About the Agricultural Census 1860
A Series by Bill Young
Navarro County TXGenWeb


Navarro County Texas History
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.



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.



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?


Bill Young - 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?



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