History of Greene County, Missouri
1883

R. I. Holcombe, Editing Historian


 History of Missouri

Chapter 10: Agriculture and Material Wealth

Missouri as an Agricultural State — The Different Crops — Live Stock — Horses — Mules — Milch Cows — Oxen and other Cattle — Sheep — Hogs — Comparisons — Missouri adapted to Live Stock — Cotton — Broom-Corn and other Products — Fruits — Berries — Grapes — Railroads — First Neigh of the "Iron Horse" in Missouri — Names of Railroads — Manufactures — Great Bridge at St. Louis.


Agriculture is the greatest among all the arts of man, as it is the first in supplying his necessities. It favors and strengthens population; it creates and maintains manufactures; gives employment to navigation and furnishes materials to commerce. It animates every species of industry, and opens to nations the safest channels of wealth. It is the strongest bond of well regulated society, the surest basis of internal peace, and the natural associate of correct morals. Among all the occupations and professions of life, there is none more honorable, none more independent, and none more conducive to health and happiness.

In ancient times the sacred plow employ'd
The kings, and awful fathers of mankind;
And some, with whom compared your insect tribes
Are but the beings of a summer's day.
Have held the scale of empire, ruled the storm
Of mighty war with unwearied hand,
Disdaining little delicacies, seized
The plow and greatly independent lived.

As an agricultural region, Missouri is not surpassed by any State in the Union. It is indeed the farmer's kingdom, where he always reaps an abundant harvest. The soil, in many portions of the State, has an open, flexible structure, quickly absorbs the most excessive rains, and retains moisture with great tenacity. This being the case, it is not so easily affected by drouth. The prairies are covered with sweet, luxuriant grass, equally good for grazing and bay; grass not surpassed by the Kentucky blue grass—the best of clover and timothy in growing and fattening cattle. This grass is now as full of life-giving nutriment as it was when cropped by the buffalo, the elk, the antelope, and the deer, and costs the herdsman nothing. [59]

No State or territory has a more complete and rapid system of natural drainage, or a more abundant supply of pure, fresh water than Missouri. Both man and beast may slake their thirst from a thousand perennial fountains, which gush in limpid streams from the hill-sides, and wend their way through verdant valleys and along smiling prairies, varying, in size, as they onward flow, from the diminutive brooklet to the giant river.

Here, nature has generously bestowed her attractions of climate, soil and scenery to please and gratify man while earning his bread in the sweat of his brow. Being thus munificently endowed, Missouri offers superior inducements to the farmer, and bids him enter her broad domain and avail himself of her varied resources.

We present here a table showing the product of each principal crop in Missouri for 1878:

Indian Corn ———— 93,062,000 bushels
Wheat ———— 20,196,000 bushels
Rye ———— 732,000 bushels
Oats ———— 19,584,000 bushels
Buckwheat ———— 46,400 bushels
Potatoes ———— 5,415,000 bushels
Tobacco ———— 23,023,000 pounds
Hay ———— 1,620,000 tons

There were 3,552,000 acres in corn; wheat, 1,836,000; rye, 48,800; oats, 640,000; buckwheat, 2,900; potatoes, 72,200; tobacco, 29,900; hay, 850,000. Value of each crop: corn, $24,196,224; wheat, $13,531,320; rye, $300,120; oats, $3,325,120; buckwheat, $24,128; potatoes, $2,057,700; tobacco, $1,151,150; hay, $10,416,600.

Average cash value of crops per acre, $7.69; average yield of corn per acre, 26 bushels; wheat, 11 bushels.

Next in importance to the corn crop in value is livestock. The following table shows the number of horse, mules, and milch cows in the different States for 1879: [60]

STATES

HORSES

MULES

MILCH COWS

Maine

81,700

 

196,100

New Hampshire

57,100

 

98,100

Vermont

77,400

 

217,800

Massachusetts

131,000

 

160,700

Rhode Island

16,200

 

22,000

Connecticut

53,500

 

116,500

New York

898,900

11,800

1,446,200

New Jersey

114,500

14,400

152,200

Pennsylvania

614,500

24,900

828,400

Delaware

19,900

4,000

23,200

Maryland

108,600

11,300

100,500

Virginia

208,700

30,600

236,200

North Carolina

144,200

74,000

232,300

South Carolina

59,600

51,500

131,300

Georgia

119,200

97,200

273,100

Florida

22,400

11,900

70,000

Alabama

112,800

111,700

215,200

Mississippi

97,200

100,000

188,000

Louisiana

79,300

80,700

110,900

Texas

618,000

180,200

544,500

Arkansas

180,500

89,300

187,700

Tennessee

323,700

99,700

245,700

West Virginia

122,200

2,400

130,500

Kentucky

386,900

117,800

257,200

Ohio

772,700

26,700

714,100

Michigan

333,800

4,300

416,900

Indiana

688,800

61,200

439,200

Illinois

1,100,000

138,000

702,400

Wisconsin

384,400

8,700

477,300

Minnesota

247,300

7,000

278,900

Iowa

770,700

43,400

676,200

Missouri

627,300

191,900

516,200

Kansas

275,000

50,000

321,900

Nebraska

157,200

13,600

127,600

California

273,000

25,700

495,600

Oregon

109,700

3,500

112,400

Nevada, Colorado, and Territories

250,000

25,700

423,600

It will be seen from the above table, that Missouri is the fifth State in the number of horses; fifth in number of milch cows, and the leading State in number of mules, having 11,700 more than Texas, which produces the next largest number. Of oxen and other cattle, Missouri produced in 1879, 1,632,000, which was more than any other State produced excepting Texas, which had 4,800,00. In 1879 Missouri raised 2,817,600 hogs, which was more than any other State produced, excepting Iowa. The number of sheep was 1,296,400. The number of hogs packed in 1879, by the different States, is as follows:

Ohio
Indiana
Illinois
Iowa

932,878
622,321
3,214,896
569,763

Missouri
Wisconsin
Kentucky

965,839
472,108
212,412

[61]

AVERAGE WEIGHT PER HEAD FOR EACH STATE.

Ohio
Indiana
Illinois
Iowa

210.47
193.80
225,71
211.98

Missouri
Wisconsin
Kentucky

965,839
472,108
212,412

From the above it will be seen that Missouri annually packs more hogs than any other State except in Illinois, and that she ranks third in the average weight.

We see no reason why Missouri should not be the foremost stock-raising State of the Union. In addition to the enormous yield of corn and oats upon which the stock is largely dependent, the climate is well adapted to their growth and health. Water is not only inexhaustible, but everywhere convenient. The ranges of stock are boundless, affording for nine months of the year, excellent pasturage of nutritious wild grasses, which grow in great luxuriance upon the thousand prairies.

Cotton is grown successfully in many counties of the southeastern portions of the State, especially, in Stoddard, Scott, Pemiscot, Butler, New Madrid, Lawrence and Mississippi.

Sweet potatoes are produced in abundance and are not only sure but profitable.

Broom corn, sorghum, castor beans, white beans, peas, hops, thrive well, and all kinds of garden vegetables, are produced in great abundance and are found in the markets during all seasons of the year. Fruits of every variety, including the apple, pear, peach, cherries apricots and nectarines, are cultivated with great success, as are also, the strawberry, gooseberry, currant, raspberry and blackberry.

The grape has not been produced with that success that was at first anticipated, yet the yield of wine for the year 1879, was nearly half a million gallons. Grapes do well in Kansas, and we see no reason why they should not be as surely and profitably grown in a similar climate and soil in Missouri, and particularly in many of the counties north and east of the Missouri River. [62]

RAILROADS.

Twenty-nine years ago, the neigh of the 19 "iron horse" was heard for the first time, within the broad domain of Missouri. His coming presaged the dawn of a brighter and grander era in the history of the State. Her fertile prairies, and more prolific valleys would soon be of easy access to the oncoming tide of immigration, and the ores and minerals of her hills and mountains would be developed, and utilized in her manufacturing and industrial enterprises.

Additional facilities would be opened to the marts of trade and commerce; transportation from the interior of the State would be secured; a fresh impetus would be given to the growth of her towns and cities, and new hopes and inspirations would be imparted to all her people.

Since 1852, the initial period of railroad building in Missouri, between four and five thousand miles of track have been laid; additional roads are now being constructed, and many others in contemplation. The State is already well supplied with railroads which thread her surface in all directions, bringing her remotest districts into close connection with St. Louis, that great center of western railroads and inland commerce. These roads have a capital stock aggregating more than one hundred millions of dollars, and a funded debt of about the same amount.

The lines of roads which are operated in the State are the following:
Missouri Pacific—chartered May 10th, 1850; The St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railroad, which is a consolidation of the Arkansas Branch; The Cairo, Arkansas & Texas Railroad; The Cairo & Fulton Railroad; The Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railway; St. Louis & San Francisco Railway; The Chicago, Alton & St. Louis Railroad; The Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad; The Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad; The Kansas City, St. Joseph & Council Bluffs Railroad; The Keokuk & Kansas City Railway Company; The St. Louis, Salem & Little Rock Railroad Company; The Missouri & Western; The St. Louis, Keokuk & Northwestern Railroad; The St. Louis, Hannibal & Keokuk Railroad; The Missouri, Iowa & Nebraska Railway; The Quincy, Missouri & Pacific Railroad; The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway; The Burlington & Southwestern Railroad. [63]

MANUFACTURES.

The natural resources of Missouri especially fit her for a great manufacturing State. She is rich in soil; rich in all the elements which supply the furnace, the machine shop and the planing mill; rich in the multitude and variety of her gigantic forests; rich in her marble, stone and granite quarries; rich in her mines of iron, coal, lead and zinc; rich in strong arms and willing hands to apply the force; rich in water power and river navigation; and rich in her numerous and well-built railroads, whose numberless engines thunder along their multiplied track-ways.

Missouri contains over fourteen thousand manufacturing establishments, 1,965 of which are using steam and give employment to 80,000 hands. The capital employed is about $100,000,000, the material annually used and worked up, amounts to over $150,000,000, and the value of the products put upon the markets $250,000,000, while the wages paid are more than $40,000,000.

The leading manufacturing counties of the State, are St. Louis, Jackson, Buchanan, St. Charles, Marion, Franklin, Greene, Lafayette, Platte, Cape Girardeau, and Boone. Three-fourths, however, of the manufacturing is done in St. Louis, which is now about the second manufacturing city in the Union. Flouring mills produce annually about $38,194,000; carpentering $18,763,000; meat-packing $16,769,000; tobacco $12,496,000; iron and castings $12,000,000; liquors $11,245,000; clothing $10,022,000; lumber $8,652,000; bagging and bags $6,914,000, and many other smaller industries in proportion.

GREAT BRIDGE AT ST. LOUIS.

Of the many public improvements which do honor to the State and reflect great credit upon the genius of their projectors, we have space only, to mention the great bridge at St. Louis.

This truly wonderful construction is built of tubular steel, total length of which, with its approaches, is 6,277 feet, at a cost of nearly $8,000,000. The bridge spans the Mississippi from the Illinois to the Missouri shore, and has separate railroad tracks, roadways, and foot paths. In durability, architectural beauty and practical utility, there is, perhaps, no similar piece of workmanship that approximates it.

The structure of Darius upon the Bosphorus; of Xerxes upon the Hellespont; of Caesar upon the Rhine; and Trajan upon the Danube, famous in ancient history, were built for military purposes, that over them might pass invading armies with their munitions of war, to destroy commerce, to lay in waste the provinces, and to slaughter the people.

But the erection of this was for a higher and nobler purpose. Over it are coming the trade and merchandise of the opulent East, and thence are passing the untold riches of the West. Over it are crowding legions of men, armed not with the weapons of war but with the implements of peace and industry; men who are skilled in all the arts of agriculture, of manufacture and of mining; men who will hasten the day when St. Louis shall rank in population and importance, second to no city on the continent, and when Missouri shall proudly fill the measure of greatness, to which she is naturally so justly entitled. [64-65]


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