Agricultural History Series
Agricultural History Series
 Missouri State University

Agriculture in Post-Civil War Missouri 

Pike County

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The Pike County population in 1868 was over 23,000 people. Most were involved in agriculture.  Agriculture was a huge part of the economy then, as it is now.  With the fertile soils in the floodplains, many different types of crops could be grown.  Anything from your typical corn and wheat to grapes and tobacco were grown on the fertile land.  Wheat was a popular crop for the many flour mills spread over the county.  There were six major flour mills, with one in the town of Louisiana being the largest.  That particular mill had a capacity of 300 barrels of flour in 24 hours.  In 1868, more than 390,000 bushels of wheat were produced.  Corn was still the biggest crop as it was throughout the west.  It was mainly used for feed of the livestock.

Weir's Corn Plow

Cultivating between corn rows.

Sheep and hogs were the main livestock at the time.  Some cattle were raised, but not on the same scale as the other two.  Most hogs were shipped to market in St. Louis or across the Mississippi River into Illinois.  There were nearly 27,000 hogs in 1868.  This was more than three times the number of cattle for the same time period.

Many kinds of fruit were raised in several different orchards.  Grapes were  the major fruitcrops.  Wine making was a very important commerce in this time period.  Arguments over the best grapes to be used for wine were common.  Catawba was said to be the best by some.  Concord and Walter were also some favorites at the time.  

Onandaga Grapes

The first annual county fair was held in 1867.  The Agricultural and Mechanical Society of Pike County purchased 10 acres of land for a fair to be held.  The Society put on the fair, which was funded by its 150 members.  The fairgrounds were originally in Ashley, not where they are presently located outside of Bowling Green.

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