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The Soft Winter Wheat Boom, 1

and the Agricultural Development of the Upper Kansas River Valley [1]

by James C. Malin

November 1942 (Vol. 11, No. 4), pages 370 to 398.
Transcribed by lhn;
digitized with permission of the Kansas Historical Society.

PART I

THE period of beginnings of wheat production in the upper Kansas Valley prepared the way locally for the boom and testing period of about a decade, 1872-1882. [2] Favorable crop seasons were interspersed through the period but the opening and closing years especially brought climatic and economic adversity. This was true, not only in Kansas, but over the world rather generally, and most important of all, in spite of such circumstances or possibly in part because of them, the decade was one of phenomenal technological change which affected profoundly the economic, social and political structure of the world. A communications revolution based upon mechanical power had given a new reality to world markets and price-making for agricultural commodities. The impact of these facts upon Kansas was as great as upon any area of the globe.

The winter wheat boom was based upon already known varieties of soft wheat and methods of tillage, harvesting and milling, as well as upon traditional crop combinations of corn, wheat and oats. Before the end of the period all these factors were in a state of flux and for some the changes that were to usher in the new era were well along toward their culmination, while for some the transition was only well begun. A new hard wheat had been introduced from Eastern Europe, new varieties of sorghums had been imported from Asia and Africa, alfalfa had made its appearance, and new tillage, harvesting and milling machinery was gaining widespread acceptance. With respect to innovations in Prairie-Plains agriculture, probably no decade until the 1920's with its mechanical power-machinery revolution, and possibly not even that, inaugurated such far-reaching changes as the decade under review.

(370)

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CROPS AND WEATHER, 1872-1883

1872

Good crops and prosperity did not necessarily go hand in hand and the year 1872 was one of widespread discontent in Kansas. The winter wheat crop was small in acreage but had been mostly winter- killed, the spring wheat was fair, but corn, the principal staple crop, produced a big yield at ruinously low prices. [3]

1873

In 1873 occurred the great panic which inaugurated a prolonged economic depression of world-wide proportions. The wheat yield was good but acreage was not large in Geary [Davis] county and the agricultural society recommended that grain be held at St. Louis prices plus freight, as the demands of newly arrived settlers and of the army were thought sufficient to take all of it. The corn and late potatoes were damaged by dry weather, but were estimated at three-fourths of normal. Apples and blackberries were about one- fourth of a crop, peaches were a failure, but grapes were good. [4] A recovery from panic prices did not occur until mid-winter. [5]

1874

The winter wheat made about two-thirds of a crop in 1874 and one commentator said better than 1873, the spring wheat was about one-third of a crop and corn was a failure. [6] This was the notorious grasshopper year, the plague arrived in the late summer after the wheat was saved, but finishing off most of the crops that had survived the drought. On account of scarcity of feed, farmers were urged to ship their hogs at once. Corn was shipped in to supply necessary feed for remaining livestock. The wheat prices advanced from about 75 cents to 90 cents during the fall months, but local economic conditions were so discouraging that some stores of Junction City restricted sales to cash transactions, and big fires, so frequent in frontier towns during depressions, were reported. [7] Work

372 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

relief was advocated as a means of alleviating destitution, but in View of the condition of the city treasury, the editor ridiculed the proposal. [8] The necessity of importing corn from St. Louis drew the comment that "four years ago this was not uncommon, but it seems queer now."[9] The wry humor that has become almost proverbial on the Plains cropped out in the newspaper locals: The grasshoppers reappeared here in swarms on Wednesday. The object of their visit is not known, as there is nothing here to eat. John K. Wright said the other day (when things looked more hopeful than they do now) that he would have had 150 bushels of corn where he expected 2,000. [10]

But before the year was out, and despite the fact that neither man nor beast could eat them and they could not be used for fuel, Mother Nature made slight amends by contributing a second spring in 1874, and Robert McBratney's lilacs were in bloom in October. [11]

1875

With the encouragement of rains in September, 1874, an increased acreage of winter wheat was sown for the 1875 crop, and in spite of some grasshopper damage in the spring there was a big wheat and corn crop. The enforced shipments of hogs in 1874 resulted in a hog shortage in 1875 and corn was shipped as grain. Substantial shipments were made also of wheat and flour. [12] The harvest price of wheat was reported at $1.10, but there was complaint about corn prices. By mid-winter little corn had moved to market because of the 25-cent price, and called out the estimate, probably not fully warranted by facts, that if sufficient hogs had been available the corn farmer could have realized 60 cents. [13]

1876

During the spring of 1876 the wheat crop promised to be the largest ever grown in the state and central Kansas claimed to be "the wheat garden of the world," but the yield was reduced in June only a few days before harvest by worm damage so that threshing reports were disappointing. [14] The price for wheat in Abilene during the fall was 30 to 60 cents, but in October No. 3 wheat was re-

MALIN: SOFT WINTER WHEAT BOOM 373

ported at $1.10 per bushel. [15] The corn crop was good. A year-end summary of the season concluded that "the year 1876 will be remembered in most places as a year of hard times." [16] This was an unfortunate outcome for the prophets of the spring of 1876 who, after reviewing the days of Kansas Troubles, the Civil War, the panic, drought and grasshoppers, had predicted that Kansas was then opening an era of solid prosperity-Kansas had arrived. [17] For those who had not sold their wheat early there was good cheer to be derived from the fact that the European war ran up the price of wheat to $1.90 at Junction City in May, 1877, and much old wheat was sold at prices above $1.50, but the artificial price structure broke to about $1.00 by the time the new crop was ready. [18]

1877

On account of grasshoppers the outlook for winter wheat was discouraging during the fall of 1876 and much was resown, but in Saline county the acreage was reported as fifteen times the previous year. Drought, wind and dust prevailed in early winter, a snow covering not coming until late December, and despite contradictory reports from optimistic boomers, the wheat went into the winter in bad condition. [19] Serious grasshopper damage occurred again during the early spring of 1877 in addition to dry weather. May was wet and the wheat that had survived made a surprising recovery in spite of rust, the third-successive crop hazard. Corn was retarded but the disaster to winter wheat had resulted in a record corn acreage. The final summary for the year credited the region with a poor wheat crop, much not even being cut, and the corn which promised so well until late summer was so poor in Saline county that farmers had to buy corn before the next crop was grown 20 It was within this background that a newspaper reader must interpret such a paragraph as this: "Owners of corn-shellers in Kansas, this year, complain that their machines are compara-

374 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

tively useless, as the ears of corn are so big they cannot get them into the machines." [21]

1878

The season of 1878 was almost ideal and a record crop was grown despite rust damage .22 The early part of harvest was wet, but a dry period gave an opportunity to save the immense wheat crop although it damaged the corn . [23] New wheat Sold in Junction City in July at 60 to 65 cents for No. 2 and declined during August at Abilene to 55 to 58 cents, with still lower prices for the inferior grades. [24] The emphasis on low grades implied that much of the crop had been damaged. The newspapers reported that there was some corn to sell. [25]

1879

The season of 1879 was most unfavorable, drought and wind producing dust storms. [26] A large part of the winter wheat was plowed up and planted to corn, which optimists insisted promised a seventy- bushel crop. A wet summer prolonged the wheat harvest, and further damaged grain and reduced the yield to an admitted half crop or less. [27] In September the claim was made that early corn had made good, but it was admitted that late corn was almost a total failure. [28] Whatever may have been the truth about the yield of merchantable grain, the yield of tall stories was fully normal: During the blowing of the gentle zephyrs, on Monday evening, a corn stalk blew down on John Lamb's farm, striking a Mr. Banning who was passing by, and injuring him so badly that he will have to crutch it for a few weeks. Merely the tassel touched him, else the consequences might have been more severe. People should keep away from corn fields this growing weather. [29] The prices of grain fluctuated widely. In mid-July the spread was 50 to 75 cents between different grades. In the fall prices rose only to collapse 20 cents in one week to 80 cents, while at the same time corn sold for 18 cents. [30]

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1880

The drought continued through the wheat season of 1880, wind and dust storms ruining a large part of the crop. [31] One local correspondent wrote, "We are getting so dry that it is almost impossible for us to tell the truth." [32] Late in May rains came and the hope was expressed that some wheat might be saved. As usual under adversity the local papers were contradictory in their reports on conditions, boasting of every good field and putting the most hopeful appearance on a bad situation. [33] Much corn was planted on wheat ground, but drought and chinch bugs took their toll and in August corn was being cut for fodder. Not even the oldest settler could recall such a year. [34]

1881

To read only the current crop reports of the late winter and spring of 1880-1881 would be misleading when they ran "Wheat crops chuckling all over with laughter and buoyant with hope." [35] In the main the season of 1881 was a repetition of 1880, with drought, winter-killing, wind, chinch bugs and heat. Some corn was re- planted a third time on account of excess rain at planting time and then it was burned up by the scorching heat of summer. [36]

1882

The turn of the series of bad years came in 1882 with the most extravagant reports of wheat yields-47 bushels and 61 bushels on individual fields. [37] The corn crop was good, but not unusual.

1883

The season of 1883 was most favorable for both wheat and corn and they sold at fair prices, the most prosperous season up to then in the history of Dickinson county. [38]

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STATISTICAL SUMMARIES AND PROBLEMS

The wheat picture cannot be visualized clearly even with the aid of available statistical tables of acreages and yields, because the statistical methods of the time were inadequate and the data are unreliable. This applies to the figures of both the state and federal governments. It is necessary, nevertheless, to use such materials as a base, and supplement them with an analysis of samples that will provide some appreciation of the nature of their inadequacies and of the limits to their use. The first table gives the figures for wheat and corn in Kansas that have come to be accepted as standard and are labeled "harvested acres" in the case of wheat. This table does not distinguish winter from spring sorts, but in general it may be said that spring wheat was in the majority in early years, they were about evenly divided during the early 1870's, and by the 1880's spring wheat had largely disappeared, except in the north- west counties. Probably very little confidence can be placed in the data for the 1860's. There is much uncertainty regarding the methods of determining the data used in either the county or state figures after 1872 when the state board of agriculture began to function. Wheat and Corn, Kansas, 1862-1890 [39]

  WHEAT   CORN  
Year Acres Yield Acres Yield
1862 9,630 21.00 170,365 40.00
1863 16,434 16.00 193,597 44.00
1864 13,439 15.00 186,923 25.00
1865 12,768 15.00 163,463 41.00
1866 12,171 21.40 190,858 34.20
1867 89,285 14.00 211,373 88.60
1868 98,625 15.60 360,388 18.00
1869 151,351 18.50 506,198 48.40
1870 166,200 15.00 505,892 33.00
1871 169,433 15.90 617,325 40.00
1872 185,775 11.60 769,636 38.50
1873 309,286 14.00 1,202,046 39.10
1874 716,205 13.79 1,525,421 10.25
1875 743,206 17.77 1,932,861 48.80
1876 1,023,18 14.28 1,844,454 43.68
1877 1,063,99 13.45 2,563,112 40.38
1878 1,730,81 18.67 2,405,482 37.13
1879 1,932,79 10.63 2,995,070 36.29
1880 2,444,43 10.34 3,554,396 28.53
1881 2,182,87 9.38 4,171,554 19.33
1882 1,602,99 22.29 4,441,836 35.36
1883 1,569,30 19.25 4,653,170 39.14
1884 2,237,72 21.47 4,645,908 41.99
1885 1,290,54 8.34 6,266,034 83.67
  [[2,090,549] [5.15] [40]    
1886 1,758,39 8.29 5,802,018 24.05
1887 1,373,91 6.75 6,530,392 11.60
1888 1,120,11 14.93 6,993,207 24.13
1889 1,594,28 22.15 6,820,693 40.15
1890 2,321,11 12.40 5,755,691 8.84

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The report for 1873 stated clearly that the Statistics were taken by the county assessors beginning March, 1873, that they represented acreages, yields, and values of the crops planted and harvested in 1872, except winter wheat statistics which were for acre- ages on the ground in the spring of 1873, but the yields and Values were estimates compiled from county reports and market prices obtained from millers and wholesale dealers. This would seem to mean that the statistics in the report for 1873 were for the crops of 1872 except for winter wheat, which is for the crop harvested in 1873. If that is the meaning intended, then the data for the winter- wheat crop in the report for 1873 should be bracketed with the data for the spring crops to be found in the report for 1874 in order to put together what was actually harvested during the calendar year 1873. That is certainly not the practice in the use customarily made of Kansas agricultural data. With respect to the interpretation that the statistics represent harvested acres something needs be said. The explanation just referred to stated that the acres of winter wheat were those on the ground in the spring. The assessor's instructions specified March 1 as the base date for his work as assessor, but he might Visit the farmer any time during the following three months and the acres of winter wheat reported might be as of March 1 or of any time thereafter until the assessment rounds were completed. Even if the assumption is made that the acres reported were those on the ground at such indeterminate spring date, there were many hazards yet for the wheat crop to surmount before it was harvested; drought, hot winds of June, rust, chinch bugs and worm damage. The extent of winter-kill and other damage resulting in abandonment of wheat acreage was a matter of such contradiction and controversy that no informed person can argue seriously in favor of the accuracy of any set of figures. [41] One conclusion is inescapable, however, that al-

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though the annual abandonment varied from year to year, the aver- age was high and was higher than the formal printed records were willing to admit.

It was not often that the newspapers gave realistic figures for crop yields. The spirit of boom optimism did not permit such candor and anyone making a low estimate or a pessimistic prediction was almost certain to be branded a croaker. In good years specific figures were printed frequently claiming yields that sometimes seem fantastic. In bad years little was said usually of crops unless attention was called to some exceptional field. The reports of the state board of agriculture seem to have been based mostly upon harvested acres and there is reason to conclude that they were optimistic estimates. If they were reduced to an average on planted acres they would make different reading. Reports of realistic appearance were printed occasionally as in a case in 1880 where a country community reporter

MALIN: SOFT WINTER WHEAT BOOM 379

listed the yields of ten neighbors: 10; 5.5; 5.5; 6.5; 12.5; 9; 8; 12; 5.5; 6. This makes an unweighted average of 8 bushels, while the report of state board gave 11 bushels for the county. [42]

In 1881 one editor in Saline county disapproved claiming 20 to 30 bushels and getting 8 to 10, but thought that on the basis of conditions in May the county average should be 15. The report of the state board of agriculture at the end of the year gave 13 bushels. That same year a local reporter gave the yield of his neighbors at 15; 8; 5.5; 4.75; 4.5; or an unweighted average of 7.5 bushels. [43] It is quite possible, if not probable, that most of the reports of yields scale down on about that proportion if realistic statistics were avail- able. One complainant registered his protest against Kansas crop reports, insisting that in the last six years the Kansas average (excluding the western counties) was not over 12 bushels; that in 1881 an average of 15 bushels was claimed when the actual yield was about 9. [44] As it turned out the state board claimed only 9.38 that year. During this period the state board had averaged from 10.3 to 18.3 for the whole of the state. The quality of Kansas wheat during this wheat boom is not to be measured by the same standards as the hard winter wheats. The weights per bushel were compiled by J. McFarland, state statistical agent of the United States Department of Agriculture for the years 1876-1883, inclusive: Year Lbs. Per Measured Bushel [45]

1876 54.10
1877 53.63
1878 55.90
1879 54.64
1880 55.05
1881 53.40
1882 57.29
1883 53.09

The inferior quality of the crop was admitted on occasion, a large part of the Saline county wheat in 1879 being No. 4, and the most of the crop of 1880 being No. 3. [46] This is of more importance than is usually recognized, because the prices quoted in the press were often for No. 1 and even when lower grades were quoted there was seldom

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a hint as to what grades were actually delivered. Farm income could not be bolstered up by nominal quotations, and many of the farmers' price grievances of the period must have their explanation in low grade wheat.

SOIL FERTILITY AND STATISTICS

Before leaving the subject altogether, something should be said of crop yield statistics and the use made of them in discussions of depletion of soil fertility and of efficiency of agricultural practices. The analysis thus far has demonstrated the unreliability of the statistics of yields, and that actual yields were much below the accepted figures, and the disparity would be much wider if yields were based on planted acres. Statistics of yields in either case are not necessarily any index to soil fertility and provide no basis for comparison with later periods. The factors determining actual Variations in yields were not primarily fertility, but rather crop hazards, inefficient farm- ing and climatic conditions in relation to the lack of adaptation of varieties and cultural methods. The factor of soil fertility cannot be segregated from these other factors. The Varieties of wheat raised in the 1870's seem to have been developed with particular reference to high yields, rather than resistance to Western environmental hazards. The later hard varieties were developed with reference to the latter factors and an average good yield, as well as choice milling qualities. In these varieties, even the highest yields on new land, and under most favorable crop conditions, do not equal some of the spectacular yields claimed in the 1870's for the soft wheats. On the other hand their average yields, based upon planted acres over a period of years, are much more favorable than the soft wheats. Aside from the unknown factor of soil fertility there can be little question but that actual yields from planted acres in recent years are much above those of the 1870's. That much may be said of the combination of factors associated with adaptation as well as more efficient and intensive agriculture-and, for the sake of those who insist upon the soil-depletion argument, in spite of a possible decline in fertility.

FROM CORN BOOM TO WHEAT BOOM

The principal field crop competition was of two types-between corn and wheat and between cash grain crops and livestock. At the opening of the decade corn was still in the ascendancy in volume of production, was grown as a money crop in excess of the market demand, bringing ruinously low prices under the existing freight rate

MALIN: SOFT WINTER WHEAT BOOM 381

structure, and a further hazard was the critical marginal position of corn with relation to climate. Probably no contemporary stated the case better, except for the livestock interest, than the Rev. John A. Anderson, president of Kansas State Agricultural College, in his "Sketch of Kansas Agriculture" of 1875. [47]

As in most Western States, corn has been the leading crop; the statistics show that it is far from being either the most certain or the most profitable.
[These statistics say] "Don't put all your eggs in the corn basket; put most in the wheat basket, it is safer;" . . . Kansas farmers . . . are rapidly changing from the old theory that corn was the crop to the one already indicated.
Every State has its peculiar conditions of climate, soil and market; and no man in the world is surer to discover them, to adapt his work to them, than the practical American farmer . . . The variations in the fall of rain are apt to occur in those months when the wheat is out of danger, and when the corn is in danger.

The first reaction to the distress of the early 1870's was a clamor for diversification, [48] but the relative success with winter wheat during the mid-1870's brought "the wheat fever" which threatened "to spread all over the State, to the great detriment of other interests and of the commonwealth." The Manhattan Nationalist argued that in twenty years Riley county had never yielded three fair crops in succession, while west of Junction City there had been three crops and it was safe to assume that this would continue, but even at that; a mixed husbandry would be best in the long run because "a failure of the wheat crop would force all of the counties to the west of Davis [Geary] to resort to begging. With half the people it would be beg or starve, and it needs no argument to show that it is not safe for a whole community to run such risks." The article closed with a world wheat surplus argument, the competition of Hindustan which had gone into wheat production and the price collapse which would ensue. [49]

On December 1, 1876, the Abilene Chronicle took up the discussion on the argument that the speculative attitude was the cause of the farmer's troubles. When the price of a particular product was high, farmers rushed into producing that commodity; thus there had been successive speculations in cattle, wheat, sheep, hogs, broom-corn, etc. The editor advised diversification and the continuance with an adopted program long enough to secure results. Although the county was undoubtedly primarily a wheat county, the farmer

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should diversify by raising corn and hogs, thereby producing year- round employment and a failure of one would not necessarily mean a failure of all, and furthermore, the production of corn and hogs would not diminish the wheat acreage the individual farmer could handle. [50] The wheat boom spirit was the dominant note of the time, however, both for the region and for individual large producers who were written up as the wheat kings of their respective counties each with his hundreds or thousands of acres. [51] The wheat boom took the place of the corn boom and in the two western counties the phrase "Wheat is King" displaced "Corn is King." [52] The upper Kansas river Valley became "The Golden Belt." [53]

The wheat and corn acreages and yields by counties are given in separate tables from the official statistical sources and are subject to all the limitations already indicated. Riley county was conspicuously different from those farther west, and Geary [Davis] county was more nearly like Riley than like the two farther west. The large spring wheat acreage was a feature in Riley, and in both Riley and Geary counties the winter wheat acreage did not assume dominating proportions, corn remaining king. In the two western counties the corn acreage was by no means negligible, but winter wheat was king. The fluctuations in spring wheat acreage during the late 1870's are particularly interesting, especially in 1878 and 1879, and probably represents in large part the winter-kill of the fall planting, and if most of it was added to the winter wheat acreages, would represent more accurately than the official figures the area planted to winter wheat at the peak of the boom. Furthermore, if the yields were calculated on these larger figures the story would be conspicuously different and probably closer to the reality.

MALIN: SOFT WINTER WHEAT BOOM 383

Riley County [54]

<

  WINTER WHEAT     SPRING WHEAT C0RN  
Year Acres Yield Acres Yield Acres Yield
1872 2,512 14 2,339 15 14,033 ..
1873 2,512 .. 4,346 .. 9,041 ..
1874 3,264 15 6,985 8 12,593 2
1876 5,393 17 7,585 12 15,326 41
1876 4,640 16 6,528 12 17,787 40
1877 3,263 10 5,300 18 26,764 46
1878 4,249 22 10,262 13 25,424 40
1879 6,463 15 9,973 8 28,121 45
1880 5,860 12 4,282 10 30,691 32
1881 6,132 10 1,161 6 43,814 17
1882 4,524 24 1,801 15 52,203 50
1883 4,993 22 2,186 14 42,520 40
1884 8,215 24 1,174 15 42,891 43

Davis County [55]

  WINTER WHEAT   SPRING WHEAT   C0RN  
Year Acres Yield Acres Yield Acres Yield
1872 1,617 20 1,528 16 6,185 ..
1873 1,617 .. 2,818 .. 4,996 ..
1874 2,921 15 3,977 8.5 6,219 5
1875 5,012 18 2,504 12 7,893 40
1876 7,201 15 2,963 10 7,654 40
1877 7,910 10 1,546 8 11,118 42
1878 11,568 22 3,197 10 11,183 40
1879 12,744 11 2,636 5 14,991 32
1880 16,836 11 1,621 9 19,750 33
1881 12,478 7 858 5 23,932 16
1882 9,187 23 470 12 26,482 37
1883 9,571 22 112 13 38,260 28
1884 16,185 26 140 18 22,561 35

Dickinson County [56]

46

  WINTER WHEAT   SPRING WHEAT   C0RN  
Year Acres Yield Acres Yield Acres Yield
1872 5,687 15 2,639 13 9,099 ..
1873 5,627 .. 8,297 .. 10,951 ..
1874 15,030 18 9,300 13 12,720 5
1875 32,061 22 4,258 15 14,750 42
1875 36,061 32 4,258 15 14,750 42
1876 32,061 22 4,258 15 11,406 46
1878 76,395 22 19,203 8 30,197 40
1879 68,042 8 21,524 3 46,353 30
1880 101,303 12 3,011 10 76,238 28
1881 102,914 9 2,846 3 72,346 16
1882 78,909 26 3,390 12 72,784 38
1883 76,562 24 931 14 84,240 45
1884 107,212 24 452 13 87,327 48

Saline County [57]

  WINTER WHEAT   SPRING WHEAT   C0RN  
Year Acres Yield Acres Yield Acres Yield
1872 2,356 5 5,076 12 10,678 ..
1873 2,355 .. 4,571 .. 6,403 ..
1874 12,804 16 9,037 9 17,239 ..
1875 25,697 21 4,552 14 14,935 42
1876 32,651 16 4,196 10 14,111 40
1877 58,497 17 4,541 18 23,060 43
1878 67,740 23 10,992 10 23,416 36
1879 65,681 10 10,385 6 37,739 35
1880 89,918 11 1,455 7.5 45,710 20
1881 89,285 13 1,307 4 45,866 13
1882 70,540 26 1,483 15 55,247 30
1883 69,304 22 365 12 56,252 28
1884 93,858 22 119 15 46,699 39

384 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

On account of the difference in area of the four counties the total acreage in each crop does not bring out the full value of the data. The table giving winter wheat and corn acreages per square mile emphasizes more clearly the conclusions already pointed out. In these terms Saline and Dickinson counties were the first and third ranking wheat counties in the state in 1878, McPherson and Sedgwick holding second and fourth places. Geary and Riley were twenty-fifth and fifty-third respectively among the seventy counties then organized.

Winter Wheat and Corn Per Square Mile [58]

  1872   1875   1878   1880
County Wheat Corn Wheat Corn Wheat Corn Wheat Corn
Riley county (600 sq. mi.) 4.2 23.5 8.9 25.5 6.9 41.2 9.7 51.1
Geary (Davis) (407 sq. mi.) 4.0 15.2 12.3 19.4 28.4 27.5 41.3 48.5
Dickinson (851 sq. mi.) 6.7 10.7 37.8 17.3 89.8 36.5 119.0 89.8
Saline (720 sq. mi.) 3.3 14.8 4.5 20.7 94.1 32.5 124.9 63.5

The average winter wheat and corn planting programs for farms of each size-group in Buckeye township, lying north of Abilene, is presented in the accompanying table for the periods, 1875, 1880 and 1885. Not every small farm reported wheat, but practically every farm had corn. The wheat acreage on all sizes of farms reached its peak about 1880 and declined in 1885, while corn expansion continued through the decade. Although wheat commanded the greater acreage in 1875 and 1880, corn resumed the dominant acreage position in 1885 on all groups of farms except the section size. This is evidence that corn was still a contender for the crown in Dickinson county in 1885, while data from the preceding table indicated that corn was fully confirmed as king in 1880 in the two eastern counties. The controlling difference was the limestone hills which set off the two eastern counties as a part of the bluestem-pasture region, while the western residual soils higher up in the valley blend into sandy loams and constitute a part of the central Kansas wheat region. [59] This emphasis upon wheat in central Kansas should not be misleading, however, as regards the state as a whole. In the very years in which this regional boom was at its peak the state board of agriculture emphasized that "Corn stands at the head of the list of Kansas crops in acreage, product, and the extraordinary increase from year to year." [60]

MALIN: SOFT WINTER WHEAT BOOM 385

table of wheat and corn in Dickinson county

[ see the text table of winter wheat and corn in Dickinson county]

386 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

SEARCH FOR SUBSTITUTE CROPS

During the wheat boom the search for substitute crops persisted especially in the years adverse to wheat and corn near the beginning and end of the period, and was associated with wishful thinking about processing and manufacture of existing and prospective crops. One man suggested a corn starch factory, cannery, cheese factory, tannery, cotton mills, woolen mills, and paper mills. [62] During the same year, 1874, the village of Enterprise was utilizing its water power to operate a flour mill and was building a woolen mill as well as manufacturing Vinegar from sorghum syrup and barrels for packing its products. [63] Junction City had its cheese factory in 1875, Blue Rapids its paper mill in 1875, Abilene its packing plant and soap factory in 1879, and Junction City its packing plant in 1883 64 Among the more unusual crops included in the range of experimentation were silk, hemp, cotton, tobacco, and castor beans. [65] Flax had its advocates and proposals were made for a linseed oil mill. [66] Sorghum had been recognized in the 1860"s as peculiarly adapted to the climate and it provided syrup. Each drought period gave it added emphasis. [67] With the revival of the late 1870's the possibilities of sugar manufacture were featured. Five sugar mills were in operation in the state in 1881 and a general sugar boom was predicted. [68] In Marion county the White Water Sorgo Association discussed the merits of several varieties from the standpoint of syrup and sugar; the three most favorably considered were the Red Liberian, Early Amber and Chinese Sugar cane ("old black-top sorgo"), the last named being best except that it lodged and fell down when grown on a large scale. [69] Sorghum was being sown also for fodder, the practice being to plant in a manner similar to wheat and cut when the seed was in the dough stage.'ø Millet and Hungarian were endorsed by the farmers' institute in 1878 for hay in spite of the conviction that these crops depleted soil fertility and

MALIN: SOFT WINTER WHEAT BOOM 387

harbored chinch bugs. German millet was grown in Dickinson county in 1878, and Pearl millet in Saline county in 1880. By the latter date also, a rice corn boom was under way. [71] Broomcorn was raised rather extensively in the latter part of the decade, especially in the territory tributary to Salina, but by 1883 it was admitted that Salina had lost its prestige as a market. [72] Of the group of crops only the sorghum as a forage crop became a permanent part of the crop system.

The weather extremes of the decade disturbed the balance of nature in the insect and plant world. The severity of the drought was being discussed before a grasshopper invasion of August, 1874, a diarist pointing out that the summer drought and heat of 1874 were more severe than in 1860, but a counter argument was advanced that to mid-June, 1874, there had been abundant rain while the spring of 1860 had been dry as well as the summer. The drought had destroyed largely the summer-growing crops of 1874 before the grasshoppers came, and the grasshopper migration was itself a result of the drought. It is only in retrospect that an exaggerated emphasis has been placed upon the grasshopper who only finished off what was left. A committee conducted a survey in Dickinson county, receiving fifty replies to their questionnaire, the seventh question being: "In cases of need and privation to what do you ascribe the cause? State fully." The report on the question was that:

A very great range of answers are given. Eight say drought or dry weather; only four ascribe the difficulty to grasshoppers, and those but partially. The following are the terms embodied in the remaining replies: Indolence and want of management, lack of fore-thought, fast living, lack of Snap, shiftless- ness, no actual cases, relief from labor, extravagance, credit system, bonds and judgment notes, laziness, bad management, lack of elbow grease, lack of energy, bad whisky, not more than in an ordinary winter, privation very slim, there is none, not more than any winter, one case, sickness, no cases, lack of git up. [73]

The editor of the Junction City Union was conservative in his outlook and was carrying on a feud with John Davis of the Tribune, a professional reformer, but the Union, April 10, 1875, declared that "All Kansas needs is deeper plowing, and more of it, with less 're form."' Somewhat later, July 24, he declared that "John Davis

388 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

has about the poorest farm in the county. A good place to begin `reform."' During a period of distress, scarcely any commentator could be altogether objective in his valuations.

Continuance of grasshoppers brought much greater direct dam- age than the spectacular invasion of August, 1874. Particularly numerous in the fall of 1876, fall planted wheat was eaten off or planting was delayed with the result that the wheat went into the winter in bad condition to withstand the hazards of the season. A suggestion was made that a meeting should be called at which the old Settlers experienced in the hopper invasion of the late 1860's might exchange information for the benefit of all. [74] No one knew much about grasshopper controls, however, but many thought they did and every conceivable plan of carrying on the hopper war was resorted to in the spring of 1877, and numerous ingenious machines were built. There were some farmers who took a fatalistic view of the calamity and let nature take her course, and during the early stages of the infestation the press indulged in violent denunciations of all who did not participate in the efforts at extermination. The futility of the hysterical campaign brought a change, and the comment was made that a wheat field was cleared by birds: "We are not sure but faith is better than grasshopper machines." With respect to another field, the farmer lost his entire crop of twenty acres: "As fine a crop of young hoppers as anyone could wish as fat and pert as the best of them" on Sunday, but on Thursday all were dead. As the ground was covered with dead insects it was concluded the birds did not get them, the cause was unknown, but-

We have about come to the conclusion that the old settlers were aboutright in this hopper business, and knew what they were talking about, and that we new comers who have talked fight were off on our wrong foot. [75]

Probably it is wrong to say that the attitude of the old settlers was fatalistic. Possibly they only sensed, without having scientific proof, that in dealing With far-reaching extremes of climatic phenomena there was not much that man could do about it but hang on as best he could until Nature's cycle had changed direction and weather factors had restored the underlying balances among plants, animals and insects. Within certain. limits, however, there were cultural practices which might be discovered and observed that would not fight Nature, but rather, would adapt man's operations to

MALIN: SOFT WINTER WHEAT BOOM 389

fit with some degree of approximation into the restrictions Nature imposed.

The spectacular aspects of the grasshopper raids have diverted attention from the chinch bug which was currently rated as more widespread and serious in its ravages. [78] The principal breeding places for this pest were in late maturing spring wheat, and in millet and Hungarian grass. The unusual spring wheat crop of 1877 was the occasion for the special warning not to plant again. In 1879 there was another heavy infestation delaying the planting of winter wheat, and local papers campaigned for weed and grass burning around fields and against the planting of spring wheat and other breeding crops. The Marion Record declared that "the chinch bugs have done more damage this year than those exaggerated pests grasshoppers-ever did. . . . ." [77] Again in 1880, 1881, 1882, the chinch bugs were the subject of repeated complaint. [78] A local of 1880 is a gem of humor by means of inverse statement: "The chinch bugs are struggling with the corn crop." Of the three crop hazards, drought was most serious, chinch bugs were second, doing their damage in part independent of drought, and third were grasshoppers, always closely associated with drought cycles.

CULTURAL PRACTICES AND MACHINERY

In reviewing man's adaptations to environment the most conspicuous fact that stands out is the wide disparity between the best knowledge of what should be done and the common practices. During the period of beginnings of farming in the upper Kansas valley a number of basic practices were rather well recognized as necessary to success; early, deep plowing, both spring and fall, for corn and for wheat respectively, early planting of both crops, drilling of wheat east and west rather than broadcasting. The practice evidently fell far short of ideal. Each year comments can be found admonishing farmers that the experience of the current year had demonstrated the necessity of certain or all of these better practices; each year comments can be found recording that farmers were not going to be late with plowing and sowing this year, but the next year and the next, the same was repeated. There can be no statistical determination of how many did follow the practices recognized as best, or how many improved their performance each year

390 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

on the basis of experience, but there can be no doubt that in general improvement, however short of ideal, was more or less continuous. [79] There was little discussion in the papers of the exact requirements for good plowing or of the types of plows used. T. C. Henry used a 20-inch plow when he began operations in 1873. A formal discussion of plowing in a farmers' institute of the agricultural college January 16, 1878, brought out the consensus among leading farmers participating that deep plowing had limitations; sod-breaking should be about four inches deep; thereafter it was agreed that each year the land might be plowed an inch deeper until a maximum of eight inches was reached, this bringing up the subsoil gradually. A Dickinson county farmer "preferred a sixteen- or eighteen-inch plow to one that cuts less, from the fact that these fail to cover up the weeds and stubble." Marlatt of Riley county, used a sixteen-inch sulky plow pulled by three common horses. [80] This complete coverage of all trash and an excessive use of the harrow were not challenged during this period, but possibly the slovenly "pioneer farming" so frequently condemned was in this respect more of a virtue in windy Kansas than the good farmers were willing to concede. The most realistic but certainly an inadequate precaution to retard blowing was the admonition to harrow or drill east and west, leaving the ridging crosswise to the prevailing wind. There is no question that the tillage methods contributed to the annual dust Storms occurring in every dry year, to the blowing out of the ground root and all of wheat and corn, and to the conditions described so vividly in the locals:

Late sown wheat fields and corn fields that had the stalks raked off were robbed of about three inches of soil and drifted into the hedges and ravines like huge snow drifts. This should be a warning to farmers not to rake their field in winter or to do any fall plowing without seeding to wheat early. [81]

One woman estimated the dust fall in her house at 190 pounds from

MALIN: SOFT WINTER WHEAT BOOM 391

one storm and another report gave nearly an inch in several houses during a later storm. [82]

Plows were little discussed, but on occasion the merits of different types found their way into the papers if only as advertisements. In the spring of 1871 the leading implement firm of Junction City featured an assortment of plows listed as breaking, stirring, corn, sub-soil, double Michigan, road, grubbing and gang plows. [83] In 1872 a gang plow equipped with a three-horse equalizing evener was displayed at Wakefield. The observer reported that one man with this plow could do as much as two men, teams and plows. [84] More frequently gang plow advertisements showed two teams hitched tandem. In 1879 the grange store sponsored a competition between a Hapgood sulky 16-inch plow and a 14-inch walking plow, the draft being measured with a dynamometer, with the results certified in favor of the sulky, of course. [85] The Buckeye drill was advertised in Leavenworth in 1865, but the first drill advertisements in the upper Kansas Valley papers appeared in 1871 without the maker's name. In the mid-1870's the most widely advertised drill was the D. and H. Rentchlers' IXL hoe drill but later the Buckeye and Hoosier drills were popular. [86] Van Brunt seeders (not drills) were advertised also. They broadcasted the seed by machine. In 1877 the large-scale importation of drills was a feature of the season, the press recording receipts of dealers by the car load. By August 250 drills were unloaded at Abilene, 100 more were on the way, and at Solomon three to four carloads were received. [87] The competition was between two types, the hoe and the shoe devices for opening a furrow to receive the seed. The hoe drills were equipped either with wood break pins or spring trip to prevent breakage. Other brands of drills listed during the late 1870's were Dowagic, Lancaster, Triumph, Sucker State, McSherry, Eagle, Superior, Willoughby, Hagerstown and Farmers' Friend. [88] In 1877 the state board of agriculture attempted to compile information as to the use of the drill, but Dickinson and Saline counties did not report. Riley county reported 60 percent to 80 percent drilled and Geary (Davis) 75 percent to 90 percent drilled. [89]

392 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

The problem of plows and drills aroused much less interest during the wheat boom than harvesting machinery. In the early years the hand-rake or self-rake reapers and the Marsh type harvesters were in general use. The reaper delivered the cut grain in piles on the ground to be bound into bundles by men following the machine. Marsh type harvesters delivered it to a platform where a man riding the machine bound it by hand. In the early 1870's the Buckeye, McCormick, and Walter A. Wood's reapers were advertised in Junction City. [90] The self-rake device was featured by all these makers. By 1874 volume sales were emphasized in advertising, one firm announcing that by early June the fourth carload of reapers had been ordered. That firm sold the Buckeye, Wood and Marsh makes. [91] In 1875 it was announced that the Marsh harvester would be avail- able with a self-binder, although by mid-June a sample had not arrived but was expected in a few days. [92] In 1876 the announcement was made that 55 carloads of reapers and mowers would be distributed from Junction City that spring, and Marsh and Wood harvesters, with self-binders were featured in advertisements, the latter make being introduced for the first time. [93] By late June, 1877, four Salina firms were credited with sales of all classes of harvesting machines as follows: 65, 75, 40, 100. [94] These first self-binders used wire bands, but in 1877 a trial of a twine self-binder was announced, the device to be attached to a Beloit harvester. [95] Apparently the test was premature because the twine binders did not appear regularly until the Marsh gave farmers their choice in 1880, and the Wood and Osborne twine binders gave it competition the next year. [96] In the meantime the farmers in Salina territory, and much the same was true elsewhere, had seven makes of self-binders to choose from. [97] In 1879 only self-binders were advertised in the reaper-harvester class. The list of makes which appear in the newspapers of the four counties during this period included the Buckeye, Wood,

MALIN: SOFT WINTER WHEAT Boom 393

Marsh, McCormick, Osborn, Haines Illinois, Locke, Beloit, Adams and French, Deering, Minneapolis, Edwards, and Champion.

THE HEADER

Contrary to the traditions and the historians it was not the reapers, harvesters and binders that made wheat history on the Western prairie and plains. It was the header that should always be identified with the Plains region. In 1874 there were three headers in use in Saline county, and during that season one or more were sold in Dickinson county. [98] Evidence is not available when they were first introduced. The first identification of a header by make was the Haines Illinois Header, manufactured by P. Weyhrich, Pekin, Ill., and therefore frequently referred to by the maker's name. [99] Combinations by which one machine might serve two purposes appeared in 1876 when advertisements announced that Haines Harvesters and Harvester Kings might be equipped as headers. Under such an arrangement the machine would be started early as a harvester cutting relatively green wheat and later changed to a header when the wheat was dead ripe and shattered badly in handling, or it could be saved in this way when it was too short to bind into bundles. [100] However plausible the theory of combination machines might be, the idea did not take hold until later and then only as a binder attachment on the header as the basic machine.

Still later in the 1920's the mechanical power-driven combine was the union of the thresher and the header making a single machine. The Randolph header was the principal competitor of the Haines in the early days, the Abilene dealer claiming to have sold over 120 in 1877, but others were the Hodge and the Stickle, and the Lewis chain drive put in its appearance during the header boom. [101] The first year of volume header sales in the area seems to have been 1877. The advantages urged for the header in early years were that it did not have side draft, would cut over rough ground, cut a wider Swath, allowed direct stacking and saved a cent per bushel in thresh- ing operations. The one disadvantage admitted was the danger of

394 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

sweating in the stack. It is evident that these arguments were derived in part from use of the machine in humid regions, Illinois in particular, where it was early manufactured and used. In dry climate there need be little fear of sweating in the stack unless the wheat was thin on the ground and weedy in consequence. The compelling reasons for using the header were the necessity for speed in cutting the grain which ripened quickly in the dry climate and for which the wide swath was the answer, and the shortness of the wheat for which heading was the only solution. Cheaper operation and saving of hired labor operations were important where a money crop in contrast with subsistence farming was a necessity in farm operations.

In 1874 the wheat ripened suddenly on account of the drought and heat emphasizing in the early stages of the winter-wheat boom the true significance of the header. In 1877 the situation was somewhat similar and again attention was focused upon the header. The summer of 1879 had a wet harvest in spite of being rated a dry year, and drew the comment that "there will be a great deal of damaged wheat in market this fall, a great many put their wheat up with the header and put it up when wet, but we must all live and learn." [102]

Whatever mistakes have been made in the learning process, the dry years 1880, 1881, confirmed fully the dominant position of the header as the necessary Plains harvesting machine. The drought caused the wheat to head close to the ground, too short to bind, so the rush for headers began in May, 1880. Some wheat was reported to be so short that it was necessary to mow it. By the third week in May one firm in Salina had sold forty headers, another two car- loads in two weeks and the cry was for more. One dealer in Abilene sold fourteen in one week. As harvest time arrived farmers were reported frantic. At Lindsborg one report said that the constable had to be called to maintain order. In Salina, "several farmers watched the trains, and when a load came in there was difficulty in getting them up town to set up." From the Fairview neighborhood, field after field was reported to be dead ripe and no headers avail-able to cut them. One farmer Visited nine different header men but could get no one to harvest his wheat. He would just have to wait and hope. One farmer cut his field with an old self-rake reaper then picked up the bunches in a header barge and stacked them. He saved his wheat at the rate of six to eight acres per day instead

MALIN: SOFT WINTER WHEAT BOOM 395

some thirty acres if he had had a header. From Lyon's creek it was reported that a number of farmers turned their self-binders and harvesters into headers-typical examples of resourcefulness in devising home-made substitutes so characteristic of Plains farmers. [103] The next season a number of second-hand harvesters, with and with- out binders, were offered at half price or less, having cut only ten to thirty acres. [104] Toward the close of harvest in 1881 the remark was made that "Dickinson county would have a big elephant on her hands if she undertook to harvest her large fields of wheat without the aid of the header." [105] The minimum standard header crew for a 12-foot cut machine operating with two barges was four horses on the header and two each on the wagons, and if operating with one barge six horses were sufficient, the manpower being six in the first instance and three in the latter. The prevailing sizes of headers used by small farmers were probably 8-foot and 10-foot machines in these early years. The dealers' advertising emphasized that the 8-foot header could be pulled by two horses, and a rural correspondent contrasted the 6-foot binder with a 10-foot header for the same horsepower. [106]

The thresher problems did not present factors of such general interest as some other machines because the threshing was a custom operation. Horses provided the power for early threshers, but portable steam engines were mentioned in 1876 and 1877. Nichols and Shepard and Aultman-Taylor steam tractor-powered threshers attracted attention in 1883. The principal makes were J. I. Case, Nichols and Shepard Vibrators, Buffalo Pitts', Champion and Aultman-Taylor; the volume of sales rising with the wheat acreage, 45 machines being sold at Salina alone in 1882. [107]

The possibilities of mechanical power for farm equipment had long intrigued the imagination. With the advent of the wire self- binder in 1876, E. W. Hoch saw it at work, the operator riding under the protection of a canvas cover, and was inspired to write a review of the evolution of harvesting machinery; the reaping hook, the cradle, the reaper, the harvester, and finally the self-binder. These represented the past, but in the future "will not steam, or

396 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

perchance Keeler's motor, propell the ideal machine of the future, and deliver sacks of grain where it now deposits bundles?" [108] The wheat boom induced an experiment with a steam plow. Credited with being the first to be introduced into Kansas it was built and shipped from Kokomo, Ind., June 12, to R. Huncheon in the upper Kansas valley. The claim was made that it would plow one acre per hour and would operate day and night:

The revolutions which steam has wrought in transportation, both by water and land, in the utilization of our timber, iron, cotton, etc., is really the history of the growth and development of our country; and now that it grapples with the soil itself, we may reasonably expect results as marked as follow its use in other fields. [109]

This anticipation of the era of power farming is interesting, but not important, as the evolution of mechanical efficiency required still another half-century for success.

THE LISTER

The one and only important new tillage implement introduced during this period was associated with corn production, the lister. It might be described as a double plow having a divided moldboard, splitting the slice and turning half each way. Furrows, usually fourteen inches wide plowed at a distance of 42 inches from center to center left the soil ridged between. Corn was planted (drilled) in the bottom of the furrow and cultivation was accomplished by cutting down the ridge gradually, throwing the dirt around the growing corn. In early usage, the grain was sometimes planted by a separate operation, or the drilling attachment might be built on the machine and the whole process be accomplished at one operation. In View of the importance of the new tool, it should be noted that its introduction was unannounced, its presence was discussed in the press only after it had been used for some years. Prof. E. M. Shelton of the Kansas State Agricultural College remarked in the spring of 1881 that listers had been in use in that section for two or three years, which meant the first machines had been introduced about 1878 or 1879.

On occasion of a trip from Manhattan to Topeka he reported his observations that between Topeka and Silver Lake a large proportion of the fields were listed. When asked for a description of the lister Shelton summarized the advantages to be reduction of cost to one-fourth or one-third of other methods, increased yield and

MALIN: SOFT WINTER WHEAT BOOM 397

greater resistance to dry weather. And to meet another kind of criticism so often directed at listing corn, he insisted that it was not necessarily a bad or shiftless method just because it involved little labor. [110]

In 1882 reports favorable to listing came from Saline and Dickinson counties, good results and cheaper."" The experience of a Brown county user was reprinted in the Chronicle. He preferred the lister with the drill separate. The lister was pulled with three horses on an evener that permitted the outside horse to walk in the furrow. He drilled immediately after listing. The method of cultivation was to harrow the ridges, driving the horses on the ridges. The sections of the harrow were fastened to a plank to prevent them from dipping into the furrow. When the harrow no longer served the purpose he used a four-shovel cultivator, attaching an inverted trough-shaped guard made of two boards to prevent covering the small corn. [112]

In different parts of the state and in different types of soil the lister was used, with conflicting reports of results, but out of the exchanges a few additional principles emerged: The lister worked well in sandy, porous and well-drained soil; in dry years the corn being rooted in the bottom of the furrow resistance to drought was definitely in its favor; weed seeds were thrown away from the planted corn, making it easier to keep clean. The ridge, crosswise to the prevailing south wind, protected the tender plants and resisted blowing of the soil. [113]

The most serious handicap to the use of the lister was that no tool was available which was adapted especially to the cultivation and leveling of listed ground. A lister cultivator was exhibited at the state fair in 1883 and in 1886 reference was made to the patenting of a sled for the purpose. This sled consisted of two runners five feet long made of 2" x 6" lumber and set at the width of the furrow. To the rear end mounted on a crossbar were two curved knives set with 'a forward pitch to throw the dirt toward the furrow, and a second pair of knives as fastened to the outside of the runners in such a position as to cut the weeds growing on the shoulders of the ridge. Of course the driver rode on a seat at the

398 KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

rear of the sled, adding weight to force the knives into the ground. [114] Thus far the lister was used only for corn, but once the Plains farmer had become fully acquainted with this method of soil till- age it was only a matter of time until experiments were made with it for wheat culture.

(Part II to be Published in the February Issue)

Notes

1. This is a part of a larger research project, "The Adaptation of Population and Agriculture to Prairie-Plains Environment," for which the author has received financial assistance from the Social science Research Council, New York, and from the Graduate Research Fund of the University of- Kansas. The article will appear in three installments.
2. Further information is now at hand with respect to the first winter wheat raised in Geary (Davis) county. The Junction City Union, August 16, 1873, stated that Jesse Spencer planted the first wheat on Humboldt creek, two acres in 1856, but no distinction was made whether it was a winter or spring variety. This is the source of the statement in the article on beginnings, The Kansas Historical Quarterly, v. X (August, 1941), pp. 231, 232. The same paper for October 20, 1883, denied the story relating to Spencer and stated that in August, 1855, Joseph Beavers (Illinois) bought twenty bushels of wheat from the Delaware Indians which he sowed that fall. He harvested it with a cradle in 1856, according to this version, sowed part of the crop in the fall of 1856 and took part to Manhattan to be chopped for use.
3. Abilene Chronicle, July 11, 1872; Junction City Union, March 29, 1873.
4. Ibid., July 12, August 16, 23, 1873.
5. Prices at Junction City were quoted in ibid.:
November $2 December 27, 1873
Spring wheat 55-65 cents 85-95 cents
Winter wheat 80-100 110-125
Oats 20 25
Corn 25-30 30-35
6. Ibid., July 4, 1874.
7. Grasshoppers, many settlers on their way East, The Nationalist, Manhattan, August 7, 14, 1874; Junction City Union, August 15, 1874; prices, ibid., September 12, November 7, 1874; cash and fires, ibid., August 1, 8, 1874.
8. Ibid., August 22, 1874.
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid., August 15, 1874.
11. Ibid., October 3, 1874.
12. Ibid., September 12, 19, October 3, 1874; April 10, 1875; January 8, February 26, April 1, May 6, 20, July 1, 1876.
13. Ibid., August 7, 1875; January 8, 1876.
14. Abilene Chronicle, April 28, June 16, July 21, 1876; Salina Herald, April 15, June 10, 17, July 8, 29, August 19, 1876; Junction City Union, June 17, July 1, 1876.
15. Salina Herald, September 16, 1876; Junction City Union, October 28, 1876; Abilene Chronicle, January 19, 1877.
16. Ibid., January 12, 1877.
17. Atchison Champion reprinted with approval in The Industrialist, Manhattan, April 29, 1876. The Industrialist was the paper conducted and published by the faculty of the Kansas State Agricultural College.
18. Junction City Union, May 5, 1877; Abilene Chronicle, May 4, June 8, 15, 22, 29, July 13, 20, 1877.
19. Junction City Union, September 2, 23, October 21, 1876; Salina Herald, September 16, October 28, 1876; Abilene Chronicle, October 27, November 10, December 8, 29, 1876. A rural meeting in northern Dickinson county debated and voted their convictions that the grass- hoppers were a visitation of God as punishment.-Ibid., December 1, 1876.
20. Ibid., April 27, May 4, 11, 18, June 8, July 27, August 3, 1877; Salina Herald, May 26, 1877; Enterprise Kansas Gazette, July 13, 1877, reported less than half a crop.
21. Salina Herald, December 8, 1877.
22. Ibid., September 1, 8, 15, 22, October 6, 1877; Abilene Chronicle, January 4, February 1, April 5, June 7, 28, 1878; The Nationalist, Manhattan, March 22, 1878; Junction City Union, May 25, 1878.
23. Abilene Chronicle, July 5, August 9, 1878; May 16, 1879; Salina Herald, May 24, 1879.
24. Abilene Chronicle, June 28, 1878; Junction City Union, July 20, August 3, 10, 1878.
25. Salina Herald, May 24, 1879.
26. Ibid., March 1, 8, 15, 29, April 12, 19, 1879.
27. The Nationalist, Manhattan, April 25, 1879; Abilene Chronicle, May 9, 30, July 25, August 1, 1879; Salina Herald, August 30, 1879; Junction City Union, June 21, 1879.
28. Ibid., September 6, 1879.
29. Abilene Gazette, August 1, 1879.
30. Ibid., July 18, 1879; Abilene Chronicle, October 31, 1879.
31. Salina Herald, September 6, 13, 1879; January 24, 31, March 6, 27, April 24, 1880; Abilene Chronicle, March 5, 12, 19, April 9, 23, 30, 1880; The Nationalist, Manhattan, April 16, 1880.
32. Salina Herald, May 1, 1880, Poheta items.
33. The Nationalist, Manhattan, May 27, June 3, July 1, 1880; Abilene Chronicle, May 28, July 2, 16, 30, 1880.
34. The Nationalist Manhattan, April 30, June 24, August 5, September 30, 1880; Abilene Chronicle, May 7, August 6, December 24, 1880; Salina Herald, August 7, 14, 28, 1880.
35. Junction City Union, January 22, 1881, and other optimistic reports November 27, 1880 May 7, 1881; Salina Herald, October 30, 1880.
36. Abilene Chronicle, August 26, 1881, "Our Prospects," an article reviewing the whole season. 1882 The latter figure was challenged by the Salina Herald
37. Ibid., July 28, August 25,, August 24, 1882. The Herald, July 27, boasted, however, that the crop was the largest and best since 1878.
38. Abilene Chronicle, September 21, 1883; January 4, 1884.
39. Eleventh Biennial Report of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture . . . 1897 and 1898 (Topeka, 1899), pp. 752, 753.
40. The bracketed figures for wheat acres and yield in 1885 are from "Wheat in Kansas," p. 7, in Report of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture for the Quarter Ending September, 1920 (Topeka, 1921). see Footnote 41 for explanation. These figures are probably more nearly correct.
41. In 1877 the Kansas City (Mo.) Journal reported heavy winter-kill and grasshopper damage in Dickinson county, estimating the condition as of early May at probably half a crop. The Abilene Chronicle, May 18, 1877, replied vehemently that winter-kill did not exceed 5% and hopper damage 1%, and that the yield would be 25% more than ever before. By July 13, the Enterprise Gazette reported from Chapman creek that possibly as much as a thousand acres in Noble township was not worth cutting, and not less than two thousand in Sherman township would be abandoned. In January, 1878, T. C. Henry indicated in his farmers" institute address that he disapproved spring wheat except to replace winter wheat but admitted he would plant 1,000 acres in 1878. Probably this meant over 25% winter-kill. (Abilene Chronicle, February 1, 1878.) In the "Golden Belt" article of 1877 he was credited with 300 acres of spring wheat as well as 700 acres of other spring crops and 3,000 acres of winter wheat. This might mean a 10% winter-kill or more. (Ibid.. July 6, 1877.) Wheat abandoned in Jefferson and Ridge townships was reported at one-half to three-fourths, which was being planted to corn. (Ibid., May 28, 1880.) In 1880 the Leavenworth Times and the Kansas City (Mo.) Journal both reported the wheat crop in Dickinson county very poor as the result of winter-kill and drought. The Gazette admitted that some farmers of the county criticised the editor for not telling the people frankly that the wheat crop was a failure. The method of defense used was to list leading farms by name and describe the condition of the crop, admitting that at an earlier date some of the fields seemed to be a failure, but that they had recovered, the yields estimated on the samples under review ranged from 8 to 20 bushels. By way of summary and conclusion, the editor declared that a crop of 8 to 10 bushels was not a failure. In 1881 the abandoned acreage was given by the Abilene Chronicle, June 24, as 5.6% based on the county clerk's figures-assessors' data. The planted acres were given as 108,997 and the abandoned acres at 6,083 leaving the remaining acres at 102,914.
Comparison with the report of the state board for 1881, shows the last figure is the one given there. Even here it is not clear whether the Chronicle figures were for the winter wheat acres actually harvested or the acres on the ground in the spring. In Marion county the state board figures were stated to be planted acres. (Marion Record, July 13, 1877.) There seems to be no method of determining the practice.
Other difficulties are met in later years, however, showing that there was no consistency of practice. Thus, the Fifth and Sixth Biennial Reports of the state board of agriculture give the following set of figures for the state wheat acreage for the years 1885-1888, inclusive: 1,140,284; 1,065,935; 813,495; 977,545. The Seventh Biennial Report gave for the first time the revised figures found in the accompanying table but offered no explanation of the procedure by which they were arrived at. Analysis of the figures indicates the probable procedure. For these years an attempt was made to secure planted and harvested acres and such figures were printed, but with typographical errors. The revised figures of the formal table are secured by assuming an error in the planted acres as originally reported in the Fifth Biennial Report so that the figures read 1,199,723 instead of 1,999,723 and then adding the. spring wheat acres to the corrected planted acres. The figures for 1886 can be taken as printed, so the simple addition of planted winter wheat acres and spring wheat acres gives the revised total. The figures given in the current biennial reports had been arrived at by adding harvested acres of winter wheat to spring wheat. The figure for 1885 given in the volume "wheat in Kansas," p. 7, was arrived at by using the planted acres figure of 1,999,723 instead of 1,199,723. In conclusion, therefore, in state board wheat tables the figures given for the years covered by this paragraph are planted acres, not harvested acres as the explanations accompanying those tables indicate, In the four counties included in this article the extent of the abandoned acreages as indicated by the state board figures for the first years for which they were published may serve as a warning as well as a measuring stick for earlier years.

Year Planted Harvested Yield Percentage Change Year Planted Harvested Yield Percentage
Riley 1885 10,709* 6,452 7.2 12T- D> 1886 10,709* 2,008 2.0 11
Geary (Davis) 1885 19,556 6,845 2.1 6- 1886 10,660 2,132 2.2 11
Dickinson 1885 98,152 39,539 2.0 5 1886 57,372 14,343 3.8 15
Saline 1885 91,517 22,458 1.2 5 1886 70,975 28,390 6.3 16

*There is no explanation why the figures for these two years are identical
In the county-crop tables as compiled for earlier years from the reports of the state board, theyield figures are most certainly based upon harvested acres, otherwise they would be much lower
Still another example of divergence of figures appeared in the Atchison Gazette, May 28, 1880, which gave the acres sown in 1878 (1879 crop) at 74,449, and in 1879 (1880 crop) at 97,000. The first figure is 6,000 acres higher and the second 4,000 acres lower than the figures in the table. (Second Biennial Report of the State Board of Agriculture. . .)
42. Salina Herald, August 14, 1880.
43. Ibid., July 16, 1881, Poheta items. 44. Abilene Chronicle, September 16, 1881, from the Kansas Farmer.
45. Junction City Union, December 1,
1883; The Daily Kansas Herald, Lawrence, December 8, 1883.-Compiled from reports of millers in Topeka, Kansas City, Atchison and Fort Scott, and from growers.
46. Salina Herald, August 7, 1880.
47. Fourth Annual Report of the State Board of Agriculture . . . 1875, pp. 18-38.
48. Abilene Chronicle, January 16, 1873.
49. The Nationalist, Manhattan, May 26, 1876.
50. A similar recommendation appeared in a letter of T. Dunlap to the editor of the Abilene Chronicle, May 18, 1877.
51. Salina Herald, March 31, 1877, from the Paola Western Spirit and from the Morris County Republican, Council Grove; ibid., May 19, 1877; Wichita Eagle, May 24, 1877, claiming that next to T. C. Henry, Abilene, C. R. Miller, Sedgwick county, was the largest wheat grower in Kansas; Abilene Chronicle, June 21, 1878, a 3,000-acre wheat field; Lawrence Daily Journal, November 5, 1879.
52. Abilene Chronicle, October 18, 1878; May 7, 1880.
53. Ibid., July 6, August 10, 1877; Salina Herald, August 11, 1877.
54. Compiled from Reports of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture.
55. Ibid.
56. Ibid.
57. Ibid.
58. Computed by the author from statistical data in ibid.
59. James C. Malin, "An Introduction to the History of the Bluestem-Pasture Region of Kansas," The Kansas Historical Quarterly, v. XI, pp. 3-28.
60. Monthly Reports of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture . . . August-October 1877, p. 15.
62. Junction City Union, May 2, 1874.
63. Ibid., May 9, 1874.
64. Ibid., May 15, July 3, 1875; November 17, December 15, 1883; October 3, 17, 23, 1885 , Abilene Chronicle, September 19, 1879.
65. Junction City Union, July-August (silk culture), July 22, 1876 (hemp); Abilene Chronicle, September 7, 1877 (castor beans); First Biennial Report of the State Board of Agriculture . . 1877-'78. The acreage of each crop 1872-1878, inclusive, for each county is printed.
66. Herald, September 25, 1880; The Nationalist, Manhattan, April 21, 1881.
67. Ibid., October 4, 1873; Salina Herald, September 25, 1880; The Nationalist, April 21, 1881
68. Junction City Union, December 31, 1881; The Industrialist, Manhattan, December 8, 1883.
69. Marion County Record, Marion, January 30, 1880.
70. The Industrialist, Manhattan, May 31, 1884.
71. The Nationalist, Manhattan, January 25, 1878; Abilene Chronicle, January 17, 1879; Salina Herald, February 7, 1880 (Pearl millet was also known as cat-tail, Japan, or Horse millet, or African cane); Abilene Chronicle, May 7, 1880 (rice corn).
72. Salina Herald, August 12, October 28, 1876; November 17, December 1, 8, 1877; August 17, 1878; August 31, 1882; October 25, 1883.
73. Junction City Union, March 27, 1875, from the Abilene Chronicle.
74. Abilene Chronicle, November 10, 1876. 76. Ibid., May 4, 1877. 76. Monthly Reports of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture . . . August, September, and October, 1877, p. 13.
77. Abilene Chronicle, September 12, 1879; The Marion County Record, Marion, August 12, 1881.
78. The Nationalist, Manhattan, June 24, August 6, 1880; June 80, 1881; Salina Herald. August 18, 1881; Abilene Chronicle, May 12, 26, 1882.
79. Go ahead and plant as though you never saw a hopper, Junction City Union, September 23, 1876; late sowing and wind damage, Abilene Chronicle, October 27, 1876; drill wheat, Salina Herald, February 24, 1877; drilled wheat worth twice as much as broadcast, Abilene Chronicle, May 18, 1877; properly seeded wheat never fails, Salina Herald, May 19, 1877; seeding at the right time, Abilene Chronicle, June 8, 1877; drill east and west, Junction City Tribune, July 19, 1877; proven by experience that wheat should be put in in season, Abilene Chronicle, July 20, 1877; deep plowing and drought, The Nationalist, Manhattan, January 25, 1878; plow and sow on time, Salina Herald, July 20, 1878; many planted late, ibid., November 16, 1878; plowing early, not to be caught this year, Abilene Chronicle, June 27, 1879; wide range of yields, plow early, Abilene Gazette, June 6, 1879; no two failures in succession, plant early east and west, ibid., August 22, 1879; late corn almost a total failure, Junction City Union, September 6, 1879; sowing early to profit by last year's experience, Salina Herald, September 20, 1879; sowing completed, ibid., September 20, 1879; late sown wheat poor, ibid., January 31, 1880; late sown wheat coming up, Junction City Union, March 6, 1880; value of early plowing and sowing demonstrated, Abilene Chronicle, March 12, 1880; plow early not too deep, ibid., June 25, 1880; plowing mostly done, Salina Herald, August 14, 1880; deep plowing for corn not approved, ibid., April 6, 1882.
80. The Nationalist, Manhattan, January 25, 1878.
81. Abilene Chronicle, April 9, 1880.
82. The Nationalist, Manhattan, April 23, 1580, Ogden items; Salina Herald, April 24, 1.S80, Poheta items.
83. Junction City Union, March 11, 1871.
84. Ibid., April 13, 1872.
85. Ibid., August 9, 1879.
86. Ibid., May 15, 1875; July 29, 1876; Salina Herald, May 13, 1876.
87. Abilene Chronicle, July 20, August 10, October 26, 1877.
88. Ibid., August 10, October 26, 1877; August 1, 1879; Abilene Gazette, June 28, August 23, 1878; Junction City Union, September 7, 1878; September 6, 1879.
89. Monthly Reports of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture . . . November and December, 1877, pp. 17-23.
90. Junction City Union, July 15, 1871; April 13, 1872; May 24, June 14, ,1873. When these machines first were used in this vicinity is not known, but the sale was not sufficient apparently to induce the dealers to advertise much at an earlier date. At St. Mary's mission McCormick and other leading makes of tools were used even prior to the organization of Kansas.
91. Junction City Union, June 13, 1874.
92. Ibid., May 15, June 12, 1875.
93. Ibid.. April 29, June 10, 1876; Abilene Chronicle, July 14, 1876, June 1, 1877. The McCormick self-binder was advertised for sale in Abilene in the spring of 1876 and was demonstrated at Wichita, in June, 1876. Ibid., April 21, 1876; June 8, 1877, testimonial on Wichita demonstration.
94. Salina Herald, June 23, 1877.
95. Ibid.,
96. Abilene Chronicle, April 2, 1880; May 20, 1881; The Nationalist, Manhattan, May 19, 1881; Junction City Union, June 4, 1881. The Deering was first mentioned in 1882, ibid., July 1, 1882. 97. Salina Herald, June 1, 1878.
98. Western Home Journal, Lawrence, July 16, 1874, a report from Saline county. Junction City Union, June 20, 1874, a report from Dickinson county. The leading jobbing house in Atchison had been selling Haines headers in Kansas for some years.-Atchison Weekly Champion and Press, January 14, 1871.
99. Junction City Union, June 10, 1876; Abilene Chronicle, June 8, 29, 1877; May 10, 1878, referring to sales there years earlier; April 2, 1880; T. C. Henry, 'The Story of a Fenceless Winter-Wheat Field," The Kansas Historical Collections, v. IX, pp. 502-506.
100. Junction City Union, June 10, 1876; Salina Herald, July 7, 1877. An illustration of the Marsh Harvester Header is found in the Newton Kansan, May 26, 1876.
101 Abilene Chronicle, June 29, 1877; May 20, 1881; May 9, 1884; Junction City Union, June 15, 1878; May 28, 1881; July 1, 1882.
102. Abilene Chronicle, June 27, July 18, 1879, "Aroma Items."
103. Ibid., May 28, June 4, 18, 25, July 2, 1880; Salina Herald, May 22, June 19, 26, 1880; Junction City Union, June 19, 1880.
104. Abilene Gazette, June 10, 1881.
105. Abilene Chronicle, July 15, 1881.
106. Salina County Journal, Salina, May 22, 1879; McPherson Independent, February 7, 188 3.
107. Junction City Union, June 3, 10, 1876; May 20, 1882; Salina Herald, January 20, June 16, July 14, 1877; August 3, 1882; Abilene Chronicle, July 13, 1877; June 21, 1878; June 29, July 13, 1883.
108. The Marion County Record, Marion Centre, June 30, 1870.
109. Junction City Union, June 23, 1877, from the Kansas City (Mo.) Times.
110. The Industrialist, Manhattan, May 14, June 4, 1881.
111. Salina Herald, January 21, 1882; Abilene Chronicle, April 7, 1882.
112. Ibid.
113. Kansas City (Mo.) Live-stock Indicator, May 3, December 27, 1888; March 11, 18, 25, April 8, 15, 1888; February 24, 1887; Report of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture, for the Quarter Ending March 31, 1887, pp. 24, 25, 27-29.
114. Kansas City (Mo.) Live-Stock Indicator, April 15, 1886.