in importance as horses and horse-drawn farm implements gained popularity; cultivated hay, such as timothy and clovers; “prairie hay” or native prairie grasses harvested for forage; and sorghum cultivation increased to answer for the lack of Southern sugar. Prices remained volatile throughout the period, due to the war as well as a very unstable climate in Iowa during the early 1860s. Frosts were reported in August in both 1863 and 1864, and a massive hail storm in eastern third of Iowa in 1863 did heavy damage to farms.

    Average wheat yield per acre, noted injuries, popular varieties, average corn yield per acre
    All information found in Annual Report of the Iowa State Agricultural Society, volumes 8-11.

    24th Iowa Counties (IPW) 1861 1862 1863 1864
    Cedar County
    (B and C) WHEAT avg: 13 bu/acre
    Chinch Bugs
    Canada Club, Fife, Berlin
    CORN avg: 35 bu/acre (Split in the County Society, so two sets of statistics given)
    WHEAT avg: 5-8 bu/acre
    Hessian Fly and Chinch Bug
    Tea, Scotch Fife, Canada Club
    CORN avg: “good” to “excellent”
    HOG CHOLERA IN COUNTY Severe drought, early frosts. No other information. No Report
    Jackson County
    (A and I) WHEAT avg: 10 bu/acre
    Drought and Chinch bugs
    Canada Club, Tea
    CORN avg: 35 bu/acre WHEAT avg: 4 bu/acre
    “Many fields were not harvested.”
    Canada Club, Rio Grande, Chili Wheat
    CORN avg: 50 bu/acre WHEAT avg: 20 bu/acre
    CORN avg: none given; 2/3 crop failure due to early frost damage WHEAT avg: <6 bu/acre
    Drought, chinch bug
    CORN avg: up to half the crop lost to drought and chinchbugs after wheat harvest

    Johnson County
    (D) WHEAT avg: 11 bu/acre
    Drought and Chinch bugs
    Tea, Black Sea, Canada Club
    CORN avg: 25 bu/acre WHEAT avg: 5 or 6 bu/acre
    Fly, rust, chinch bug
    Tea, Club
    CORN avg: 50 or 60 bu/acre
    HOG CHOLERA IN COUNTY WHEAT avg: 15-18 bu/acre
    Tea, Canada Club, Fyfe
    CORN: almost complete failure due to droughts and frosts WHEAT avg: approx. 12 bu/acre; switching to Fall-sown wheat due to chinch bugs
    CORN avg: “heavy crop”
    Jones County
    (K) WHEAT avg: 12 bu/acre
    Heavy pigeon damage in eastern Jones County, drought, chinch bugs
    Club, Tea, Fife
    CORN avg: 40 bu/acre WHEAT avg: 8 bu/acre
    Chinch bug
    Club, Tea, Fife
    CORN avg: 50 bu/acre NO REPORT WHEAT avg: “nearly a failure”
    CORN avg: “heavy crop” blown down by high winds in September
    Linn County
    (F, G, H) WHEAT avg: 16 bu/acre
    Early drought
    No named varietals
    CORN avg: 60 bu/acre WHEAT avg: “Almost a total failure.”
    Chinch bug
    Canada Club, Tea
    CORN avg: 40 bu/acre NO REPORT NO CROP REPORT
    Tama County
    (E) WHEAT avg: 10 bu/acre
    Dry weather before harvest, wet after harvest
    Rio Grand, Club, Tea
    CORN avg: unknown, marked as “light crop except on bottom lands” NO REPORT NO REPORT
    10th Iowa Counties (Bummers) 1861 1862 1863 1864
    Boone County (D) WHEAT avg: 15 bu/acre
    Wild Goose, Pilcher Wheat
    CORN avg: 25 bu/acre NO REPORT NO REPORT NO REPORT
    Greene County (H) No Data available (No agricultural society) NO REPORT NO REPORT NO REPORT
    Jasper County (I) WHEAT avg: 12 bu/acre
    Club and Black Sea
    CORN avg: 50 bu/acre WHEAT avg: 10 bu/acre
    Chinch bug
    CORN avg: 30 bu/acre
    “There is a mania for sheep.” Mixed Spanish Merino and common stock WHEAT avg: 25% below avg
    Drought
    CORN avg: 1/3 below normal due to early frost damage NO REPORT
    Polk County
    (A, B, K) WHEAT avg: 12 bu/acre
    Drought
    Goose, Tea, Fife, Mediterranean
    CORN avg: 35 bu/acre WHEAT avg: 10 bu/acre
    Chinch bug
    Wild Goose and Tea
    CORN avg: 50 bu/acre WHEAT avg: 80% of normal
    Drought, chinch bug
    Goose, Tea, Fife, Black Sea, Mediterranean
    75 TO 80 CENTS/Bushel
    CORN: almost a complete failure; less planted due to scarce labor; summer drought. 30 TO 40 CENTS/BUSHEL NO REPORT
    Poweshiek County (F) WHEAT avg: 15 bu/acre
    Injured by rain after harvest
    Fife and Club
    CORN avg: 50 bu/acre NO REPORT NO REPORT NO REPORT
    Tama County (C) WHEAT avg: 10 bu/acre
    Dry weather before harvest, wet after harvest
    Rio Grand, Club, Tea
    CORN avg: unknown, marked as “light crop except on bottom lands” NO REPORT NO REPORT NO REPORT
    Warren County (B and G) No data available
    (No Agricultural Society) NO REPORT NO REPORT NO REPORT
    Washington County (E) WHEAT avg: 12 bu/acre
    Canada Club, Italian, Tea, Rio Grande, Scotch
    CORN avg: 50 bu/acre WHEAT avg: 5 bu/acre
    Chinch bug
    Club, Tea, White
    CORN avg: 30 bu/acre WHEAT avg: “average” crop
    Drought and chinch bug
    Corn avg: crop decimated by August frost
    NO HOG CHOLERA WHEAT: abandoning Spring Wheat due to chinch bugs

    Livestock
    The inclusion of preferred livestock breeds as named in The Annual Report of the Iowa State Agricultural Society indicates only a few named breeds of livestock present within the State of Iowa. These breeds were imported in an attempt to “improve” standard livestock breeds already present on the prairies of mixed origins.
    Cattle: Short Horns, Devons, Ayrshires, and Jerseys are mentioned sporadically.
    Cattle were referred to according to their purpose. Neat or neap cattle are multipurpose animals, whereas milch cows were kept for dairy use. Beef did not compromise a significant amount to the rural diet, as a beef carcass provided more meat than one farm family could use. The U.S. census only refers to milch cattle and other cattle, so it is almost impossible to differentiate between oxen, beef cattle, etc., when referring to agricultural schedules of the census.
    Hogs: Chester Whites, Suffolks, Berkshires, and McGees (or Magees) are being used for improving bloodlines. Wild or “American” hogs are referred to as Hazel Splitters.
    Hogs provided the backbone of the American diet in the 1860s, marking a place of relative importance on the Iowa farmstead. Most farmers still held to the common form of keeping hogs by releasing them into the woods to forage for themselves. Hogs were released in the spring once the snow was waning and new plant growth provided mast for foraging. They were rounded up in the fall, usually October and November, to be penned and fattened on corn for slaughtering in December and January, a time of year cold enough to prevent the meat from spoiling while it was brined prior to smoking. The use of mast as for feed created what many people called a greasy, oddly flavored pork. With the advent of “improved” livestock breeds, corn became more important on the farm as hog feed. As generations of farmers began to comment in the 1860s, a bushel of corn was worth a pound of pork.
    Horses: Morgans are the only breed mentioned in any of the historical society accounts for improving work stock. No named “leisure” varieties attested to in records.
    Sheep: French Merinos, Spanish Merinos, Southdowns used to improve common bloodlines.
    Sheep generally required no special feed other than pasture. With the increase in sheep production, Iowans had to deal with a new danger to livestock production: dogs. In the 1861 Report of the State Board of Agriculture, the board asked the Governor and the Legislature to deal with the dangers that dogs posed to sheep farming.
    Numerous petitions and numerously signed by the most intelligent
    and enterprising farmers of the State will again be presented at the
    present session, praying that in your wisdom you will devise some
    measures by which wool-growers may have their flocks protected from
    the ravages of the myriads of worthless curs that infest the State,
    especially in the neighborhoods of towns and villages. To these petitions
    the several members of the Board would add whatever of influence they
    possess and urge upon you to provide that dogs may be taxed, slain, destroyed,
    or got rid of in any way, so that their shiftless owners may be relieved of
    a burthen, the flock-masters of a scourge, and the community at large of a pest.

    Fencing
    Part of the transition to “modern” agriculture in Iowa centered on fencing laws and the obstacles presented by lack of viable construction materials. In those areas of the state closest to the Mississippi and in any of the numerous river drainages, timber was plentiful for the construction of Virginia pattern fences. Once farmers entered the prairie regions timber became scarce and fencing became a matter of contention. The situation was seen as so dire at one point as to be the main obstacle to settling the state. Prior to the 1860s, Iowa’s herd laws called for farmers to protect their crops by fencing them in, due to the use of a commons plan of livestock grazing. Animals were loosed to fend for themselves, and it was up to the individual to protect their own crops from marauding hogs and cattle. Farmers were instructed to maintain their fences horse high, bull strong and hog tight. This meant that a fence was high enough to prevent a horse from jumping over it, strong enough that a bull could not knock it over, and closely fitted enough that hogs could not get through them. (From personal experience while working at a living history agricultural museum, no man-made fence meets these qualifications.) Fence maintenance took a large portion of the farmer’s time and financial resources throughout the year. In 1861 the State Board of Agriculture began to call for a reform of the state’s fencing laws, seeking that animals be confined to fenced pastures and pens and that crops be allowed to go unfenced in order to cut down on labor and save precious resources, money and time.
    In order to deal with the issue of fencing, farmers in Iowa were encouraged to cultivate timber lots in order to provide for the amount of building materials necessary to maintain their fences, as well to experiment with imported Osage Orange trees to create hedge fences. Hedge fencing is achieved over a period of years if properly maintained, and almost none of them were properly maintained. Until the practical advent of galvanized barbed wire, the only other practical means of fencing was a board fence, far too expensive for the majority of Iowa farmers in the era.
    Implements
    To truly articulate the various agricultural implements available to the farmer of the 1860s would take a dissertation of immense length. This brief synopsis will attempt to describe the most important devices and a few of their better known manufacturers. As these varied by city and region, it is best to search newspapers advertisements for dealers and descriptions of available equipment.
    A brief word about the manufacture and sale of farm implements. By the 1860s, the local blacksmith was not manufacturing plows anymore unless requested by an incredibly cheap or arcane farmer. Blacksmiths sharpened plow shares and repaired implements in the Midwest at this period. They also did not manufacture horseshoes. By the 1860s, sales agents and individuals began to establish “implement warehouses”, the predecessor to the modern farm dealer. These warehouses were not brand specific; they could not afford to be. In general, a company produced one type of machinery and that was all. For example, John Deere operated as the Moline Plow Manufactory and only produced plows and cultivators, especially after 1863. The Kirby Company of Ohio produced mowers, reapers, and some threshing machines, all items related to the harvest and processing of grass crops. While John Deere, or more specifically his son Charles, would begin to establish John Deere Agricultural Warehouses after the war, individual sales people needed to diversify their stock in order to make money all year long. These warehouses were also the place that farmers went to purchase seeds and some machinery for the home such as washing machines and dairy processing equipment. In general, the stock of these locations rotated quickly throughout the year. Warehouses and sales agents rarely kept more than one sample item per style/piece of equipment on hand; business relied on fulfilling seasonal orders rather than keeping stocked items on hand. Purchases were made by ordering the desired piece of machinery and buying it on credit with a down payment, and three more payments made once a year on the anniversary date of purchase or at such a time as farmers could afford to pay, such as after harvest.
    This is just a beginning summary list and description of available farm machinery; actual individual farm inventories varied so widely that it would be nearly impossible to declare what an “average” farmer owned.
    Plows: Most farms in Iowa still utilized walking plows for field preparation. Sulky plows were beginning to appear around the beginning of the war, but these were one bottom plows that were in essence a riding platform with a modified walking plow fitted underneath. Levers manipulated the entire carriage to drop the plow into the furrow and set depth.
    Cultivators: Corn cultivation took place from the time that the plants were discernable until around the Fourth of July, at which time the corn was tall enough that weeds would not choke it out. Besides the use of garden hoes for hand cultivation, single- and double-shovel cultivators pulled by one horse provided the majority of weeding in the corn field. Several companies including Deere produced small specialty plows for corn cultivation. Some farmers purchased early riding cultivators, but these implements did not have shields for directing the dirt from the cultivating shoes. The earliest example this author has seen used the feet of the operator to guide the shoes through the rows.
    Corn Planters: Planting technology varied widely, depending on the income and field size of the farmer in question. People in Iowa were still planting by hand, with either hand-held droppers or actually dropping the seed by hand while using a garden hoe to create the proper depression in the ground. This allowed a farmer to plant one acre per day, so only those with small fields could afford to plant by hand. For farms with larger fields, which tended to max out at twenty-five acres, the yeoman of means chose riding corn planters. The George Brown Company of Galesburg, Illinois, created one of the first practical riding corn planters in the 1850s. One person drove the machine, pulled by two horses, while another sat in front of the driver and used a hand lever to drop seeds while watching the cross-plowing marks in the field to properly gauge distance between plantings in the row. By the late 1850s Brown added an optional check-row mechanism to mechanically assure proper planting distance. Early check rowers operated with either check wire, similar to later wire, or with check cord, a heavy cord with metal buttons woven in at set lengths.
    Wheat planting: While seed drills were becoming available prior to the beginning of the war, their acceptance by farmers is hard to gauge. Many farmers in Iowa still broadcast seed by hand or with end-gate seeders.
    Reapers: McCormick and Hussey debated who invented the mechanical reaper first in the 1830s, but it wasn’t until the prairies of Iowa and Illinois were opened that these machines became practical for the individual owner to purchase. By the 1860s the most popular version of the reaper available was the self-raking machine. Operated off a ground drive gear often cast into the main drive wheel, the machine used a set of four rotating rakes that pushed the stalks against the cutter bar, dropped it onto the platform, and then swept the grain off the platform into a row trailing behind the machine. A group of workers still had to follow the reaper to bind the grain into sheaves and then shock them. While mechanical grain harvesting was more and more economical, the persistence of grain cradles and hand harvesting of wheat in the period is plain.
    Mowers: Hay harvest was still a toss-up as far as technology goes. While practical mowers were readily available and perhaps the most affordable piece of horse-drawn equipment, many traditionalists still harvested hay by hand. The Kirby mower and the Walter A. Woods mower were probably the most popular mowers of the times as evidenced by newspaper ads and number of surviving implements. In an effort to save money, farmers sought to purchase combined mowers and reapers when possible, but the quality of machine was often questionable, and disassembling the reaper mechanism often created more of a problem than was worth the money saved.
    Hay Press: Without an accurate census measurement of actual implements owned it is hard to place an accurate estimate on the number of farmers who actually owned hay presses. An educated guess would place the number of hay presses at less than five percent of total farms in Iowa. Almost all farmers chose to store hay loose; only those selling hay as a commodity invested in presses.
    Threshing Machines: This single piece of machinery has its own slice of historical debate among historians. While a threshed and its associated horse power for running the machine were financially beyond the reach for the individual farmers, several farmers in a neighborhood might join together to form a “ring” and jointly purchase a machine. A complete threshing outfit often ran to almost $700, so sharing was by far the most practical way to purchase a machine, but this then creates social issues of who gets first use, who stores the machine, and so on. Despite the cost and the problems a thresher brought to a farm network, it was essential to process wheat and oats for the market and ensure the best price. Only the poorest farmers or those without an adequate social network used flails to process their small grain markets. The other option for threshing grain was a ground hog thresher, a device first developed in the 1840s that crudely crushed the stems and did a poor job of separating grain heads from the rest of the plant. Horse powers of the era tended to be inclined treadmills for two horses side by side. By the 1860s there was an increasing use of stationary steam engines on farms to power threshers, but these were more than likely cost prohibitive for the average farmer to own.
    You will no doubt notice that corn harvesting machinery has not been mentioned. Mechanical corn harvesters/binders were not invented until the 1880s. Most farmers either picked corn by hand and threw the ears in the husk into a wagon fitted with a vertical bang board or cut the stalk with a knife and shocked their corn. A good farmer could have three ears in motion at any one time: one hitting the bang board, one in the air, and one in the hand coming off the stalk.
    Cedar Rapids area stores advertising agricultural implements.
    The Cedar Valley Times 1/17/1861
    Pioneer Hardware Store, H.S. Camp & Sons; Commercial St, Cedar Rapids
    “A large stock of grass and grain scythes, snaths, grain cradles, hay and manure forks, cutting boxes, etc. Deere’s Moline Plows. Hall’s Rochester Separator and Horse Power.
    McCormick’s Reapers.”
    Linn County Iron Works. S.L. Pollock
    “Breaking, crossing, & Corn Plows, at a cheaper, better, and more expeditious rate, than at any other shop
    in Linn County. These plows have given universal satisfaction. They are of easy draft, run true, and are made of the very best material possible to be obtained. And the fact that I WARRANT ALL MY WORK, should be sufficient inducement for farmers to buy my Plows in preference to those manufactured abroad.”


    “FARMERS, ATTENTION!
    ======================
    F. J. Upton & Co.
    are now prepared to furnish the farmers of this vicinity,
    with all kinds of
    AGRICULTURAL MACHINERY
    of the
    Latest and Best Improvements
    such as
    Manny’s Reaper & Mower Combined,
    Kirby’s American Harvester,
    Haine’s Ill. Harvester,
    Sweepstakes Threshing Machine,
    Manufactured by C. Aultman & Co., Canton, O.,
    H.A. Pitt’s Threshing Machine,
    Emery’s 1 and 2 Horse Threshing Machine,
    The only Fanning Mill that will separate Wheat from
    Oats, adapted to all kinds of seeds.
    We invite also early attention of farmers to our present
    Cultivators, which we manufacture to order only,
    which will save one half the labor over
    a Shovel Plow.

    We put up
    Lyon’s Patent Copper Lightning Rods,
    Warranted eight times the conducting capacity of Iron
    Rods.
    All Kinds of
    Sugar-Making Apparatus,
    Selby’s Drills,
    Crushers, Rollers, Plows,
    Farming Implements, Washing Machines,
    &c., &c.
    Our warehouse will open in a short time on the
    corner of Iowa Avenue and Adams Streets. We invite
    all to call and see sample before buying elsewhere.
    Those in want of anything in this line, would do well
    to call on us as we can put the prices at figures, which can-
    not fail to suit. Send in your orders early, so that the
    machines may be delivered in good season.”

    “CASH FOR WHEAT!
    ----------------------------
    H. G. Angle & Co.
    Continue to pay the highest price in cash for wheat at
    either of their mills. At their merchant mill
    they will exchange
    FLOUR FOR WHEAT,
    On the most liberal terms
    At their custom mill
    All kinds of grain will be ground for
    TOLL OR EXCHANGED.
    FLOUR, CORN, MEAL, BRAN,
    Shorts, &c.,
    Constantly on hand, for sale, low as their lowest!
    FOR CASH!
    Sample Advertisements from The Iowa State Register
    September 4, 1861
    Child’s & Howell
    Dealers In
    Hardware of Every Variety,
    And Sole Agents for
    Manny’s Reaper and Mower,
    Deere Moline Plows,
    Pennock’s Wheat Drills,
    Pitt’s Threshing Machines,
    Bakewell’s Circular Saws,
    Boston Belting Company,
    Sign of the “Big Anvil”
    Old stand of Sanford & Co.
    Corner Court Avenue & Second Sts


    H. N. Hemingway E. L. Tidrick
    Des Moines
    Steam Engine Works
    ----------------
    We have entered into a co-partnership for a term
    of years, in the above business, and will give
    our entire attention to the manufacture of
    Steam Engines, Mill Gearing,
    and all kinds of
    Wrought and Cast Mill Irons
    Horse Powers, Sugar Mills for Crush-
    ing Cane, Kettles, Quartz Crushers,
    Cast Iron Fronts, for Buildings,
    And All Kinds of Iron and
    Brass Castings

    Fiske & Eliot
    Forwarding and Commission
    Merchants,
    -And-
    Dealers in Agricultural Implements,
    Marengo and Iowa City, Iowa.
    -----------------
    General Merchants for
    McCormick’s Reapers & Mowers,
    Agents for Deere’s Moline Plows, Bickford &
    Huffman’s Grain Drills and Thresher and Sepa-
    rators, of various patterns.
    Will be at Brooklyn on the opening of the
    road to that point.

    Draft Animals
    Due to the advent of improved farm implements, draft power was in the process of changing. Many still maintained yokes of oxen for plowing and heavy transport, but articles such as mowers, reapers, and other machines required faster, lighter animals for best efficiency. Oxen, while strong enough for breaking virgin soil, could not maintain the speed necessary for the ground-driven gearing of the new machines. This caused an increase in the amount of horses kept on the farm, as well as a dramatic increase in the production of oats for feed. Mules are present as draft animals within the state, but not of a significant nature.
    Impact of the war on farming in Iowa
    While the war by and large increased the economic standing of the state of Iowa, issues of available farm labor and expensive new machinery to replace manpower negated much of the newfound profits. The state also faced issues of infrastructure related to market access. While several railroads had lines within the borders of the state, getting past the Mississippi River by continuous rail journey was still difficult. River transportation to water ports was impossible until the reopening of the route to New Orleans via Vicksburg in mid-1863. In some cases this infrastructure issue grew to the point that stockpiles of agricultural goods built up in Iowa while people in the eastern United States, as well as in Europe, faced high food prices and at times starvation.

    I hope that in some way this short review has been helpful. As mentioned earlier, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need any clarifications. The one book I would recommend any person interested in Midwestern antebellum agriculture should own is From Prairie to Cornbelt by Allan Bogue. Not only does it offer an in-depth analysis of many of the facets of farming in Iowa, it is actually an enjoyable read that will answer many of your questions.






    Selected Bibliography
    Board of Directors of the Iowa State Agricultural Society. Annual Report of the Iowa State Agricultural Society. Volumes 8-11. Des Moines: F. W. Palmer, State Printer. 1863-1865.
    Bogue, Allan G. From Prairie to Cornbelt: Farming on the Illinois and Iowa Prairies in the Nineteenth Century. Chicago: Quadrangle Books. 1968.
    The Cedar Valley Times, Cedar Rapids, IA 1861.
    Ferleger, Lou, editor. Agriculture and National Development: Views on the Nineteenth Century. The Henry A. Wallace Series on Agricultural History and Rural Studies, Richard S. Kirkendall, series editor. Ames: Iowa State University Press. 1990.
    Gates, Paul Wallace. The Farmer’s Age: Agriculture, 1815-1860. Volume Three, The Economic History of the United States. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 1960.
    ------------------------. Agriculture and the Civil War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 1965.
    Historical Census Browser. http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/colle...php?year=V1860
    The Iowa State Register Des Moines, IA 1861-1864
    Rogin, Leo. The Introduction of Farm Machinery in its Relation to the Productivity of Labor in the Agriculture of the United States During the Nineteenth Century. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1931.
    Ross, Earle D. Iowa Agriculture: An Historical Survey. Iowa City, Iowa: The State Historical Society of Iowa. 1951.



    Selected Bibliography
    Nathan Hellwig
    AKA Harrison "Holler" Holloway
    "It was the Union armies west of the Appalachians that struck the death knell of the Confederacy." Leslie Anders ,Preface, The Twenty-First Missouri

  2. #2
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    Re: Farming in Iowa 19th Century

    As an addendum, I have various images of implements and ads for implements that I can post if anyone is interested.
    Bob Welch

    Dirty Shirts
    Cornfed Comrades

    The Eagle and The Journal
    My blog, following one Illinois community from Lincoln's election through the end of the Civil War through the articles originally printed in its two newspapers.

  3. #3
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    Re: Farming in Iowa 19th Century

    Gentleman-

    While doing some research today I found that the Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library, has a film posted on Youtube called "When We farmed with Horses." While the film deals with the early twentieth century memories of farming in Iowa and features the oral histories of several good Iowa farmers, it is noteworthy that many of the farming techniques shown and discussed in this film are applicable to an agricultural impression. The film shows the actual field use of hand corn planters, a hand thrown George Brown corn planter, double shovel cultivation, harvesting with a grain cradle, and many more aspects of physical farm labor. Perhaps the moderators might find this inappropriate to post, but as I mentioned, besides the design of the machinery, the terminology, language and practice of farming had in many ways not changed between our era and the early twentieth century. For instance, when they mention using a disc (post-period) one would simply insert harrowing. I post links to the three sections of the film here for your use.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aauVl...5622B8&index=1

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhvbn...5622B8&index=2

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_BBA...5622B8&index=3
    Bob Welch

    Dirty Shirts
    Cornfed Comrades

    The Eagle and The Journal
    My blog, following one Illinois community from Lincoln's election through the end of the Civil War through the articles originally printed in its two newspapers.

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