A first look at 1860 agricultural census|
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
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
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
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?