Food & the Agricultural Census of 1850 &  1860 in Navarro County, Texas
Series by Bill Young
Navarro County TXGenWeb


Navarro County Texas History Index

This series of articles was written by Bill Young and details the life of Navarro County settlers around 1850-1860; their crops, tools, foods, and living conditions.  Bill has done a tremendous amount of work in small cemetery identification, awareness, and preservation. He shares his archeological, historical, and cultural research thru several avenues including a weekly column in the Corsicana Daily Sun. Bill's wife, Bobbie Young, is the current president of the Navarro County Historical Society and runs the Pioneer Village in Corsicana, Texas.

Some early crops grown in Navarro County

By Bill Young

Last week I wrote about the large quantity of pigs on the 1850 agricultural census in Navarro County. There is one other story about pigs which I want to mention in this week’s article. It seems there were pigs running loose in Corsicana back in those days. The Democratic Convention was held in the original First Methodist Church, not the beautiful structure we see today. According to the story, a number of pigs took up residence under the church prior to the convention. The story goes on to say the pigs had a definite flea problem which manifested itself to the conventioneers trying to conduct their meeting in the church. Exactly how the problem was resolved is not stated in the story but I would bet it was an itchy solution!

In the past few weeks I have been listing both the land, improved and un-improved, and the livestock each landowner claimed to own from the 1850 agricultural census, but I have left out two categories. The first is the value of the land. I do not know who arrived at the value for each improved or un-improved acre but I tend to think it was the responsibility of each landowner to value his or her land. Many of the landowners were given their land when they migrated here to the Mercer Colony so they did not ever pay any cash for their acreage. However, any landowner who had started clearing his tract had labor, and in turn dollars, tied up in the land. There doesn’t seem to be a happy medium set for the value of an acre of ground back in those days. This is borne out by the fact there were several land speculators who bought and sold land on a regular basis. On the 1850 census, every one of these land speculators placed a higher price per acre than did the average farmer. In fact, a few farmers told the census taker their land had no value. My guess as to why these individuals undervalued their property was they were trying to avoid paying any taxes on their land. Land was the number one item when it came to valuing a person’s taxable property. Since I could not determine an average price per acre, I decided not to go to the effort of trying to figure out what an acre was worth.

The same thing is true for the value of each landowner’s livestock. It must have been left up to each individual owner to place a value on his or her livestock. I would imagine the census taker could not help but laugh at some of the values given by landowners for their animals. Some people were honest and tried to accurately appraise their herds while others tried their very best not to show any sign of wealth. Since I noticed a lot of variation in the value of livestock from farmer to farmer, I also decided not to list the overall value of the livestock owned by an individual.

On the other side of the coin, almost everyone grew something either as a cash crop or for feed for their animals. Back in those days just like today, each type of crop required somewhere to store the product. The first crop listed on the agricultural census is wheat. Today wheat is produced on a regular basis by some of the county farmers, but in 1850 the total wheat recorded on the census amounted to 660 bushels. Only 16 farmers listed wheat as part of their inventory. Out of the 16, I will mention the top four. William Browning had 200 bushels, Elisha S. Wyman had 90, Jackson Harris had 75 and Jacob Hartzell had 50. One farmer told the census taker he had only three bushels of wheat. Even though wheat was grown here on a limited basis, I doubt much, if any, was exported out of the county.

Rye was the next item on the census and there was not a single bushel of rye recorded on the census. However, Indian corn made up for the lack of rye. Out of 186 farmers/landowners, only three did not list any Indian corn. It is also interesting to note the item on the census taker’s page said Indian corn, not sweet corn or field corn which are the two most common terms we use here today. Back in those days, almost everyone recognized the fact the Native Americans were responsible for corn in the first place so it was aptly named for them. I have seen corn cribs and storage facilities today where corn is placed to keep it dry but did everyone have a corn crib or in some cases many corn cribs? The total volume of Indian corn recorded on the 1850 census is 68,138 bushels. That is lot of corn. I have not seen any description of corn being shipped by wagon or steamboat but I would think at least a portion of the corn was exported to other markets. Some of the farmers may have raised the corn strictly as feed product for their cows or pigs but I am guessing when I make this statement.

The top 12 corn producers on the 1850 census were John Welch by far the leader when he listed 6,000 bushels of corn. No one else reported anywhere near this amount. In second place was Henry Cook with 2,000 bushels. Mr. Cook’s name has been at or near the top on several of the previous categories. Next is Jacob Hartzell with 1,950 bushels. Just like Mr. Cook, the Hartzell name appears near the top of several categories. Next is David R. Mitchell with 1,500 bushels. Mr. Mitchell must have had some help because he also was doing a lot of land surveying in the county at the same time. Ethan Melton was fifth on the list with 1,300 bushels and I will go ahead and mention his brother Jeremiah Melton who listed an even 1,000 bushels. The next farmer on the list, James Hamilton, reported he had 1,008 bushels which is rather odd that he listed his holdings with an exact amount. He must have had some way of determining exactly how many bushels he had on hand. Besides Jeremiah Melton with his 1,000 bushels, five other farmers listed the exact same amount. William Ward, William Bright, Thomas Williams, George Washington Hill and John Hillburn, Sr., round out the list of the top 12. Needless to say, there was a lot of Indian corn produced in Navarro County in 1850.


Wool, Peas & Irish Potatoes

Bill Young - Wool, peas, beans and Irish potatoes on the 1850 census

By Bill Young

When someone has a flock of sheep, obviously one of the byproducts from this endeavor is the production of wool. Wool has been used for centuries as a material for clothing, especially in the winter. Several weeks ago I wrote about the quantity of sheep listed on the 1850 agricultural census and the fact there were 54 farmers listed as owning sheep.

On the same census page when I came to the category of wool quoted in pounds, only 44 farmers stated they had wool. Either someone decided not to report any wool or he was one of the farmers who had only a few sheep which they were raising not for wool but as a food product or possibly a farm pet. They could have sheared their sheep and decided the wool was not worth the trouble to process. Since all of the animals, cows, horses, pigs and sheep had the run of the land without any fencing, a farmer’s flock might get off into a patch of cockleburs which might render the sheep’s wool unusable. Over the years I have had several pet dogs and if they wandered off and got into a patch of cockleburs, most often is was better to just cut the fur around each burr rather than trying to pull it out. Cockleburs and sheep definitely are not compatible!

In the article I wrote about sheep, the total quantity of sheep listed was 822 sheep. In the category of pounds of wool owned by the farmers, only 1,984 were recorded. This would indicate each sheep produced an average of two and one-half pounds of wool. Since I never had anything to do with raising sheep, I don’t know what should be the annual production of wool on a per sheep basis.

Out of the 44 farmers listed as owning wool, I selected the top nine producers who had 50 or more pounds. At the head of the list is a person who did not own any sheep, Stephen Richardson. The Richardson family lived on the western side of what is now Corsicana in an area known as the Richardson settlement. I don’t know what Stephen Richardson did for a living, but he must have been into the buying and selling of wool. He is listed on the census as owning 500 pounds of wool, almost one-third of all of the wool listed on the census in 1850. No one else comes anywhere near this amount so I must assume he was some type of wool merchant. Next on the list is William McCabe with 120 pounds followed by two men tied at 100 pounds each, Robert Ray (Wray) and Edwin Garlic. Note: Mr. Ray’s name is spelled both ways on the census on the same line which indicates the census taker did not know which spelling was correct so he used both versions. Next on the list is Thomas White with 69 pounds followed by John Hillburn Sr. with 64 pounds. Mr. Hillburn’s name keeps showing near or at the top of many categories indicating he produced a wide variety of farm products successfully. At an even 60 pounds each two men tied, H.C. Hodges and Thomas Jones. Speaking of Thomas Jones, we are looking for the cemetery where he and his family are buried. His land was located north of Bazette, but their family cemetery has not been located. The last two individuals on the list are Owen Humphrey with 56 pounds and Robert Guinn with 50. I would think most of the wool produced locally was meant for clothing produced and worn by the individuals who raised sheep.

The next category on the 1850 census is peas and beans. Even though these are two separate food products, they were lumped together on the agricultural census since they are similar and are grown about the same time in a similarly prepared field. More farmers told the census taker they had peas and beans than the ones who stated they had wool. Fifty-two farmers out of the 186 listed on the census had peas and beans as one of their crops. A grand total of 1,258 bushels of peas and beans were listed. It does not state whether the peas were shelled or not but I would assume they were unshelled. In my life time I have shelled peas and snapped beans on a limited basis and just how long it would take to shell a bushel of peas, I cannot say. However, there have been times I thought I could eat a bushel of fresh peas or beans along with some cornbread and homegrown tomatoes. While on the subject of tomatoes, tomatoes were not listed on the agricultural census. I am assuming they were grown on a limited basis for home use only and not considered to be a cash crop locally in 1850. How long unshelled peas and beans could be stored without spoiling is also an unanswered question. Over the years I have bought a pound or two and put them in the refrigerator only to find a week or two later the presence of mold on the hulls. The early settlers must have devised ways to keep perishable food products from going bad. I know many things were hung in the smoke house or in the root cellars but I don’t know how long they would last.

Even though the census stated 52 different farmers had peas and beans, five of those farmers produced one-half of the total number of bushels listed. At the head of the list was George Washington Hill from Spring Hill with 200 bushels followed by David White from the Pisgah Ridge area with 150 bushels. Three individuals, Moses Meazels, Permelia Fisher and Alexander Younger were tied at 100 bushels each. Mr. Meazels lived southwest of present-day Richland and Mr. Younger had land along Post Oak Creek near Silver City, but I don’t know where Permelia Fisher lived.

The next category on the census is Irish potatoes. Irish potatoes today are consumed by the ton and most are grown farther to the north of Texas. In 1850, Irish potatoes were grown locally on a limited basis with only 16 farmers listed as producers with a grand total of 204 bushels. Out of those 16, seven were listed as having 10 or more bushels and these same seven accounted for 163 bushels, about 80 percent of the entire crop. William Spurlin had 50 bushels, David Williams listed 38 bushels, Nathaniel Carroll and John McFadden had 20 bushels each. Robert Stark reported 15 bushels and Ethan Melton and William Langford both reported they owned 10 bushels apiece. All this talk of food and I must stop for this week and go eat something.


Sweet Potatoes

How did early settlers preserve sweet potatoes?

By Bill Young

On the 1850 agricultural census, 128 farmers stated they had grown sweet potatoes. This means about two-thirds of all of the farmers in Navarro County produced sweet potatoes as a cash or feed crop. Sweet potato production is at the top of the list of all of the foods grown for consumption in 1850. Does this mean everybody who grew sweet potatoes ate them on a regular basis or did they intend to market a percentage of their crop? Obviously most of the population ate sweet potatoes rather than Irish potatoes on a regular basis. Since there was a very limited amount of Irish potatoes grown locally, they were either difficult to grow due to our hot rain, absent summer days or the population back in those days preferred sweet potatoes over the Irish variety.

Besides being a product for local consumption and/or export out of the area, sweet potatoes were utilized as feed for the huge swine population. I can remember my grandfather occasionally feeding sweet potatoes to his pigs. With a steady diet of sweet potatoes, the weight gain per pig must have been outstanding. However, how much of this weight each pig gained turned into edible meat and how much into fat? The general public was not concerned with high or low cholesterol so bacon or a ham loaded with fat wasn’t a problem. Since most farmers went about their daily chores from sun up to sun down, they needed more food in any form just to continue living at the pace they worked. No one knew anything about arteries getting clogged up with fatty material and in turn, the life expectancy for a male was much lower than it is today. Do we do any better today since we now have this knowledge? I doubt it especially when I look in the mirror at myself or think about the various health problems I am currently facing.

Since pigs were the most commonly used meat served on a regular basis in the early 1800s, the faster you could fatten a hog, the quicker it was either ready for sale on the market or for home consumption. In the Richland/Chambers Lake series published by the archeologists form Southern Methodist University, a five volume set, two books were devoted solely to historical archeology. In Volume Five, one section was devoted to the various bones recovered around many of the house sites which were mitigated during the early part of the project. Pig bones were recovered almost two to one on many of the sites and the earlier the site, the higher the percentage of pig bones versus cattle bones. Many of the sites also produced bones from other mammals and birds especially chicken bones but there was speculation some of the bones entered into an archeological site by a secondary route, i.e., pets, especially dogs brought other animal bones back to the house site. A number of deer bones found in several of the sites indicate this may have happened but there is also the chance someone in each household went out and killed a deer. After skinning and butchering the deer, leftover bones may have been given to their dogs.

Back to the sweet potatoes. Those 128 farmers I mentioned above who stated they had grown sweet potatoes listed a huge total of 12,469 bushels of sweet potatoes. What a huge pile this would have made! It is hard for me to imagine this many bushels of sweet potatoes being produced in a single year by so few farmers. Just the manpower to plant by hand and then harvest and store these potatoes had to be extensive. Since I have never planted any sweet potatoes, I cannot say how long a sweet potato can remain in the ground after it has reached maturity before it starts going bad. Linda Belote told me her aunt used to store the sweet potatoes under the porch and she also remembered it was very important not to wash the soil off of the potatoes until it was time to use them. In the 1850s, I doubt any farmer opted to store his sweet potatoes under the porch since the pigs were running around loose. Fencing did not come into being until some 30 years later. With that in mind, the farmer must have built at least one storage area within his barn for the purpose of storing items such as sweet potatoes or any of the other marketable products. The archeologists with SMU noted there were several structures associated with some of the early house sites they partially excavated during the Richland/Chambers project. The distribution of square cut nails found in different excavated units pointed to the fact there were several structures scattered around near the house within what they referred to as the formal yard. Among these structures would be the barn, a corn crib, a tack room if it was separated from the barn, the chicken coop, one or more storage structures and the little house with a half moon on the door known as the privy. If the main house lasted for a number of years, the little privy house may have been moved to other locations through time. The archeologists found out there was an average distance from the main house to every one of the outlying buildings. Convenience to each was important for whatever the reason.

Since we don’t eat a lot of sweet potatoes except during the holiday seasons, I cannot imagine how long it would take my family to consume a single bushel of sweet potatoes. Most would probably spoil before they could be eaten. For this article, I have listed the top 12 individuals who had the most sweet potatoes. At the head of the list is B.L. Ham with 500 bushels. Mr. Ham also was a land speculator in Navarro County. Six individuals are tied for second with 400 bushels apiece. They are: David White, William Spurlin, Phobe Sanders, Ethan Melton and his brother Jeremiah Melton and the last one is William Richey. James Hamilton came in next with 325 bushels followed by four men with 300 bushels apiece, F.R. Kendall, Noble Wade, David R. Mitchell and Washington Meek. Needless to say, a sweet potato was very popular back in the early days yet there will not be a single piece of archeological evidence discovered which could prove this except for the 1850 agricultural census.



Agriculture and farming: How were tons of butter stored in 1850?

By Bill Young

Before I get into this week’s article about the amount of butter listed on the 1850 census, I want to briefly go back to the Trinity River. How many of you saw the article about the 13-foot alligator killed on the Trinity River in Leon County? My mind started thinking about those times when the steamboats plowed up and down the Trinity River with reptiles as big or bigger lying in the shade waiting on some unsuspecting dinner, human or animal, to come swimming by. This gator weighed in at over three times my weight and judging the size of his mouth, he could have polished me off in two or three bites. Don’t think I will ever go swimming in the Trinity River again!

On the 1850 census, milk cows were one of the specific types of cattle listed. Needless to say, milk cows produced milk and in turn cream which if churned, turned into butter. The 1850 agricultural census did not list the gallons of milk produced by any farmer’s herd but the census does list the volume of butter in pounds. Of all of the items both animal and vegetable listed on the census, butter is the only one listed which gives an indication of how the census was actually recorded. In other words, the census was a compilation of the past year’s total production of each item on the census. It was not the total of each item on hand on the day the census taker compiled the information. It is reasonable to make this assumption because butter is a perishable product which could not be stored for any length if time without refrigeration. Granted, small amounts such as a few pounds or maybe as much as 10 to 15 pounds could be kept cool either down in the well or in the spring/well house, but large amounts of butter, as much as 100 pounds or more, would take up a lot of space in the well or spring house. With this thought in mind, it is obvious the amount given to the census taker had to represent a year’s worth of production, not what was actually on hand at that specific moment.

Out of 186 farmers listed on the census, only 14 did not list butter as a product they produced. I would imagine most of the non-butter owners first of all were not true farmers owning little or no land and for sure no dairy cows. Instead they probably had stores or were doctors and lawyers although some of the doctors and lawyers owned land and cattle but others did not.

Unless my memory about cooking is failing me, I think a box, four sticks, is a pound of butter. Can you imagine a pile of butter containing 49,026 pounds of butter? This number is the total amount of butter listed on the 1850 agricultural census. That is a lot of cholesterol, although now days they are saying butter is better for you than the artificial kind. If we take the total amount of butter listed on the 1850 census and divide the number by the total number of farmers who listed butter as one of their products, the average amount per farmer is slightly over 229 pounds. I have compiled a list of the top 10 butter producers and none of these men had less than 600 pounds. At the head of the list was William Ladd with 1,000 pounds. Mr. Ladd also owned an inn in Corsicana for a couple of years in the early 1850s. Four men were tied for second with 750 pounds apiece: C.C. Harris, Jackson Harris, J.T. Barnaby and Elijah Anderson. One man, William Paris, had 700 pounds and the final four men, Samuel Wilson, George Hogan, William Bright and Henry Cook, stated they each had 600 pounds of butter. These 10 men had a combined total of 7,300 pounds or about one-seventh of the total production in the county. Everyone had butter. One item of interest I noted while listing the butter was the number of farmers who stated they had 365 pounds of butter which might indicate they churned one pound of butter per day. Whether they in reality did one pound of butter per day or this was just an easy way of roughly determining their total annual production is not known. I sincerely doubt they went out each and every day to churn one pound of butter. It probably was more related to the daily chore of having to milk the cows both morning and night.

Since we know they produced a lot of butter, what about the milk? Why wasn’t it counted on the census? Where did the milk go? I sincerely doubt all of a herd’s production of milk was consumed by the family of the farmer. Some must have been sold or traded locally. Since I am asking questions, why did they not count the chickens, roosters and eggs on the agricultural census? All were products which could be bought, sold or traded. Another item seen today but not found on the 1850 census is goats. Not a single goat was listed on either the 1850 or 1860 census yet goats can be seen in many fields in the county today.

My wife, Bobbie Jean, may have solved the question I wrote the other day about tomatoes. She said she read somewhere years ago the general population thought tomatoes were poisonous. She said Elizabeth Gillispie also made the same statement. It seems tomatoes and for that matter potatoes belong to the nightshade family. Some plants in the nightshade family are poisonous to humans but tomatoes and potatoes are not. Don’t tell my kids about the tomato problem. All three will not eat tomatoes today and the youngest is 35 years old. Personally I like a good fresh, cold tomato with salt and pepper but I have to watch the salt. The ones grown in hot houses and sold during the winter are rather bland, almost tasteless.


Cheese and hay, items on 1850 agricultural census

By Bill Young

Last week I wrote about the amount of butter listed on the 1850 agricultural census. I am sure most readers are aware butter was derived from churning milk. This week cheese, another byproduct of milk production, was listed on the 1850 census.

We tend to think most of the cheese produced today comes from several of the northern states such as Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. California is also a major cheese-producing state. Here in Navarro County in 1850, a number of farmers who owned dairy cows also produced cheese. In fact 46 farmers were listed as cheese producers, which represents about one-fourth of the all of the farmers.

Cheese unlike milk could be stored for a long time without spoiling. Since it lasted for a period of time, it became a good secondary byproduct of milk production along with butter. The census does not break down the cheese into any separate category as to what specific type of cheese was produced. Therefore it may be safe to assume several different types of cheese were being produced depending on each particular farmer’s taste for cheese or what type of cheese was best marketable. The census also does not describe in what form the cheese was molded, small or large. It does state on the census taker’s records cheese was to be documented in pounds but there isn’t any description of how big the blocks of cheese were.

There was a total of 5,180 pounds of cheese recorded on the 1850 census. Using that number and dividing it by the total number of producers, 46, it averages out to be about 113 pounds of cheese per producer. Needless to say, some produced more than the average. I compiled a list of the top seven cheese producers on the 1850 census. At the head of the list was Samuel Bowman with 640 pounds. In second place was Elijah Wyman with 450 pounds followed closely by John Hillburn Sr. with an even 400 pounds. Next was Elijah Baker with 270 pounds and the last two men, William Paris and F.R. Kendall, were tied with 200 pounds each.

Personally I love cheese and tend to look for any excuse to put a slice of cheese, mainly cheddar, on almost everything I eat. Looking at the volume of cheese produced by some of those farmers it would be fairly safe to assume a large part of their cheese production was meant for the market or trade. How much cheese a family could consume back in those days is unknown but a pound per day for some of the larger families would still be a lot of cheese. Simple problems such as the question of cheese consumption is one of those perplexing questions archeologists would like to answer but no one ever documented their daily routines in any great detail. Letters and diaries from those early time periods talk about the families in general but not about their daily life. In fact, if they had not taken an agricultural census in 1850 or 1860, we probably would not be aware cheese was being produced locally. Archeological remains indicating cheese production around an old farmstead have probably turned into small pieces of unidentifiable metal. On many of the early historical sites we have partially excavated, piece after tiny piece of metal fragments show up on the screens when the soil is sifted from the excavated units but the identification of most of the metal fragments are too small to be useful.

Hay is the next category on the 1850 census and to me represents a very strange category. Everyone who raises cattle, either dairy or beef, utilizes hay as the main feed for their herd. Granted the hay may not be cut or stacked or baled, since bailing did not exist in 1850, but hay grown in a field as cow fodder was important. It may be true most farmers in those days did not set aside one piece of their land solely for the production of hay. Instead, since fencing did not exist, cows were allowed to graze on anything and everything they could find. If a farmer did set aside a piece of land for hay production, how in the world did he keep his or his neighbor’s cows out of the hay meadow? It must have been a never ending battle! Early examples of split rail fences are known to exist but how successful was a split rail fence in keeping out the cows?

Out of the 186 farmers on the 1850 census, only eight stated they had produced hay and those eight individuals produced a grand total of 28 tons. Again I must assume each farmer had some rule of thumb which allowed him to look at a stack of hay and be able to determine approximately the tonnage contained in the pile. John Welch was the top producer with 10 tons of hay followed by Robert Stark with six tons. Next came Alexander Younger with four tons followed by John Thomas with three and Daniel Caddell with two. The other three producers had a single ton each. Since hay was listed in a limited quantity, I would think all of the recorded hay was produced by each farmer for his own use rather than being a trade or sale item.

Mrs. Hazel Allison came by Pioneer Village with some information pertaining to the early consumption of tomatoes. She wrote about an editorial written in the Atlanta Journal on June 16, 1833, in which several prominent people were mentioned such as Andrew Jackson, president of the United States, Edgar Allen Poe who had published his first literary works, Daniel Webster, a U.S. senator, Noah Webster, who published his American Dictionary of the English Language, Santa Anna, president of Mexico and other notable persons. At the end of the paragraph there is a statement which says “and Americans began to eat tomatoes which had been considered poisonous.” This statement helps to verify what we had previously heard.


Honey, top sweet in 1850s

By Bill Young

On the frontier during the 1850s and 1860s, many products we take for granted today were not readily available. Since sugar was not grown locally it had to be imported into Navarro County and the other surrounding counties from the coastal areas or shipped from one of the eastern seaboard cities where the product was available. In turn anything sweet was considered a treat. Pies, cakes and cookies could be made since the main ingredients such as flour, eggs and milk could be found locally but sugar was needed to make these items more palatable. Instead of sugar, honey could be acquired locally if someone knew the location of a bee hive in a tree and was brave enough to go and “rob” the hive. There have been several stories published in local history books about someone or a group of boys venturing forth to gather some honey. Since honey can be eaten straight from the hive, it was a popular sweetener in those early days if you could get past the bee stings.

On the 1850 agricultural census, there were a number of individuals who listed honey or beeswax as a product they produced. The census does not state if each individual actually owned some man-made bee hives or simply was gathering honey and beeswax from hives located in hollows hidden away in the trees. I have to assume most of the farmers had their own man-made hives since many of the honey producers had more than 100 pounds of honey or beeswax listed on the census.

Forty-three individuals reported they had honey or beeswax but the two items were listed together which does not help to tell us whether they had just honey or beeswax or both. In this particular category, the amount on hand with each farmer was listed in pounds of honey and beeswax — 4,970 pounds of honey was recorded for Navarro County. Out of the 43 producers of honey, 17 had 100 or more pounds with 450 pounds at the top of the list. If I remember my chemistry correctly, honey is slightly heavier than water and water weighs 8 1/3 pounds per gallon. So it takes roughly 12 gallons of water to equal 100 pounds. If honey is slightly heavier than water, for every 100 pounds of honey or beeswax listed, you should have somewhere around 11 1/2 to 11 3/4 quarter gallons of honey. With a fairly large family, 100 pounds of honey might not last for an entire year. With my family, a single jar of honey might last for a long time but we are not major consumers of honey. Back in the 1850s, honey was one of the few sweets available on a regular basis and probably was utilized daily.

At the head of the list was Francis Sanches with 450 pounds followed closely by William Browning with 400. Elijah Anderson came in third with 300 pounds and Owen Humphrey with 250 pounds. Next was Daniel Cadwell with 210 followed by six men with 200 pounds each. They were Henry T. Hollis, William B. McCabe, Elijah Baker, Alexander Younger, Isaac Sessions and William N. Anderson. Then came Eli Smith with 135 pounds followed by James A. Johnson with 110 pounds. Then Elijah Jeffreys stated he had 105 pounds and the final three were tied at 100 pounds each. These men were David Williams, George Hogan, the census taker, and Elisha Wyman. While we are on the subject of men’s names, have you noticed the biblical names repeated over and over on the 1850 census? It is a good sign religion played a very important role even in those early days before many of the churches were built in the county.

The value of homemade manufactured items is next on the 1850 agricultural census. It is anybody’s guess as to what items fit into this category. It could have been clothing items or any woven product such as a quilt or shawl. It might have been a food product such as jellies or jams. The process of preserving hadn’t started because they did not have containers in which preserves could be kept for any length of time. Shoes or coveralls and jeans could have been handmade. Many of the families had spinning wheels which allowed wool to be made into something useful and marketable. Someone adept at working with wood could hand carve useful objects. The list is endless but people who were carpenters or blacksmiths fell into a totally different category not listed on the agricultural census. We will never know the total list of items referred to as home manufactured. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some of these early handmade items preserved at Pioneer Village along with the documents proving what each object was and who made it? There aren’t a lot of 1850 items sitting around in someone’s closet!

With such a broad spectrum of items which could be referred to as homemade, over one half, 95 out of the 186 individuals on the 1850 census, stated they had something marketable. None of those listed stated they had made anything of great value but keep in mind a dollar back in those days went a long way. Many of the farmers said they had made something of less than $20 in value. I have compiled the top nine individuals for this article. At the top of the list was Washington Meek with $160 value of homemade products followed by a two-way tie between William Meador and Alexander Younger with $150 each. Next was George Washington Hill with $90 of products followed by a five-way tie at $75 each. These men are Jeremiah Crabb, Marshall Wantland, George Bragg, William L. Browning and Jackson Harris.

Next week: The value of animals slaughtered on the 1850 agricultural census


Value of animals on 1850 ag census

By Bill Young

The last category listed on the 1850 agricultural census is referred to as the value of animals slaughtered. I have to wonder why they went to the effort to record the animals butchered for meat on this census. In looking at the dollar values listed by each farmer, I think it is obvious all of the meat produced from the slaughtering was meant for home use. Only two people, Thomas J. White and Mrs. F.E. Tate, told the census taker the value of their slaughtered animals was $1,000 each. Everyone else stated the value of their animals slaughtered at less than $170 while the majority reported less than $100. Mr. White and Mrs. Tate must have marketed a fairly large portion of the processed meat to consumers while on the other hand, it looks as if all of the other individuals were consuming their own meat production.

One other item which would have been useful to know is what types of animals were being slaughtered. I would think swine would have been at the top of the list followed by cattle and then sheep. Even though chickens and turkeys were not listed, I cannot help but think poultry was slaughtered on a weekly basis, at least once a week, because of all of the stories about raising chickens and the gathering of eggs published in various books about the early life on the frontier.

Out of the 186 people listed on the 1850 census, 175 reported they had slaughtered animals of value. Occasionally I have found in the deed records at the courthouse someone’s will where it was filed and/or probated. In those wills, the individuals who were serving as the executors of the deceased person’s estates placed a value on everything in the estate. In some cases, other individuals were appointed by either the court or the executor for the same purpose. Quite often I have found the value for the pigs or the cattle in an estate ranging from a few dollars per head to as much as $20. Horses are also listed but I sincerely doubt if horses were being slaughtered back in the early days. A horse was a prized possession to a farmer and his family. What I have noticed is the wide range of values placed on animals in an estate but in several cases the quantity of a certain animals was not noted. Instead, the papers may state a herd of cows or a group of pigs or sheep. Therefore we are faced with the same problems we saw when the census taker recorded the value for the quantity of land, either improved or unimproved, each farmer reported. It was at the discretion of each individual farmer to place the value on anything he reported. If the farmer was fearful whatever he reported might be used for taxing purposes, many farmers might tend to under report their values thereby hoping to reduce the amount of taxes they needed to pay. It might be interesting and helpful to do some research into how taxing was determined in those days. Since transportation was limited to horses, buggies and wagons, and roads were few and far between and in terrible condition, the census taker and his relationship with each landowner might be the only permanent record we have remaining.

Beside the two people listed above with $1,000 each for their animals slaughtered, 20 other individuals all reported in between $72 and $200 each. John Bean placed his value at $200 followed by Jonathan Newby and George W. Hill at $170 a piece. Next came Joshua S. Hanley with $165 followed by Robert Stark and James Henry Chambers with $150.

William Richey was next at $140 followed by William Spurlin and Henry Cook with $124 each and Thomas K. Miller with $120. Then came Ethan Melton with $112 followed by his brother Jeremiah and James J. Williams with $110 each. Elijah Anderson and Francis Sanches were tied at $100 each. James Hoggard listed $92 followed closely by Jacob Hartzell and John Pevehouse with $90. The last two I listed were Wilson J. West with $84 and Thomas R. Donage or Donighee (spelled both ways on the census) with $72. One of the nice things about this last category is the fact several new names have appeared on the list. This helps researchers in understanding how each individual farmer helped to contribute to the local economy and the beginnings of Navarro County.

Next week I will be starting on the 1860 agricultural census. The categories are the same but in the span of 10 years, many things were changing in Navarro County. First of all, the 1850 census included people who were living in areas which were divided off into new counties after 1850. Please remember in 1846 when Navarro County was created, the area was huge, spanning from a point on the Trinity River which is still our southeastern corner, diagonally all the way to the Brazos River where Aquilla Creek enters the Brazos. Then the line followed up the Brazos to a point due west from Tarrant County, then eastward to the west line of Dallas County. The survey then went around Dallas County and swung back east to the Trinity River. Contained within those boundaries today are the following complete counties: Ellis, Tarrant, Hill, Johnson and of course Navarro. Major portions of Palo Pinto and Parker counties and minor parts of McLennan, Hood, Somerville and a tiny part of Limestone completed the survey. Ellis County was split off in 1848 and both Tarrant and McLennan in 1850 so the people living in these areas may not be on the 1850 census. For sure the residents living in Ellis were not included. Hill was divided out in 1853 followed by Johnson County in 1854, Parker in 1855 and Palo Pinto in 1857. When Johnson County was created in 1854, the areas which today are part of Hood and Somerville became part of Johnson County. I know some of those areas mentioned above were unsettled in 1850 so the census taker did not have to go much farther than the mid area of what is now Ellis County and over to the Brazos River. We know he did list the army personnel stationed at Fort Griffin on the Brazos in 1850.

Next week: How the county had changed when the 1860 census was done


Bill Young - History found right under our feet

By Bill Young

Several events have occurred this week which show us we don’t always notice what is right under our feet. Watkins Development Company owned by Ronny Watkins has been in the process of replacing the sidewalk in the 100 block of South Beaton Street on the east side. My daughter Julie and my son-in-law Rick have been working on two buildings for some time now in anticipation of opening a steak house. The name of the restaurant will be the Black Jack McCanless Steak House and Saloon. This name was derived from one of my wife’s ancestors. Needless to say, anyone in my family is going to be historically minded.

When the personnel with Watkins Development saw-cut the old sidewalk away from one of my kid’s buildings, the old walk dropped down several inches indicating there was a hollow area under the walk. Rick immediately noticed there was a brick wall extending downward into the ground and in the middle area, he could see evidence of a brick lined archway. He knew this was not the typical brick foundation that usually rests under the walls of each of the older buildings downtown. Any type of archway buried in the subsoil might indicate the presence of a tunnel or a basement or possibly a buried storm drain system.

A couple of years ago, my wife Bobbie Jean and I attended several of the Lakes Trail planning meetings and one of these meeting was held in Arlington. After the meeting, a special tour was available for the attendees to go out to what used to known as “The Top of the Hill” many years ago. The “Top of the Hill” was a gambling establishment catering to the upper-class residents of Dallas and Tarrant counties. Below ground were several areas where the gamblers tried their luck at cards, dice and roulette. The entrance into the property was gated with a security guard always on duty. One particular Baptist preacher decided to see if he could get the gambling establishment closed down. Several raids by local enforcement officers failed because they could not catch anyone gambling nor could they find the gambling equipment. Since the police officers had to come through the main gate, the security officer on duty would inform the owners of the impending raid. Then by the time he opened the gate, the equipment was hidden is secret compartments in the walls and the gamblers exited through a hidden tunnel coming out on the opposite side of the hill away from the entrance. From there it was a brief walk out into the garden area where tables and chairs were arranged with food and beverages. Eventually the police figured out what was happening and scaled the hill in the back. The casino was closed down and today, the facility belongs to a church organization which was started by the Baptist preacher.

Documentation about any of the early businesses or buildings in downtown are almost non-existent. There are copies of some of the old city directories but none dating back to the beginning era of downtown. In the 1850s and 1860s, the original town was arranged around the courthouse square similar to Waxahachie and Athens but when the Houston and Texas Central Railroad in 1871 built the first track through Corsicana east of the courthouse, all of the businesses started moving towards the railroad. Therefore, we use 1871 as the beginning date for downtown.

We still have not been able to absolutely pin down the beginning date for the Bismark Restaurant and the Bismark Saloon which were both housed in the building where the basement was discovered. Two dates have been noted, 1872 and 1878. Either date would indicate this was one of the early buildings located downtown. We do know the establishment was in business for a number of years.

At some point, there was a fire which we have been told destroyed all of the upper section of the building but until this week, evidence proving this fire has not been found. A thorough search of some of the old newspapers on microfilm may help to answer this question and also tell us what year this happened. There have been some discoveries this week which will help settle the questions.

First of all, the brick wall forming the outside entrance wall is made of sand brick. Sand bricks were the first type of brick produced when people settled in this area. Then commercial brick came into being sometime around 1888 to 1890, I think! The difference between the two bricks has to do more with the firing process in manufacturing than anything else. Sand brick were stacked outside in rows several tiers high with spaces separating the stacks. Then firewood was placed between the stacks and burned. The firing produced an un-even heat whereby some of the bricks were fired harder than others. The colors of each brick also varied from an orange/red to red within the same firing. Commercial brick are much harder because the firing is evenly applied and in turn the color is controlled.

In this newly discovered basement, it looks as if all of the fill material entered into the basement at the same time. There is some evidence a good portion of this fill material is the old walls of the original structure. Several pieces of white marble have been pulled out of the fill material. You can readily see the chisel marks on these pieces very similar to the manufacturing of old tombstones. However, I could not think what these blocks represented. Brad Cook came by the site and he and I looked at a couple of examples. He stated they probably represented pieces of cornice stones. He was exactly correct. All you had to do was look across the street at several of the two story buildings and you can readily see a decorative band of white marble inset into the brick near the top. These pieces would have ended up at the front of the basement where they were discovered.

Pieces of bottles and even some complete bottles have been found within the ruble. Window glass is fairly common also and we will be able to measure the thickness of the samples. We have a chart on window glass which allows us to get within approximately five years of when those glass panes were cast. Also we will be able to date most of the bottle glass within a few years but many of the rusted metal fragments may go unidentified, depending largely on how big the metal is and in what condition. A couple of pennies in poor condition have been recovered along with a few marbles. Each artifact should fall within a specific time frame and hopefully we will be able to establish an overall date for when the basement was filled. Maybe something will be discovered lying on the basement floor which will tell us more about the original building.

Next week: Changes which occurred between 1850 and 1860



A first look at 1860 agricultural census

Bill Young

In 1860, the second agricultural census was conducted at the same time as the population census. Just 10 years after the first census in 1850, many changes had occurred which would affect the Navarro County census for 1860.

First of all, the population of farmers increased from 186 to 510. In other words, there were about three times as many farmers in 1860 compared to 1850. Secondly, the county had shrunk considerably in size when all of the areas which used to be part of Navarro County were divided and split into 10 new counties. The area in 1860 of Navarro County is exactly the same as it is today except for some boundary problems where the Trinity River has changed its channel giving some land to Henderson County and taking sections away from them. Thirdly, most of the available land in the county had either been sold or given to settlers. A few small tracts existed which had not been sold or given mainly because of mistakes and errors created when the boundaries of the larger tracts were surveyed and some of the lines did not match the property next door. Keep in mind most of the original survey comers were noted on the plat maps as a tree of a certain size or a stake placed in the prairie. Trees grow or they can be destroyed in a storm or a fire and wooden stakes placed in the prairie could be eaten by termites in less than 12 months. Today, it is a wonder how many of our more modern surveys turn out accurately. Also back in those early times, several abstracts are overlaid onto other abstracts. Parts of Corsicana experienced this problem and it took more than 10 years in court to straighten out the survey.

Other factors which probably affected the 1860 agricultural census dealt with taxes and the probability there might be a war between the states looming in the near future. If the local government was using the information gathered by the census taker as the basis for establishing the tax burden for each farmer, some of the land owners might not disclose every single thing they owned, be it land, animals or crops. They took the attitude whatever the government doesn’t know is perfectly all right. Seems like I know one or two of those fellas today.

Most of the larger land owners knew there was a strong chance there was going to be a war between the northern and southern states over the question of slavery and also states rights. No one would have guessed just how devastating this war would be to the nation nor how long the nation would be embroiled in the war. Most thought if the war did occur, it would last less than a year. How wrong they were! Many of the larger land owners predicted the war would come and they started stockpiling money and goods in the late 1850s according to several different publications. We will never fully understand how this affected the 1860 agricultural census.

Just like the 1850 census, the first three categories were (A) improved land, (B) unimproved land, and (C) the value of the land. When I wrote about the land in the 1850 census I did not include the value of the land for several reasons. On the 1850 census, a number of farmers did not place a value on their land for several reasons. One, many of them had just arrived and were given their tracts of land though the Mercers Colony system or they were in the process of paying for their tract which meant they did not have clear title and felt as if there was no need to report what they did not fully own.

I have decided to add the value of the land in 1860 in this series of articles to show how several different people reported their land. It may give us a little glimpse of the mindset of the farmers in those days.

Just like any other old document, the 1860 agricultural census has a couple of problems. First of all, Naz White is listed on two separate pages and I have to believe both entries are for the same individual. Naz is definitely not a common name. Also the quantities under each category are very similar. I have to think the census taker talked to him on one day at either his home or one of his relatives living on Pisgah Ridge and then encountered him a second time at another location. He is listed on one page with many of the farmers who lived on the ridge and the second listing is in the Pickett/Retreat area where he lived. He is buried in Cosgrove Cemetery at Retreat. Another individual name on the census sheet could not be read no matter how hard we tried. The ink had faded and the few remaining letters were bunched together. Many others were hard to interpret but thanks to the Samuels and Knox book where the population census is listed, we could figure out the remaining names. The two ladies listed the population census in the order of the route the census taker took which allowed us to more or less follow along with the same procedure in the agricultural census.

I did not attempt to determine who had the largest quantity of improved land. Instead I tried to determine who had the most land and in turn what the value of their land was. I first thought I would try to list anyone who had 1,000 or more acres but I quickly saw this would be a huge list of individuals. Instead I have comprised a list based on several factors. One may be the acreage a farmer owned or secondly the value he placed on his land or thirdly if it was someone I was more familiar with regardless of his acreage or the value. It is amazing just how each farmer valued what land he owned.

Out of the 510 individuals listed, 94 stated they did not own any land yet they are listed on the agricultural census in one or more categories. These individuals could have been renters but this is before the advent of share cropping or they might have been making payments on a piece of land which they farmed but did not have title to. Research in the deed records at the courthouse might answer all or part of these questions. On the same census, 123 farmers stated they had improved land but did not own any unimproved land and nearly every one of these owners had very small tracts of land, 20 to 40 acres or less. Some stated they only had two or three acres. Twenty individuals stated they owned unimproved land but they did not own any improved land. This may have been cattlemen or sheep herders who had no interest in breaking and plowing the ground or they may have been trying to understate the value of their land. Unimproved land would have been valued much less than improved land. I also need to mention there were a few land owners who did not place a value on their land. There is the possibility the census taker just failed to write down all of the information.

Next week: Some of the bigger land owners and the values of their land.


Land owners, and values placed on land in 1860

By Bill Young

I have chosen to start listing the larger land owners listed on the 1860 agricultural census based on the total acreage each one reported. Needless to say, what was reported by some of the farmers makes me wonder just how honest each individual was in the figures quoted to the census taker.

The person who reported the largest quantity is a classic example of questionable honesty. Joseph Clayton told the census taker he had 150 acres of improved land and 26,446 acres of unimproved land for a grand total of 26,596 acres. This number is more than twice the acreage of any other land owner in Navarro County. It would take a lot of deed research at the county courthouse to prove or disprove whether he had this much land. There is a brief paragraph about Mr. Clayton in the reference book “Old Northwest Texas, Navarro County 1846-1860” written by Nancy Samuel and Barbara Knox. They stated he was a private serving under Col. James C. Neill at the Battle of San Jacinto. This would definitely indicate he was here during the Texas Revolution and therefore would be entitled to several tracts of land for his services. But not 26,000 acres. The paragraph goes on to say he was buried in the Old Chatfield Cemetery in 1873 which would indicate he was a resident of the northeastern part of Navarro County. His will stated he owned 640 acres when he died. I first thought the census taker may have misunderstood Mr. Clayton when he asked for the acreage but Mr. Clayton told the census taker the value of his land was $36,196. There are other land owners who value their land for this amount of money and even higher but the acreage was much smaller. Only deed research will tell the story.

The second largest land owner listed was Robert Gregory. He stated he did not own any improved land yet he told the census taker he owned 16,000 acres. The value he placed on his unimproved acreage was $1 per acre. Either he must have been holding the land waiting for a better time to sell or he may not have been a resident of the county in 1860.

The next highest land owner was Col. Henry Jones. He told the census taker he owned 11,384 acres of which only 250 acres were improved. I can personally guarantee Mr. Jones did own at least this much land around 1860 because I walked over most of his original land after we discovered where his plantation house once stood. Mr. Jones placed a value of around $4 per acre on his three tracts which gave him a combined total of $41,820 in land value.

The fourth largest land owner in terms of total acreage was Hugh Ingram with a grand total of 10,996 acres. Then, if we add in his three brothers, Anderson Ingram with 5,225 acres, Washington Ingram with 4,767 acres and Richard Ingram with 1,656 acres, the combined total for the Ingram family was 22,644 acres. Even though I have not pulled every deed for the Ingrams, I would agree with this total. They owned land from Rural Shade eastward to the Trinity River, then south into the northern part of Freestone County, westward almost to Eureka and back to Rural Shade. The Ingrams were some of the largest slave holders in Texas in the 1850s and the Ingram Cemetery where we have been working lately has not only members of the Ingram family and others who married into the family interred there and many African Americans who were either slaves or free men after the Civil War. Burials continued in this cemetery many years after the Ingrams had passed away. Much of the Ingram brothers’ land was bottom land located in the floodplain of the Trinity River and Richland and Alligator creeks. Since bottom land was subjected to periodical flooding, it wasn’t practical for land owners to try to clear and cultivate this land. The improved land each brother listed on the 1860 census is as follows: Anderson with 900 acres, Washington and Richard with 400 acres each and Hugh with 350 acres. It is interesting to see exactly what value each brother placed on his land. Since each brother’s land bordered other brother’s property, you might think the value would be more or less equal. This is not the case for the Ingrams. Anderson valued his land at $4.16 per acre while Richard thought his land was worth only $2.11 per acre. Next was Washington who valued his land at $1.98 per acre and Hugh, who owned the most acreage, declared his land value at $1.09 per acre. Some of the discrepancy may be due to one or more of the brothers owning bottomland which was considered less valuable. However, a large portion of Hugh’s land was in the upland areas not subject to flooding. Other factors may have influenced his decision.

The fifth largest land owner was James Dunn. Mr. Dunn came to Navarro County before 1850 and he and his father, who was also named James, bought several tracts of land. James Sr. never lived here but was a resident of Dunn’s Fort located east of Hearne. He is buried in the family cemetery located just outside of the original fort. Please note this was not a military fort. Instead it was a place of defense for many families living near the fort against marauding Indians in the 1830s. Nothing remains of the original structure today and a nice brick home is built on top of the site. James Dunn Jr., although neither one was ever referred to as Sr. or Jr., is listed on the 1860 agricultural census as owning 150 acres of improved land and 10,551 acres of unimproved land. A large portion of his land is now under the Richland/Chambers Reservoir and he is buried in the Dunn/Johnston Cemetery located in a subdivision on the lake called Arrowhead. The value Mr. Dunn placed on his land was $1.19 per acre. In several of the local history books, the first school in the Eureka area was called Dunn’s Schoolhouse which was named for him.

Next week: Several more land owners and the how they value their land.


Several more 1860 land owners

By Bill Young

Before I get into this week’s article I thought I would bring everyone up to date on the archeological site in downtown Corsicana.

The excavation work has ceased as of June 23 because we are concerned about the possibility of the roof caving in. In the area where the rubble and dirt have been removed, there aren’t any support columns to help hold up the floor above. Then when the looters struck during the night and removed more of the supporting dirt, we have become increasingly concerned about the liability of someone getting hurt or killed in the advent of a cave-in.

As far as the artifacts are concerned, nothing of any great value has been discovered, only a lot of window glass and several pieces of a broken heavy thick mirror along with a number of fragments of pint whiskey bottles, a few broken soda water bottles and several shoe polish bottles. A few pieces of kerosene chimney lamp glass, both clear and opaque and a few tiny pieces of a decorative blue glass have been found. The metal so far has been horrible, heavily rusted and almost impossible to identify. I have been able to recognize three square nails and several other possible fragments but overall, nails have been for the most part extremely scarce. This may be due to what has been excavated so far came from the very front of the building when it collapsed. This would explain all of the window glass.

There were five coins found, all in bad condition due to the fire which brought about the demise of the building. One of those coins was stolen by some stupid individual who thought it might be worth something. Also a small piece of brass has disappeared. With objects disappearing, we have decided not to bring things out for display at this time. At a later date, some type of display will be built to show and explain what was recovered.

A structural engineer was here on Monday, with the help of Malinda Sharpley. He wants to core drill the concrete roof/first floor of the building to see how thick the concrete is and also how strong. He also recommended possibly taking some x-rays of the slab probably to look at the structural steel inside of the concrete. Only time will tell!

Now to continue with the 1860 agricultural census. The sixth largest land owner on the census was G.L. Martin. He stated he had 40 acres of improved land and 10,000 unimproved acres. I have not done any research on Mr. Martin but at some point in the future, Bruce McManus, my cemetery partner, and I will have to look up deeds pertaining to him. His family cemetery was located on Second Avenue here in Corsicana and it has been reported the graves were removed. However, at least one of the tombstones was not moved because it ended up in my grandfather’s back yard because he lived next door to this cemetery. Mr. Martin must have been a reasonable man because he placed a value of $1.07 per acre for his land.

William F. Henderson is next on the listed with an even 10,000 acres. He stated 120 acres were improved and the remaining 9,880 were unimproved. He also thought his land was worth a little more because he valued it at $2 per acre. For those of you who are not familiar with Mr. Henderson, he was involved in a battle with the Kickapoo Indians near Dawson. He also was responsible for surveying a number of abstracts for individuals here in Navarro County.

I decided to make a quick count of the total number of farmers who in 1860 owned 1,000 or more acres. Out of 510 farmers listed, 85 individuals stated they owned a thousand acres. Today I seriously doubt there are that many individuals who own 1,000 or more acres. I personally own three acres so I am way down on the current list.

Henry Cook told the census taker he owned 7,171 acres and none of his land was improved. Needless to say I find this to be odd since his name was near or at the top of the list in several categories on the 1850 schedule. I sincerely doubt you could grow a large cash crop on unimproved land. Obviously Mr. Cook was dodging something when he stated his land was not improved. On the other side of the fence, he placed about $1.30 per acre value on his land.

Next on the 1860 census was J.R. Loughridge with 50 acres of improved and 7,060 acres of unimproved land. Mr. Loughridge was a neighbor of the Ingram family and in fact he is buried in the Ingram Cemetery near Rural Shade. One of the old steamboat landings on the Trinity River was referred to as the Loughridge landing. Mr. Loughridge valued his land at slightly less than $1 per acre when he told the census taker the value for his place was $7,060. Following closely behind Mr. Loughridge with 7,090 acres was W.W. McPhale. Just like most of the others, he stated he had only 90 acres of improved land and an even 7,000 unimproved acres and he valued his land almost identically to Mr. Cook at $1.30 per acre.

William A. Lockhart came in next with 6,976 acres but he claimed to own 300 acres of improved land which is much more than some of the other individuals listed above. He was not unreasonable with the value he placed on his land at $1.91 per acre. William Croft, a local attorney whose name shows up on several of the early documents here in Navarro County, stated he owned 60 acres of improved and 6,717 acres of unimproved land. He also seemed to think his land was not very valuable when he told the census taker his value per acre was 97 cents. Do you think he saw the war coming and decided to reduce the value of his land?

Next week: What some of the land speculators thought about their land in 1860


Several well-known land owners in 1860

By Bill Young

Many readers may have heard something about Roger Q. Mills. His plantation style house is still standing today on Second Avenue in Corsicana and is the law offices of Barbara Moe and Lowell Dunn. Mr. Mills definitely would not be referred to as farmer. There are a number of documents on file in the courthouse which indicate he was a lawyer. We also know he became a United States senator and the Mills Tariff Act was one piece of legislation he sponsored. I feel sure Mr. Mills would fall into a certain category of individuals who had some wealth and knew it might be smart to invest a portion of their money into land. Early on several people recognized the fact there is only so much land available so if you happened to have a little extra money or good credit, it might be wise to invest in some acreage. In turn if you bought land wisely at a reasonable price, you might be able to make a profit within a short time on your investment. Roger Q. Mills told the census taker in 1860 he owned four acres of improved land and I would imagine this is where his home was located on Second Avenue. Then he confided to the census taker he had 2,500 acres of unimproved land. I have found several deeds in the courthouse where Mr. Mills either bought a tract or sold one which indicated to me he did a little bit of land speculation on his own. Who knows, he may have traded some legal advice for one or more tracts. Another indication which I noticed gave some credence to Mr. Mills being a land speculator, the value he placed on his acreage. He valued all of his land at $5.19 per acre which is slightly higher than the average price used by most farmers.

Dr. George Washington Hill is another well known name. He lived in the western part of the county near the community of Spring Hill. He told the census taker he had 400 acres of improved land and 4,950 acres of unimproved land. Obviously he did farm some of his acreage since he had 400 acres of improved land. Dr. Hill placed a value of $3.18 per acre on his land. Just to the west of Dr. Hill was the home of William Ritchie. We have done some research on the Ritchie family because the land owner took the Ritchie family tombstones and threw them away. Then he proceeded to build a barn on top of the cemetery. Mr. Ritchie operated a stage stop on the old Corsicana to Waco road in the 1840s and also farmed several tracts of land. In the 1893 “Lone Star State, The History of Navarro, Freestone, Limestone, Henderson, Anderson and Leon Counties,” the book states Mr. Ritchie had a fine fruit orchard. When the census taker made his rounds in 1860, Mr. Ritchie stated he had 50 acres of improved land and 691 acres of unimproved land. While searching for the location of the Ritchie Family Cemetery, I have found other deeds dated to the 1860s where Mr. Ritchie purchased several other tracts next to the ones he already owned. In 1860, Mr. Ritchie valued his land at $4.03 per acre.

Just to the north of Mr. Ritchie was another fairly large land owner, Joseph L. Lawrence. The Lawrence Family Cemetery is located on the south bank overlooking Lake Navarro Mills. Descendants of Mr. Lawrence gave some land to several of the freed slaves after the Civil War which eventually became the farming community of Pelham. Much of Mr. Lawrence’s land was part of the floodplain of Richland Creek which is now covered by Lake Navarro Mills. Mr. Lawrence told the census taker he had 70 acres of improved acreage and 2,050 acres of unimproved land. He valued his land at $1.50 per acre which helps to show much of his land was subjected to periodical flooding by Richland Creek. David White owned land along and below Pisgah Ridge in the southwestern part of the county and one of the abstracts is in his name. A lot of his land might be fairly difficult to clear and cultivate due to the rock outcrops along the ridge and the rolling hills. However, some of his land was located along both sides of Pin Oak Creek above the confluence with Richland Creek which was relatively flat and suitable for cultivation. Mr. White reported he had 130 acres of improved land and 1,920 acres of unimproved land. He placed a higher value on his land for some unknown reason when he told the census taker his land was worth $7 per acre. I wish I could find out what the average cost of clearing an acre of land was in the 1850s. Then we might have a better understanding of why some individuals placed a higher value on their land while their neighbor quoted a much lower value.

R.N. White is another name found on a number of early Navarro County documents. For a number of years, Mr. White served as the county clerk for Navarro County. Here again was another person who bought land as an investment rather than to cultivate any acreage. Mr. White’s house was located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and North Main where the law offices of Dawson and Sodd are located. Back in the early days of Corsicana, the avenue known as Fifth Avenue was called White Street in honor of Mr. White. R.N. White told the census taker he had 15 acres of improved land and 4,985 acres of unimproved land for a grand total of 5,000 acres. He was very conservative when he valued his land at $2 per acre.

I will mention several more people who all lived around the community of Dresden. Jacob Hartzell listed 180 improved acres and 3,300 unimproved acres with a value of $2.87 per acre. One of his neighbors, Reece V. Morrell, stated he had 60 acres of improved land and 1,814 acres of unimproved land with a value of $3.52 cents per acre. Stroud Melton listed no improved acres and 4,346 unimproved acres with a value of $2.42 per acre while Ethan Melton listed 100 improved acres and 3,500 unimproved acres with a value of $3.27 per acre. The last one I want to mention is rather odd. W.S. Robertson told the census taker he had 37 improved acres and no unimproved land. He placed a value of $6,000 on his 37 acres which converts out to be about $162 per acre. I wonder if by accident the census taker forgot to list Mr. Robertson’s unimproved land?

Next week: Horses and mules, everybody rode something!


Horses in Navarro County in 1860

By Bill Young

Even though the human population of land owners increased by three and one-half times between the census years of 1850 and 1860, the number of horses recorded in 1860 only doubled from the 1850 census. In 1850, 2,936 horses were listed and in 1860 the number rose to 6,081 horses. Needless to say, there were a lot of four-legged animals roaming across Navarro County. Of course we must remember, the horse was the number one means of transportation in those days whether the animal was ridden with the aid of a saddle or the horse was utilized to pull a wagon or buggy. Everyone needed some form of transportation or so I thought!

Forty individuals stated they did not own a horse; however, six of those did own a mule but the remaining group of 34 people stated they did not have either one. How did these individuals get around? Where did they live? My guess is most, if not all, lived in the vicinity of the courthouse and they did not need to have any form of transportation. Instead, they walked to their appointed places to take care of their business or personal needs. If at some point in time they did need a horse or a horse and buggy, they could rent one from the local livery stable for a nominal fee. In this way they did not have to deal with a place to keep a horse and feed the animal on a daily basis. Also since horses were taxable, these individuals were able to avoid this tax.

On the other side of the fence were the individuals who raised horses as part of their income. At the head of the list was Henry Jones. Mr. Jones and his three daughters and one son moved to our county in 1856 from Matagorda County. In just four years when the 1860 census was taken, Henry Jones listed a herd of 325 horses. Even though I have done a lot of research about Henry and his family from the very first days when they came to Texas from South Carolina, I was not able to discover how many horses Henry Jones had prior to his moving here but I must assume he brought a fairly large herd with him when he migrated to Navarro County since he was listed as a plantation owner in Matagorda County from 1844 to 1856. I am also aware of the fact Henry Jones was made an honorary general in the Confederate Army because he raised horses for the Confederacy.

The second highest owner of horses in 1860 was a local attorney and judge by the name of William Croft. Obviously the raising of horses was a secondary business venture for Judge Croft plus he bought or traded land occasionally. William Croft told the census taker he had a herd of 225 horses which is a substantial herd. He was followed closely by John W. Townsend who had 210 horses. I don’t have any other information about Mr. Townsend nor do I know where his land was located. Third on the list was James C. Key with 180 head and just like Mr. Townsend I am not familiar with Mr. Key.

Washington Clary came in fourth on the list with 150 horses. I have found his name on several documents but I do not know where he resided. James Dunn was fifth on the list with 110 horses. Much of Mr. Dunn’s land is now under the Richland-Chambers Reservoir and his family cemetery is located in a lake development known as Arrowhead developed by Mr. Jerry Jackson. There are some members of the Johnston family buried in the same cemetery because they married into the Dunn family. Number six on the list is Britton Dawson whose family gave the land for the town of Dawson. The Dawson family cemetery is located on part of his original ranch. Mr. Dawson told the census taker he had 103 horses. Next on the list was J.J. Hammond with an even 100 head of horses. Here again I have seen his name but I cannot tell you where he lived in the county. Keep in mind most of these horse owners had several tracts of land where they raised the horses. A lot of the tracts were scattered about within the county so sometimes it is very difficult to determine where an owner had his homestead and where he farmed or grazed his animals.

One thing I would have enjoyed seeing on the 1860 census is what type of horse was raised by each owner and, in turn, what value was placed on each horse. Needless to say this would have required a lot more time and effort on the part of the census taker and the information probably was not needed back in those days. A farmer needed plow horses and I would assume he would place a high value on a good plow horse. On the other side of the fence would be an individual who wanted a gaited horse capable of smartly pulling his buggy. The farmer/cowboy type would want a good cutting horse by which he could work his herd of cattle or other horses. And finally there would be the race horse enthusiast who constantly made wagers on how fast his horse was. Francis M. Martin was well known for his race horses and he went back and forth across the nation racing his animals. On the 1860 census, Mr. Martin was listed as owning 40 horses. Most every community had a race track at one point in time. Here in Corsicana, there were at least two different areas where horses were raced. One was a straight track starting near Post Oak Creek on North Ninth Street heading south but I have not found out where the track ended. A second race track was located on the east/southeast side of Corsicana but this may have been a circular track. There was a track at Wadeville where Mr. Martin lived and another track southwest of Purdon. I am sure there were others as the practice of racing horses was a regular big entertainment event for many of the small settlements.

I will mention a few other owners and the number of horses they owned, but I will not add any extra information about these individuals. I also want to mention the fact George Barnard is not listed on the 1860 census with any horses, yet he was second on the list in 1850 with 26 animals. This helps to show he and his brother had moved out of the county prior to 1860 moving father to the west and establishing two trading posts on the Brazos River. Dr. George Washington Hill, who was number one in 1850 with 35 horses, had by 1860, modestly increased his herd to 60 animals which is still a lot of horses. Some of the other owners with fairly large herds were W.F. Craig with 95, Nathan Hobbs with 89, R.N. White, the county clerk, had 85 and L.C. Lockart had 80. Many owners had from 30 to 70 horses on the census.

Next week: Mules and milk cows.


Mules in Navarro County in 1860

By Bill Young

Mules were not as popular as horses in 1860 in Navarro County. Was this due to the fact mules can be more obstinate or possibly the fact mules tend to move along at a slower, steady pace? Horses were much faster and, in turn, a horse could transport someone much quicker to a specific place than a mule. Over the long haul, a mule probably would show less wear and tear because a mule methodically plods along never getting into a fast pace while many horses might be winded after only a few miles if allowed to run wide open.

Mules and oxen were good animals for pulling heavy loads such as wagons and plows. I feel sure a number of early settlers migrating here to Navarro County came in a wagon pulled by either a mule or an ox. Once they had located on their property, the mule was utilized daily pulling out stumps, hauling away brush and finally pulling a plow which allowed the new settler/landowner to plant his first crop whether it was a food product for his family or a cash crop to sell or trade for their family needs. In the past few years I have occasionally heard someone say a matched pair of mules is extremely valuable. Not being a farmer I had to find out the meaning of a matched pair. There seem to be at least two different answers to this term. One means the two mules are the same height and the same color while the other meaning, which I think is more pertinent, means the two mules moved along at the same pace pulling whatever they were pulling at an equal even pace. Also, both answers could be said to be true for a team of matched horses. A matched set of any animal can be eye appealing to many people.

On the 1850 agricultural census, which I wrote about several months ago, the total quantity of mules listed in Navarro County was 116 animals. In 1860, the quantity increased dramatically to a grand total of 880 which means about eight times as many mules as previously listed 10 years earlier. I would assume a lot of this increase was brought about by the influx of settlers migrating to the county utilizing mules to pull their carts and wagons. Speaking of carts, there are several descriptions written by early settlers in which they state they came here in a two-wheeled cart, not a four-wheeled wagon. Those big two-wheel carts were capable of transporting fairly heavy loads and I would imagine a two-wheel cart was considerably less expensive than a four-wheel wagon. I have read several descriptions about some of the wagons being referred to as one type or another so there must have been several different styles available to purchase. Once in a while, you might come across the term “prairie schooner” which I think describes a particular type of wagon but keep in mind I have not done any research on wagons.

Out of the 116 mules listed on the 1850 census, George Barnard owned 54. When the census taker came around 10 years later in 1860, Mr. Barnard and his brother had moved westward establishing a couple of trading posts on the Brazos River. Since the Barnards seemed to want to have their trading posts on the edge of the frontier, we must assume the Brazos River was the boundary of the frontier around 1860. There seems to be a rather simple rule of thumb in determining exactly where the frontier was in a certain year. The rule of thumb is about eight miles westward per year. Since Navarro County was free from marauding Indians before 1850, the Brazos River would be approximately the boundary 10 years later. It was until some 20 years later all of the Native Americans were removed from Texas and placed on reservations elsewhere.

In 1860, 182 individuals told the census taker they owned one or more mules. This is a fairly large increase over the 33 people listed in 1850. Again more proof of mules being used to help settlers migrate here. Two individuals had a lot of mules. Henry Jones, who was at the top of the list as the number one horse owner in 1860, also was number one on the mule list in the same year with 75 mules. We know he owned a lot of land in the western part of Navarro County where he raised horses on part of his plantation but was he also raising mules for a living or were most of the mules utilized to pull plows? Henry owned 33 slaves in 1860 which seems to indicate he had a lot of his land under cultivation.

Number two on the list of the largest number of mules was Joseph Burleson with 73. Also, Mr. Burleson was a plantation owner but his land holdings were only about one-fourth as large as Henry Jones. Just like Henry Jones, Mr. Burleson owned slaves and a fair amount of his land was under cultivation. However, much of his land was bottom land along the flood plain of Richland Creek. It is possible some of his mules were being used to help clear this land. Thomas R. Kellum was third on the list. The ghost town of Kelm which was located northwest of Emhouse was named for him. For some unexplained reason no one could say Kellum so the name got slanged into Kelm. Mr. Kellum stated he owned 61 mules in 1860.

The next person on the list coming in at number four was Matt Finch with 35 mules. Then two of the Ingram brothers were next, Anderson Ingram with 26 and Washington Ingram with 24. Again these are two plantation owners with a lot of slaves cultivating a lot of land. Number seven was Britton Dawson who had 18 mules followed closely by James C. Key with 17. The ninth position was a four-way tie. Dr. George Washington Hill, W.F. Craig, J. W. Abbey and J. L. McConico all said they had 15 mules apiece. And the last one I listed was R. A. Younger who had 14 animals. Needless to say, there were a lot of mules scattered about Navarro County in 1860 plus keep in mind Navarro County had shrunk to its present size between 1850 and 1860.

Next week: Milk cows


Would you like to milk cows day in, day out?

Anyone who owned one or more milk cows was required to milk each one twice a day. This work meant the farmer had to be home early in the morning and again late in the afternoon to complete this task. Once the cows were milked, I cannot help but wonder where the milk was placed to prevent spoilage. If a family had one or two cows, they probably consumed most of the milk during their meals and possibly converted some of the milk into butter by the churning method. But where did the farmer who had a herd of dairy cows disperse the milk his herd produced? I feel sure some was sold to neighbors who did not have a dairy cow and other farmers transported their milk into larger settlements to be sold both to individuals and grocery stores. However, refrigeration was not in use locally since there wasn’t any form of electricity. However, ice was being transported by wagons and later by trains to rural settlements where ice was needed in great quantities. Whether ice was used locally to keep milk cool is not known, but I would think this would have been the case for some of the milk production.

On the 1860 agricultural census, the word milch was used for milk just as on the 1850 census. There are some definite changes between the two censuses because the population of Navarro County had increased significantly in the preceding 10 years. There are some other noticeable differences when you compare the two censuses. On the 1850 census, 2,936 milk cows were listed. By 1860, this number had grown to be 7,126 cows which means the population of dairy cows had doubled with a few extras. I wonder how much milk was produced daily by those 7,000-plus milk cows? If each cow produced one gallon daily, this would mean a daily production of 7,000 gallons of milk. We know on the agricultural census there were 511 farmers listed, but this does not include the rest of their family nor the hired hands and the slaves plus the other people who had nothing to do with anything agriculturally. I can predict there may have been as many as 10,000 people or more living in Navarro County in 1860. This means each person might have had the opportunity to consume three-quarters of a gallon of milk on a daily basis. Take out the people who don’t like milk and the others who are allergic to milk which might leave the others with a gallon of milk daily. Personally I like milk, cold milk, but a gallon of milk daily might be a bit too much. Before long, the weight gain might be significant enough whereby I might start taking on the look of a bloated cow. Therefore, where did the farmer dispose of his extra milk? Some of it I understand was fed to the swine as a food supplement. This may have taken care of any excess milk the farmer had left over.

On the 1850 census, only six out of 186 individuals listed stated they did not own a milk cow. When the 1860 agricultural census was taken, the number of non-owners had grown to 62. Needless to say this is not an even percentage of gain compared to the increase in population. What is interesting about the huge increase of non-milk cow owners tends to let us know the population in Navarro County was becoming more diversified. More and more non-farmers had migrated into the county and these individuals had no interest in owning a milk cow, much less in milking one. Let someone else milk their cow and buy the milk. It’s the American Way! Many industries started in this way in the 1800s.

On the first page of the 1860 census, I noticed there were several individuals listed with 40 milk cows so I used this number as the break point when I compiled the leading dairy producers. Needless to say on several other pages, there were a few individuals who had many more dairy cows. However, in all fairness to list the top milk cow owners, I went ahead and used the number 40 as a cut-off point.

At the top of the list was J. W. Immons, who I believed lived near Rural Shade. He stated he had 111 milk cows. Think about getting up every day about 4 a.m. knowing you had to go milk 111 cows, then in the following evening you had to repeat the process. Four individuals were tied in second place with 100 milk cows apiece. These individuals were Washington Clary, Martha Barnett, J.H. Bean and Sarah Brown. Would you look at that! Two women at the top of the list. Talk about women’s rights. I sincerely doubt these two women originally started out to own a large herd of dairy cows. Most likely they migrated here with their husbands and family only to have their husbands pass away leaving them with a huge responsibility. But you can readily see these two stout-hearted women did not take the opportunity to sell the cows, instead they operated their own dairies.

Next on the list was David Pevehouse. Mr. Pevehouse’s land was located south of Frost in what used to be the community of Cross Roads. This settlement migrated to the St. Louis, Southwestern and Texas Railroad and became the present town of Frost. Mr. Pevehouse told the census taker he had 75 milk cows. John Pevehouse who lived to the east of David did not make the list of dairy cow owners. This shows a diversification of thoughts even between certain same family members. Closely behind Mr. Pevehouse on the list was another woman, Nancy Hickman. She stated she owned 70 head of milk cows and tied with her was E. H. Root.

Farther down the list was Samuel Bowman who lived on Pisgah Ridge. He told the census taker he had 60 dairy cows. Seven individuals had the exact same number of dairy cows. Nathan Hobbs, another resident of the Pisgah Ridge area stated he had 50 cows along with J.G. Bishop, Matt Finch, Jeremiah Melton, Edward Calhoon, 0.S. White and James A. Farmer. Harvey White, also from the “ridge” area, had 48 milk cows and he was the only person in the top group who stated his cows in something other than rounded to the 10th. Nine people came in tied at the cut-off point on the list, all with an even 40 head. Anderson Nix from the “ridge,” Elias Carroll and L. D. Powell, both from the “ridge” area, Evan Roberts who lived north of Pin Oak Creek below the “ridge.” Then there was David W. Campbell who lived on Farm-to-Market Road 744 west of Drane, Thomas Cook from the Dresden area, F.M. Martin, James T. Persons and Sam Hamilton, all from the Wadeville area. I wanted to get this larger list in writing since there were a lot of new names.

Next week: Pure brute force, working oxen


Vast number of cattle listed on the 1860 agricultural census

by Bill Young

Everyone needs to remember the fact there wasn’t any dependable means of transporting cattle to Navarro County in 1860. The railroad did not arrive until 1871 and steamboat traffic on the middle and upper Trinity River was poor at best due to low fluctuating water levels. Therefore the cows counted on the 1860 agricultural census either were raised here from the very early herds or were driven here on cattle drives. I would think both concepts affected the cattle population.

On the 1850 census, 27 individuals out of the 186 on the list stated they did not own a cow which means roughly one in every eight elected not to have any cattle. By 1860, the number of non-cattle owners had increased to 118 out of 512 people. This means 23 percent of the total population did not own cattle when the 1860 census was taken. Obviously this is a good indication more and more of the newer people who migrated here were involved in other endeavors for making a living instead of farming and/or the raising of cattle. Some of the non-cattle owners instead raised sheep for a living, but I will discuss these individuals next week.

In 1850, the census listed 5,904 cattle, both cows, calves and bulls. By 1860, this number had grown almost tenfold to a whopping 50,419 cows, calves and bulls. Since barbed wire fencing had not been invented yet, the only way the owners could try to contain their herds was either the use of split rail fences or bois d’arc saplings. Either method was probably not very successful if several head decided to bolt out of the containment area. Therefore, I believe the majority of the cattle in Navarro County were allowed to roam free. This fact must not have set well with any farmer who had planted a cash crop which I feel sure someone at one point in time had harsh feelings with their neighbors over the wandering cattle problem. We are aware of the fact there was a range war here 10 years later over the use of barbed wire and the Texas Rangers were called in to quell the problem. Needless to say, there must have been a lot of cross breeding going on with the wandering cattle which meant no one had a herd of pure bred stock.

In 1850, William Richey was at the head of the list with 400 cows. By 1860, Mr. Richey was not listed in the top 38 cattle owners. Francis Sanches was second on the list in 1850 with 380 head but he had removed from Navarro County by the time the 1860 census was taken. Several other cattle owners which were near the top of the 1850 census had increased their herds significantly by 1860.

At the head of the list in 1860 was James Dunn with 4,000 head of cattle. His total represents almost three-quarters of the entire population of cattle recorded in 1850. A lot of the land owned by Mr. Dunn is now under the waters of the Richland-Chambers Reservoir. Britton Dawson’s herd went from 200 head in 1850 to 2,450 in 1860 making him the second highest on the 1860 census. David White, a resident of the Pisgah Ridge area, registered 103 cows in 1850. He came in third on the 1860 census with 1,790 cows. Fourth on the 1860 census was J.B. Sessions who lived northeast of present-day Rice. He stated to the census taker he had 1,570 cows. Fifth on the list was Nelson Owen with a nice round number of 1,200 head. Mr. Owen is part of the Owen group which came here from Louisiana in the 1850s. They settled on several tracts of land located south of Kerens. Nelson Owen’s house is still standing today in the western part of Kerens and he is buried in a cemetery located on the south bank of Rush Creek. This cemetery has more names than any other cemetery in the county. Many people refer to this cemetery as Jimmerson even though there isn’t anyone buried in the cemetery with that particular name. However, there is a Jameson buried there. It is also known as Owen Cemetery on the U.S.G.S. Quad maps because Nelson Owen’s tombstone rises up out of the cemetery more than 20 feet. The first burial in the cemetery was a Wade child so some people call this cemetery Wade or Wadeville since it was the burial ground for deceased citizens of Wadeville. There used to be a church which was whitewashed standing in front of the cemetery. Since the cemetery and part of the area along the creek were covered in green woods, the whitewashed church could be seen from several miles away across the plowed grounds of the Elm Flat area. In turn, some people called the cemetery White Church not to be confused with another cemetery called White Church located southeast of Blooming Grove.

Sixth on the list was Sidney Haynie with 1,100 head of cattle. The Haynie family first settled next door to the Dunn family mentioned above and part of their original place went under the lake, but a lot of their land has been developed into two developments known as Grandview and the new development known as The Shores. When the Houston and Texas Central Railroad came through Navarro County in 1871-1872, the Haynie family sold most of their holdings in the southeastern part of the county and moved to Rice. Following closely behind Mr. Haynie in seventh place was J.J. Hammond. Mr. Hammond was on the 1850 list with 150 cows and by 1860, the size of his herd had increased to an even 1,000 cows. Another individual, who without a doubt was successful in increasing his herd, was Edwin Garlic. On the 1850 census he had 200 head and by 1860, his herd had increased to 800 cows.

Three people had 700 or more cows on the 1860 census. Sarah Treadwell stated she had 784 head followed by Abner Immons with 725 and James Wilson with an even 700. Mr. Immons and Mr. Wilson both lived in the Rural Shade area and they were neighbors to the Owen family and the Ingrams. The James Wilson Cemetery was bulldozed back in the 1980s, but we were successful in locating the original site and have set it apart from the surrounding land permanently.

Next week: More about the cattle owners and a look at the sheep


Cattle business in Navarro County in 1860

By Bill Young

If you will remember I mentioned in last week’s article there were 50,400 plus head of cattle listed on the 1860 agricultural census. According to the Navarro County TxGenWeb site run by Ed Williams and Barbara Knox, Navarro County contains 697,000 acres of land. If we take this acreage figure and divide it by the total number cattle listed on the 1860 census, it computes out to be around 14 acres per cow. However, if we add in the 2,906 oxen, the 880 mules, the 7,126 milk cows and 17,613 sheep, the amount of acreage per animal decreases to just eight and three-quarters acres per animal. Next if we factor in the dense forested bottom land along the Trinity River, Richland and Chambers creeks and numerous other smaller tributaries, the acreage factor per animal might be down to possibly one or two acres. In other words, the entire county might have been saturated with grass-eating animals. This doesn’t even count the huge pig population but pigs usually dine on many things other than grass. Over the years I have heard from time to time most of our county land would be hard pressed to carry one cow per acre. If this was indeed the case in 1860, each farmer must have had to deal with a huge problem in trying to keep his or his neighbor’s cows out of the planted crops such as the wheat and corn.

I want to go ahead and list some of the smaller herd owners in case someone is researching his ancestors. Last week I stopped with the farmers who had 700 or more cattle because I did not have space enough to mention one more person with 725 head. This was Henry Fullerton. Three people stated they had 600 or more head. James B. Howell had 680 followed by James A. Farmer with 650 head and Lerdy Covett with an even 600.

Four individuals stated they had 500 or more head of cattle. Alex Dixson from the Emhouse area had 588 followed by Samuel Bowman from the “ridge” with 540 head. Then came Dr. George Washington Hill with 530 head and Elizabeth Pitman with 500. Six people had 400 or more head of cattle. J.H. New had 488 while two people were tied at 450, Jeremiah Melton and Nathan Hobbs. Three people reported they had an even 400 head. They were Washington Clary, Martha Barnett and E.H. Root. These names have appeared before near or at the top of several other categories.

Ten people stated they had 300 or more cattle in their herds. William Owen had 394, Alfred Linsy had 390, Martin Newman had 388, Edward Calhoon had 350 followed by Zachariah Westbrook with 325 and David Brown with 320. Four people were tied at 300 — James C. Jones from the Eureka area, Caroline Hamilton from the Hester Grove area, J.H. Bean and finally J.G. Bishop. Please note there are a number of people who make these lists who I have not currently researched. Therefore, I cannot mention exactly where these individuals lived in Navarro County. On the other hand if I have found someone mentioned on a deed or listed in a cemetery, I can attest to the fact of where this person resided locally.

Now let’s take a look at some of the sheep owners living in Navarro County in 1860. Even though I have always heard cows and sheep don’t mix, many of the cattle owners also had a flock of sheep. Wool for clothing was a very important necessity needed during the early years locally. Cotton was just beginning to be grown commercially during the 1850s and early 1860s and was not produced in large quantities locally until just prior to the Civil War. Since sheep were raised locally and the wool converted into clothing, I would imagine everyone was extremely hot during the summer months.

On the 1860 agricultural census, 131 people stated they had sheep which means about one out of every four farmers raised sheep. I started off thinking anyone who had 100 or more sheep had a respectable flock. However, a few individuals far exceed what I was expecting. Dr. George Washington Hill, whose name is on the list of cattle owners, was at the top of the list of sheep owners. He stated he had 1,200 head of sheep. In second place was E.H. Root, another individual who was on the cattle list. He told the census taker he owned 1,100 head of sheep. Joseph Clayton was third with 1,062 head followed by Nancy Clayton with an even 1,000. Whether these two people are related is not known to me but I would guess they are somehow connected. Next on the list was H.P. Darlin with 800. I want to mention the fact the census taker spelled each person’s name his way whether the spelling was correct or not. My spell check wants to spell the name Darlin with the letter g on the end such as Darling. Next on the list is another cattle owner who also had mules and oxen. Britton Dawson stated he had 750 head of sheep in his flock. Two people were tied at 600 head of sheep: James C. Key and John Neil. Next on the list was Robert Hodge of Chatfield with 560 sheep followed by Edwin Garlic with 500. Theophilos Killian came in next with 460 head. Zachariah Westbrook, who was another person on the cattle list, stated he had 450 head while three individuals were tied at 400 apiece: Thomas Williams, J.R. Williamson and William Davidson. The Davidson Cemetery is located near the shoreline of the Chambers arm of the Richland-Chambers Reservoir. Next week we will take a look at a few other sheep owners.

Next week: Some of the other sheep owners in Navarro County.


Other sheep herders in Navarro County in 1860

By Bill Young

Before I get into today’s article, I want to discuss an observation made by Wayne Nelson.

Mr. Nelson, who was raised in this county and has farmed and raised cattle all of his life, made a comment the other day about the statement where I said we had over 50,000 head of cattle here in 1860. After I added in the total number of horses, mules, oxen and sheep to the cattle inventory, there was only slightly more than one acre per animal.

Mr. Nelson commented we could not run cattle today on less than seven or eight acres per cow so he felt like the 50,000 number listed on the 1860 agricultural census was too high. At first I had to agree with him, but then I got to thinking about several factors the archeologists with Southern Methodist University recognized during the initial testing and surveying phase for the Richland/Chambers Lake Project. Everywhere the archeologists looked along the banks of both creeks, there was a very obvious dark soil which measured four to four and one-half feet thick. They were able to determine this soil had been washed into the flood plains of both creeks since 1850. Needless to say this is the majority of the top soil not only from Navarro County but any of the other counties located upstream on either creek.

I personally have walked across miles and miles of upland areas which used to be cultivated or grazed and I would see the clay subsoil only a few inches deep below the surface in many areas.

In the 1850s and 1860s and for that matter not until the 1930s and 1940s did the farmers realize what was happening to the top soil. By then, most had already washed into the bottoms. No one understood what would happen if you put too many cattle on a place nor did they know about the process of terracing a cultivated field to prevent soil from washing away.

Overgrazing had to be rampant and as happened more and more cattle probably died from starvation. Also water in the form of stock tanks had to be few and far between. A Fresno and a pair of mules could dig a small pond but I would think a lot of cows depended on being able to get down to a water hole in a creek channel.

Cows have another bad habit which helped to contribute to erosion. They tend to establish a trail from one place to another, usually wherever the water is located. These trails tend to act as funnels during a heavy runoff rain and eventually after the trail is too deep, the cows will move over and establish another new trail.

There have been many times where I was able to determine the presence of an archeological site, either historical or prehistorical, thanks to a cow trail.

I am convinced the cattlemen back in those early days kept putting far too many cows on a piece of land and it probably was the accepted practice you were going to lose a fairly high percentage of your herd.

Today with modern animal husbandry technology, most cattlemen know they can only run a limited number of cows on a tract of land. Several years ago, the Soil Conservation Service put out a publication titled “Seven Inches Between Us And Starvation.” This pamphlet referred to the fact there was only about seven inches of top soil remaining in many areas of the country. Also I want to mention the fact the Soil Conservation Service has built numerous soil conservation lakes around the state in an effort to reduce the erosion and help retain some of our precious topsoil.

There are several other farmers I want to mention who were near the top of the list of owners of sheep. Last week I stopped at owners who had 400 hundred or more sheep in their flocks. James C. Jones from the Eureka area had 350 head while James Page and John W. Townsend both stated they owned 300 sheep. Jesse Roberts told the census taker he had 280 while Lewis Haynie, James Jones’ neighbor, and E. Drane both listed 200 head.

Next on the list was Augustus Berry with 187 followed by William H. Garner with 175. Three people stated they had 150, Joseph Bragg from the Hester Grove area, J.G. Neil and George W. Eliot, who I am distantly related to through several marriages.

Mr. Eliot first lived in the area located to the west of Richland Creek on Farm-to-Market Road 709, known back then as Ward School, and then he moved over to the Grape Creek area where he gave the land for the Grape Creek Cemetery.

Next on the list was William Laseter with 144 followed by William Walker with 140. James Wilson from Rural Shade and L.T. Rascoe from Petty’s Chapel were tied with 130 and bringing up the last of the list was B.J.C. Hill with 125.

I was amazed as to the vast number of sheep being raised here in Navarro County when today it is fairly rare to see a flock of sheep.

The next animal listed on the 1860 agricultural census responds well to “soo-eee.” I feel sure not everyone’s pig came to the same call but I would think most pigs understand the call.

On the 1860 census, 114 individuals stated they didn’t own any pigs which means three out of every four farmers did own one or more pigs. There are only a few people who had one or two pigs which may indicate these pigs were more of a pet rather than something being raised for the meat.

However, there were many farmers listed who had 10 to 30 pigs at their farms. I noticed there were a lot of farmers who stated they had 100 or more swine so I used this number as a cut off.

At the head of the list was J.L. McConico from the Winkler area with 600 pigs. That is a lot of oink! Second on the list was J.H. Bean with 500.

Mr. Bean’s name has appeared in several of the other categories.

The next person on the list was Anderson Ingram with 350 pigs. Since I have brought his name up, I want to go ahead and list the rest of the Ingrams’ pig holdings along with some of their neighbors. Richard Ingram had 100 while Hugh Ingram had 150 and Washington Ingram had 300.

Their neighbors James Wilson had 100 and John Gallemore had 125 and another person who lived nearby, Frances Owen, had 100.

This may be a good indication as to why there are so many feral hogs running around in the Rural Shade/Trinity River bottom area since there was a huge amount of pigs being raised in the Rural Shade area.

Next week: Other swine owners in the 1860s.


‘The Dig’: Booze on one hand and pigs in another

By Bill Young

Recently my wife, Bobbie Jean, and Gay Schroder have been going through old newspapers stored at Pioneer Village searching for any information pertaining to the old Bismark Saloon. Most everyone has heard or read about the hole in the ground on South Beaton Street when the sidewalk was removed for replacement. My daughter, Julie, and my son-in-law own the building where the discovery was made and the building next door. Most of the newspapers the two ladies were going through dated to the 1870s and they were successful in finding a lot of useful material about the old saloon. While searching through those older papers my wife came across a copy of the Frost Enterprise newspaper dated Jan. 18, 1935. There was an article on the front page which caught her interest and she made me a copy. The article is titled “Sale of Illegal Booze in Texas is Very Heavy.” I thought I would share this piece of old news with everyone.

The article starts off saying “Since the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment many new drug stores have been established in Texas and many old ones have been converted into saloons, said a report Friday by the Senate crimes investigating committee. Despite State prohibition laws, many are getting their liquor through drug stores with the formality of a physician’s prescription, it added.” It seems you could purchase liquor if you had a physician’s prescription stating you needed the liquor to help with some malady.

The story went on to say: “Attempting a cross section of the drug store traffic in liquor, the committee analyzed the sales of thirty-seven retail druggists, selected at random, in eighteen cities and towns, representative of every section. Following are the figures taken from a report by the State Auditor from the inspection of the stores and records on file in the Comptroller’s office.”

“#1 Since April 1, last, these thirty-seven stores reported sales of 690,356 pints of liquor without a prescription. This was at the rate of 18,658 pints to the store, or 104 pints per day.”

“#2 From this turnover the State received $37 as revenue, representing each druggist’s payment of $1 for a permit to sell prescription whiskey.”

“#3 One retail druggist apparently sold whiskey at the rate of four pints per minute. He reported the sale of 373,344 pints in ninety days. None was prescribed!”

It sounds like there were a lot of people trying to forget the Great Depression. Can you imagine nearly three-quarters of a million pints of whiskey sold without a physician’s prescription yet the law clearly stated a prescription was required. I wonder if these sales may have helped to contribute as to why we have so many feral pigs running around in the county.

The other day, I went into Corsicana Auto parts to pick up a tin of fuses. Gaylon Blackman, better known as Blackie, started talking about my recent article written about the pig population in Navarro County in 1860. Two customers were standing at the counter picking up automobile parts and one of them remarked he could remember his family turning their pigs out because the price of pork had dropped so low it was no longer profitable to try to raise pigs. With this thought it mind, if we take all of the pigs running around in unfenced areas during the 1850s, 1860s and 1870s before fencing was invented and installed, then add in all of the little pigs these more or less wild hogs had as offspring, we know there was a lot of pork on the loose prior to 1900. Even though the old hogs were dying off out in the wild, they must have been having litters of piglets on a regular basis. Then in this century, farmers were forced to release their hogs because it became too expensive to try to raise them; this new influx of pigs into the wild must have created these mass groups of wild hogs rooting up everyone’s pasture. Throw in the occasional story about someone being put up into a tree by one of these wild beasts and you can see we surely have a pig problem. Everyone I have talked to who has had some dealings with one or more of these wild hogs while they were out in the woods tell me these hogs have very little fear of man because they or their ancestors were kept in pens by the farmers. I know first hand about some of the pigs which were forced out of the floodplains of Richland and Chambers creeks when the big lake started filling.

Last week I started listing the top owners of pigs on the 1860 agricultural census. I started off at the top of the list with Mr. McConico. The second person was one of the Ingrams’ so I listed the other people who lived in the Rural Shade area. This week I will get back on the list starting with Elijah Jeffers who had 300. He lived northeast of the present day town of Roane. Two men, Nathan Hobbs and my old friend Henry Jones, both had 250 swine. Nine individuals stated they had 200 pigs. They are James T. Persons from the Wadeville area, J.W. Abbey, Ira Taylor, William Westbrook, George Valentine Petty who lived near where Hardy Avenue is located, A.G. Hervey, Frances M. Martin from the Wadeville area, J.B. Noble and James Dunn from the Eureka area. Four people stated they had 150 pigs. They are George Washington Hill of Spring Hill, J.G. Neil, J.C. Wells and C.W. Richardson. I think Mr. Richardson is one of the Richardson group who settled here before Corsicana was started. As best as I have been able to tell, the Richardsons owned a tract of land in the vicinity of 24th Street out to 31st Street from about West Fifth to West Seventh. If you should happen to go south on 24th, there is a small branch which runs more or less parallel with Collin Street. This branch is usually dry during the summer but it carries a lot of runoff during some of the heavy downpours. The Richardson house must have been located somewhere near this little branch. Two people, William Meador and Minerva McCane, told the census taker they had 120 pigs each. Next on the list was Adam Hulver. Mr. Hulver was the only person who listed an odd number of pigs. He stated he owned 111 animals and Jackson Smith stated he had 110 pigs.

Next week: The huge group who must have thought 100 pigs was the correct number!


One hundred pigs, all the pork you needed to own

By Bill Young

Last week I listed all of the swine owners who had more than 100 pigs in their possession when the census taker made his rounds in 1860. When I was compiling the list of swine owners, I decided to use 100 as the cut-off number since I noticed many individuals owned exactly 100 animals. I did not realize just how many there were until I completed the list. Twenty-one individuals told the census taker they had exactly 100 pigs and I don’t have a good explanation as to why so many farmers opted to use this amount other than to say it would be an easy number to remember. With 100 pigs living on your farm, I would think there was the chance at any given moment you might have another litter born which would increase your holdings. Then add in the outside influence of your neighbor’s pigs running back and forth with your pigs doing the same thing and the quantity was changing constantly. Personally I would not want to own so many pigs which would require a lot of time to feed and care for.

I first thought I might be able to list all of the owners of 100 pigs more or less by the area in which they lived but I don’t have enough information to accomplish this. Therefore, I will just list them in the same order in which they were listed on the 1860 agricultural census. Some of the individuals were more or less in the same area since the census taker would make a specific area each day. However, on the following day, he might be halfway across the county in a totally new area. Susan Anderson, the widow of Dr. Anderson who was killed on Pisgah Ridge by William Love, is the first one on the list with 100 pigs. Next is Jesse Walton, who was one of the sheriffs of the county. He lived in the Petty’s Chapel area. Next is Benjamin Roberts, who lived near Pursley, followed by Richard Rushing of Pisgah Ridge, Andrew J. Meazell, who lived near Curry, and William Love, also from the ridge area. Actually his home was slightly off of the ridge on the bank of Richland Creek. Jacob Eliot is next but as far as I have been able to tell, he lived in Corsicana but owned several tracts of land along Richland Creek which might have been the probable location of his pig farm. Then there is Joseph Burleson, who had his plantation located on the south side of Richland Creek near Birdston.

The next man on the list is Robert McCarter, who lived south of Eureka, followed by William H. Garner. Mr. Garner lived in the area where Liberty Hill Park is located on the south shore line of Lake Navarro Mills and his family cemetery is located in the park. J.M. Curry, who migrated here at the same time with William Garner, is next on the list. Eight members of their wagon train died just after they reached what became the Curry place northeast of Purdon. All eight are buried in a straight line inside the Curry Cemetery along with at least 40 other individuals. Farther to the west was Britton Dawson with 100 pigs. The next person is Jacob Hartzell from Dresden followed by Salomon B. Van Hook. James Page, W.C. Neil and F.B. Hunt along with Henry Fitzgerald were next on the list, but I am not familiar with where these individuals lived. The last three farmers who had 100 pigs were E.H. Root, whose name keeps appearing on several of these lists but he is another person who I have not researched, followed by Robert Hodge of Chatfield and Abner Carroll, who was another person living on the ridge.

Music can be historical also. When I was very young, I took piano lessons and then eventually got into the junior high band, the high school band and Navarro Junior College Band. During those years I took piano, I learned the names of some of the master composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and others. Most of us are familiar with at least some of the compositions these masters wrote as we still occasionally hear them on the radio or as the background music in a movie. Then came the music of the roaring ‘20s. Though not heard much anymore, anytime a movie is made depicting this era, some of the tunes are familiar. During the early 1940s, when we were living in San Antonio where my father was stationed during the war, the radio carried the sounds of the Big Bands such as Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey. I can still hum most of those tunes and know part of the words. This past weekend, we attended the Rock and Roll Show put on by The Coasters, The Platters and The Drifters at the Palace Theatre. Talk about bringing back memories, I knew every word and every tune as if it was still the ‘50s and ‘60s. Even though I don’t believe any of the members in either group was an original, they were great. Not only was their singing sensational, they also put on a superb show in every sense of the word. I would gladly buy tickets again this week if they want to come back. No question, music can be very historical regardless of what time period it was produced if 50 years or more later, people can remember the lyrics and the tunes. This is a true test of the value of a musical piece if it can be remembered 50 years later. Our three children were raised listening to the music from the ‘50s and ‘60s and the other night we took one of my daughters, Julie, and my son-in-law, Rick, to the show and I noticed they were singing along. I want to personally thank the group at the Palace for a memorable evening.

Since we are talking about the true test for a musical piece someone must be able to remember the lyrics or the tune 50 years later. We are having our class reunion this year. Fifty years!! This makes all of the living members of my 1957 class of Corsicana High School certified pieces of antiquity. In archeology, we use 50 years of age as the criterion time whether to record a site or not. Therefore the surviving members can now be officially recorded as antiques. Scary! Also on the sad side is the fact we have lost over 50 of our original group. Just this week, Brooks Wheeler passed away and he was a super nice guy. We are starting to lose our bunch at an alarming rate.

Next week: The total value of the livestock here in 1860



County livestock in the 1860s

By Bill Young

Before I get into this week’s article, I want to write another paragraph about music. Last week I discussed the great program we heard at the Palace Theatre on Sept. 15. Three different groups. The Coasters, The Platters and the Drifters put on two super shows. Last Saturday, another group, The Vogues, came to Corsicana and like the previous week, they performed twice. It was just as good as the previous week but the attendance was terrible. The total number of persons attending both shows was less than my graduating class of 1957. I have to admit I was ashamed so many people did not come out to hear them because they put on a class act. Several factors may have affected the attendance. They came one week after the other groups were here and tickets for either performance were not cheap. However, the Vogues decided to discount their second performance in an effort to get a better attendance but it didn’t help. The Vogues had to do their own advertising which I will admit there wasn’t much and the show was not one of the regular-sponsored shows put on by the Palace so it did not receive the same attention. Most of the songs originally recorded by the Vogues were written in the ‘60s while most of the Coasters, Platters and the Drifters songs came out in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. But every one of their original songs they sang Saturday night was known to everyone in the audience. They were true showmen to go through with both performances perfectly as if there was a packed house. I hope they do come back some time in the future but I can not help but think they left here with a sour taste in their mouths on their way back to Pittsburgh. If you get a chance, take a look at their itinerary on the Vogues Web site as they are continuously performing.

In the past few weeks I have written about the number of cows, both dairy and beef, and horses on the 1860 agricultural census in Navarro County. This week the article is about the total value each farmer/owner placed on his or her total livestock. One new piece of information came to me in the past two weeks from my wife, Bobbie Jean. She has been reading a book titled “A Journey through Texas, Or a Saddle-Trip on the Southwestern Frontier” by Frederick Law Olmsted. This book is a copy of his journal as he traveled around Texas during the time period of 1850 to 1855. In this book in the back were several charts which were especially interesting to me. One chart gave the value per head for a horse or cow in the years from 1846 to 1855. It also listed the total quantities recorded in Texas during the same years. For instance in the year of 1846 which is the year Navarro County was organized, the total number of cows and horses recorded was 411,100 and the value per head was $7.12. Do you think any cattlemen today would agree to sell any of his herd at this price? In 1847, the quantity of cows and horses increased to 448,971 but the price per head remained the same. One year later in 1848, the quantity rose by more than 100,000 to a new total of 581,251 and the price per head came up four cents to $7.16. In 1849, the quantity increased again to 631,649 but the price fell per head to an even $7. Sounds like the supply was beginning to be larger than the demand. In 1850, the price was unchanged but the quantity rose again to 750,352. In 1851, the price took an upward turn to $7.35 and the quantity hit a new all time high at 901,794. Each year after 1851, the price and the quantity rose steadily. In 1852, the quantity went over the million mark at 1,020,832 and the price jumped to $7.82 per head. In the following year of 1853, the price rose by more than a dollar to $8.78 and the quantity increased to 1,164,463. No doubt more Americans were beginning to eat more beef. Maybe that was the year McDonald’s got started! In 1854, the price increase was small when it only went up to $9.08 while the quantity added in another 200,000 to a new total of 1,377,472 head. And the last year on this chart, 1855, shows the biggest increase in the price per head when it went to $10.48 while at the same time the quantity rose once more to a new high of 1,615,609. This chart does help me to understand the pricing for livestock during the 1850 agricultural census but I wish the chart had continued for five more years to 1860 so we would have a better understanding how each farmer valued his livestock during a census year.

In Navarro County on the 1860 agricultural census, the total value of all of the livestock was $931,816. On the 1855 chart I wrote about above, the total dollar value of the livestock in 1855 for the entire state of Texas was $16,936,493 and the value was rising at a rate of about $3,000,000 per year. If we take the three million and multiply this number by five for the five years from 1855 to 1860, this would roughly add about $15,000,000 to the value of the livestock from 1855 or in other words, the 1860 value for the entire state was somewhere in the range of about $32,000,000. Divide this number by the $931,816 figure listed for our county in 1860 and it indicates we had about three percent of all of the cattle and horses in the state. Not bad for our county!

When I compiled the list of the top owners in terms of dollars, many of the names were at or near the top of several of the previous categories. At the head of the list is my old friend Henry Jones with a grand total of $25,700. I continuously refer to him as my old friend because of the amount of research I have done on him and his family. Mr. Jones owned more acreage by himself than any other individual in this county. Next on the list was James Dunn, another huge land owner and just like Henry Jones. We have spent a considerable amount of time researching the Dunn family primarily because of the Dunn Cemetery located in a lake development on Richland-Chambers Reservoir known as Arrowhead. Mr. Dunn’s grand total value of his livestock in 1860 was $22,545. Only one other individual went over the $20,000 mark and this was Britton Dawson with $ 20,950. I am sure most everyone is familiar with the Dawson name since the land where the town of Dawson is located was donated by the Dawson family. Plus, the magnificent Dawson plantation house once stood on the eastern side of Dawson but the house was burned by an arsonist. Next on the list are two men who are almost equal in the values they gave for their livestock. H.P Darlin with a total of $18,720 followed by Mat Finch with $18,700. Next week we will look at some of the others on the list.

Next week: Some of the other owners of livestock with a lot of value.


Other farmers who had valuable livestock

By Bill Young

When we look at the value each farmer placed on his livestock, we must remember a few pertinent facts. First was the value of $1 in 1860. People worked all day for a dollar or less so a dollar was supposed to go much farther. Secondly was the price of livestock. In last week’s article, the general value of a cow or horse in 1860 was somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 to $14 dollars per head. If this was the case, any farmer who stated his herd was worth more than $10,000 had to be considered a wealthy man. And this fact can be proven even farther by looking at how much land these same individuals owned and the value of the crops they produced on their cultivated portions.

The last person I listed last week was Mat Finch who valued his animals at $18,700. This week I will continue going down the list until I reach a cut-off point of $7,000. If a farmer placed a $7,000 value on his animals, this meant he had approximately 200 head of horses, cows, sheep or pigs. Two hundred head of any animal would require a lot of work tending to the herd. Add in the plowing, milking and the cultivation of crops, no wonder they went to bed at the same time the sun went down. No TV, no radio, very little entertainment except for church socials, weddings and school functions, everyone had to work and work hard just to keep the farm going. Add in the fickle weather this area is notorious for and it became a major struggle to survive. No wonder many of the early settlers moved on looking for something better yet not knowing what they were facing on the frontier. So many of those early settlers came from towns and settlements and they had no idea what challenges they were going to face. We know some eventually turned around and went back to the east coast but there was a group of people hardy enough and dedicated to the concept that the frontier wasn’t going to beat them. If they had given up back in those days, where would we be today?

The next person on the list below Mr. Finch is James C. Key who placed a value of $13,750 on his animals. Just below him was E.H. Root with a value of $12,450. Both of these men’s names have appeared on several of the other census items. Closely behind Mr. Root is J.B. Sessions with $12,300. If my memory serves me correctly, Mr. Sessions also had holdings in southeastern Ellis County since the land he owned in Navarro County is northeast of Rice.

Two men are separated by only $50. David White told the census taker his herd was valued at $11,500 followed by Judge William Croft who valued his herd at $11, 450. Four men listed their stock in the $10,000 range. First was Washington Clary with $10,900 followed by J.J. Hammond with $10,707, an unusual number. Then came Dr. George Washington Hill with $10,470 and finally Joseph Burleson with $10,250. All four of these men have been on several lists.

Two men valued their herds slightly above $9,000. Robert Hodge of Chatfield placed a value of $9,450 while Nelson Owen of Wadeville herd’s value was slightly less at $9,110. The next three men on the list are David Brown with a value of $8,575 followed by Nathan Hobbs from the Pisgah Ridge area with $8,330 and F.M. Martin, another resident of Wadeville prior to him was elected to the lieutenant governor’s position, and stated his animals were worth $8,220. The last two men I listed are Sidney Haynie from the Eureka area with $7,980 and Joseph Clayton with $7,290.

The next item on the list is wheat which is listed in bushels. This is the first item which proves farmers were clearing and cultivating the land. It had to be an easier job just to turn your animals loose in an area where they could graze, have little ones and in turn make you some money. Farming, the actual practice of plowing and planting crops, took far more work and was constantly subjected to the whims of the weather.

At the head of the wheat list is a new name, Jon A. Hays, who listed a grand total of 1,298 bushels of wheat. I wonder how and where he stored this much grain. Next on the list is another new name, Noah Triplett. Mr. Triplett told the census taker he had 965 bushels of wheat. Still a sizable amount compared to most of the others. The third person on the list is also a newcomer. Nicholas T. Snead said he had 810 bushels of wheat and fourth on the list is Richard Rushing from the community of Rushing located on the southern end of Pisgah Ridge. Mr. Rushing stated he had 620 bushels of wheat.

Two men are tied for fifth with an even 500 bushels. They are E. H. Root, a familiar name, and J.W. Abbey whose name has appeared before. Christopher Harris and A.G. Hervey are also tied at 450 bushels followed by another even pair, Solomon B. Van Hook and Alfred Linsey, who both reported they had an even 400 bushels. Only two men reported 300 bushels, Elijah Jeffers from an area northeast of Roane and Alexander Younger from the Silver City area. Next on the list was James Page with 297 bushels followed by Jeremiah Melton with 280 bushels of wheat. Mat Finch’s name appears again on the list when he stated he had 270 bushels followed by Zachariah Westbrook with 208 bushels. Next is Jacob Hartzell with 203 bushels while just behind are two men tied at 200 bushels apiece, Asa Chambers, a store owner from Pisgah Ridge, and Henry Fullerton. Next week, we will look at some of the other wheat producers.


Some of the other 1860 wheat producers in Navarro County

By Bill Young

In 1860, the total number of bushels of wheat recorded on the agricultural census totaled 23,018. This quantity represents a significant increase over the number of bushels recorded in 1850 when only 660 bushels were listed. Wheat has always been an important crop because it is the major ingredient in bread. But wheat was also used as a feed product for certain animals if the production year was successful.

Sixteen farmers were listed on the 1850 agricultural census as wheat growers. By 1860 this number had risen to 225 which represents about 44 percent of all of the farmers listed. Many of the farmers told the census taker the quantity of wheat they produced was less than 30 bushels. One individual’s name which caught my eye was Susan Anderson, the widow of Dr. Anderson who had been shot by William Love five years earlier on Pisgah Ridge. Mrs. Anderson listed one single bushel of wheat. In looking at other items on the 1860 census, she obviously was a hard-working lady because she had several different types of animals and other crops she and her family produced, but wheat must not have been of much importance to her. Also the location where her house once stood on the ridge would not have been a very suitable place for producing wheat because of the limestone outcrops located near the surface. Wheat, and for that matter other crops, would have to be sown nearer to the Richland and Pin Oak Creek bottoms. It is entirely possible Mrs. Anderson traded either animals or other cash crops for her wheat needs.

I have discovered in my article last week I inadvertently missed two farmers in the sequence of counting downward with the total quantity of bushels produced. W.P. Pillory listed 272 bushels of wheat and J.B. Sessions from the Rice area stated he had 250 bushels. Next on the list is Augustus Barry with 200 bushels followed by Owen Humphries and Robert Hodge of Chatfield with 180 bushels each. Betsy Green is next on the list with 172 bushels followed by one of her neighbors, B.F. Carroll, with 170 bushels. Mr. Carroll’s land was located to the south of Blooming Grove and his family’s cemetery is located on part of the original place. There are a number of Carroll descendants still residing in the Corsicana area including several well-known veterinarians. The Green family cemetery is located to the west of the Carroll land separated by a large tract originally owned by John Pevehouse. This cemetery is one of the hardest cemeteries to try to find because it is an unusually long distance from any access road located in a fairly dense wooded area.

Next on the list is James C. Key, whose name has appeared near the top producers on several of the lists. He told the census taker he had produced 167 bushels of wheat. Four farmers are tied with 160 bushels of wheat each. They are Britton Dawson, Ethan Melton, J.H. Bean and Samuel Wilson. Mr. Dawson is well known from the Dawson area and Mr. Melton lived north of the present community of Dresden, but I don’t know where the other two gentlemen resided. Coming in next on the list was John Booth with 154 bushels followed by Joseph Clayton with 151. Four men are tied with 150 bushels each. They were Michael Welch of the Dresden area, H.J. Cage, J.R. Black and A.M. Biars. Note I have listed Mr. Byers name as the way the census taker wrote it on the page as Biars and not Byers. In most of the documents I have seen with his name listed, it is normally spelled Byers. And this is not the only instance I have discovered where the census taker misspelled someone’s name. He may not have asked each individual exactly how to spell his name. Instead he chose to write the name as it sounded phonetically. Needless to say, this has created some confusion when trying to research a family name for cemetery purposes. Within a family plot in a cemetery, we have noticed several different spellings for the same name which sometimes makes my partner Bruce and me wonder which is the proper spelling.

Next on the list is Roger Q. Mills with 147 bushels. Most everyone knows Mr. Mills was a lawyer and eventually a U.S. senator and I feel quite comfortable in making the statement he did not ever plow the ground and produce wheat. He had it done by someone else. Following Mr. Mills was F.W. Williams with 140 bushels and Elias Carroll with 135 bushels. Elias Carroll had land on Pisgah Ridge and some more holdings in the Rural Shade area. I have not been able to connect Elias Carroll directly to B.F. Carroll and they lived a considerable distance from each other. The next person on the list is J.G. Neil with 131 bushels. This Neil name can be easily confused with the earlier James C. Neill who was one of the people along with David R. Mitchell and Thomas I. Smith responsible for giving the 100 acres which was the first beginning for Corsicana. There are several people listed on the agricultural census with the last name of Neil and because they are listed almost in sequence on the census, I feel sure they were related to each other.

F.N. Brooks told the census taker he had 120 bushels followed by G.W. Barry with 116. David W. Campbell who gave the original tract of land for the Campbell/Elrod Cemetery was next on the list with 108 bushels of wheat followed by E.L. Swink from the Pursley area with 107 bushels. Mr. Swink is buried in a separate cemetery out in a pasture he once owned after he died during one of the smallpox epidemics, which struck the southern part of Navarro County. Two men are tied at 102 bushels apiece. They are M.T. French from the Navarro Mills area and W.S. Robertson from the Dresden area. And the final group I have listed are the 12 people who stated they had 100 bushels each. They are Sarah Brown, Martha Barnett from the Pursley area, William Ward and his son John Ward, both from the Pursley area, David Hill and Dr. George Washington Hill, William H. Garner and R.H. Matthews, all from the Spring Hill area, and R.H. Younger from the Silver City area. Thomas Williams, John Smith and F.M. Martin are the last of the group listed with 100 bushels. Obviously wheat became a very important cash crop in those early days of Navarro County.

Next week: The low quantity of rye produced locally





Rye was not very important to many farmers in 1860

By Bill Young

Of the 512 farmers listed on the 1860 agricultural census only 63 informed the census taker they had grown rye on their land. Due to the fact only 12 percent of the farmers even bothered to grow rye, obviously rye must not have been considered a significant cash crop. I did notice when I comprised the list of rye growers, each farmer who stated he did produce rye also had a larger than average herd of horses. This would indicate to me the rye was being grown as a feed supplement for those particular horse owners. Early rye plants may have also served a second purpose as a food product for grazing animals and as the plant neared maturity, the farmer would remove the animals from these areas where rye was growing. This would allow the rye plant to go to seed producing both food for livestock and seed for the next year’s planting.

On the 1850 agricultural census there wasn’t any rye produced, not even as much as one bushel. Ten years later in 1860 the grand total of rye produced by farmers in Navarro County was 3,697 bushels. There may have been other unknown factors which contributed to the low quantities. No farmer produced a large number of bushels of rye with 300 bushels being the highest quantity on the census. Three men who lived in the northeastern part of the county came in tied in first place. Robert Hodge of Chatfield, J.B. Sessions, whose farm was north of Chatfield near the Ellis County line, and Elijah Jeffers, who lived southeast of Chatfield overlooking the Brown’s Valley area, all stated they had grown 300 bushels of rye. Did they each decide on their own to grow rye or was the area they lived in better suited to grow rye? Since they were more or less neighbors, not necessarily close neighbors, could one of the three convinced the other two rye would grow well on their land? Those are some of the questions we will never be able to answer. The next farmer on the list was James T. Persons from the Wadeville area with 200 bushels followed by A.G. Hervey with 189 bushels. Washington Ingram, one of the Ingram brothers, came in next with 150 bushels but his three brothers did not make the list. Following Mr. Ingram was F.N. Brooks with 120 bushels. Six men were tied with 100 bushels each. They were Mat Finch, Joseph Clayton, Henry Fitzgerald, E.H. Root, James Page and Elijah Anderson. Mr. Anderson is the only person of these six I can tell the readers where his land was located. The Anderson Bridge which crossed over Chambers Creek is now under the waters of the Richland-Chambers Reservoir where Farm-to-Market Road 2859 crosses the Chambers arm of the lake. He and his wife are buried in a small family cemetery located to the south near the water.

Next on the list is William Bonner with 90 bushels followed by David White with 75. Thomas R. Kellum from the Kelm community (named for him) was next with 57 bushels. There were nine individuals who told the census taker they each produced 50 bushels which is the number I used as a cut-off point. They were Jacob Eliot, a distant relative of mine, Adam Hulver, Dr. George Washington Hill, Owen Humphries, Robert Jackson, William Westbrook, B.D. McKie, J.B. Noble and Richard Rushing.

The next item on the 1860 agricultural census was Indian Corn. Just the name intrigues me since I have an avid interest in archeology. Why did they refer to the corn as Indian Corn? Was this because the Native Americans were producing corn when the first Europeans arrived in North America? Or is there some other reason for the name? I was raised with two types of corn in my family’s vocabulary, field corn and sweet corn. Obviously the term Indian Corn must have faded off into obscurity but are Indian Corn and field corn one and the same? With the invention of hybrids, corn has gone though several changes in the past 100-plus years. Archeologically the first corn archeologists are aware of grew in southern Mexico and the ears were only a couple of inches long with four to six kernels per ear. Evidence of some of this early corn was found in the excavations on 41Ft201, Bird Point Island, a site my family discovered back in 1972. The archeologists from Southern Methodist University spent several years excavating portions of this site and in a couple of areas they found over three feet of deposits which contained all kinds of plant and animal remains including a few kernels of corn.

In 1850, 183 out of 186 farmers told the census taker they had produced corn. The grand total for the year of 1850 was 68,138 bushels of corn which would indicate an average of 372 bushels per farmer. By 1860, the quantity of bushels of corn produced rose to 170,713 bushels or in other words the quantity nearly tripled. However, the percentage of farmers in 1850 went from nearly 100 percent down to 63 percent in 1860. Not every farmer decided to grow corn in 1860. This may be due to certain farmers rotating their crops from year to year depending on several factors. The price for any cash crop may rise or fall depending on the quantities produced, on rainfall, transportation or other contributing factors. During the period from 1850 to 1860 when so many families migrated here to Navarro County from many areas, some of which were not necessarily corn-producing regions, those particular farmers may have preferred to plant other crops for which they had more expertise. Tobacco for instance was grown here during the periods after 1850 but no one produces tobacco locally now except maybe some of the illegal stuff grown down in the bottoms. Some land can only produce one crop per year so if a farmer had his land in the production of tobacco or cotton, there wasn’t any available acreage for corn production.

At the head of the list is another of the Ingram brothers, Richard, who told the census taker he had produced 7,000 bushels of corn. We know they kept the corn in corn cribs, some inside the barn while others were in separate facilities, but how big a crib was needed to store 7,000 bushels? Basically a large barn by itself! Instead of listing each farmer in numerical order, I want to list some of Richard Ingram’s neighbors who also produced a lot of corn. First of all were his three brothers, Anderson Ingram who told the census taker he had 5,500 bushels of corn followed by Hugh Ingram with 4,011 bushels and Washington Ingram with an even 4,000. I cannot help but wonder why Hugh stated he had 11 bushels more than his brother Washington. A little bit of brotherly competition maybe! Between the four brothers they listed 20,511 bushels of corn. John Gallemore, a neighbor of the Ingrams in the Rural Shade area stated he had 1,500 bushels and next door to Mr. Gallemore was James Wilson with another 700 bushels. Members of the James Wilson and John Gallemore families were buried in a one-acre cemetery along with several others. At least 50 graves were bulldozed by one man back in 1982. Even though this man owned 640 acres of land, he felt the need to bulldoze this cemetery! I wonder where his tombstone is located?

Next week: Other corn producers on the 1860 census


Other corn producers on the 1860 agricultural census

By Bill Young

I recently have been reading an archeological report which was written by archeologists associated with Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa. This report deals with the archeology in the area where the Superconducting Super Collider was going to be built. It is a huge publication numbering nearly 1,000 pages and only dealt with the preliminary survey and testing of archeology sites in and around the oblong ring where the collider was planned. The archeology survey was originally started by archeologists connected with the Archeological Research Program at Southern Methodist University but when Dr. J.M. Adovasio with Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania took over the Archeological Research Program at SMU, all projects underway and not completed were switched over to the Mercyhurst College. Shortly afterward the contract archeology program at SMU was discontinued which effectively put SMU out of the business of bidding and working on contract archeology such as lakes, pip lines, etc. SMU still has a anthropology department and archeology is still being taught at the university but all of the professors at SMU are working on projects usually funded through grants. A lot, but not all of the professors, are working on projects in other countries.

In the archeological report on the super collider, the archeologists did a lot of informal interviews with people who had lived in the Ellis County area for many years. Some were descendants of part of the original settlers who migrated to Ellis County in the 1850s. In one paragraph I found where someone stated the price of wheat in the middle 1850s was $1 per bushel and the price of corn was $1.50 per bushel. I don’t know if this price was the same here in Navarro County, but I would assume it was either the same or very near to the Ellis County market. By using the figure of $1.50 per bushel for corn and multiplying this amount by the number of bushels of corn I listed last week in the Rural Shade area in 1860, a total of 22,711 bushels, the overall dollar amount is slightly over $36,000. To me this represents a lot of money produced by one single crop. Then if we take the total amount of corn listed on the 1860 census which was 170,713 bushels, the dollar amount for that year’s production is $256,070 which is slightly over one-quarter of a million dollars. In anybody’s book, corn was a very valuable product produced by our local farmers.

Some of the other corn producers listed on the 1860 agricultural census were Alexander Younger who lived near Silver City with 5,500 bushels and Henry Jones of Corbet with 4,000 bushels. Next on the list is Thomas R. Kellum of Kelm with 3,000 bushels followed by nine people who told the census taker they had produced 2,000 bushels each. These men were Augustus Barry, Samuel Parmley, James T. Persons of Wadeville, J. W. Abbey, Robert Hodge of Chatfield, Mat Finch, and F.M. Martin, also from Wadeville, James Dunn from the Eureka area and Joseph Burleson who had a plantation in the Birdston area. Only one individual, William Davidson, who lived northeast of Eureka, stated he had produced 1,800 bushels of corn.

Four people were tied at 1,500 bushels each. They were L.C. Lockart, William A. Lockhart (note the different spelling of the last name of these two men, I do not know if they were related), Elijah Jeffers from the Brown’s Valley area, and J.L. McConico who was the neighbor of James Dunn. Next on the list by was James C. Jones, who produced 1,400 bushels. Mr. Jones lived next door to the north of James Dunn while Mr. McConico lived to the south. Both Jones and McConico acquired some of their land from James Dunn when they moved into the Eureka area. Three other individuals were tied at 1,200 bushels each. They were B.F. Carroll from the area south of Blooming Grove, Solomon B. Van Hook and David W. Sherell. Next on the list were eight individuals tied at an even 1,000 bushels of corn. Richard Rushing from the southern end of Pisgah Ridge, James Page, C.W. Richardson from the western side of Corsicana, Joseph Clayton, F.B. Hunt, Michael Welch and Ethan Melton, both from the Dresden (Melton) area, and another Lockart by the name of Charles J.C. Lockart.

William Richie, who lived north of the present day town of Dawson, was the only farmer who stated he had grown 900 bushels, but there were nine people who said they had produced 800 bushels each. W.B. Stokes, Sam Hamilton, B.D. McKie and Zachariah Westbrook were the first four followed by Dr. George Washington Hill from Spring Hill, William H. Garner, a neighbor of Dr. Hill, Jesse Green from the Blooming Grove area, Thomas Smith from the Grape Creek area and P.F. Winn.

I used 700 bushels as the cut-off point for the producers of Indian Corn. However, this list could go on and on as Indian Corn was a tremendously popular crop, by far the number one crop grown in 1860. Cotton was starting to show gains but it still was in its infancy compared to corn. I listed eight individuals who stated they had produced 700 bushels each. Rebecca Clark, the first woman on the corn produced list, Samuel Wright, Britton Dawson, R.H. Matthews, W.F. Craig, Silas Baker, J.R. Patton and Jesse Beasley. One thing which has become readily apparent is the fact a number of these farmers’ names keep appearing somewhere near the top of many of the categories. Obviously they were successful as farmers and I would assume they worked exceptionally hard to produce valuable commodities year after year.

Next week: Oats and cotton grown here in 1860


Oats produced in Navarro County in 1860

Before I get into today’s article I want to mention the fact a new Texas Historical Commission marker has been erected here in the county honoring one of the Confederate units from Navarro County. This unit known as the Navarro Rifles was one of two units which came from this area. During the dedication ceremony I was amazed at the names I recognized when the Sons of the Confederate Veterans group read off the honor roll of the men who served in this unit during the Civil War. I could not help but think of each cemetery where many of these veterans of the war are buried. Brandon Ford did an excellent job researching the material for the marker. Needless to say I have recently written about the fact the Texas Historical Commission has completely changed the process in acquiring a marker. Brandon’s narration went through the marker process with flying colors and the marker people with the Historical Commission did not require any further information. Navarro County’s newest historical marker is erected in front of The Cook Center at Navarro College and the local J.L. Halbert Camp is planning to start working on another marker for the Corsicana Invincibles, the other unit which came from our area during the Civil War.

On the 1850 agricultural census, 19 people were listed as farmers who grew oats as one of their cash crops. The total production of oats for those 19 individuals in 1850 was 1,224 bushels. Ten years later, when the 1860 agricultural census was done at the same time as the population census, the total number of oats producers had risen to 113 which is about six times the number of growers in 1850. The overall quantity of bushels produced in 1860 was 11,720 bushels which represents about 10 times as many bushels. Obviously many of the new farmers who migrated here in the time period between 1850 and 1860 decided oats was a crop they needed to produce. However, the total oats production was not as popular as bushels of Indian Corn.

On the list of the top producers of oats, several new names appeared for the first time. This may be a good indication of where some of these people migrated from such as the mid-west area. At the top of the list were two men who were both here when the 1850 census was taken. William F. Henderson, one of the few survivors of the 1838 Battle Creek massacre and a local surveyor, and Alexander Younger both stated they had produced 500 bushels of oats. Mr. Younger’s name was second on the oats produced list in 1850. Jonathan White was next on the 1860 census with 480 bushels followed by W.S. Robertson with 450 bushels of oats.

Calvin Newman came in fourth with 400 bushels followed by seven men tied for fifth with 300 bushels each. These men were William Holcomb, William Davidson, F.N. Brooks, James T. Persons, James C. Jones, George Valentin Perry and Elijah Jeffers. Most of these men lived in the eastern half of Navarro County. Next on the list were three men tied at 250 bushels each. They are James Little, Robert Hodge and Jesse Roberts. Close behind these individuals were six men tied at 200 bushels of oats each. Those six individuals were William R. White, E.H. Root, Benjamin Britton, Soloman B. Van Hook, Michael Welch and Susan Anderson, the widow of Dr. Anderson who was shot by William Love in 1855. Wilson H. Phelps was the only man who stated he had produced 175 bushels of oats and five men, Squire Smith, Charles Kerr, James C. Key, William H. Love and R. A. Younger, all told the census taker they had produced 150 bushels of oats.

Seventeen individuals told the census taker they had produced an even amount of 100 bushels each. They were William Laseter, Henry Jones, Mat Finch, A.M. Biars, L.D. Powell, Asa Chambers, Naz White, Harvey White, Nathan Newman, F.D. Vanhook, H.P. Walker, Elijah Anderson, Sam Hamilton, James A. Farmer, Henry Fitzgerald, Alfred Linsey and Jeremiah Melton. Oats, just like any other semi-perishable crop, had to be stored in a dry environment which meant another compartment in the barn or a separate facility. I cannot help but wonder just how successful each farmer was at keeping mice and rats from getting into the various grains they had in storage each year. I feel sure poisons were available and I would think most if not all of the poisons available back in those days would be completely banned today.

On the 1850 agricultural census, there were seven men listed as growers of cotton and the total production in 1850 was six bales of cotton. We have heard or read numerous times about the huge quantities of cotton grown here in Navarro County but obviously cotton was not a popular crop in 1850. By 1860, the production of cotton was on the rise but cotton production did not reach huge proportions until after the Civil War. Part of the reason for this was the inability of our local farmers to be able to break the heavy waxy blackland soil. Metal plows capable of breaking this durable ground were not manufactured until after the war was over. In fact even though the Civil War brought forth a terrible crisis for America, one of the good things which came about because of the war was the knowledge learned by the iron manufacturers to make durable iron objects in many shapes. During the war the iron makers were busy creating all types of iron objects associated with the war effort such as cannons, iron clad boats, armor plating and guns of all sizes and calibers. After the war was over, the iron manufacturers turned their efforts towards the production of things needed by the populace to rebuild the nation. One of the best iron products produced shortly after the war was over the iron plows. The nation needed to be fed and the production of crops expanded tremendously. Also if the nation was successful in producing agricultural crops for both human and animal consumption, any excess products could be exported abroad to help get the nation back on its feet. The ability to mass produce iron tools brought about significant changes to America.


Other cotton producers in Navarro County in 1860

By Bill Young

Between 1850 and 1860, the population of Navarro County went from 181 farmers to 512. The overall population of the county grew at an even higher rate because of the size of the families who migrated here and the influx of both slaves and laborers willing to work. With all of this manual labor available, cotton could be planted, harvested, baled and transported to market, somehow! The transportation issue was the main detriment for the county farmers because roads were basically still one-lane trails hacked out of the forested areas. When we read the rules pertaining to the roads back in those days, we see trees and brush were removed from the right-of-way but tree stumps were generally left, providing the stumps were cut no higher than six inches off of the ground. Gravel did not exist except in a few areas where there were deposits of Uvalde gravel on or near the surface. However, these Uvalde deposits do not have any depth or thickness. Instead the lenses are less than a foot thick so if a road happened to pass across one of these deposits, it did not take very long for the weight of the teams and the wagons to push the gravel into the subsoil. Even though the roads were terrible, many of the farmers who had migrated here between 1850 and 1860 decided cotton was a profitable crop to produce and somehow they would get their bales to the market on the Gulf coast.

The production of cotton requires a lot of effort. Tilling and then planting, chopping weeds and finally hand picking all the fluffy bolls and placing each into a sack which then had to be transported to a gin. At the gin, the cotton had to be processed and baled. Then each bale, which weighed 400 pounds back in those days, had to be loaded onto a wagon and either transported by wagon and team to Houston or Galveston or hauled over to one of the inland ports on the Trinity River to await a steamboat capable of transporting the bales to market. At least part of the time, cotton growers here in Navarro County hauled some of their bales to Pine Bluff/Troy, a port community on the Trinity River in Freestone County, or even farther down river to Magnolia, another port town located in Anderson County on the Trinity. Water levels in the river at these town locations usually were high enough to allow steamboats to reach the wharfs to load the bales. One thing I have not been able to determine is exactly who was responsible for the losses suffered if the steamboat struck a snag or ran aground down river causing the total loss of the bales on board. We know of 22 different steamboat wrecks located in the Trinity from Dallas County down to Galveston Bay. I feel sure there were others which were never documented. If a steamboat struck a snag and started to sink, would the bales of cotton float long enough to allow the crew of the steamboat a chance to salvage as many bales as possible, pulling them up on one of the banks of the river? Or did the bales immediately sink because of their weight? My own opinion is if the bales were bound tightly enough and the material used to bind each bale was strong enough, the bales probably would float for a while. On the other hand, there probably wasn’t a crew large enough to physically pull each bale out of the water without the aid of a team or a hoist. Bales may have floated for hours and if the current was moving along at a decent rate, the bales might float long enough to be moved downstream on the river to one of the other ports where they might have facilities to remove the bales from the water. However, once cotton has been thoroughly soaked, it might not be useable when dried. With all of these problems facing the cotton growers of Navarro County, they still chose to significantly increase their production of cotton. Navarro County was beginning to enter into the world market place for the consumption of cotton and our farmers were trying to share the profits regardless of the hardship problems facing them to get their cotton to market.

Remember last week I stated the total production of cotton in 1850 was six bales. By 1860, the total bale production rose to 2,218 bales. Obviously our local farmers were definitely getting into the production of cotton. Continuing with the list of top growers of cotton. Henry Jones, a plantation owner who had slave labor produced 66 bales. Not far behind him was Joseph Burleson, another plantation owner with slaves who claimed he had produced 58 1/4 bales. One of the historical archeologists we worked with during the Richland/Chambers Lake Project did his Ph.D. dissertation paper on a family by the name of Mingo Burleson. Mingo Burleson was once a slave of Joseph Burleson and after slavery was abolished, Mingo bought some land from Joseph Burleson, started growing cotton and built and operated his own cotton gin. The location of Mingo Burleson’s house and gin located in the Birdston Valley area was partially excavated along with several other African-American house sites in the same area. The archeologist, Dr. Randy Moir, was originally planning to do his dissertation on early ceramics from the 1840s to 1900 but there was so much information acquired about the families, especially Mingo Burleson, living in the area south of Cheneyboro, he decided to write about the Burleson family.

Next on the list were two men tied with 50 bales each: William Davidson, who lived on Chambers Creek northeast of present day Eureka, and W.F. Craig. Next on the list is L.C. Lockart with 44 bales followed by John Gallemore, a neighbor of the Ingram brothers, with 43 1/4 bales. We know the Ingrams owned a cotton gin in the community of Rural Shade. Somewhere I read where the Ingrams had shipped cotton down river by boat from the landing owned by J.L. Loughridge but they also shipped by wagon and team to Houston. Next on the list was J.L. McConico with 40 bales. Since both Joseph Burleson and J.L. McConico lived on the south side of Richland Creek, I would not be surprised to find out they transported their bales to Pine Tree for shipment.

Samuel Parmley is next on the list with 37 1/2 bales followed by J.W. Abbey with 31 1/4 bales. It is interesting to see how many farmers produced a portion of a bale such as Mr. Parmley’s 37 1/2 and Mr. Abbey’s 31 1/4. Even though they did not have an even number of complete bales, the fractional portion of a bale was still worth reporting, selling and transporting. Next week we will continue down the list with several new names appearing for the first time on the schedule.

Next week: The rest of the top growers of cotton here in 1860


Wool, the byproduct of raising sheep in 1860

By Bill Young

Several months ago I wrote about the number of farmers who raised sheep in 1850. Fifty-four individuals told the census taker they had sheep but only 44 reported wool as one of their cash crops.

Ten years later in 1860, the number of individuals reporting wool to the census taker had only increased by four to 48 farmers. There may be several explanations as to why the quantity of wool producers had not increased at the same rate as the population.

First, several of the 1850 sheep owners had either passed away or moved out of Navarro County by the time the 1860 census was conducted.

Secondly, the growth of cotton was increasing dramatically which may have brought about a decline in the demand for wool.

Thirdly, most of the open land had either been sold or given to settlers by the middle 1850s which would have limited the amount of open range needed for the grazing of sheep.

Fourth, the quantity of cattle and horses listed on the 1860 census along with the sheep and pigs shows there wasn’t any more land available on which someone could raise sheep. In fact, the county was overpopulated with animals by 1860!

Even though the total number of sheep owners who reported wool as a cash crop only increased by four from 1850 to 1860, the quantity of wool produced jumped tremendously from 1,984 pounds in 1850 to a whopping total of 27,665 pounds of wool in 1860.

This means some of the original 1850 sheep owners had increased their flocks considerably in 10 years time. Just like the 1850 census where more farmers (54) reported they owned sheep than the number of farmers (44) who also declared to the census taker they had produced wool, the 1860 agricultural census had a much larger discrepancy.

One hundred and thirty-one farmers told the census taker they had sheep but only 48 reported wool as a product. Those 83 farmers who claimed not to have produced any wool were either fudging about what they had grown or their sheep may have been raised as a food product or possibly a family pet.

Another option might be the fact some of those non-wool producers were using the sheep to help clear pieces of open range and even though those sheep had grown wool, those particular farmers had not gotten around to shearing their sheep. More questions, few good answers!

On both censuses, wool was measured by the pound. At the head of the list in 1860 was Dr. George Washington Hill of Spring Hill with 4,800 pounds of wool followed by E.H. Root with an even 4,000 pounds. Next on the list was James C. Key with 2,500 pounds followed by Theophilus Killian with 2,075 pounds.

Those four men produced nearly half of all of the wool listed on the 1860 census.

Robert Hodge of Chatfield listed 1,500 pounds followed by Jesse Roberts from the Pursley area with 1,120. John Neil came in next with 1,100 followed by Edwin Garlic from the Re area (present day Navarro) with an even 1,000 pounds.

Some other producers of wool were John W. Townsend with 900 pounds followed by two men tied at 800 pounds each, Zachariah Westbrook and James Page. Closely behind then was Thomas O. Jones from the Bazette area with 750 pounds of wool.

We are still trying to locate the Thomas O. Jones family cemetery somewhere north of Bazette, we think.

Next on the list of wool producers was James Tilford Laddell with 680 pounds followed by two men tied with 500 pounds each, Augustus Barry and Thomas Moore.

Joseph Bragg who lived on the north side of the Roane Road crossing over Chambers Creek was next with 450 pounds followed by J.G. Neil with 400. This Neil and the one mentioned above must have been related since they were listed so close to each other on the census taker’s sheets.

Britton Dawson from Dawson and Thomas White from the Pisgah Ridge area along with F.J. Jackson were tied at an even 300 pounds each on the list. Next on the list was Josiah Daniels from Wadeville with 280 pounds followed by Nelson Owen, also from the Wadeville area and Ethan Melton from Dresden with 200 pounds each.

Robert McCarter from the Dunn’s Schoolhouse area (present day Eureka) was next with 167 pounds followed closely by William Laseter with 160 pounds. E.A. Miller came in next with 140 pounds followed by another Miller, William W., with 125 pounds of wool. James T. Persons, another Wadeville resident, was next with 120 pounds and the last four farmers I listed were tied at an even 100 pounds of wool. They were Benjamin Britton, Michael Welch from Dresden, F.N. Brooks and L.D. Powell. These last two men lived in the Powell area.

The next item on the list is sweet potatoes. However, before I start listing the sweet potato producers in 1860, one individual on the 1860 census stated he had produced 20 bushels of Irish potatoes. This individual, Joseph Clayton, is the only person on the 1860 census claiming to have grown Irish potatoes.

Even though the population of farmers had tripled from 1850 to 1860, the quantity of sweet potatoes produced did not show any significant increase. The total amount listed on the 1850 census was 12,469 bushels and in 1860, the total quantity rose to only 12,853 bushels.

Another noticeable difference is the fact the number of farmers who stated they had grown sweet potatoes dropped in those 10 years from 128 in 1850 to only 96 in 1860. Sweet potato production was on the decline for some unknown reason.

I first thought the environment such as a year of drought or too much rainfall might have brought about the decline but the total number of sweet potato producers decreased by 25 percent. This might indicate the demand for sweet potatoes was decreasing.

If this was the case, many of the farmers were switching the land where they once produced sweet potatoes to another crop such as cotton. Also possibly affecting their decision might be the fact the deep sandy soil of East Texas was better suited of sweet potato production than here where our sandy loam soil is heavier and holds more moisture which might affect sweet potato production.

Next week: Who grew sweet potatoes in Navarro County in 1860


Farmers who grew sweet potatoes in Navarro County in 1860

By Bill Young

Last week I wrote about the fact the number of farmers who grew sweet potatoes in Navarro County in 1860 had decreased from 128 in 1850 to only 96 in 1860. Yet the total number of bushels produced in 1860 was slightly higher at 12,853, an increase of 384 bushels over the 1850 production. Obviously the production of sweet potatoes was on the decline. This fact can readily be seen today because there isn’t any major production of sweet potatoes in this county. Someone desiring fresh sweet potatoes would need to go into the deep sandy soils of East Texas to satisfy their desire.

On the 1860 agricultural census, the number one producer of sweet potatoes was Washington Ingram with 1,510 bushels. Next on the list was one of his brothers, Anderson Ingram, with 1,500 bushels. For some reason when I first read how close these two brothers were to each other in terms of sweet potato production, I immediately got the impression the census taker first went to Anderson’s home where he was told 1,500 bushels. Then the census taker went to Washington’s house and when Washington was asked how many bushels he had produced, he asked the census taker what his brother had reported and the census taker replied 1,500. Upon hearing this, Washington added 10 bushels to his tally so he could say he out produced his brother. Naturally this is speculation but it has some ring of truth because they were so close to each other. One of the other brothers, Hugh Ingram, reported he had produced 150 bushels and the fourth brother, Richard, did not produce any sweet potatoes. On the other hand, Richard was the number one producer of corn in the family. This may be an indication the brothers discussed what each was going to plant each year which helped to prevent an overabundance of any one crop. Some of the Ingram neighbors probably were involved in this discussion about the next year’s crop schedule because we can see similarities with other farmers living in the Rural Shade area on the 1860 census.

The number three person with the most sweet potato production was a neighbor of the Ingrams. J.L. McConico told the census taker he had grown 1,000 bushels. Please keep in mind the term neighbor was very different back in the 1850s and 1860s. Most of Mr. McConico’s land was located on the south side of Richland Creek in an area north and northwest of present-day Winkler. One of the Ingrams owned land on the north side of Richland Creek and the creek served as the property line between the Ingram and the McConico land. Yet all of the Ingrams lived southeast of Rural Shade which is several miles from Richland Creek and Mr. McConico lived near Winkler. Neighbors, yes, in terms of their land touching the others tract, but miles apart from each respective residence. Plus there were several other people living in the area between the McConico and the Ingram land. Elijah Anderson, James Jones, the Haynie family and James Dunn all owned land next to one another. In fact, James Dunn sold some of his land on the south end to Mr. McConico. The more you look at each and every family, the more they are interconnected to each other. Marriages between these families brought them even closer to one another.

Two men are tied at fourth on the sweet potato list. They are Henry Cook and Reece V. Morrell. Both stated they had produced 700 bushels and once again they lived near each other. Andrew J. Tickle came in next on the list with an even 400 bushels followed by three men who were tied at 300 bushels, These men are Henry Jones from the Corbet area, Andrew J. Meazell from the Curry area south of Richland and John Gallemore from Rural Shade. He was another neighbor of the Ingram family.

Four men were next on the list tied at 250 bushels each. They are William M. Love from the Richland Creek area south of Angus, Robert Hodge of Chatfield, Joel Walker and Zachariah Westbrook. One of these days I need to research Mr. Westbrook as his name keeps appearing near the top of many of the categories on the census. Five men were next on the list tied at an even 200 bushels of sweet potatoes each. The first one was William Davidson who lived between present day Eureka and Rural Shade on the west bank of Chambers Creek. This Davidson family is related to the Breithaupts from Cheneyboro. James Dunn, who I mentioned above, owned several large tracts of land in the county but his home place was southeast of Eureka on Richland Creek. We have done a fair amount of research about the Dunns because there is a cemetery in the Arrowhead Lake Development known as the Dunn/Johnston Cemetery. Also tied with Mr. Dunn and Mr. Davidson was Ethan Melton from Dresden, James T. Persons from the Wadeville area and Solomon B. Van Hook. Mr. Van Hook is another one I need to research. I think he lived in the Dresden area but this is speculation.

Four men were tied next on the list with 150 bushels each. They were Elijah Anderson, the next door neighbor to the Davidson family east of Eureka, John Stroder, a new name on the list, Jesse Beasley from the Petty’s Chapel area and Josiah Daniels from the Wadeville area. Following this group are eight people tied at 100 bushels each. Thomas Hayes, another new name, Asa Chambers from Pisgah Ridge, E. Drane who lived west of Corsicana, David Cockrell, Francis Jones, J.C. Hill from the Spring Hill area, W.S. Robertson, who lived inside the present-day city limits of Corsicana, and Michael Welch from Dresden.

Issac Canteberry was the only person who stated he had grown 90 bushels of sweet potatoes. Squire Smith from the Dresden area was next with 80 bushels followed by two men tied at 75 bushels each. They were T.N. Meador, a new name on the list, and J.B. Sessions, who lived northeast of Rice. The last three people I listed were tied at 70 bushels. R.A. Younger from the Silver City area, Alex Dixson, who lived northeast of Emhouse, and William Powers. One other person I want to mention not by name but by the quantity he reported to the census taker. This individual reported he had produced one single bushel of sweet potatoes. This tiny amount had to have been grown in a garden strictly for home consumption and why this individual reported this is beyond me.


Next week: Barley and butter on the 1860 census


Butter by the pound on the 1860 agricultural census

By Bill Young

Once in a while I make a mistake. In last week’s article I wrote about the 10 bushels of peas and beans produced by W.B. George. I noted he was listed in the column under barley and he was the only producer of peas and beans on the 1860 census. When I started putting together the information about the butter producers in 1860, I discovered seven other individuals listed in the hay column as producers of peas and beans. William Davidson told the census taker he had grown 150 bushels of peas and beans followed by Henry Jones with 25 bushels. Next was W.F. Craig with 20 bushels followed by Solomon B. Van Hook with 15. R.M. Philips stated he had produced 10 bushels and Hugh Foggy told the census taker he had grown six bushels. The last grower on the list was John Gallemore with five bushels. All except for Mr. Davidson might have produced their peas and beans in a home-style garden.

On the 1850 agricultural census, 172 out of the total number of farmers (186) told the census taker they had produced butter. In 1860, 10 years later, the total number of butter producers doubled to 356. However, the total number of farmers had increased to 511 which tells me the percentage of butter producers dropped dramatically. This is even more evident when we compare the total number of pounds of butter produced in 1850 (49,026 pounds) to 80,292 pounds in 1860, in other words slightly less than doubled in pounds produced. Eighty thousand pounds of butter per year may have totally saturated the market. And without a doubt all of this butter was saturated, not fat free. No wonder many were dying off at a young age!

One item was readily apparent as soon as I started listing the producers starting with the highest quantity. Many of the farmers told the census taker they had produced 365 pounds of butter. In other words a pound of butter per day. Forty-six farmers stated they had produced 365 pounds of butter during the previous year. When you think of using only a pound of butter per day for three meals and large families, the overall usage doesn’t seem extremely high. There is also another noticeable trend in the quantity stated. Twenty-five individuals stated they had produced 300 pounds of butter. To me this number may reflect a rounding off effect. Since I sincerely doubt most if not all of the farmers did not weigh their butter production, they used a nice even round number of 300 which in effect was saying to the census taker a pound per day. This fact can be seen again when two farmers stated they had produced 350 pounds and another one said 360 pounds. And even more so when we see six farmers stated they had produced 700 pounds and another stated he had 750 pounds. These last seven were probably thinking they had produced about two pounds of butter per day. Naturally all of this butter was cholesterol free!

Everyone used a nice round figure when they reported the pounds of butter produced except for two individuals. Jeremiah Melton reported 136 pounds and Lucian Durham told the census taker 111 pounds. Mr. Melton’s name has been on several of the lists previously from the Dresden area but Mr. Durham’s name is new. He lived on Pisgah Ridge for a while and married into the Fouty family. Eventually he moved out of Texas after his wife passed away.

J. Brewster and J.D. Baker were tied at the top of the list with an even 1,000 pounds of butter. This sounds like a lot of butter but if you think of it as three pounds per day, the volume is not so large. Next on the list was Joseph Bartlett with 900 pounds of butter followed by two men with 800 pound each. They were William H. Love from what is now the Angus area and Andrew J. Meazell from the Curry area south of Richland. Caroline Hamilton from the Hester Grove area was next with 750 pounds followed by six people with 700 pounds each. They were William Davidson from the Eureka area, Jesse Pugh, Eliza A. Trimble, J.C. Burrows, Thomas O. Jones from Bazette and Robert Hodge from Chatfield. Next on the list was J.B. Abbey with 650 pounds followed by James T. Persons with 610 pounds. Six individuals were tied next with 600 pounds of butter each. They were Susan Anderson, the widow of Dr. Anderson who was killed south of Love Bridge by William Love, J.B. Sessions, whose place was located north of present day Rice, Dr. James K. Cooksey, also from Chatfield, Jesse Roberts and J.L. McConico from Winkler.

Fifteen farmers stated they had churned 500 pounds of butter each. David Pevehouse from Cross Roads, south of present day Frost, A.N. Smith, Solomon B. Van Hook, Elizabeth Pitman, Sarah Brown, E.H. Root, David Cockrell, Washington Clary, Matt Finch, William Meador, Jeremiah Cobb, K. Butler, Maston White from Pisgah Ridge, Anderson Ingram, one of the Ingram brothers from Rural Shade and Alexander Younger from the Purdon area.

Seven more farmers were tied at 400 pounds each. They were James Page, Jacob M. Eliot from the Pursley area at the time this census was taken but shortly after the 1860 census he moved to what is now known as the Grape Creek area. Then there was Nathan Hobbs from the “ridge,” Silas Baker, John S. York also from the Pursley area, Robert McCarter from the Eureka area and T.W. Meador.

Next on the list is a huge list of people who stated they had produced 365 pounds of butter. They are W.M. McKinney, J.P. Anderson, G.W. Thorp, Robert Gregory, G.W. Smith, David White, E.L. Swink, Alex Dunn, Priscilla Baker, W.J. Kirkptrick, C.W. Wooten, F.M. Martin, J.C. Hill, W.B. Crawford, Claborn Carpenter, Zachariah Westbrook, Jackson M. Smith, Nancy Hickman, Jesse Beasley, Issac Canterberry, Abner Immons, W.J. Dabney, Hugh Ingram, Washington Ingram, E.A. Miller, Britton Dawson, A.C. McMillian, J.M. Curry, Dr. George Washington Hill, R.A. Younger, William H. Stone, Asa Chambers, J.M. Riggs, Mary Thompson, James Page, James Smith, William A. Smith, Elias Carroll, William Hamilton, Thomas Conner, Joseph Clayton, H.J. Cage, Mary Griffin, William Hamilton (this is a different William Hamilton), W.C. George, James C. Key, and Ethan Melton.


Butter, cheese, honey, beeswax, and wine in 1860

By Bill Young

Last week I listed most of the top producers of butter on the 1860 Navarro County agricultural census. In today’s article, I will complete the list plus several other categories which definitely reflect some changes in the agricultural production from 1850 to 1860.

Two farmers told the census taker each had produced 360 pounds of butter. These two individuals were Jeremiah Cunningham and J.M. Bright. Here again it looks as if these particular farmers were estimating a pound of butter per day and they rounded off their estimates to an even number. Two more farmers, Thomas R. Kellum and William Westbrook, told the census taker their annual production of butter was 350 pounds. Again this indicates to me a rounding off of the numbers.

Twenty-five farmers were tied at 300 pounds of butter each. They were Jacob Hartzell, his neighbor Michael Welch, and another nearby neighbor, B.F. Carroll. Also on the list with 300 pounds of butter were Jesse L. Hamilton, John Neil, W.W. McPhale, Augustus Berry and J.W. George. Others listed were C.W. Wooten, Ruben Jones, David Brown, John K. Young, W.B. Ham, J.G. Wray, Marilla Dixon, Samuel Bowman, Joshua L. Halbert, Phillip Trammel, Radford Burk, W.D. McCarter, J.J. Thompson, Samuel Wright, Warren Blackwell, A.M. Byers and Martha Barnett. We will never know if all of these individuals reporting 300 pounds of butter for their annual production in 1860 were actually telling the census taker their correct poundage or once more an easy way of rounding off the numbers.

The quantity of cheese producers and pounds of cheese produced and reported in 1850 was huge compared to the 1860 census for the same item. In 1850, 46 individuals reported they had produced cheese and 10 years later in 1860, this number had been drastically reduced down to only five individuals. Was cheese that difficult to produce and store? Had the market for cheese decreased dramatically while on the other hand the population was four times larger 10 years later? Or did a number of farmers fail to report the quantity of cheese they produced for whatever reason? Were the taxes high on cheese and if this was the case, many farmers may have declined to report their cheese production. So many questions which we cannot answer!

Five individuals reported cheese production in 1860. At the head of the list was Sarah Brown with 500 pounds followed by K. Butler with 200 pounds. Next on the list was Thomas Melton with 180 pounds followed by E. Drane with an even 100 pounds. And the last person listed with cheese production was Thomas R. Kellum with 80 pounds. None of the above five people were even listed on the 1850 cheese census which indicates again a new different population. Out with the old and on with the new. The scene was forever changing. The total volume of cheese produced by these five farmers totals out to 1,040 pounds. Compare this number to the 5,180 pounds of cheese listed on the 1850 agricultural census and you can readily see a huge decline. The number of milk cows increased in the same 10 years so the milk production was being utilized differently.

The same thing happened with the number of honey producers and the total number of pounds of honey and beeswax produced between 1850 and 1860. Even the census sheets reflected a change. On the 1850 census sheets honey was listed after cheese, and 10 years later honey is the last item on the sheets. This may indicate the census bureau decided the listing of honey production was not as important as it had been in 1850. On the 1850 census, 43 individuals reported honey and 10 years later this number decreased down to only three individuals. In the honey column, sheet after sheet was blank and it looked to me as if the census taker really did not care to list honey production which may have been the case especially if the producers of honey were only producing enough honey to take care of their own family needs. On the other hand, there may have been an actual decline in the number of honey bees alive in 1860. Today we are currently experiencing this problem worldwide as whole colonies of bees are dying off for some unknown reason. If the world should happen to lose our bee population, the price of fruit and many vegetables would be unreasonable.

The three individuals who reported honey production were Thomas O. Jones from the Bazette area with 500 pounds. The other two men were tied at 50 pounds each. They were John Loughridge and Richard Grantham. Mr. Jones also reported 50 pounds of beeswax and Mr. Grantham reported five. In 1850, the total honey production was 4,970 pounds, and by 1860 this number was reduced down to only 600 pounds. There is another possibility. In 1850, when the first wave of settlers started moving into Navarro County, most if not all of the honey produced was coming from hives located in hollow logs and trees. Early settlers would have recognized these beehives as they started clearing their land. Ten years later, the number of natural occurring hives may have been reduced tremendously because of land clearing and burning. Many of the bee colonies may have moved farther to the west in an effort to escape the onslaught of humanity constantly robbing their hives for both honey and beeswax.

Wine, another new category, appeared on the 1860 agricultural census. Wine did not have a separate category, instead it was penciled in the same column as hay. Only two men listed wine as one of their products produced. F.J. Jackson told the census taker he had produced 150 gallons of wine and Henry Price reported 65 gallons. The census does not state what type of wine nor what type of grape was grown to produce this wine. I would venture a guess both of these individuals were taking advantage of our locally-grown wild mustang grapes which grow wild in many areas of the county. On the other hand, it is entirely possible one or both of them brought special grape vines with them when the migrated into Texas hoping to establish a good wine market. There isn’t any good information available about the production of grapes and wine in any known local documents.

Next week: Molasses, buckwheat and hay production



Molasses, buckwheat production in Navarro County in 1860

By Bill Young

According to The American College Dictionary, molasses is any of various thick, dark-colored syrups, as that produced during the refining of sugar, or that produced from sorghum. Sorghum is a cereal grass of many varieties which may be divided into four groups. Sweet sorghum is used specifically for the making of molasses or syrup or forage.

On the 1860 agricultural census, there wasn’t a specific column designated for molasses or syrup but penciled in under one of the other categories were four notations specifying molasses. Those four individuals who manufactured molasses did not state how they made the syrup but I would venture a guess they used sorghum grass for their molasses production.

A few years ago while visiting my mother-in-law, Hazel McCandless, in Nacogdoches County, I decided to go look for Native American archeological sites along one the smaller spring-fed creeks in the area. At one road crossing over the creek, I found a small field which had been recently deeply plowed. I spent the next few hours walking back and forth in the furrows picking up sherds of Native American pottery and an occasional chert flake. The crop which was planted in the field looked almost like young corn plants but the leaves on the stalks were slightly different. About a month later, we made another trip to East Texas and I returned to the same plowed field where I found the plants were now head high. At this point I could tell these particular stalks were sugar cane plants. For the next few months we made several more trips to my mother-in-law’s and on each trip, I would return to the sugar cane field to see what possibly washed out of the deep furrows. Late in the fall, I went to the site and found two men cutting and cooking the sugar cane making cane syrup. They told me they had leased the small tract of land for three years and planned to produced sugar cane each year. They further stated the soil in this small field was called chinkapin sand and this particular sandy soil was good for growing sugar cane for only three years, Once the three years had expired, they would have to move to another chinkapin sand field if they wanted to continue producing sugar cane syrup.

It was interesting to sit there and watch them slowly crush each stalk of cane squeezing out the juice. The juice ran down a small channel into a flat pan which had a fire continuously burning under the pan. The pan was slightly tilted away from the channel and it had baffles which forced the juice to moved very slowly from side to side in the pan as it cooked and proceeded towards the discharge end. Every now and then they would skim off the impurities as the juice continued to cook. By the time the juice arrived at the discharge end, it had changed into a beautiful honey-colored sugar cane syrup and the aroma in the air was delightful. It was a good learning experience for me both in watching a very old process for making syrup and archeologically speaking, what residue was left after they abandoned the field two years later. Since then, there have been several sites found in East Texas which eventually were determined to be sugar cane processing sites. However, most of the material discarded at one of these locations will not tell the researcher what time period the site belonged to since the same process has been almost identical for several hundred years.

A few years ago, my wife Bobbie Jean and I attended the annual Rusk County syrup festival held in Henderson. At their fair grounds, they have a slightly larger sugar cane cooking facility exactly like the one I witnessed earlier. At this facility, the workers used a horse to pull the jaws open and shut on the cane crusher and with this added horsepower, the quantity of sugar cane they could produce in a day was impressive. Not only do you get to see the process in action, you can buy as much ribbon cane syrup as you want. For anyone who has never watched a sugar cane producing operation, plan to make a trip to Henderson in the fall. The festival is usually well advertised on the Internet. One word of caution, plan on walking a lot if you want to see everything going on at the fair. Some things are held downtown while the fairgrounds are several blocks to the northeast. They do have tractors pulling flat trailers which anyone can hop on and ride to another area but you still have to walk a lot. I estimated they had 6,000 to 7,000 people attending while we were there.

I mentioned at the very beginning the fact there were four individuals who produced molasses in 1860. The reason I think they produced sorghum syrup and not sugar cane syrup is because sugar cane does not grow well in this area, but I cannot prove this statement to be true or false, only speculation. The quantity of molasses these four individuals produced was measured in gallons and, to me, one gallon of molasses is a lot of molasses. At the top of the list was John Booth with 80 gallons of molasses. Next on the list was A.J. Smith with 32 gallons followed by a two-way tie of 20 gallons each produced by Robert Gregory and R.P. Oliver. I may be wrong but I think this is the first time these four farmers have appeared on the census as the top producer of an item. Once again it shows how each individual farmer contributed something to the local economy. In this case, I would bet they could easily sell every gallon of molasses they could produce since there was a huge decline in the total number of pounds of honey produced from 1850 to 1860 and with the ever-growing population in Navarro County, anything sweet which could be purchased had to have been popular.

Another item penciled in under another category was buckwheat. Once more I had to turn to the dictionary to the definition of buckwheat even though I have heard the term all of my life. The definition is as follows: a herbaceous plant cultivated for its triangular seeds, which are used as food for animals and made into a flour for pancakes. Somewhere in my past I have eaten buckwheat pancakes which I remember as being a little stronger tasting compared to regular white flour pancakes. However, with a large dose of molasses, any strong taste was totally covered up by the sweet molasses flavor. Today we have looked at two products which somehow are related to each other. Only one person, H.J. Cage, told the census taker he had produced 30 bushels of buckwheat. Without a doubt, it must have been extremely difficult to grow buckwheat in this region probably due to our hot dry summers.

Next week: Hay and the value of homemade items produced in 1860




Homemade products from 1860 census

By Bill Young

Last week I started writing about the cash value of the homemade products produced by some of the individuals living in Navarro County in 1860. According to the 1860 agricultural census, 122 people claimed to have produced homemade products with a total cash value estimated to be $4,217.

I decided to look at the regular 1860 census to see where some of these individuals who migrated here to our county originally came from. I felt there might be a reason some individuals made homemade goods while others did not. I decided to use anyone who claimed $50 or more for their products and out of the 122 on the census, 28 individuals fit into this category. I also wanted to see what each individual’s profession was in an effort to better understand who and why each person made homemade products. Out of the 28 individuals, one person, James Copell, was not listed so I don’t know what his profession was nor what state he came from. Three others on the list did not state what their profession was for some unknown reason but I feel sure this can be determined. William M. Love didn’t state his profession but we know from other accounts he owned numerous tracts of land and was a land speculator. In other categories on the census he had cattle and crops so he wore at least two hats: land buyer and seller plus a farmer. The second individual without a named profession was Alexander Dunn. Here again was someone who owned land, mainly in the area where Petty’s Chapel is now located, but he also served as a county commissioner so we could say a politician and a farmer. The third person listed without a profession was a women named Nancy Hickman. She was a widow and 90 years of age at the time the 1860 census was conducted. Either the census taker forgot to ask or did not write down her answer to the question of her profession or the census taker in the interest of respect for a women 90 years old just simply decided not to ask what she did. Based on the other categories on the census, she would be considered a farmer because she had a number of children with her plus some other individuals who must have been hired hands to help run her place.

The remaining 25 individuals who made the top of the homemade products list came from only 11 states. The number one state was Tennessee with 10 individuals followed by Georgia with four, then South Carolina with three. Two states, North Carolina and Mississippi, both had two representatives followed by one each from the states of Arkansas, Kentucky, Virginia, Missouri, Illinois and Michigan. This indicates 23 out of the 25 came from the southern states if we consider Missouri as a southern state. With this in mind this may be a good indication of why certain people took time to produce homemade goods. Most of these individuals came from a non-industrialized region. They were raised to make do with what they had and to improvise if they were in need of something. Money was scarce especially for those who had recently used their savings to make the migration here. Some of these individuals stopped off first for a while in other states or counties east of here probably in the interest of trying to decided what area would be best for them to put down their roots. We know a number of families who settled here in the late 1840s and early 1850s, picked up once more, migrating farther to the west. There were others who decided the frontier was not to their liking and eventually went back eastward. You would need to be able to interview each individual who lived back in those times to understand all of the various reasons why each one came or went but without a time machine, guessing is our only option.

At the top of the list was Augustus Barry, a farmer who stated he had produced $157 worth of homemade goods followed by Alexander Younger, another farmer, with $114. Next on the list was farmer Reece V. Morrell with $111 followed by four people with $100 each. They were three farmers, Mat Finch, Warren Blackwell and J. P. Anderson, and an engineer, Radford Burk. I must admit the title of engineer living on the frontier was not expected. What did an engineer do back in those days? Today we have all types of engineers both mechanical and electrical plus construction and I would assume an engineer in 1860 had a lot of new challenges in a newly developing region but certain supplies such as lumber were hard to come by and iron products were only available back in the northeast. Dependable transportation would not be available for 11 more years when the first railroad finally made its way into Navarro County. Maybe Mr. Burk was one of those men who could look to the future and he decided to get in on the ground floor.

Mr. D. Weaver, another farmer, was next on the list with $94 followed by Dr. George Washington Hill with $93. Dr. Hill was one of the individuals who made the 1850 list of homemade products when he stated he had produced $90 worth. In 10 years he increased his production by only $4, so does this indicate he made more products or inflation had started to creep into the frontier? It seems a little strange his two numbers were so close to each other in a span often years. Wonder what he was producing?

James Green, another farmer, was next on the list with $86. Just recently I found out Ed Williams, the gentleman who operates the Navarro County GenWeb Site, was related to this particular Mr. Green. A couple of years ago when my partner and I recorded the James and Nancy Green Cemetery, I found where Mr. Green had choked to death on an acorn. Unusual way to go and why did he have an acorn in his mouth? Archeological research says the Native Americans ground and boiled acorns as a food product but there isn’t any description of anyone trying a consume an acorn. However the story doesn’t say what particular type of acorn he was trying to eat. Chinkapin acorns are edible and reasonably small so it might have been this particular variety.


Homemade manufacturers reported in the 1860 census

By Bill Young

I received one phone call from Camille at the Corsicana Daily Sun who came up with an idea about why Dr. George Washington Hill’s dollar value for 1850 and 1860 were so close to one another. On the 1860 census, Dr. Hill’s declaration of the value of homemade goods was only $3 higher than the 1850 census. Camille’s idea was since he was a doctor his homemade goods had something to do with his medical profession. Homemade medicines and cures were a sign of the times so he probably produced some of the medications he prescribed. Even though we will never know for sure, this idea does have some logical merit.

Next on the list was M.T. French with $75 of homemade goods. Several members of the French family settled in the area where the community of Navarro Mills is located and they were neighbors of Dr. Hill. James Page was tied with Mr. French stating he had also produced $75 worth of homemade goods followed by Thomas O. Jones from the Bazette area with $70. I will mention one more time we are still looking for the Thomas O. Jones family cemetery north of Bazette.

Thomas Haynes who also had $70 worth of homemade goods originally hailed from Tennessee. Mr. Haynes was listed as the county clerk on the 1860 census. Following Mr. Haynes was another farmer from Tennessee by the name of F.R. Williams. Mr. Williams’ homemade goods were valued at $68. Then came J.R. Black who also hailed from Tennessee with a total of $65 worth of homemade goods.

John C. Smith who was the only farmer from Virginia who made the list with $64 worth followed by Henry Cook with $62. Mr. Cook was originally from the state of Georgia and he settled in the Dresden area. Next was Benjamin Roberts, another farmer from Tennessee. He settled in what is known today as the Pursley area and he stated he had produced $60 worth of homemade goods. Next on the list was J.M. Curry. The Curry family settled northeast of Purdon. When they arrived here in a wagon train with several other families, an unidentified disease hit the wagon train just after they arrived in Navarro County. If my memory is correct, 10 members of the group succumbed to the disease along with an untold number of slaves and they are all buried in unmarked graves in a row in Curry Cemetery.

The next person on the list is unusual because his name is on the agricultural census but not the regular census. James W. Copell remains an oddity. Not only do we not know where he came from, we don’t have the slightest idea as to his occupation. I think this is what is referred to as someone who slipped through the cracks. Regardless of his occupation, Mr. Copell told the census taker he had produced $50 worth of homemade goods. Tied with Mr. Copell at the $50 level was William M. Love, another individual who came to Texas from Tennessee. Just like Mr. Copell above, no occupation was listed for Mr. Love. However, everything I can find out about him indicated he was a land speculator and surveyor. We know he was part of the ill-fated group of surveyors who were attacked by the Kickapoo Indians at Battle Creek in 1838. However, Mr. Love was not present at the battle having been sent back to Old Franklin in present-day Robertson County to pick up a replacement compass. Mr. Love’s name shows up on a lot of early deed transactions in Navarro County and he was the one who shot and killed Dr. William Nicks Anderson in 1855. The Love/Anderson feud on Pisgah Ridge is a well-known story dealing with some of the problems in early Navarro County.

Five other individuals were tied with Mr. Love and Mr. Copell at $50 each. They were Robert McCarter from the Eureka area and Jedidiah Welch from the Dresden area followed by Alexander Dunn from the Petty’s Chapel area. Mr. Dunn’s occupation was not listed on the 1860 census. I am aware of the fact he served as a county commissioner, but this was several years later after the 1860 census was completed. The last two individuals on the list were Nancy Hickman and A.N. Smith. Mrs. Hickman came from Georgia and Mr. Smith from Illinois. He and J.P. Anderson from Michigan, were the only two individuals from northern states to make the list.

It is a shame we will never know what items would fall into the category of homemade goods. If we were fortunate to understand at least a portion of the items, we might have a better understanding of what these early families contributed to the economy of Navarro County. Even though the overall value of the homemade goods produced is less than $5,000, the items filled a necessary niche in what some of the people needed to go about their daily lives. Clothing and blankets/quilts were obviously an absolute necessity and I feel sure these items were either hard to come by or were expensive. Therefore any lady who was adept at sewing could make some of these items which in turn brought money or other items of trade to their family. In researching early coinage, I found out there was only one penny, one half-dime (there were no nickels during the 1840s and 1850s), one dime and one quarter for every person living in the United States. This was due to the fact foreign countries would not accept our paper currency. Therefore all of our metal coinage was being shipped abroad to pay for items imported into the United States. Hard times tokens, copper coins about the size of the old large pennies, were created so the general public would have something to barter with. Silver coins, especially the Spanish Eight Real, were continuously cut into eight small pieces which is where the cheerleading chant came from: two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar, etc. With all of this in mind, we can now see why homemade goods were important and gave the local citizens something with which to trade.

Next week: The value of animals slaughtered in 1860



Navarro County TXGenWeb
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Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox