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Life on the Farm in America - Early 20th Century

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  • #46
    A link to a US Department of Agriculture Rural Business-Cooperative Service publication entitled: Black Farmers in America: 1865 - 2000

    Below is a link to the Wikipedia article on Booker T. Washington, a prominent African-American leader of the late 19th/early 20th century, who among other things supported African-American Farmers.

    Below is a link to the Wikipedia article on George Washington Carver, the great African-American scientist. He is best known for promoting the growth and use of crops such as peanuts, soybeans, and sweet potatoes, to replace the excessively grown cotton crop.
    Last edited by lakechampainer; 09 Mar 12, 12:19.


    • #47
      Pamphlet on Homesteading

      Below is a link to a pamphlet I found interesting. It is called "Homesteading in the 19th Century". It is from the Homestead National Monument of America (located in Nebraska about 35 miles south of Lincoln). It was actually written for 4th to 10th graders to use to improve math skills, but I found it interesting myself.

      Below is the link from the National Park Service.


      • #48
        A link to an article in called: "Far From Idle": An early 20th Century Farm Wife Makes Do. Interesting article with some good pictures.

        Two small points that made me think of my family in Vermont:

        The article mentions how anything left over from breakfast was left on the table on a plate, anyone could eat anytime. I remember bacon and toast and sausages being leftover a lot. I also remember the pieces of salt pork in the vegetables.

        The article mentions how the farm in Peachem being discussed here, did not get electric power until 1946. My family's farm in North Hero didn't get power until after WW II either.
        Last edited by lakechampainer; 23 Mar 12, 06:13.


        • #49
          I was cleaning out a bookcase the other day and ran across some old books that I had not looked at in ages. The Foxfire books and a book entitled Bittersweet Country.

          The Foxfire books were printed from the Foxfire magazines which students at the Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School in Rabun County, Georgia began publishing back in 1967 as an English class project. The project moved to Rabun County High School in 1977 and the students still print two editions a year. The kids interviewed the older members of their area to get information about how things were done in the old days, wrote articles about it and put them into a magazine.

          They would take the best of the articles and put them into books. They are still selling the books. They currently have their 45th Anniversary Edition in print.

          The students were able to fund a Mountain Living Museum with their earnings. The Museum sponsors lots of living history type exhibitions currently.

          Right now on their website they have a set of pictures about seatweaving. There are pictures there of a cane-bottomed chair (as we called them in the Ozarks), and other types of woven chair seats. They will be teaching a class in seat-weaving in July at the Museum.

          Their Website is at

          If you can find any of the old books they are well worth looking at for stories of how people lived in “Pioneer Days”.

          There is a pdf. Version of one at
          From the table of contents
          "this is the way I was raised up" 15
          Aunt Arie 17
          Wood 31
          Tools and Skills 38
          Building a Log Cabin 53
          Chimney Building 108
          White Oak Splits 115
          Making a Hamper out of White Oak Splits 119
          Making a Basket out of White Oak Splits 123
          An Old Chair Maker Shows How 128
          Rope, Straw, and Feathers are to Sleep on 139
          A Quilt is Something Human 142
          Soapmaking 151
          Cooking on a Fireplace, Dutch Oven, and
          Wood Stove 159
          Daniel Manous 165
          Mountain Recipes 167
          Preserving Vegetables 174
          Preserving Fruit 181
          Churning Your Own Butter 185
          Slaughtering Hogs 189
          Curing and Smoking Hog 199
          Recipes for Hog 202
          Weather Signs 208
          Planting by the Signs 212
          The Buzzard and the Dog 228
          Home Remedies 230
          Hunting 249
          Dressing and Cooking Wild Animal Foods 264
          Hunting Tales 274
          Snake Lore 289
          Moonshining as a Fine Art 301
          Faith Healing 346
          Hillard Green 369

          It looks like it is a free download. You could put it on your e-reader or tablet.

          Or download the first 6 books free at

          One of the other books that I found that I have that tells about old-timey things is Bittersweet Country that was printed from student produced magazines at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, Missouri. They began doing the same sort of thing that the students did in Rabun County in the 1970s. Their first mission was to learn the proper usage of English but in the process they documented a fading way of life in the Ozarks.

          Some of the magazines can be found online at the Springfield-Greene County Library site at

          Here is a listing of articles from the first issue.
          Our Link to the Past
          Thirty-Eight Years in a One-Room School
          Softball - The All-Time Favorite
          Advantages and Disadvantages
          Teacher's Plan Book
          As We Saw Them
          Go Ask Lois
          From the Word Go
          Photo Essay
          Children's Games
          Pie Supper
          The Swinging Bridge
          The Turn of a Key
          The Last Day of School
          Hill Recipes

          The library has copies from 1973 to 1983 that you can read on line.

          These two student projects are now called anthropological studies, and are recognized as valuable documentation of ways of life in two distinct cultures in the early 20th century and before.
          Homo homini lupus


          • #50
            see ya again

            hope you will do same things again


            • #51
              Living History Farms in Iowa

              Below is a link to the website of "Living History Farms" in Urbandale, Iowa. It is a 500 acre open-air museum, which shows how Iowans farmed over a 300 year period, in 5 separate time periods, including the 1900 Horse Farm. Other exhibits include the 1700 Ioway Indian Farm, the 1850 Pioneer farm, the 1875 Town of Walnut Hill, and a general exhibit center.


              Below is a link to a story about the 1900 Farm from an article in Hobby Some things I found interesting in the article are:

              1. The field crops are corn, oats, and hay planted in a five-year rotation (this is before chemical fertilizers) - they are grown on 25 total acres.

              2. The corn yields 40 bushels per acre (from the heirloom variety Reid's Yellow Dent)

              3. The primary cash generator for the family is hog production.



              • #52
                Link to the 1900 Living History Farm in Urbandale, Iowa website:


                Link to 1850 Living History Farm


                Link to 1700 Ioway Indian Living History Farm


                Link to 1875 Town of Walnut Hill

                All the sites have interesting pictures. I found the 1700 site most interesting. The 1875 site has pictures of the buildings such as the schoolhouse, the place where brooms are made, the drugstore, etc.
                Last edited by lakechampainer; 10 May 12, 19:14.


                • #53
                  You tube video I found from 1-29-2007: Nordic Skating on Lake Champlain - from South Hero to North Hero


                  another video


                  • #54
                    Some More pictures

                    The first picture is a picture of my grandmother that my sister found recently. This was when she was in England in the period 1919 - 1920, having gone there from Ireland (Aughrim) to earn money for the trip to NYC where she had relatives. There is handwriting on the back that says "Sylvia aged 1 year 10 months Winnie aged 5 years. May Rose Kelley 19 years." My mother always mentioned London, so I assume the picture was taken in London.

                    My mother was named Sylvia after the little girl, because my grandmother loved her a lot. My grandmother's age of 19 confirms that it was in the 1919-1920 period.

                    I wonder how the lives of the two girls went. They theoretically could still be alive, in their 90s.

                    The second picture is a postcard that says in type at the top "North Hero Volunteer Fire Department, North Hero, Vt." In what I would say is 1950s type. My sister's boyfriend, who is an officer in a Fire Department in a Boston suburb, says that the truck is probably from the 40s, and was probably sold to the dept. after 15 or 20 years of use by a larger dep't. He says his department has sold trucks after 10 or 15 years to a volunteer dep't in Maine. On the back it says "Place one cent stamp here" and "Fairbanks Card Company, 14 High Street, Brookline, MA which is a coincidence, because Brookline is where they lived when they moved to Boston.

                    I am baffled as to the one cent stamp aspect, as as far as I can tell 1919 was the last time there were one cent post card rates.

                    My sister also found an US Army Pass ID card of my mother's from 1943. I (i.e. my son) wasn't able to transfer the picture, as it had too much data, a problem I have had on other pictures. My mother told me she had done volunteer air defense work during the war; I wish I had asked her more about it.
                    EDIT: My son got the ID card picture in by reducing the size of the file (granularity)
                    The card says:

                    U. S ARMY PASS No. A 52907
                    FIRST FIGHTER COMMAND

                    Region Boston SEP 2 1943
                    Name Sylvia L. Dubuque
                    Designation Boston Information Center
                    Age 18 Weight 108 Height 5' 3"
                    Color of Hair brown Color of Eyes blue

                    then my mother's signature

                    then it says
                    This Card Must Be Presented When Entering Premises or Whenever Requested At Other Times - Under No Circumstances Shall This Card Be Used By Any Person Other Than The One To Whom It Is Issued.

                    then it says:

                    COUNTERSIGNED Richard J. E. Kain

                    Regional Signal Officer

                    Wing Signal Officer??

                    On the back were spaces that said "Paste Photo Here" and "Right Thumb Print" and four other spaces with just the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4

                    There is a seal embedded in the card - I can't read what it says

                    Below is a link to the Wikipedia article on I Fighter Command

                    Below is a link to the Wikipedia article on "(Boston Fighter Wing) - 323rd Air Division"

                    I assume that the pass was to the old Boston Army Base in South Boston - which was the center of the Boston Port of Embarkation

                    Edit: Wikipedia article refers to unit being stationed at "Logan Airport" during this time period
                    Attached Files
                    Last edited by lakechampainer; 27 May 12, 07:52.


                    • #55
                      Note: regarding one cent postage rates: apparently they were one cent up until 1951, except for during WW I.

                      Link to a website about the history of postcards, then an excerpt - from, article called "Tips for determining when a US Postcard was Published"


                      By the postage:

                      One easy way to approximate when a postcard was mailed if the cancellation date is unreadable is to know the changes in rates for mailing postcards. The following table comes from Historical statistics of the United States: colonial times to 1970, and Statistical abstract.
                      1872 1 cent
                      1917 2 cents
                      1919 1 cent *
                      1952 2 cents
                      1958 (August 1) 3 cents
                      1963 (January 7) 4 cents
                      1968 (January 7) 5 cents
                      1971 (May 16) 6 cents
                      1974 (March 2) 8 cents
                      1975 (September 14) 7 cents **
                      1975 (December 31 9 cents
                      1978 (May 29) 10 cents
                      1981 (March 22) 12 cents
                      1985 (February 17) 14 cents
                      1988 (April 3) 15 cents
                      1991 (February 3) 19 cents
                      1995 (January 1) 20 cents

                      *The postcard rate was increased from 1 cent to 2 cents as a wartime measure. When World War I ended at the end of 1918, the rate was lowered to its pre-War level of one cent. Allmer states (p. 17) that postage was raised briefly from 1 cent to 2 cents in 1917-1919 and in 1925-1928; the conclusive raise to 2 cents was in 1951.
                      **The U.S. Commission (Rate Board) over-estimated revenue needs in 1974 and was forced to reduce postage rate in 1975.
                      Last edited by lakechampainer; 27 May 12, 09:16.


                      • #56
                        My parents were “okies” living near Bakersfield CA in the ‘30’s and ‘40’s. My dad loved cockfighting and just after WWII we moved back to Oklahoma. I was maybe 4-5 years old and I remember he tried “tenet” farming. We lived in a two room tar paper shack with a pot belly stove. Soon we moved to Bixby, OK - near Tulsa and some family land with a much better house. I started school there and remember starting mornings saying the pledge of allegiance and a prayer.

                        During the Korean War dad worked in Tulsa refurbishing B-26’s for the war.

                        Farming didn’t work out and we went back to CA in the mid ‘50’s. Dad became a firefighter and eventually chief of a S. CA city.

                        I have been back to Bixby once and, of course, recognized nothing. But I remember farm life - bitter cold and sweltering heat depending on the season. I remember picking cotton and beans; digging potatos and sugar beets. These are things I never want to do again.

                        I also remember seeing “Howdy Doody and The Lone Ranger” on a very small black and white TV and thinking what a great thing this is.


                        • #57
                          Vermont Land Use Regulations

                          Below is a link to the Wikipedia article on Vermont Act 250, which was a key part of setting up stringent rules to help protect Vermont's rural character and scenic beauty. It was passed in 1970, around the time of the completion of the two interstate highways (I89 and I91). This and other rules have had a large effect on keeping much of the Champlain Islands and Vermont an attractive place. I wish Massachusetts had had such laws. New Hampshire certainly would have benefited, as anyone who has been the sprawl through Nashua or Salem could attest. Also follows a link from the State of Vermont on Act 250.




                          • #58
                            From Vermont Historical Society Farmhouse pictures late19th/early20th centuries

                            Some interesting pictures of Vermont farmhouses and Vermont farm pictures from the late 19th and the early 20th century. To me, some of the houses have similar designs to my great-grandparents house. I find it interesting to look at the peoples' clothing. I wonder how much was homemade. From the Vermont Historical Society, on,


                            From the VHS: Bobbin Shop - looks like there would be many OSHA and Fire Safety Violations in today's world - also child labor violations - notice the 8 to 10 year old boy


                            From the VHS - Brick Yard - I found the picture of the RR cars interesting - some are Boston & Maine - can't read others


                            From VHS - Fort Ethan Allen in Burlington - apparently 1899 - I believe land now part of University of Vermont


                            Vermont Historical Society Home Page

                            Last edited by lakechampainer; 15 Oct 12, 14:22.


                            • #59
                              Web site link - Virtual Museum of New France

                              A link to a website from The Canadian Museum of Civilization, called The Virtual Museum of New France. A lot of interesting information on it. I was researching to see if there was any large immigration from Alsace-Lorraine. My mother's middle name was Lorraine, and she told me that she was given the name because (some of) ancestors were Lorraine. She was obviously told that, but I was always skeptical. If it was true, it seems that it would have been a French soldier or officer from Lorraine.

                              Anyway, a lot of information on the characteristics of the immigrants, and a lot of other information.


                              Who were the immigrants? (hide)

                              Sex composition

                              In the beginning, the colonization of New France was the business of men. When Samuel de Champlain built his first habitations in Acadia (1604–1605) and at Québec (1608), his companions were all male. However, colonization could not occur without women. Champlain first of all encouraged Aboriginal peoples to mix with the new settlers to create a colonial population of mixed heritage and French culture. Since his plan did not materialize, the authorities sent women.
                              The first female immigrant, Marguerite Vienne, who accompanied her husband to Québec in 1612, died shortly after her arrival. In 1613, the first real pioneering women arrived: Marie Rollet, the wife of colonist Louis Hébert, and their two daughters, Guillemette and Anne. In Acadia, the first women arrived in 1636, with nine French families.
                              In all, there were about 2,000 women and girls among the 10,000 founding immigrants of Canada. These included the filles du roi, the some 850 young women sent to Quebec in the middle of the 17th century to marry the men of the colony.
                              Geographic origins

                              The geographic origins of the immigrants reflect the importance of Atlantic France in the migratory trend. Over two-thirds of the Canadian and Acadian colonists came from the Atlantic coast, considered in a very broad sense. On a map, an imaginary line drawn from Rouen to Toulouse separates a western France with close ties to New France from the interior of France, which was less involved in the migratory movement. More specifically, 39% of immigrants came from the northwest, 19% from the centre west and 11% from the southwest.
                              Despite the uneven distribution, the recruitment area encompassed all of France: immigrants came from every province, even every current department of the country, except for Corsica: 9% from the east, as many from the Parisian area, 3% from each of the departments of the Loire, the north and the Massif central, 2% from Midi and 1% from the Alps. Finally, only 1% of immigrants to New France were of foreign origin. .
                              If we consider only the founding immigrants of Canada, those who stayed permanently in the colony, the results are somewhat different. The proportion of these immigrants from the northwest drops to 28%, favouring the centre west and the Parisian area. Indeed, a relatively high number of temporary immigrants left from the northwest, in particular Bretagne, whereas the centre west and Île-de-France supplied a higher percentage of pioneers, i.e., immigrants who remained in the country.
                              The urban origin of immigrants was particularly marked: nearly two-thirds came from cities. Of the latter, two-thirds came from large cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants. Colonial immigration in the 17th and 18th centuries was thus clearly distinct from the transatlantic exodus a century later. Indeed, during these two centuries, above all, the residents of villages, market towns and especially cities would settle on land, whereas during the following century, it was the peasants from the Old World who were suddenly introduced to the hustle and bustle of urban environments. The city that supplied the greatest number of immigrants was La Rochelle, then in decreasing order Paris, Saint‑Malo, Rouen, Nantes, Dieppe and Bordeaux, which clearly reflects the Atlantic and urban nature of the outflow of immigrants.
                              Immigrants of rural origin usually came from prosperous areas of the country, with a developed transportation network and agriculture that was well integrated into market economies. Beginning in the Ancien Regime, these peasants participated in an economy that was open to the Atlantic routes where goods and people circulated.
                              Social and occupational origins

                              It is difficult to define the occupational origins of immigrants. The sources sometimes fall short in this area. Nevertheless, combining information about social background and regional origin yields interesting results. Less than one-third of the founders of Canada were peasants (27%) as opposed to the overall representation of peasants in France (80%). On the other hand, artisans made up nearly 45% of the immigrant population, a characteristic of large cities, such as Bordeaux, Rouen and Paris, but not of France as a whole. The nobility (3%), the bourgeoisie (12%) and non-agricultural labourers (14%) were also over-represented among immigrants. Aside from soldiers, the most common occupations were in the lumber, building, clothing, textile and maritime trades. Strictly from the viewpoint of occupations, the French who emigrated to Canada appeared to have much closer ties to urban areas than to “Deep France.
                              Last edited by lakechampainer; 14 Feb 13, 19:34.


                              • #60
                                Originally posted by Jannie View Post
                                I remember the town switchboard in the county seat. One of the cousins worked there as the switchboard operator. She would get a call from somewhere outside of the system and then “make the connection” with a plug-in and then ring the person to whom the call was being made. She had a switchboard with a lot of holes in it for the plugs. Each hole was for a person who had a phone at home. She could have several people connected at the same time as I recall. The phone owner could make calls within the system by ringing up people on their party line. But if you wanted to call someone off of the party line you had to ring the operator and she would connect within the system. A long distance call could take a long time to accomplish.

                                The phones hung on the wall. They were wooden with two bells on the front. They had a crank on the side. You could lift the receiver and turn the crank to get the operator. Or you could ring others on the party line by cranking out their signal. The phone rang not only for you but for everyone on the party line. So your ring might be two longs and a short and the neighbor’s might be two shorts and a long. There were generally 8 to 10 people on a party line and most people knew whose ring was which. So if you knew that the Smith’s were expecting a call about something that you were interested in and you heard their ring you could quietly lift the receiver and listen in. Some people just listened to be nosy. So you always were careful what you said on the phone, because you never knew who was listening and was willing to spread gossip. Some ladies would get two or three others on the party line and have a good talk session, so there must have been a general call signal on the party line.

                                I don’t remember my father’s parents having a phone while they lived on the farm. I do remember going into town with them a time or two to make a call at the switchboard office which is why I remember some details about it. Mom’s parents being some better off had a phone and that Grandma was prone to listen to others’ phone calls. She was really nosy.

                                I married in 1960 and my in-laws being still on the farm had the old phone system back then. When they moved into town they got a regular phone. That would have been in the late 60s.
                                This is interesting. Until I was 11, our farm had a 10 party system. Our sign was 4 short rings. When I mention this to my students, some usually mention how much fun it would be to listen in on the other discussions. I explain to them that, at least with my parents, this did not happen. We didn't even try. If we were ever caught, as soon as we could walk straight, the extra chores would have driven the point home well.
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