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A Rural Survey of Morgan County, Missouri (1916) <Previous 
[p.21, continued]

Farm Homes.

As it is the farm home that most fully reflects the real life of any rural community, we naturally turn with interest to the reports covering this subject in the Morgan county survey. In a district long settled, first by the woodsman, the hunter and trapper and the primitive farmer, who in turn were followed by the more modern farmer, we find many types of rural residences. As was the custom of the early settler, the first clearings and the early farms were located near sources of water supply and within or adjacent to the timbered portions of the
On a well-improved farm where registered live stock makes money for the owner.
On a well-improved farm where registered 
live stock makes money for the owner.
county. Not until later did the pioneer push his way out onto the wide prairies, which somehow he at first looked upon with doubts and misgivings. The early settler knew and understood woodlands. To him the trees were as friends, and somehow he felt lonesome on the long prairie stretches.

Here and there as one travels over Morgan county he finds old houses, roomy and picturesque, symbols of a civilization [p.22]
A log cabin. Some homes of this type are still to be seen in the timbered district in the southern part of the county.
A log cabin. Some homes of this type are 
still to be seen in the timbered district in the southern part of the  
which was among the finest that has ever flowered in this great western country. These old houses, with their sacred memories and hallowed associations, seem almost to have souls. Fortunate is the community that has such landmarks and which has preserved them. Here, too, was the log cabin of the pioneer, and here still are some of these similarly constructed homes, humble and unassuming, yet within which dwell a rugged, virile, honest and dependable people—a people which unfortunately are passing. Always there is the need within the nation of the strength and determination of purpose which mark the lives of these men who, unafraid, go forth to fell the forest and to build homes.

A comfortable and roomy farm home.
A comfortable and roomy farm 

Meeting the demand of modern times, and in keeping with the advancement of the county, came the more modern rural home, the larger and perhaps more pretentious farm residence. Lacking in the natural beauty and attractiveness of the surroundings that characterized the early farm home, these newer places, many of them on the prairies, yet surrounded by groves of beautiful shade trees, have gained in the architecture which makes for beauty.

A remodeled home dating from early days.

Note from Peter Binkley (17 Mar. 2001) : This appears to be the same family as in image on p.40.

A remodeled home dating from early 

While such modern conveniences as light, heat and water systems for the rural home are not yet within the reach of all, these improvements have been made a part of quite a number of farm residences throughout Morgan county.

A report as to material used in the construction of the farm residences in Morgan county shows 1,658 frame buildings, 320 log, 106 frame and log, 6 cement, 6 concrete, 5 brick and one stone structure. These figures, while incomplete, give a fair idea as to the general character of the houses in the county. The average farm house consists of 4.5 rooms. In 184 of these farm homes the old-fashioned fireplace continues to give forth its warmth and cheer, and is it too much to say that perhaps these fireplaces, around which the family gathers when the day is done, have no small place in the making of that ideal home life which is so typical of this county?


While it is true that in some parts of Morgan county neighbors are some distance apart, yet there is, not even under these circumstances, the isolation characteristic of the far west or of the newer countries. Through the rural free delivery mail service and the rural telephone communication is easily had with the local neighborhood and the outside world. Of the rural homes, 1,278 have telephones and 941 homes are served by mail carriers on rural routes.

Where the farmer must improve and pay for his home the coming of modern conveniences is often delayed. This does not mean that the farmer is not thoughtful of his family. Generally he is doing the very best he can with the means at his command. However, the farmer is in no sense unappreciative of the so-called "city conveniences."

In thirty-six Morgan county homes water systems have been installed. The drilled well with windmill and tank is also in large use, 446 farms having this convenience. The number of drilled wells in the county is 2,409, and many farms have two or more such wells.

Farm home in prairie section of county.
Farm home in prairie section of 

Then there is the spring, for no county has finer spring water than is to be found in Morgan. Two hundred and sixteen farm families depend upon springs as a source of drinking water. While some of these springs are conveniently located, a large number of them are distant from the houses, so that the [p.25] carrying or hauling of water is a big undertaking. For springs that are not near the houses, but on some part of the farm, the distance water must be hauled or carried averages 213 yards. As a result of these springs, there are many spring houses where milk and butter are kept in the best of condition, and where, somehow, these dairy products seem to have a little finer flavor the clear, cold, sparkling water which cools them. There are 101 of these spring houses reported in the county. Fifty-three farm families have no adequate provision for an all-the-year-round supply of drinking water, but depend upon hauling it in the summer.

Mare and five of her colts on Morgan county farm.
Mare and five of her colts on Morgan 
county farm.

That the comfort of the family is being looked to is shown by the fact that on sixty-four farms there are ice houses, and that the cellar or "cave" is common is shown by the report of 1,001 such conveniences on the farm. During the last two years 98 new farm residences have been built in the county.


Missouri State Board of Agriculture Monthly Bulletin Vol. XIV, No. 2 (February, 1916): A Rural Survey of Morgan County Missouri. Digital version © 2001 Peter Binkley; permission to reproduce for non-commercial purposes is granted.