Friday, June 3, 2016

How Much Does It Cost To Start A Small Farm (1874)

History Professor C. Howard Nichols once sent me the text of a newspaper article from 1874 explaining how much a person should have to start up a small farm. 

Dr. Nichols introduced the account by saying, "I have been doing research in the New Orleans Republican Newspaper published in the year 1874. Someone with initials   F.A.B. periodically wrote letters extolling the advantages of living in St. Tammany Parish.   I thought you and your readers might enjoy the following excerpt   from the Republican of Sunday, May 3rd, 1874."

Historian C. Howard Nichols

Here is a portion of the text of the 1874 letter:

I have been asked how much cash should a person have who wishes to settle here and open a small farm? He should have at least $25 to make the first payment on his land, $75 for a horse, cart and farming implements, and about $100 more to keep him and his horse until he can get some sort of crop raised. 

He can build he own house from the trees growing around him, and put up his own fences. In this first settlement he will have to work like a Trojan for a few months while opening his farm, building houses and fences, clearing up the land, etc. But this over with, the balance is all plain sailing.

About the means of reaching here, there is a steamboat plying between the Tchefuncta river and the lake end of the Ponchartrain railroad, which makes two trips a week to Covington, and five trips a week to Mandeville and Madisonville during the winter season, and during the summer there are excursion trips made at half price on every Sunday and Wednesday in addition to the above.

In winter it costs $2.75 to reach Covington from the city, in summer $2.25 To Madisonville in winter   $2.25, summer $1.75. Madison­ville $1.75 in winter and $1.25 in summer. These prices include car and hack fare. The officers of the steamers are very accommodating to persons living over here, taking pains to deliver packages, baskets and freight promptly and safely....

These points which I give about cover the numerous inquiries I have had made to me, excepting that I have forgotten to state that there is no demand here for lawyers, doctors, music masters, dentists, carpenters, painters, office seekers or politicians.**

Dr. Nichols ended his report by saying, "I hope you find this as interesting as I did."

The above painting entitled "Farm in St. Tammany" was produced by American artist Richard Clague (1821-1873) sometime between 1851 and 1870.  Click on the image to make it larger.Painting Source: LSU Museum of Art