Kansas Farmers and Illinois Dairymen
ON the 10th of June last I left Boston to make a tour through the grainproducing sections of the West, for the purpose of examining the operations of the small farmer and of his new competitor upon the great bonanza farms of Kansas, Minnesota, and Dakota; to learn, if possible, what are the actual conditions there obtaining, and to what extent, if any, an opportunity is offered for the remunerative employment of the idle and distressed among the people. It is my intention in this paper to confine myself closely to the facts thus ascertained.
On my arrival in Topeka, the capital of Kansas, I was particularly struck with the inquiry that appeared to be on the tongues of all, and was being discussed by the press and state officials, from the governor down, as to the ways and means of providing for the support, during the coming winter, of the great numbers of destitute farmers and others in that State. At the same time the State, through every available avenue, was inviting and receiving a large immigration of settlers upon its lands, and assuring the world that her soil offered competence and comfort to every worker.
Certainly, there was much apparent ground for the assurances made, and for the hope that had taken such multitudes to that State. During the year 1878 the product of wheat had been 32,000,000 bushels, and that of corn 89,000,000 bushels; and other crops were similarly abundant, which sufficiently demonstrated the remarkable fertility of her soil. But notwithstanding these facts, among the great class of food producers there was a distress which called for state aid to provide relief. In the street I was accosted by a negro, who begged for work. I asked him why it was that he applied to me, a stranger. He replied that he had been laboring in the country, but his work had given out, and he had come into town to get some, but could not find any. I then inquired why he did not go to work as a harvester. He answered, “ ’Cause, massa, de se’fbinders takes all de work away.”
Through the courtesy of the acting land commissioner of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fé railroad, I was given every facility under his control to help my examinations, which extended to Pueblo, in Colorado, 568 miles west of Topeka. Something over 400 miles of that distance was through the valley of the Arkansas and in the southern portion of the State. The river - bottom lands average about three miles in width; they are very level, and not more than about eight or ten feet above the mean height of the river. From the riverbottom the plain rises in broad and gentle undulations or billows, without tree or bush, except upon the immediate margins of the streams, and extends over the whole area of the State. The valley of the Arkansas is treeless until the mountains are approached in Colorado.
The soil of the rolling plain is a deep, light loam, very fertile, and in seasons of sufficient rain-fall yielding abundant crops. Along the line of the railroad, at distances of about every six or ten miles, are towns of from 300 to 3000 inhabitants. The towns are mostly built of wood, having some buildings of brick and stone; they are of good appearance, and are generally well supplied with church and school facilities, shops, stores, mechanics, and lawyers and doctors.
The plains are dotted over with farmhouses at intervals of from half a mile to ten miles. The larger portion of these dwellings are mere shanties, or sheds, that at a little distance have the appearance of dry-goods boxes, standing in the plain without fence, tree, or outhouse that offers the least cheer or relief to the eye. A near approach reveals a rough wooden box, about fourteen or sixteen feet square, of one story and usually one room,—rarely two or more, — unlathed, unplastered, without paint inside or out, with very little household furniture, and generally with the pipe of a cook stove projecting through and a little above the roof. These shanties are often without frames, the boarding being upright and the cracks battened. A residence more desolate or uninviting it is difficult to imagine.
But dwellings more uninviting, yet perhaps more comfortable, are only too frequent. Some are but mere holes in the ground, called “ dug-outs,” and are made by digging what might seem a small cellar in the plain, or in the side of a bluff or rising ground, and covering it with sticks, then with straw, hay, or earth, or, it may be, a roof of boards and shingles. The appearance is that of a small roof standing on the ground, or a heap of straw or earth. The only light and ventilation are from the entrance at one end and perhaps a single window beside the door, and a little opening or window under the gable at the other end, if the dug-out has a roof. In this hole the farmer’s family finds its home, and the store-house for all its goods and chattels. Sods are also used for building houses, and may be made very comfortable and of good appearance. The sods that are turned by the first plowing are usually two and a half or three inches thick, and firmly held together by the mat of grass roots; they are cut into requisite lengths to form the thickness of the wall, and laid up to the desired height without mortar of any kind, leaving openings for windows and doors. These sod walls, plastered on both sides with either mud or lime, are very durable, especially if the eaves of the roof are projected a sufficient distance beyond the walls to protect them from the rains. But the sod houses are quite infrequent, the larger number being rough board shanties. Barns, large or small, are seldom seen, the shelter for animals or tools being generally formed by placing two opposite rows of stakes or posts, about fourteen or sixteen feet apart, for the space required, and laying other poles across their tops, upon which is piled straw or hay, until the whole looks like a hay or straw stack.
Around some of the buildings of the older settlers, especially of the preëmptors of the public lands of five or more years ago, are small orchards, principally of peach (this year without fruit), and a few acres partially or wholly inclosed with hedges of Osage orange; but in most cases the farm buildings are unrelieved by tree or shrub.
Kitchen gardens are rarely seed, and where commenced appear generally to have ended in partial or total failure. Most of the farmers have one or more cows, with poultry and pigs, though in some cases they were found without either. A plow and harrow, and perhaps a cultivator and some other farm tool, with a yoke of oxen, or one or more horses, and generally a wagon or cart, are the usual forces and tools of husbandry with the small farmers of the State. In this condition is much the larger number of those who left our towns and cities, where as mechanics, artisans, clerks, small shop-keepers, etc., they had acquired some degree of education, culture, and refinement. They had gathered together all their means, and in the hope of bettering the condition of their wives and children had gone West, and are to be seen in such homes.
Around these homesteads are fields of wheat, corn, and oats, amounting to ten, twenty, or sometimes even forty or fifty acres, uninclosed by fence or hedge of any kind.
On my arrival in Sterling, 186 miles west of Topeka, I found the weather hot and dry, with a strong desiccating south wind parching what vegetation there was, and whipping the life out of the growing corn, which was then about two feet high. The wheat and oats were being harvested, where they would pay for cutting and threshing. In many places the wheat fields were utterly destroyed, and in the majority of cases a half crop was the most expected. I was told that there had been no general rain for eight months, and all through May and June there had been the same dry, hot winds, with an occasional local tempest of hail, or rain and wind and lightning, that destroyed everything in its path.
On my way to Pueblo and back I continually met and saw emigrants coming to and fleeing from the country. Everywhere I was told of settlers who would go if they had or could find the means of getting away. The man who had spent his all in getting to the State, making the first payment for his land, and buying the small amount of tools and work stock that he could procure (having probably obtained them also on part credit), and was in debt to his grocer, was in no condition to make any further change. In many places I found both the husband and wife chafing in enforced idleness, want, and helplessness. There are two short seasons only in ihe present farmer’s year which give employment and hope of reward: they are those of seed-time and harvest. When either of them fails, all resource is gone.
In the car with me, on my way to Pueblo, were a man and woman, evidently of the better class of farmers, sunburned and toil-worn, who told me that they were on their way to Washington Territory, where the wife had a brother who advised them to come out there. Four years ago he came from Pennsylvania, where he farmed, and took up a quarter section of land under the homestead law on Pawnee Fork, 233 miles west of Topeka. It cost him $14 for the entry, and $10 more to be paid at any time within five years, He had improved the place with good buildings and fences, and stocked it with cows enough for a small dairy, beside work animals. But he had not been able to raise any crops that gave the least encouragement till last year, when everything was produced in the greatest abundance. Yet he could not get enough for his wheat and corn to pay cost and leave any profit. At two dollars an acre for cutting, and ten cents a bushel for threshing, with the cost of plowing, harrowing, seed, and seeding, etc., it would not pay at the fifty cents a bushel for which he sold his wheat. The only things that yielded any profit were the butter and the eggs, one selling for twenty-five cents a pound, and the other at ten cents a dozen. Wheat is worth at the present time about one dollar a bushel; but there is not half a crop, and many farmers have raised literally nothing. He had not succeeded in raising anything, and his stock of animals were actually perishing for want of pasture. A newcomer had offered him a small price for his improvements, which he was glad to take and get away, because, without having to pay either interest or taxes of any sort, or debts of any kind, he could not get a living, and must go. There was no work to be had, nor any chance of bettering his condition.
He was very emphatic in the statement that those who had bought land upon credit, paying interest at seven per cent., could not by any possibility get out of debt or live decently; that all the small farmers, even the best of them, would be glad to hire out by the day or month, but work was not to be had; and that many would get away, abandoning all, if they could only raise the means to do so. His tale of wretchedness was corroborated by all others that I could meet.
From Larned westward to Pueblo, a distance of 328 miles, there is but little grain grown, the main business being cattle raising. There is an insufficiency of wheat for home consumption, and almost absolutely no corn, though the last year gave an exceptional yield of both wheat and corn. The cattle run upon the unoccupied lands on both sides of the river, of which there are vast tracts. But the rolling prairie, as far as the eye could reach, appeared to be as dry and bare as a house floor, and the little whirlwinds so common on those arid plains lifted their eddying columns of dust wherever they moved. On the river-bottom there was an abundant range of excellent pasture that did not appear to be half occupied. The cattle men make no complaints of want of success, and are credited with being very prosperous, though the herds, so far as could be seen, are by no means large or numerous. Sheep, also, and horses were observed in limited numbers.
On my return, in leaving the cars at Spearville, 286 miles west of Topeka, at one o’clock in the morning, the stepping into a pool of water was my first intimation that the long drought had been broken; a heavy rain had continued for two days from that point eastward into Missouri.
In the morning the railroad land agent in that place took me out to Windhorst, a colony of German Catholics from Cincinnati, who have been planted upon the naked, rolling prairie, about eight miles southeast from Spearville. I was told that there were about thirty families, some two hundred and fifty souls in all. They are in a beautiful location, each family holding in severalty a quarter section of land, the railroad lands having been purchased on time. It is claimed that only a portion of the colony have arrived. Those on the ground have been there a little over a year. They have provided themselves such shelter as their means permitted. Some few have put up small but still quite comfortable wood houses; others have built of sods; and some have simple dug-outs. No barns or out-buildings, except of the rudest character, were noticed. A plain, neat church was still unplastered, and but partially furnished with wooden benches for seats.
This is the first season an attempt has been made to raise crops; and the almost total failure has left many of them in absolute destitution and exceedingly despondent. Those at home, both old and young, at the houses we passed, were employed in their little gardens, a few rods square, trying to save something from the attacks of the insects that had left but little of potatoes, cabbages, turnips, beets, peas, or other vegetables. Not being able to do anything on their farms, some of the men had already gone to work on the railroad, farther west; but they earned hardly enough to pay their own board, and nothing for those at home. Two of the colonists had abandoned the enterprise and returned to Ohio. Some of them had not even a cow or pig, and were living miserably, with no hope for the future.
Whilst in Spearville I noticed rough, unpainted wooden sleds or drags, upon which were seated women and children, drawn through the streets by oxen and horses. Many of the farmers are too poor to buy wagons or carts, and these rough drags are their only vehicles. Before I left the State I had the best of evidence that they were not confined to Spearville.
I visited the Massachusetts colony of New Boston, about fourteen miles southwest of Sterling. There were eight families on the ground, occupying small wooden houses with one or two rooms, unpainted and unplastered, with no out-buildings and little furniture. The colony arrived last winter, and at once went to work to make themselves shelters and get in some crops. All have worked hard, and under many difficulties succeeded in getting some ground into corn, wheat, potatoes, and other vegetables; but the drought and insects made havoc with the crops. There was a feeling of great discouragement, and some of the colonists were making efforts to get back to the East, where, as they said, at least food might be had. Where they are now it is difficult to get meat and bread enough to sustain life. The colonists are not well provided with cows or other domestic animals, and are consequently without some of the commonest means of farm life.
In company with Mr. Munterfering, of the foreign land department of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fé railroad, I visited the Mennonite settlements situated between the Kansas Pacific and Santa Fé roads, and to the southward. These people are mainly immigrants from Russia, where they were colonized from Prussia in the time of Catherine II., and have retained their German tongue and habits. In Russia they were all farmers, and in coming to this country they have brought with them their life’s experience in agriculture, under conditions of climate and soil not altogether unlike those of Kansas; and also many of the tools there used, though they are adopting our improved implements of husbandry. About 10,000 Mennonites have been settled in the portion of the State mentioned, of which Newton, 135 miles west of Topeka, is a convenient point for observation. They made their first settlement nearly ten miles north of Newton about five years ago, and have received occasional accessions from Russia and from those who had settled in Minnesota. All have come with some means, the poorest of them having an average, according to the best information obtainable, of at least $1500 each, while others have brought as much as $100,000. None have bought large tracts of land, the largest holders being rarely possessed of more than one section of 640 acres, the average not exceeding 160 acres. When large tracts have been taken for a community, they have been at once subdivided in such manner as to give little or no preference, and immediately conveyed in severalty to the heads of the various families; each holder managing his individual interest in the way he prefers. No one exercises the least authority or power of direction over another, and each is responsible for his own acts and no others’. Yet there are strong bonds of sympathy between them, and they are helpful to one another.
Their houses are comfortable buildings of wood, often of one and a half or two stories, generally lathed, plastered, and well painted. The barn is frequently an extension of the house, from which it can be distinguished only by its greater size. A few have adopted the American plan, and built their barns at a little distance from the house. Some of the houses have the Russian clay oven placed in the centre of the dwelling, in such a way as to form a part of the wall of all the principal rooms, thus warming the whole house and affording cooking facilities in the kitchen. These ovens are heated but twice a day, and small bundles of weeds, hay, or stalks make excellent fuel. In the barns are the proper divisions and fittings for cattle and horses, with stalls, ricks, and places for hay and feed. In connection with other out-buildings the house and barn are situated in the midst of the grove and garden, and pigs and poultry are cared for in common with other things.
Those who have been there two or more years have already surrounded their farm buildings with groves of fruit and shade trees in various stages of growth; they have hedges of Osage orange and of mulberry adapted to the feeding of the silk-worm, and purpose to cultivate that industry, with which they were familiar in Europe; they each have gardens of from one to three or four acres of vegetables in good variety and great abundance, and also grapes and flowers. Everything was in good order. Their fields had been well tilled and cared for, and they were then harvesting the best crops of wheat and barley I had yet seen. Their corn was growing finely, and their oats and rye promised good harvests. Every one I met looked cheerful and contented, and not a word of complaint was heard.
The settlements are spread over a large extent of country, in clusters of some half dozen houses in comparatively near neighborhood, the groups being from two to three miles apart. Some attempt was at first made to live in cooperative communities, but it was quickly found to be impracticable and abandoned; the independent individual holdings have proved altogether satisfactory.
These Mennonites have shown how comfortable homes may be created in a short time by intelligent industry, assisted by capital sufficient to make a good start with buildings, tools, and seed upon a small piece of ground, and to enable the settler to live two or more years without returns from the land cultivated. More than this, they have shown that good and intelligent cultivation will lessen many of the difficulties in the way of climate and insects that to the ignorant farmer appear insuperable.
Along the line of the railroad a number of other colonies or communities have been established, towns planted, and a hopeful start made; all of which have been broken up, the improvements passed into other hands, and even the names given to the towns have been changed. Those settlers who have been for a number of years on the government lands appear to be making some progress in improving their places by surrounding themselves with fruit and forest trees, domestic animals, and other means for comfort and advancement, and are in some measure cheerful. Yet they are all desirous to sell out. Those who have obtained their lands by purchase, in good part on long credits, and their implements in the same way, appear to be in desperate straits, and the general opinion is that they must succumb. Though the settlements and farm-houses are widely separated, I was informed that all the lands were in private hands, even the unoccupied government sections, and held for speculation. There is abundant room for ten occupants where there is but one at this time.
Many large and small fields of wheat, oats, and corn were noticed, with no sign of house, hedge, or fence in the near neighborhood. These belong to lawyers, doctors, land agents, traders, mechanics, and others doing business in the adjoining towns who are able to procure a piece of ground and have it cultivated by contract or upon shares. What proportion of the land was thus worked I was not able to ascertain, but was informed that it was a very general custom throughout the State. Large fields were pointed out in every direction thus worked, and others held and farmed by residents of other States. Officers of the railroad, living in the East, are among these adventurers, and are lending a powerful influence in this form of development. From what I could learn it appeared that quite one half of the wheat grown in the southern and middle portions of the State was produced under that system of cultivation.
An eminent lawyer and railroad land agent at Newton called my special attention to the great inducements offered for the investment of capital in operations of this kind. Himself a cultivator of nearly two thousand acres upon the contract system, he was very desirous that I should give the result of his experience in wheat growing. His plowing cost him $1.25 per acre; harrowing, 20 cents; drilling or seeding, 25 cents; and harvesting. $1.50; total, $3.20 per acre for the cultivation. Threshing, at five cents per bushel, for 15 bushels would amount to 75 cents, and $1.00 for seed would make $4.95 the total expense of producing one acre of wheat yielding 15 bushels; being at the rate of 33 cents a bushel. In good seasons the yield of wheat was much above 15 bushels to the acre, and he assured me that he had never sold a bushel of wheat at less than 80 cents. He also informed me that he was then making arrangements to have his lands cultivated on shares, the farmer to find seed, tools, teams, and labor, and receive one half the gross product. Upon the estimate of cost and yield as above given, at 80 cents a bushel, he must have made a net profit of $14,100 from his 2000 acres; or, at 59 cents a bushel, the average price at which wheat was sold in that State during 1878, according to ihe state agricultural report, he obtained a profit of 26 cents a bushel, or $7800 upon 2000 acres. But in 1878 the average yield of wheat in that State was not less than 20 bushels to the acre, and the best judgment placed the probable yield from this gentleman’s fields this year at not less than 15 bushels. At the time I was there, the 25th of June, wheat was selling at, 95 cents to $1.00 a bushel, the new wheat not being yet in the market.
However great the results may appear, my subsequent examinations in other parts showed that the profits were comparatively small. But the small farmer, on the other hand, being dependent on his crop to pay his interest account and his various indebtednesses that fall due at harvest, is forced into the market and compelled to take the best price he can get at that time. The result was that much the largest portion of the wheat raised by the small producers in Kansas, in 1878, was sold for not more than 50 cents a bushel, and sometimes for 30 and 35 cents. In Sterling the best offers that could be obtained at one time were 20 and 25 cents for the average quality of Kansas wheat. At the same time corn was selling at from 10 to 15 cents a bushel, and was used for fuel in place of coal, which was selling at about 22 cents a bushel; a bushel of corn, as fuel, being as serviceable as a bushel of coal. The corn here referred to was unshelled, weighing 70 pounds to the bushel.
Flouring mills are found in most of the towns on the line of the railroads, and flour is sold at about the same price as in the city of Boston. The best quality of flour, made from the best grade of Kansas wheat, was selling at $8.00 a barrel. No miller will now receive the farmer’s wheat, as the millers did in the days of our fathers, and grind it for a certain toll, which was then usually one eighth, or twelve and one half per cent. Now the millers buy the wheat from the farmers and sell them the flour. In this way the farmer, with wheat at 50 cents a bushel, practically pays 16 bushels of wheat for a barrel of flour, or nearly 70 per cent, of his wheat for grinding.
On inquiry among the millers, I found that they would exchange flour for wheat at from 18 to 35 pounds of flour and 10 to 12 pounds of bran for a bushel of wheat. By this exchange, at 35 pounds of flour for a bushel of wheat, there was a practical toll taken of a little more than 25 per cent., and at 18 pounds, of nearly 70 per cent.
The price for grinding corn is universally 10 cents a bushel, which in one case, at least, cured a farmer of the notion that he must feed his stock ground feed; it would not pay to give one load of corn for grinding another, and then sell hogs for one and a half cents a pound. These facts show the robust condition of the trades union of millers.
On the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fé road there has been no very great development of the large farm interest, the policy of that land office being against the selling of its land in great blocks to single holders.
On the Kansas Pacific road the same general condition obtains among the small farmers, but there has been a much greater development of the large farm interest. Numbers of holders on that road own several thousands of acres.
The agent of the land department of the Kansas Pacific road at Kansas City gave me a list of some of the large holders. Among the names is that of one at Victoria Station, owning 23,000 acres; another at Hays City, 25,000 acres; and another at Durham Park, 10,000 acres. One of these is distinctively a grain farm; the others raise grain and cattle. I will speak only of the last. The owner’s stock consists in part of 250 blooded Durhams, some of which are of rare value. At the head of the herd stands an imported bull, the twenty - eighth Duke of Airdrie, costing $10,000 in gold. Two years ago two heifer calves were sold from this herd for $30,000. There are also 600 Berkshire hogs. Twelve hundred acres are under cultivation, 600 being in corn and 600 in oats; 9000 acres are under fence, divided into section lots of 640 acres each. The compact portion of the tract is four and a half miles long by two miles wide, the residence being near the centre and surrounded by grounds handsomely laid out and groves. The land is worked upon shares, the tenant finding everything and receiving three fourths of the crop, which he is bound to sell to the farm at current rates on the 1st of January. There are 400 acres in blue-grass, timothy, and clover. The number of men employed will average about ten, at about $18 per month.
A stay of a few days in Quincy, Illinois, enabled me to make inquiries regarding the condition of the farmers in that neighborhood. I learned that the greater part of them were in debt, and some were forced to part with their farms. It was with the greatest difficulty that they could make the two ends meet. These very farmers have old, wellimproved farms that a few years ago were yielding abundance and comfort. As an illustration of their distress, it was told me that one miller in that neighborhood found a large market for his flour among the farmers at one dollar per barrel advance on current rates, to be paid in wheat after the present harvest.
On my way to the North, I stopped over in Elgin, to learn something of the dairy interest of which that city is the centre. I first visited the great milkcondensing factory of the Gale Borden Company. In that establishment the first thing which attracts attention is the remarkable neatness and good order pervading the whole, from the beautiful grass plats and beds of flowers in rhe large yard to the well-swept brick floor and polished nickel-plated trimmings of the engines, boilers, and boiler rooms. The great and highly finished lemon-shaped copper milk condensers were of scrupulous cleanliness. But I wish merely to note economic results.
The establishment consumes 4000 gallons of milk daily, for which it pays at present at the rate of six cents a gallon. All the milk is obtained upon six-months contracts, —summer and winter. Four years ago the summer contract was fifteen cents a gallon, and the winter nineteen cents. Since that time the fall in contract price has been constant: for the summer contract from fifteen to thirteen cents the following year, then to eleven, then to nine, and now to six cents a gallon. The winter contracts dropped from nineteen cents four years ago to eleven cents last winter, and are now expected to fall to seven the next. During the last year of the war twentyfour cents a gallon was paid for milk. The price of milk during the past four years has fallen more than one half, and no doubt the price of other material and of labor has fallen in nearly the same ratio, but the cost of condensed milk to the consumer has not sensibly lessened.
One feature in the management of this establishment deserves particular notice. A large portion of its employees are females, of whom many had soldering irons in their hands, closing the newly filled boxes of milk. All employed, whether male or female, are paid alike for the work done, and no distinctions are made against women in their wages simply because they are women.
I next visited some of the dairy farms, and learned that they take their milk to the creameries, or factories, where it is manufactured into butter and cheese, and put into the market at a charge against the milk of four cents a pound for butter and two cents a pound for cheese. Upon the product being sold, the return is made to the milk producer of the proceeds less the cost of manufacture and sale, which generally nets from four and a half to five cents a gallon for the milk. Against this general return must be offset the occasional loss of any return produced by failure of commission merchants or other causes.
The farmers complained that at present prices they could make nothing; that they hardly paid expenses; that whereas, a few years ago, they all prospered and made money, now they could hardly live. As one old farmer said, “ At present prices, milk would not pay the cows for the use of their tails in switching off the flies.”
At the factories machinery is used in all the operations requiring force, and some of them manufacture from 3500 to 4000 gallons of milk daily. At Crystal Lake, sixteen miles north of Elgin, I was informed that some of the dairy farmers had become so much dissatisfied with the factory operations that they had entered into the manufacture of their own milk, and that others were selling their milk outright to the factories at fifty cents a hundred pounds. At eight and a half pounds of milk to the gallon, this gives four and a quarter cents for a gallon of milk.
Six years ago the farmers in Northern Illinois found that grain-growing was not a paying business, even so near the Chicago market, and went into dairying and farming, finding it for a time a good operation. They enlarged their enterprises, and some imported from Europe the best dairy stock obtainable. At Elgin I was shown some beautiful animals of the Holstein breed, imported, and claimed to be the best of milkers, as they certainly were of the largest and finest of stock. The dairy farms rapidly increased; the factories multiplied, until now there are in that State about four hundred creameries, with a butter and cheese board of trade at Elgin, at which there are regular trade sales. The product is sent to Boston and other Eastern markets at less than half the cost of transportation from St. Albans, Vermont, to Boston. It is marketed in Europe and the South; it receives the highest commendations for quality, and the highest prices. Yet the farmers who produce it are not, many of them, paying expenses. They are running in debt, encumbering their places, growing poorer and poorer, and facing the sorest distress. The farmers in Wisconsin, also, have gone into the dairy business to no small extent, and their experience is that of their Southern neighbors. These are the changes of half a decade in that most important industry.