Agriculture in Post-Civil War Missouri
Agriculture in Texas County during 1865 consisted mainly of cattle, hogs, sheep, horses, and mules. However, there were few horses and mules in 1865, due to the war. The army had "commissioned" all but the worst of the stock. Cattle and hogs grew well. The army left very few cattle behind. There were few sheep in the county, although the ones that the farmers had managed to keep were doing well on the native bluegrass. Thousands of sheep were killed and carried off by the army. The hogs that were left pastured on acorns that they could find out in the woods.
Most Texas County sheep were stolen during the war.
There were some crops raised at this time. The soil was described as mulatto in color and especially productive in the valleys. Corn was one of the primary crops that was raised in 1865. The average yield for corn was 40 bushels per acre. Wheat usually averaged from 15 to 30 bushels per acre. Another crop that apparently was raised to some extent was tobacco. The tobacco raised in Texas County in 1865 averaged from 800 to 1,000 pounds per acre. Oats and rye were also raised, each averaging from 20 to 30 bushels per acre. Hemp and flax were mentioned as being grown in the county although very little was raised. Cotton was also mentioned, saying that in some seasons it does well.
Fruit was also a crop option in the county. The soil was known to be adaptable to all types of fruit. Although little was raised to sell, L. D. Morse wrote in 1865 that his neighbor who raised apples that weighed two pounds or more apiece. There were no vineyards in the county. However, the author said that grapes grew very well on the soil. Peaches and pears were two other crops that could possibly have been raised on the soil in 1865. Insects seemed to have been of little consequence at this time. The only two that were reported were the leaf roller and the borer. Gooseberries and strawberries were also thought to do exceptionally well in Texas County in 1865.
Land in 1865 was still available to be homesteaded. In 1865, there were only 641 farms that had been homesteaded. The price for unimproved land in the county ranged from $1.75 to $2.50 an acre. The average price for improved land was around $2.50 an acre. Although some improved land was reported to have sold for $10.00 or more per acre. In 1865, the county desperately wanted to settle the land that had as yet remained wild. The author says, “ Every attention will be paid to parties desiring to see vacant lands in the county.”One of the most important industries in Texas County in 1865 proved to be their timber industry, thousands of board feet of oak and pine lumber were sent down the Big Piney River during the spring and fall.
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