LIFE ON THE FARM

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What was life like living and working on a farm.

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LIFE ON THE FARM LINKS FOR OCT. 2012

Links to Farm Diaries

The timeline  listed below will give Genealogists a beginning understanding of the history of farming in the US after 1840

1840
Total population: 17,069,453
Farm population: 9,012,000 (estimated)
Farmers made up 69% of labor force
1841
Preemption Act gave squatters first rights to buy land
1845-55
The potato famine in Ireland and the German Revolution of 1848 greatly increased immigration
1845-53
Texas, Oregon, the Mexican cession, and the Gadsden Purchase were added to the Union
1849
Gold Rush

1850
Total population: 23,191,786
Farm population: 11,680,000 (estimated)
Farmers made up 64% of labor force
Number of farms: 1,449,000
Average acres: 203
1850's
Successful farming on the prairies began
1850
With the California gold rush, the frontier bypassed the Great Plains and the Rockies and moved to the Pacific coast
1850-62
Free land was a vital rural issue
1854
Graduation Act reduced price of unsold public lands
1859-75
The miners' frontier moved eastward from California toward the westward-moving farmers' and ranchers frontier

1860
Total population: 31,443,321
Farm population: 15,141,000 (estimated)
Farmers made up 58% of labor force
Number of farms: 2,044,000
Average acres: 199
1862
Homestead Act granted 160 acres to settlers who had worked the land 5 years
1865-70
The sharecropping system in the South replaced the old slave plantation system
1865-90
Influx of Scandinavian immigrants
1866-77
Cattle boom accelerated settlement of Great Plains; range wars developed between farmers and ranchers

1870
Total population: 38,558,371
Farm population: 18,373,000 (estimated)
Farmers made up 53% of labor force
Number of farms: 2,660,000
Average acres: 153

880
Total population: 50,155,783
Farm population: 22,981,000 (estimated)
Farmers made up 49% of labor force
Number of farms: 4,009,000
Average acres: 134
1880's
Heavy agricultural settlement on the Great Plains began
1880
Most humid land already settled
1880-1914
Most immigrants were from southeastern Europe
1887-97
Drought reduced settlement on the Great Plains

1890
Total population: 62,941,714
Farm population: 29,414,000 (estimated)
Farmers made up 43% of labor force
Number of farms: 4,565,000
Average acres: 136
1890's
Increases in land under cultivation and number of immigrants becoming farmers caused great rise in agricultural output
1890
Census showed that the frontier settlement era was over

1900
Total population: 75,994,266
Farm population: 29,414,000 (estimated)
Farmers made up 38% of labor force
Number of farms: 5,740,000
Average acres: 147
1900-20
Continued agricultural settlement on the Great Plains
1902
Reclamation Act
1905-07
Policy of reserving timberlands inaugurated on a large scale

910
Total population: 91,972,266
Farm population: 32,077,00 (estimated)
Farmers made up 31% of labor force
Number of farms: 6,366,000
Average acres: 138
1909-20
Dryland farming boom on the Great Plains
1911-17
Immigration of agricultural workers from Mexico
1916
Stock Raising Homestead Act

920
Total population: 105,710,620
Farm population: 31,614,269 (estimated)
Farmers made up 27% of labor force
Number of farms: 6,454,000
Average acres: 148
1924
Immigration Act greatly reduced number of new immigrants

1930
Total population: 122,775,046
Farm population: 30,455,350 (estimated)
Farmers made up 21% of labor force
Number of farms: 6,295,000
Average acres: 157
Irrigated acres: 14,633,252
1932-36
Drought and dust-bowl conditions developed
1934
Executive orders withdrew public lands from settlement, location, sale, or entry
1934
Taylor Grazing Act

1940
Total population: 131,820.000
Farm population: 30,840,000 (estimated)
Farmers made up 18% of labor force
Number of farms: 6,102,000
Average acres: 175
Irrigated acres: 17,942,968
1940's
Many former southern sharecroppers migrated to war-related jobs in cities

1950
Total population: 151,132,000
Farm population: 25,058,000 (estimated)
Farmers made up 12.2% of labor force
Number of farms: 5,388,000
Average acres: 216
Irrigated acres: 25,634,869
1956
Legislation passed providing for Great Plains Conservation Program

Farming and Ranching

NEWS FROM THE FARM WORLD

News stories from farm country

1860-1950

FARM EQUIPMENT

Genealogy and History Records

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THE GRANGE

On December 4, 1867 in a small Washington, DC building that housed the office of William Saunders, Superintendent of Propagating Gardens in the Department of Agriculture, the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, more commonly known as the Grange, was born.