|A Rural Survey of Morgan County, Missouri (1916)||<Previous|
Why was Morgan county selected as the county in which to make an agricultural survey? Naturally, many may ask this question. There are many reasons why the selection of this county above all other counties of the state was deemed advisable. The prime reason, though, is that it is the one county in the state in which the county superintendent volunteered to undertake the work. Mr. Witten is not only a native of Morgan county, but is thoroughly acquainted with the county, its people and their problems. It is his home. His heart is there. He has a real sympathy with those whose lives are lived close to the soil. Being no stranger to conditions, he needs no interpreter.
Whi1e facts and figures as stated in this bulletin may not be al1 that they should be, if viewed purely as statistical matter, yet they do reach the larger phase of the question. Figures are but relative. Greater than these are the broad truths for which they stand. It is probable that in other counties more complete data might have been secured, but, taking everything into consideration, we felt that in no other county would it be possible to secure a truer picture of the rural people, the people who are the mainstay of the nation.
Another reason for selecting Morgan county is its location, which is near the center of the state. The county is also greatly diversified. The southern part is perhaps more typical of all that region known as "the Ozark country" than is any other section in any other county which also contains as large an area in which the conditions and the types of farming followed are so typical of Central and Northern Missouri.
Much of Morgan county south of Versailles to the Osage is rough and broken. Here are clear streams, numerous caves and caverns, and scenery such perhaps as is not surpassed in any other part of the state. Here, too, are wide, open ranges, as well as fertile valleys. Naturally, the agriculture is typical of the region. From this region come, in addition to the ordinary farm products, railroad ties and other timber. Near Ver- [p.10] sailles, in the central portion, and to the north, the county becomes much more level and in appearance resembles the prairies of North Missouri. Here are many well-improved farms, where agriculture is far advanced. On many of these farms purebred live stock is being successfully handled. This is especially true of the Mennonite settlement northeast of Versailles, and also of other localities within the county. So it will be seen that in Morgan county there are to be found the conditions which, in a large manner at least, are representative of those in the state as a whole.
Another reason for selecting Morgan county is that it is a rural county. It has no large cities. Versailles, the county seat and largest city, contained, according to the 1910 census, a population of 1,598. However, as Versailles is a thriving, growing city with progressive citizens, the population is perhaps nearer 2,000 at this time.
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.