THE 1880 CENSUS OF AGRICULTURE
WAYNE COUNTY, TENNESSEE
Gerald K. Moore
1345 Sweetwater Road
Waynesboro, TN 38485
Gerald K. Moore
From 1850-1880, a separate census of agriculture was made at the same time as the census of population, and the farm records are available on microfilm. The agricultural census of 1880 is interesting because, in the nation as a whole, only about half of the population was still living on farms. The age of rural self sufficiency was ending, and the age of urban industry had begun. Mass production meant lower prices, and the time and effort to make these things was no longer worthwhile for rural families. However, farm products had to be sold to the cities in order to pay for factory-made goods in the stores. A large majority of Wayne County farmers grew corn that was fed to livestock, and the sale of salted (cured) meat and live animals produced most farm income. Other income came from the sale of crops, animal products, forest products (tanbark, barrel staves, charcoal, etc) and home manufacturing.
Markets for the farm production in Wayne County included distant cities, nearby towns, and shops or industries that fed their employees. The usual shipping points, to which goods were carried by wagon, were Clifton, Columbia, and Florence. Steamboat shipments from Clifton were important in 1860-70, but, by 1880, railroads had proven to be a faster and cheaper method of transportation. Wayne County had no railroad, and all Tennessee farmers were finding it difficult to compete with the cheap meat and grain shipped to eastern cities from the Great Plains. Hard times had begun for small farms, and, except for a brief period of high prices during World War I, making a middle-class living from a small farm was difficult or impossible. Unfortunately, many of our ancestors didnít have alternative ways to feed their families.
A few names and numbers in the 1880 census of agriculture are incorrect, as was determined, in part, by comparison with the population census. It was common practice in the 1800ís for a census taker to make a clean copy of his records, to keep the original, and to mail his copy to the county. County officials then made one or more copies to send to the state, where at least one more copy was made and sent to the U.S. Census Bureau. Some errors seem to have occurred when one person read the names of land owners aloud and other people wrote down what they heard. Other errors apparently resulted from carelessness, overlooking some data, or entering data in the wrong columns. This transcript is intended to duplicate the source microfilm and likely contains a few errors. Because of these errors, the records for individual farms are not completely reliable. Nevertheless, statistical analyses show that such problems have little if any effect on average values and amounts.
In the data for the census of agriculture, there are significantly more values in the lower half of the range for each category than in the upper half, and a few numbers are very large. In technical terms, the data are log-normally distributed. For practical purposes, this simply means that the middle or median value is a more representative average value than is the mean and that unusually large numbers are not representative of most farms in the county.
The agricultural census of 1880 was the first to use multiple enumerators and to be completed in only one month (June). It was intended to record the farms that produced more than $100 of goods in the previous 12 months, but the census takers for Wayne County included many farms with less income. Ten farms were recorded on each page of the census; the corresponding pages in the following transcript begin with AA in the first Civil District and end with FL in the thirteenth Civil District. The order of the farms within each civil district represents a systematic inventory by the census taker; nearby farms are generally close together in the records. For each farm, the enumerator recorded data in 104 columns. There was no production for some crops, and these columns have been omitted. One extra column, the production of peanuts was not a part of the agricultural census, but it was added by some enumerators. A few pages of the microfilm are poorly legible, as is noted in the comments (col. 53). Column numbers and data explanations are as follows:
|1||Farm Operator Name||2 Own Tenure: (O) owns the land, (R) rents for cash, and (S) rents for share of farm production.|
|The operator is usually the same as the head of family in the population census. The alphabetical index following the data includes all names in col. 1. Col. 2 is cols. 2-4 in the original data.|
|5||ac. tilled||Area of tilled land, including fallow and grasses in rotation.|
|6||ac, Past.||Area of permanent meadow, pasture, orchard, and vineyard.|
|7||ac, Wood||Area of wetland and forest.|
|8||ac, Idle||Area of other unimproved land, including old fields not growing trees|
|9||$ Land||Value of farm, including land, fences, and buildings (housing and outbuildings).|
|10||$ Mach.||Value of farming implements and machinery.|
|11||$ Stock||Value of Livestock|
|12||$ Fence||Cost of building and repairing fences last year.|
|13||$ Fert.||Cost of fertilizers purchased last year.|
|14||$ Wage||Amount paid for wages last year, including value of room and board.|
|15||wk Wage||Weeks of hired labor, excluding housework, last year; cols 15-16 in original data show white and colored separately.|
|17||$ All prods.||Value of all farm production (sold, consumed, or on hand) last year.|
|18||ac Mow||Grassland mowed last year.|
|19||ac Other||Grassland not mown last year.|
|20||T Hay||Tons of hay harvested last year.|
|21||None||Clover seed harvested; no data; column omitted.|
|22||None||Grass seed harvested; one producer (see comment for farm CU9); column omitted.|
|23||# Horse||Number of horses, all ages, on hand.|
|24||# Mule||Number of mules and asses on hand|
|25||# Ox||Number of working oxen on hand.|
|26||# Cow||Number of milk cows on hand.|
|27||# Cattle||Number of other cattle, all ages, on hand.|
|28||# Calf||Number of calves dropped last year.|
|29||# Pur.||Number of cattle purchased last year.|
|30||# Sold||Number of live cattle sold last year.|
|31||# Meat||Number of cattle slaughtered last year.|
|32||# Died||Number of cattle that died, strayed, or were stolen last year.|
|33||None||Milk sold or sent to butter and cheese factories; one producer (see comment for farm AN1); column omitted.|
|34||lb Butter||Pounds of butter made on the farm last year.|
|35||None||Cheese made on the farm; no production; column omitted.|
|36||# Sheep||Number of sheep and lambs on hand.|
|37||# Lamb||Number of lambs dropped last year.|
|38||# Pur.||Number of sheep and lambs purchased last year.|
|39||# Sold||Number of sheep and lambs sold living last year.|
|40||# Meat||Number of sheep and lambs slaughtered last year.|
|41||# Dogs||Number of sheep and lambs killed by dogs last year.|
|42||# Sick||Number of sheep and lambs that died of disease.|
|43||# Wthr.||Number of sheep that died of weather stress.|
|44||# Fleece||Number of fleeces clipped last year.|
|45||lb Wool||Weight of fleeces last year.|
|46||# Hogs||Number of swine on hand.|
|47||# B. poultry||Number of adult barnyard poultry (chickens, turkeys, and ducks) on hand.|
|48||# Othr poultry||Number of other adult poultry on hand.|
|49||doz Eggs||Number of eggs produced last year.|
|50-51||None||Acreage and pounds of rice; no production; column omitted.|
|52-53||None||Acreage and bushels of barley; no production; column omitted.|
|54-55||None||Acreage and bushels of buckwheat; no production; column omitted.|
|56||ac Corn||Acreage of Indian corn last year.|
|57||Bu. Corn||Crop production, bushels.|
|58||ac Oats||Acreage of oats last year.|
|59||Bu. Oats||Crop production, bushels.|
|60||ac Rye||Acreage of rye last year.|
|61||Bu. Rye||Crop production, bushels.|
|62||ac Wheat||Acreage of wheat last year.|
|63||Bu. Wheat||Crop production, bushels.|
|64||ac Cotton||Acreage of cotton last year.|
|65||bale Cotton||Number of 480 lb bales picked.|
|66-69||None||Acreage of flax; production of seed, straw, and fiber; no data; columns omitted.|
|70-71||None||Acreage and weight of hemp; no data; columns omitted.|
|72-74||None||Area of sugarcane and production of molasses and sugar; no data; columns omitted.|
|75||None||Acres of sweet sorghum last year; data insignificant; column omitted.|
|76||None||Pounds of sorghum sugar; no data; column omitted.|
|77||gal S. syrup||Amount of sorghum molasses produced last year.|
|78||None||Pounds of maple sugar; six producers (see comments for farms AA4, BY9, CA2, CA5, CG3, and CQ7); column omitted.|
|79||None||Gallons of maple syrup; one producer (see comment for farm BY9); column omitted.|
|80||Bu. Peas||Harvest of cow peas last year.|
|81||Bu. Beans||Harvest of dry beans last year.|
|82||ac Pots||Area of Irish potatoes last year.|
|83||Bu. Pots||Harvest of Irish Potatoes.|
|84||ac Swt. pots||Area of sweet potatoes last year.|
|85||Bu. Swt. pots||Harvest of sweet potatoes.|
|86||None||Acres tobacco; data insignificant; column omitted.|
|87||lb Tob.||Tobacco harvested last year.|
|None||Bu. Peanuts Peanuts harvested last year.
Peanut production was not a part of the 1880 census, but some farmers apparently volunteered this information, which was recorded in one of the blank columns.
|88||None||Acres of apple trees; data insignificant; column omitted.|
|89||# A. trees||Number of bearing apple trees.|
|90||Bu. Apple||Apple production last year.|
|91||None||Acres of peach trees; data insignificant; column omitted.|
|92||# P. trees||Number of bearing peach trees.|
|93||None||Peach production last year.; one small producer (see comments for farm EV1); column omitted.|
Crop failure is written for most (apples) or nearly all (peaches) records in the spaces provided for fruit production.
|94||$ Fruit||Total value of orchard products sold or consumed last year.|
|95||None||Acreage of nurseries; no data; column omitted.|
|96||None||Total value of nursery products sold; four producers (see comments for farms CJ4, CS1, DQ5, and DR7); column omitted.|
|97||None||Acres of vineyards; no data; column omitted.|
|98||None||Grape production; no data; column omitted.|
|99||None||Gallons of wine last year; two small producers (see comments for farms CN3 and DQ2); col. omitted.|
|100||None||Value of produce sold from market gardens last year; two small producers (see comments for farms AN3 and ED2); column omitted.|
|101||lb Honey||Production of honey last year.|
|102||lb Wax||Production of beeswax last year.|
|103||cord Wood||Amount of wood cut from forests last year.|
|104||$ Forest prod.||Total value of all forest products sold or consumed last year.|
|None||Comments Civil district, date, and miscellaneous information.|
The 1880 census of agriculture for Wayne County contains records for 1,469 farms. Another three hundred families in the population census for 1880 reported non-farm occupations. For comparison, the 1870 census of agriculture included 1,403 farm operations (20% more than in 1860) out of a total 1,845 households, and another 190 households said that farming was their main source of income. Thus, there were 4% fewer Wayne County families in 1880 than in 1870, and 83% of the families in 1880 earned an income from farming compared with 86% of Wayne County families in 1870. The percentage of farm families that owned their land increased, however. In 1870, only 790 farms (57%) in Wayne County were owned. In 1880, there were 984 farm owners (67%), 66 renters (5%), and 409 sharecroppers (28%).
The median amount of tilled land on Wayne County farms was 30 ac in 1880, and half of the farms tilled 15-50 ac. The largest area of tilled land on one farm was 700 ac, but only seven farms had more than 200 ac. Pasture land was reported for 319 farms, but the median was only 3 ac; the total was 2,440 ac. If the combination of tilled land plus pasture is equivalent to "improved land" in earlier census data, there was a total 57,700 ac in 1880 and 56,000 ac in 1870; the median holding of improved land was 25 ac in 1870. In the 1880 census, 1,045 farms reported a total 221,370 ac of forest and wetlands. The median holding for these farms was120 ac; the bottom ten percent of the farms owned less than 35 ac of forest, and the top 10 percent owned more than 400 ac. Unimproved idle land was listed for 241 farms; the median was 12 ac, and the total was 5,760 ac. A total 284,860 ac of land (61% of Wayne County) were owned by the farm families in the 1880 census. The remainder was apparently owned by town dwellers, timber companies, and others. For comparison, 273,000 ac or 58% of the total land in Wayne County was owned by farmers in 1870. The 1997 census of agriculture showed that 700 farms owned 130,000 ac of land and that the median farm size was 127 ac.
The median farm value (including all land, housing, and outbuildings) was $600 in 1880; half of the farms in this census were worth $300-1300, but the bottom 10 percent were worth less than $150, and the top 10 percent were worth more than $2500. For comparison, the median farm value in the 1870 census of agriculture was $800. The total value of all farms in 1880 was $1,156,900, and the average acre of land was worth $4. In 1997, the census of agriculture, showed the average land value in Wayne County to be about $1,000/ac and about $178,000 per farm.
The median value for machinery and equipment, as reported by 1,223 farms in the 1880 census, was only $35, and 25 percent of these farms had $10 or less of equipment. Animal-drawn planting and harvesting machines cost $100-200 each at this time, and only 10 percent of the farm operators in Wayne County reported owning machinery worth $100 or more. Only fifty farms reported equipment worth $200 or more. Some farm operators might have owned used machinery worth less than $100, but most fields were apparently still planted and harvested by hand. The total value of equipment and machinery decreased from $67,500 in the 1870 census to $62,610 in the 1880 census. For comparison, the average value of machinery and equipment in the 1997 census of agriculture was $20,600 per farm.
Livestock values of $2-2,500 were reported by 1,431 farms in the 1880 census. The county total was $367,590, and the median value was $200. The animals owned by the middle half of these farms were worth $100- $325; only 10 percent of the farms owned $515 or more of livestock. In 1870, for comparison, total value of livestock was $623,590, and the median value was $300. An expense for fencing in the previous year was reported by 548 farms in the 1880 census of agriculture. The total cost of fencing was $17,480, but the median was $20, and only 65 farms in Wayne County spent more than $50 on fences; the maximum for a single farm was $250. Only 37 farms reported a purchase of fertilizers. The median cost was $5, the maximum was $78, and the county total was $345.
Total wages (including the value of any room and board) of $26,570 were paid for 5,745 weeks of work on 345 farms (about one farm out of four) in the year prior to the 1880 census of Wayne County. The median wage paid by the reporting farms was $45. A maximum of $2,000 was paid by one farm, but only 10 percent of the reporting farms paid $150 or more of wages. The median amount of hired labor on 246 farms was 16 weeks; only 10 percent of these farms paid for 52 weeks or more. In 1870, for comparison-son, total wages of $31,900 were paid by 327 farm operators.
The production of 1,424 farms in Wayne County had a total value of $399,330, and a median value of $200 in 1880. The middle half of these farms produced $105-350 of goods. The bottom 10 percent of the farms had a production of $60 worth of goods or less; the production of the top 10 percent was worth $565 or more. Only 34 farms produced goods worth $1000 or more, but the maximum production from a single farm was worth $10,000. For comparison, farms in the 1870 census of Wayne County reported a total $758,000 of farm production. The median for 1870 was $420, and 50 percent produced $250-800 of farm goods; ten percent produced more than $1,100. The farms that reported production worth $1,000 or more in 1880 owned a mean 140 ac of tilled land on a farm worth $4,500 compared with the County medians of 30 ac of tilled land and $600 of real estate in Wayne County. These relatively wealthy farms also owned a mean $180 of farm machinery and $940 of livestock, and they paid an average $250 in wages the previous year.
Ninety three farms in Wayne County mowed grass for farm use in 1880, and 92 farms reported cutting 1 ton or more of hay. The median area of cut grass was 3 ac, and the County total was 582 ac. The median amount of hay was 3 ton, and the County total was 616 tons. These results show that the average yield was about 1 ton/ac of hay. Twenty five percent of the farms reported 2 tons/ac or more of hay, but only 3 farms reported more than 3 tons/ac. For comparison, the census of 1870 reported that a total 766 tons of hay were cut on 475 farms in Wayne County. And the 1997 census of agriculture for Wayne County showed that 460 farms raised about 31,300 tons of hay on 16,500 acres of land. In 1880, sixty five farms reported grassland that was not cut. The median area was 3 ac, the maximum was 200 ac, and the County total was 921 ac.
A total 1,016 farms in Wayne County owned 1,960 horses in 1880 compared with 1,090 farms and 2,470 horses in 1870. The median was two horses in 1880, and only 10 percent of the farms owned three or more horses. There were 1,820 mules owned by 765 Wayne County farmers in 1880, as compared with 947 mules owned by 500 farmers in 1870. The 1880 census shows that the median was two mules, and that only 10 percent of the farms with mules owned four or more. Some farmers preferred oxen, especially for stump pulling and log dragging. About 510 working oxen were owned by 231 farmers in 1880; the median was two oxen, and only five farmers owned more than 4 oxen. In 1870, for comparison, 625 farms reported a total 1,558 oxen.
In 1880, 1,311 farms owned a total 2,980 milk cows (compared with 2,897 cows in the 1870 census). About 70 percent of these farms owned only 1 or 2 cows in 1880; ten percent owned 4 or more, but only eight farms owned more than 10 cows. The 1880 census also shows that 1,101 farms owned a total 4,779 other cattle (compared with 3,944 cattle in the 1870 census), but 60 percent of these farms owned only 1-3 animals. Ten percent of the farms in 1880 owned nine or more cattle. A total 2,257 calves were born in the previous year, but 78 percent of the 1,093 farms reported only 1-2 calves. A total of 1,105 calves and cattle were purchased by 437 farm operators in the year before the 1880 census, but 84 percent of these farmers bought only 1-3 animals. There were 642 farmers who sold 1,795 live cattle in 1880, but 79 percent sold only 1-2 animals. Recently, for comparison, the number of cattle sold by Wayne County farms increased from 10,800 in 1987 to 12,400 in 1997. A total 537 cattle were slaughtered on 363 farms in 1880, but 91 percent of these farms slaughtered only 1-2 animals. The cattle that died from other causes totaled 339 on 255 farms; nineteen farms had 3 or more deaths, and six farms had 4-5 deaths. A total 2,671 cattle were sold alive, slaughtered or died from other causes in the 1880 census, and only 2,257 calves were born. About 40 percent of the 1,105 bought cattle apparently came from other counties.
Three to 1,500 lb of butter were produced by 1,200 Wayne County farms in the 1880 census. Total production was 162,790 lb compared with 106,700 lb in the 1870 census. The median amount in the 1880 census was 100 lb. The middle 50 percent of these farms churned 50-185 lb of butter, and only nine farms produced more than 500 lb. No cheese production was reported in 1880, but one farm operator sold 100 gal of milk. In 1997, except for home use, there was no farm production of milk, butter, or cheese.
Three to 150 sheep were owned by 780 farms in the 1880 census of agriculture; the County total was 12,100 sheep. This is significantly more than in 1870 when only 9,465 sheep were reported by 827 farms. The median in 1880 was 12 animals, and only 10 percent of these farms owned 30 sheep or more. The census showed that 1-78 lambs were born on 712 farms; the median was 5 lambs and the County total was 4,935 lambs. About 140 farmers reported the purchase of 758 sheep in the 1880 census; the median was three sheep. A total 1,300 live sheep were sold by 178 farms; the median was four sheep, and only 28 farms sold 12 or more. A total 571 lambs were slaughtered on 258 farms in 1879; the median was two animals. Vicious dogs were a problem for sheep owners. One to 30 sheep (a total 903 animals) were killed by dogs on 174 farms; sixty five farms reported five or more sheep killed. A total 1,067 sheep were reported to have died of disease on 336 farms, and 64 sheep were reported to have died of weather stress on 28 farms. A total 3,905 sheep died or were killed in Wayne County, and 1,300 were sold live. However 4,938 lambs were born, and 758 animals were bought. Total sheep numbers apparently increased by about 500 in the year before the 1880 census.
The 1880 census shows that 9,324 sheep were sheared for fleece in Wayne County; the median farm sheared nine sheep and obtained 18 lb of wool. The middle 50 percent of these farms obtained 10-30 lb of wool, and the county total was 19,260 lb. For comparison, 16,700 lb of wool were reported in the 1870 census. Nine farms reported owning 127 sheep in 1997, but wool production, if any, was not shown.
One to 125 swine were reported by 1,250 farms in the 1880 census. The median was 13 swine. Ten percent of these farms owned 36 animals or more. The County total was 22,029 swine in 1880 compared with 24,446 on 1,300 farms in 1870. The median in 1870 was 15 swine. A total 35,610 adult barnyard poultry were reported by 1,315 farms in the 1880 census. Most of these birds probably were chickens that were fed daily or occasionally. The middle 50 percent of the farm operators reported owning 10-34 birds; only 29 farms owned more than 100 barnyard poultry. A total 27,162 other poultry were reported by 859 farms. The median was 20 poultry, and the middle 50 percent of these farms owned 10-40 birds. One to 2,000 dozen eggs were produced on 1,315 farms in the 1880 census. The County total was 117,800 dozen eggs, but the median was only 50 dozen eggs, and the middle 50 percent of these farms produced 30-100 dozen eggs.
Corn was grown on 25,365 ac by 1,315 farmers in the 1880 census. The median area was 15 ac and the middle 50 percent of these farms grew 10-25 ac of corn. Thirty nine farms planted more than 50 ac of corn, and four farms grew more than 100 ac. Total production was 581,800 Bu of corn in 1880 compared with about 474,000 Bu from 1,338 farms in 1870. The median production was 300 Bu in 1880 and 250 Bu in 1870. The median yield of corn in 1880 was 20 Bu/ac, and a majority of the farms produced 15-30 Bu/ac. Eighty one farms had a yield of less than 10 Bu/ac in 1880, and only 12 farms reported a yield of more than 50 Bu/ac. In 1997, for comparison, 51 farms in Wayne County raised a total 317,500 Bu. of corn, an average 6,200 Bu. per farm.
Oats and rye were minor crops in Wayne County. The 1880 census shows that 445 farms produced 2-600 Bu of oats. The middle 50 percent of these farms planted 2-6 ac of oats and harvested 20-75 Bu of grain. Total production was about 26,700 Bu on 2,100 ac. The median yield was 10 Bu/ac, and only 42 farms had yields of more than 20 Bu/ac. For comparison, the production of oats was 18,400 Bu on about 400 farms in 1870. In 1880, rye was grown by 114 farmers on 478 ac. Only eight farms raised more than 10 ac of rye. The median harvest was 10 Bu, and the median yield was 5 Bu/ac; only six farms harvested more than 10 Bu/ac. Total production in 1880 was about 2,400 Bu of rye compared with 1,480 Bu of rye on about 100 farms in 1870. In 1997, there was little or no production of oats or rye in Wayne County. Seven hundred and sixty farms reported a total wheat harvest of 39,871 Bu in the 1880 census compared with 46,000 Bu on 832 farms in 1870. The median wheat production in 1880 was 36 Bu on 10 ac. The middle 50 percent of these farms produced 20-64 Bu of wheat on 6-15 ac. Ten percent of the farms grew 110 Bu or more on 20 or more acres. The median yield was 4 Bu/ac of wheat; twenty farms produced 10 Bu/ac or more but 66 farms produced less than 2 Bu/ac. In 1992, an average 1,800 Bu. of wheat were raised on each of nine farms, but there were only two producers in 1997.
An important cash crop for some farms in 1880 was cotton. A total 1,209 bales of 480 lb each were grown by 698 farms on 3,263 ac. For comparison, 924 bales (450 lb) of cotton from 580 farms were reported in the 1870 census of agriculture, and 297 bales (400 lb) were picked on 73 farms in the 1860 census. The median production in 1880 was 1 bale on 4 ac of land, and the middle 50 percent of these farms picked 0.5-2 bales of cotton on 2-6 ac. Only 10 percent of the farms planted 10 ac or more of cotton and picked 3 bales or more. Twenty five farms picked more than 5 bales of cotton in 1880. In 1997, for comparison, little or no cotton was produced by Wayne County farms.
A total 609 farms reported producing 41,800 gal of sorghum molasses (a little more than 20 gal for each household in Wayne County), but only a few farms reported planting more than 1 ac of the cane. The median production was 50 gal of molasses on a half acre of land. The middle 50 percent of these farms produced 30-88 gal of molasses, and only 20 farms produced more than 200 gal. For comparison, the 1870 census shows that 505 farms produced a total 20,400 gal of sorghum syrup. The 1880 census shows that 227 lb of maple sugar and 10 gal of maple syrup were produced on six farms. For comparison, seven farms produced a total 140 lb of maple sugar in 1870, and 20 farmers reported a total 1,230 lb of maple sugar in 1860. Sorghum molasses and maple sugar were not included in the 1997 census of agriculture.
Field peas (140 farms) and beans (82 farms) were minor crops in 1880. Total production was 2,560 Bu of peas and 246 Bu of beans in Wayne County. The median harvest for these farms was 10 Bu of field peas and 2 Bu of beans. For comparison, about 300 farms picked 2,520 Bu of field beans and peas in 1870.
Irish potatoes were more of a garden crop than a field crop in Wayne County. A total 12,060 Bu were produced on 676 farms in 1880. The range for these farms was 2-145 Bu, but the yield was 75-145 Bu/ac, and the middle 50 percent produced only 10-20 Bu of potatoes. Only nine farms dug more than 50 Bu in 1880. In 1870, for comparison, nearly 1,000 farms produced 13,600 Bu of potatoes. During 1997, there was little or no production of Irish potatoes on farm fields in Wayne County. One farm in 1880 reported 25 ac of sweet potatoes, and the yield for the larger producers was 100-200 Bu/ac. Total production in this census was 14,800 Bu of sweet potatoes, but the median production on 512 Wayne County farms was only 20 Bu, and the middle 50 percent of these farms produced 15-36 Bu. For comparison, 625 farms raised 14,000 Bu of sweet potatoes in 1870. Sweet potatoes were not included in the 1997 census of agriculture.
Tobacco was a traditional cash crop on some southern farms. However, 287 farms in Wayne County reported a total of only 16,500 lb of tobacco in 1880 compared with about 25,300 lb from 450 farms in 1870. The median production in 1880 was 40 lb, and the middle 50 percent of these farms picked 25-75 lb of tobacco. Only 18 farms grew more than 100 lb of tobacco. For comparison, the 1997 census of agriculture showed that only two Wayne County farms raised tobacco that year. Peanuts were a new crop for southern farmers in 1880 and were not included in the census. Nevertheless, some farm operators in Wayne County planted them and reported their results to the census enumerators. At least sixty farms produced 1-650 Bu of peanuts. The median was 50 Bu of peanuts, and the middle 50 percent of these farms harvested 30-100 Bu. The County total, according to the notes added to the census, was about 5,400 Bu of peanuts.
There is poor correlation between the reported acreage of fruit trees and the numbers of these trees in the 1880 census for Wayne County; only the numbers of trees were transcribed. Also, the words "crop failure" are written instead of the amount of fruit harvested for most farms. Nevertheless, a total 31,780 mature apple trees on 742 farms and 17,120 mature peach trees on 290 farms were reported in the census. The medians for these farms were 50 apple trees and 50 peach trees. Only 13 farms reported more than 200 apple trees, and only 11 farms reported more than 150 peach trees. The census shows that a total 5,030 Bu of apples were picked on 85 farms. The median production of apples was 25 Bu, and only nine farms picked more than 100 Bu. Fifty five farms picked less than 1 Bu/tree of apples, and only eight farms picked more than 2 Bu/tree. Only one farm reported picking peaches. Eighty nine farms sold $2-150 of fruit (apples) in 1880; the county total was $1,820. The median was $10 worth of apples, and the middle 50 percent of these farms sold $5-25 of apples. The average sale price was $0.50/Bu.. In 1870, for comparison, total fruit sales by 35 farms were $320. In 1997, there was little or no production of orchard fruit in Wayne County.
Four farms in Wayne County reported selling $10, $20, $200, and $400 worth of nursery products on the 1880 census. One farm reported making 2 gal of wine, and another farm reported selling $50 of wine. Two farm operators reported selling a combined $10 worth of produce from market gardens. For comparison, eleven farms in 1870 sold a total $348 of produce from market gardens. A total 25,160 lb of honey were produced on 229 farms in 1880, compared with 13,000 lb of honey on 168 farms in 1870. The median production in 1880 was 60 lb, but 10% of these farms produced 200 lb or more of honey. The maximum production on one farm was 2,800 lb. One hundred and six of the same farms produced a total 1,154 lb of beeswax in 1880. The median was 7 lb of wax, and only seven farms produced more than 25 lb. Honey and beeswax were not included in the 1997 census of agriculture.
A total 1,211 farms reported cutting 39,463 cords of wood worth nearly $32,000 on the 1880 census. The median was 25 cords of wood, and the median price was $0.80/cord. The middle 50% of these farms cut 20-40 cords of wood valued at $0.50-1.00/cord, but the top 10 percent of the farms cut 50-500 cords of wood. Nearly all of the smaller amounts of wood were used for cooking and heating; these uses plus the wood cut for tanbark and the wood sold for charcoal production were almost certainly given a low value in the census. More valuable wood products might have included hewed (squared) timbers for buildings, fence rails, split boards, roofing shingles, tool handles, carved treen, storage barrels, feed troughs, and barrel staves and hoops. The amount and value of wood used for these varied products is impossible to determine. Two hundred and twenty three farms reported cutting 30 or more cords of wood valued at $1/cord or more. Thirty one farms valued their wood production (including firewood) at more than $1.50/cord. Fifteen farms cut 15-40 cords of wood valued at more than $2/cord, and five of these farms valued their forest products at more than $4/cord. Wood for cooking and heating was apparently not included in the 1870 census; fifteen farms reported selling forest products worth $10-225 for a total $785 in 1870, but this was an insignificant part of the farm economy. On the other hand, 987 farms in 1870 reported $49,000 worth of home manufactures, which might have included wood products.
The differences between the census of agriculture for 1870 and that for 1880 show that the economy changed dramatically in this period. The total value of Wayne County livestock, for example decreased from about $758,000 in 1870 to $339,000 in 1880. The median value for livestock also decreased from $420 per farm in 1870 to $220 in 1880 even though the numbers of some animals increased. Local farmers were apparently receiving much lower prices for live animals and cured meat in 1880. Similarly, the total value of farm production decreased by more than half, from about $758,000 in 1870 to $339,000 in 1880, even though most harvests were larger in 1880. For several years prior to the 1880 census, the entire nation was affected by an economic depression, but Wayne County farmers apparently suffered more than most other areas of Tennessee. The median unit value for farm production in Wayne County decreased from $13.50/ac of improved land in 1870 to $5.90/ac in 1880, whereas the median value for farm production elsewhere in Middle Tennessee ("One South or Many" by R. T. McKenzie) was about $9/ac in 1879. The transportation costs for farm products were high in Wayne County.
The 393 sharecroppers in Wayne County had a median farm production (before payment of half to landowners) worth $125 in 1880, and the middle 50 percent of these farmers produced $75-200. Only 4 percent of sharecroppers had $500 or more of farm production. For comparison, the 960 farmland owners had a median production worth $240 in 1880. The middle 50 percent reported $150-415 of farm production, and 16 per-cent reported more than $500. The few farmers who rented land had a median production of $200, and the middle 50 percent had $95-300 of production.
Gross family income for landowners and renters in 1880 might have been about half of farm production because some family food supplies (animal products, flour, meal, and sweeteners) were included in farm production and because nearly all grains and some surpluses (those that couldnít be sold profitably) were used to feed farm animals. The gross income for sharecroppers was probably about 25 percent of production. If the value of family labor is ignored, crop production costs were low in 1880, and the average profit (net income) might have been about 75% of gross income. If so, median net incomes were probably about $185 for the landowners and about $51 for the sharecroppers in Wayne County.
A middle-class income for city dwellers in 1880 was about $500-600. However, about 40 percent of this amount went for rent, and nearly all of the rest had to be spent on food, fuel, and clothing. When comparing urban and rural incomes in the 1800's, it is important that shelter, food, fuel, and clothing could be produced on small farms with family labor; there was no need to depend on purchases for these essentials. Nevertheless, a net income of less than $100 in 1880 almost certainly meant that a farm family could afford few store-bought goods after paying land taxes; a farm profit of less than $50 indicated serious poverty. In 1880, about 55 percent of landowners in Wayne County and 85 percent of sharecroppers probably had an annual net income of less than $100. A net income of less than $50 was likely for 22 percent of landowners and 52 percent of sharecroppers.
The farmland owners with a relatively high income in 1880 had a different perception of conditions and values than did the farmers who had low incomes. The 135 farms with a farm production of $600 or more in 1880 owned 15,000 ac of improved land and 53,000 ac of unimproved land, worth a combined $395,000. These farmers thus valued their tilled land at about $20/ ac (a total $300,000) and their forest land at about $2/ac (a total$106,000). However, the 109 farmers who each had a production of less than $100 owned 2,300 ac of improved land and 12,000 ac of unimproved land worth a combined $31,000. These owners apparently valued their cropland at about $10/ac (a total $23,000), and their forest land at about $1/ac (a total $12,000). Between these extremes, the 277 farms that had production worth more than $200 but less than $400 in 1880 valued their improved land at about $15/ac and their forest land at about $1.50/ac. Land values in 1880 were apparently determined by farm production potential instead of, as at present, by the required investment and the development potential.
The total area of improved land in Wayne County was only slightly larger in 1880 than in 1870, but the percentage of farmland owners increased from 57% to 67%. The median area of tilled land also increased from 25 ac in 1870 to 40 ac in 1880, and the area of fallow land in crop rotations must have decreased accordingly. These changes show that Wayne County farmers were doing everything they could think of to maximize production and to minimize expenses (including land rental and sharecropper debts). Nevertheless, the relatively small amounts of farm machinery and the small expenses for fences and fertilizers in 1880 show that these things were considered unaffordable by most farmers, even though they might have increased production.
There were about 500 fewer working horses in 1880 than in 1870 but about 900 more mules. There were also, however, about 1000 fewer oxen in 1880 than in 1870; the days of the working ox were apparently nearly over. The total number of milk cows was about the same in 1880 as in 1870, but there were about 800 more other cattle in 1880. This difference plus the fact that Wayne County farmers bought more cattle than they sold suggests that the potential profit from cattle raising was better than most alternatives. The size of sheep flocks was also increasing; almost 3,000 more sheep were sheared in 1880 than in 1870, and the number of sheep in Wayne County apparently increased by about 500 animals in the year prior to the 1880 census. However, there were about 2,500 fewer swine on 50 fewer farms in the 1880 census than in 1870. One possible reason for fewer swine in 1880 is that hogs were being fattened and sold (or slaughtered) at a younger age. However, the fewer farms reporting swine in 1880 probably reflect the lower prices being paid for cured meat and live animals.
Poultry and eggs were not listed before the census of 1880, and these might be farm products that were not being fully exploited in Wayne County. The average numbers in the 1880 census represent only about one dozen eggs per week for each farm family and a little less than one bird per week for the dinner table. The relatively high cost of fencing and the low prices obtained for eggs (about 3 cents per doz) might have been deterrents to bird and egg production. The production of butter was about 50 per-cent larger in 1880 than in 1870; prices must have been relatively good for this farm product.
The corn harvest was about 25 percent larger in 1880 than in 1870, the harvest of oats was 45 percent larger, and the rye harvest was 62 percent larger. This increased production apparently shows that more grain was fed to farm animals in 1880 than in 1870 despite the smaller total valuation for livestock in 1880. However, 15 percent less wheat was produced on 10 percent fewer farms in 1880 than in 1870. The wheat harvest might have been reduced by unfavorable weather, but a lower average market price for wheat is a more likely reason. If so, most of the wheat crop in Wayne County was probably sold to flour millers rather than fed to farm animals.
About 31 percent more cotton was produced in 1880 than in 1870. The price of cotton was about 10 cents/lb in 1880, and the cotton harvest in Wayne County was worth nearly $60,000 or 15 percent of all farm production. For some farm operators, cotton sales constituted a high percentage of their cash income. The production of tobacco, another traditional cash crop for small southern farms, decreased from about 25,000 lb on 450 farms in 1870 to about 16,500 lb on 290 farms in 1880. Unfavorable weather might have reduced the tobacco harvest, but this doesnít explain the smaller number of producers. It is more likely that Wayne County farmers were unable to obtain adequate prices at distant tobacco auctions.
The production of sorghum syrup doubled from 1870 to 1880. There might have been some additional use of molasses for winter feeding and fattening in 1880, but a large percentage of this sweetener was likely sold or traded. Similarly, the production of honey in 1880 was almost double that of 1870. The harvest of sweet potatoes was slightly larger in 1880 than in 1870, but the harvest of Irish potatoes was a little smaller in 1880. Bad weather might have reduced the Irish potato harvest, but both types of potatoes had high transportation costs because of their water content. Thus, the profits for these crops were likely to have been lower in 1880 than in 1870. Bad weather was apparently the main factor in the low production of orchard fruit in 1880. However, the amount and value of fruit (usually dried for cheaper shipment) in Wayne County was also lower in 1870 than in 1860, probably indicating low prices and competition from growers closer to big-city markets.
The record of hay production in Wayne County is interesting. The 1860 census showed that 31 farms harvested 115 tons of hay; in the 1870 census, 474 farms gathered 766 tons of hay; and in the 1880 census, 92 farms produced 616 tons of hay. More farm operators apparently believed that hay harvesting was worth the time and effort in 1870 than in either 1860 or 1880, but a lot fewer farmers gathered only a little less hay in 1880. These differences may have been partly caused by changing perceptions as to the importance of winter weight loss by farm animals. However, all the producers of three or more tons of hay in 1870 owned less than $100 of farm machinery. These large hay producers also paid nearly four times the average amount of wages. Therefore, nearly all the hay cutting, raking, and stacking in 1870 were apparently done with scythes, hand rakes, and pitchforks. In 1880, on the other hand, 70 percent of the farms with three or more tons of hay also owned at least $100 worth of farm machinery, and 32 percent of these farms owned more than $200 of machinery.
Most of the 1770 families in Wayne County probably burned 10-15 cords of firewood for home cooking and heating in 1880. If so, the total amount of wood consumed by these uses was 18,000-26,000 cords. The additional 13,500-21,500 cords of wood cut from the forests were likely sold to iron furnaces and other local industries. Wayne Furnace used more than 200,000 Bu/yr of charcoal (equivalent to 6,700 cords of wood) in 1860, and the Collinwood Furnace was burning 50,000 cords of wood for charcoal in 1920. Other wood was made into barrel staves, tool handles, and shingles, or it was burned to power steam engines. Also, tanbark was needed by several tanneries. The amount of wood sold to town dwellers and local industries in 1880 might have been worth $10,000-15,000. This source of farm income is speculative but reasonable.
In summary, a large majority of Wayne County farms would be classified as subsistence types in 1880, but nearly all farm operators were market oriented and market driven. The first priority of local farmers was production of family food and animal feed. However, all other production seems to have been selected because of market prices and potential profits. Unfortunately, times were changing. The author of one history ("Cotton Fields No More; Southern Agriculture 1865-1980" by G. C. Fite) titled his chapter on the period 1865-1890 "The Descent into Poverty." Wayne County farmers didnít have a railroad for cheap transportation of their crops to city markets, and things didnít get much better for small farms anywhere after the national depression of the 1870's ended. The low prices for farm products slowly got lower while expenses rose. Many of our ancestors experienced a descent into poverty.