Ezra’s Farm in 1860

By the Numbers

Statistics from Ezra Darwin Darling's farm in Lime Creek Township, Washington County, Iowa in 1860 provide insight into daily life of an ancestor just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War.

Six bushels of Irish potatoes. Are Russet potatoes Irish potatoes? That’s what I am assuming.

Two hundred pounds of butter! He and Caroline, who I am sure did most, if not all of the churning, had 200 lbs. of butter on hand?!

Ten tons of hay. That’s a lotta hay. And their granddaughter Geneva, my great grandmother, would go on to marry a man named Hay.

Forty gallons of molasses. What’s that for, cooking & baking?

Eight pounds of beeswax. Candles? Soap?

Ezra had 180 acres of land, 40 of which were deemed “improved” and 140 considered “unimproved.” What these mean beyond the basic, fundamental understandings I don’t know. The cash value of the farm was recorded as $1440.

Eight milch cows. Gonna have to look up the word milch.

One working ox. Or given that it reads oxen, is that two?

And one “other cattle.” What’s the purpose of this one? Why a separate listing?

No sheep.

Twelve pigs. Or swine. Man, how I love bacon.

The value of the livestock was listed at $238.

There were 60 bushels of wheat and 300 bushels of Indian corn on hand.

It’s quite the list. Everything was tabulated on June 12, 1860 on his farm in Lime Creek Township, Washington County, Iowa.

There is a precipitous decline in these numbers on the 1870 ag census. Why? It is unclear. But did Ezra focus on other endeavors, such as the post office?

ajh

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