Agricultural History Series
Agricultural History Series
 Missouri State University

Agriculture in Post-Civil War Missouri 

Barton County

gold bar

By 1866, the war had devastated much of the population of Barton County. The inhabitants were robbed of their goods and chattels, then driven out to seek shelter elsewhere, some were even murdered. Their buildings and fences were burned; orchards and shrubbery destroyed and desolation reigned. In the third and fourth years of the war there were reports of only two families left in the county. In early 1866 people began to valiantly recover from the losses and destruction to their land and crops with what little they had left. Due to the lack of rain, corn growth suffered but picked up later in the year. Potatoes and other vegetables were plentiful. There wasnít very much wheat sown as they did not return to the county in time to sow fall wheat. They had tried spring wheat, but it had not been successfully raised in Barton County. Oats produced a higher than average yield. Garden vegetables also did well, however, the grasshoppers that came from the west in the middle of September injured cabbage, turnips and others. The grasshoppers remained until the first of December destroying completely all the wheat and rye sown.

Before the war, Barton County was said to be one of the best fruit growing counties in Missouri and the United States. Apples, peaches, pears, cherries, plums, grapes, black, straw and raspberries, gooseberries, and currants were some of the fruits grown. Most of the orchards were destroyed in the war but where there were apple orchards left there was an abundant crop. Peaches and some of the other smaller fruits survived and the ones that didnít were rapidly being replaced. In addition, it was noted that hay was an average crop and timothy and blue grass were well adapted.

men reaping grain

In 1868, land was selling for $3.50 to $5.00 an acre. Life was improving as the soil was yielding great success in growing wheat, oats, and rye in addition to the climate being well suited for fruits. There was an inexhaustible amount of timber, coal, water and grazing land. It was written that they had near ten thousand dollars per year in their school fund, which was enough to run their schools, free of charge, for ten months in the year. Many people from the north moved in bringing industries to Barton County that nearly tripled the countyís wealth than before the war. However, it was noted that thousands of acres of land were still lying idle.

Next page.   Reference:
  • Agriculture Report of Missouri, 1866

  • Agriculture Report of Missouri, 1868

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