Kinsearching September 28, 2008




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     This week we continue with selected data from the publication by the U. S. Congress, {House of Representatives} REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF PATENTS FOR THE YEAR 1853. AGRICULTURE (Washington: A. O. P. Nicholson, Printer, 1854). Genealogists, naturally, hope to find names of their ancestors in the material. The reports also furnish insight into the lifestyles and businesses of nineteenth-century people in various parts of the United States. Such background information helps twenty-first century descendants better understand the economic times (including cost of living and food sources) in which their forebears lived and how they were affected by trends (like the introduction of new breeds of cattle) and methods of transportation (trail drives or shipment by railroad, for instance). Pages 22-25 of the publication concern dairies.

     Page 23 - Statement of Anthony M. HIGGINS, Wilmington, New Castle Co., DE: "A large quantity of butter is annually made in this county and sent to the neighboring cities, especially Baltimore, where it has for a long time maintained the highest reputation as to quality, bringing from 25 to 37 1/2 cents per pound. Our dairies comprise from fifteen to seventy-five cows each. The Holstein, Durham, and Devon infusion makes an excellent grade with our common stock, as respects size and milking properties. The first named is preferred by Major REYBOLD, who kept a large dairy for many years... A son of this gentleman informs me that he has two dairies of fifty cows each, and that he annually manufactures about 15,000 pounds of butter. The stipulated price the year round is 25 cents per pound. He calculates that the net revenue from his two dairies amounts to $3,600 per annum.

     Some proprietors of dairies rent their cows to a dairyman, at the rate of from $22.50 to $25 each cow per annum--the former furnishing the provender. There is not enough young stock here to keep up a supply. Western heifers are annually brought in at a cost of about $22 a head."

     Pages 23 - 24 - Micajah BURNETT, United Society of Shakers, Pleasant Hill, Mercer Co., KY, writes: "The dairy business...has not been put forward with a view to export its products. Every farmer liberally supplies his own family with milk and butter, and has enough to spare to supply the home demand. The business, however, is receiving increased attention, and may, with proper care and management, be made a source of great profit when we have better facilities for getting to market. The Durham cows, which have been gradually increasing in number since the year 1817, are...acknowledged to be better adapted to the dairy than those of any other breed ever introduced into this section.

     The dairy cows of this society, about one hundred and fifty in number, being all Durhams--some thorough bred, others with a slight strain of the Patton breed--are unsurpassed in the quantity and richness of their milk... The Kendall churn is reputed the best of any proved by the society."

     Page 24 - William H. COOKE of Howard, Warren Co., NJ, states: "The average price for butter this year has been 25 cents per pound in the New York market."

P. W. GILLETT, Astoria, Clatsop Co., OR, writes: "Clatsop plains are the only parts of the county which produce any considerable quantity of butter and cheese..."

Isaac R. EVENS, Harrisville, Butler Co., PA, says: "Dairy husbandry is beginning to attract the attention of a number of farmers in this section."

     Pages 24-25 - Joseph BOWDITCH, Fairfield, Franklin Co., VT, reports: "We have some of the improved breeds of cattle, so called, such as the Durham, Devonshire, and Teeswater. The Durham ranks first for the butcher. The Devons...are quite good milkers; yet our farmers seem to be satisfied with our common stock for the dairy." In another paragraph he states: "Our farmers keep from 5 to 225 cows each. At least three-fourths of our income is the product of the dairy. Some dairies make butter exclusively; others cheese about 100 days, and butter the rest of the season. Many employ horse-power for churning, using the old-fashioned dasher churn, which is placed in the basement of the dairy-room, where the cream and butter in warm weather are kept, and the horse outside of the building, where a band running in through the window puts the dasher in motion."

(To be continued)

Kinsearching Home Page