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By December 15th,
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WILMER ATKINSON CO.
Publishers Farm Journal
in planting seed and then gathering the harvest when the crop ripened of itself, have gone West or moved to the country to try their hand at it. In the language of the neighboring farmers, “they have cut quite a spludge” for a time, but have either failed completely or sold out for whatever they could get.
TIRED AND RETIRED FARMERS.
And yet the corn belt is probably the most prosperous agricultural region of any considerable size in the world, but success requires great industry and a degree of knowledge that comes only from experience. In the East, esecially in New England, where farming is not prosperous and the cities furnish better opportunities for men of capacity, it happens that the best men are drawn from the country to the city, leaving, as a rule, only the less competent to people the country districts. That is why there has been so much discussion during the last year or two over the degeneracy of the farming regions.
But in the corn belt the conditions are quite reversed; the best opportunities are furnished by the farms, and one of the most striking facts that one observes on a tour of this kind is the manifest superiority of the
average farmer, physically, intellectually and morally, to the average dweller in the towns of that region. With the exception of the retired farmers, who make un a fair proportion of the population of the country towns and sinall cities of the West, the bulk of the population seems to be made up of people who are not fit to make good farmers. Even some of the so-called retired farmers have retired not because they have accumulated a competence, but because they were unable to make farming pay or because they have found the work too hard. They have moved to town, where their wives keep boarders while they loaf around the stores. For this reason there is a sharp distinction made between "tired" and "retired" farmers. The hotels and livery stables also are generally kept by this class of tired farmers.
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roofed house being drawn into town on trucks. When asked for an explanation, she replied that the farmers were building themselves new houses and selling their old houses to people in town. “About half the houses in this town,' she asserted, “have been moved in from the country in this manner. Oh, the farmers are the aristocrats here!"
A LAND OF PLENTY.
the organs of the leading political parties, but which really seem to be published for the purpose of apologizing for their own existence. The manual labor which is done about such towns is almost invariably done by men who are not fit for farm hands. Sn" ? are so profaue and obscene in -- language that a decent farmer would not have them around, but they will work as section hands on the railroad for less wages than farm hands get, and loaf about the depot and the streets at night, play Sunday baseball, and have other similar enjoyments not usually open to the farm hand. Even a good deal of the mercantile business is carried on by men who do not show a degree of intelligence at all comparable to that of the average farmer. And in more than one State capital the ramshackle street-railway system does not show in its management a degree of executive capacity much superior to that of the average farm hand.
Nothing better illustrates the superior advantages of farm over town life than the class of houses one finds. “There, now!” exclaimed a lady in a small Kansas town, "there comes another farmhouse into town.” As she spoke she was looking at a small, one-story, square
A housekeeper of an eastern city who has learned to calculate with some degree of precision upon the capacity of the various stomachs to be filled, and whose table is provided on the basis of these calculations, is at first shocked at the apparent extravagance of the western housewives in table supplies; but upon a closer acquaintance she simply finds that she has reached the land of plenty.
I remember one Sunday dinner of which I was privileged to partake. Another family had been invited home to dinner after church, making a total of twelve persons.
There was roast beef, bought in town the day before, as special treat. As a commonplace there
a hugh pyramid of fried chicken. As many as four fair-sized spring chickens must have been sacrificed for the
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feast. There were mashed potatoes and gravy, bread, butter, coffee and tea, with real cream, besides milk for the children; there were several kinds of jam and preserves, with which one was expected to use cream; there was unlimited pie and two mountainous cakes, evidently the pride of the housewife. And to crown it all, there was a freezerful of ice-cream, of such dimensions that no one, not even two growing boys from ten to twelve years of age, needed to feel any apprehension of the supply running short. Though this is only a single instance, I
One hears a great deal of shockingly bad grammar in the corn country, but correct speech is really a matter of conventionality, and a farmer's success does not depend upon his observance of conventionalities. On the other hand, there are certain things which he must know, and which no amount of suavity or grace or good form will enable him to dispense with. He is dealing with nature rather than with men, and nature cannot be deluded by a pleasant front nor a smooth tongue. One must not be hasty in forming conclusions as to the farmer's intelli
assure the reader that it is by no means an isolated one. Of course, this superabundance and the high quality of the cooking at this farmhouse are not universally maintained. But wherever in the corn belt you find native Americans, especially of the Hoosier type (those of New England are, as a rule, somewhat better cooks, but somewhat less prodigal of material), Germans or Swedes, who are generally good “feeders”! —though the cooking is not always suited to the fastidious palate of the native American -you will find the table abundantly provided.
gence on the basis of his clothes, his knowledge of the forms of polite society, nor even his use of grammar. sistently does one hear certain mistakes repeated, such as “It is me,
""I done well on that trade,' “I would have went to town if it hadn't rained,' that one wonders whether the western country is not developing a grammar of its own.
FAMILY AND SOCIAL LIFE IN THE CORN
BELT. The injudicious and uncritical discussion of such inapt expressions as race suicide lead me to observe somewhat
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carefully the tendency among the farmers. Though the average family is somewhat larger than that of the well-to-do urbanite, there is a manifest decline even in the country districts. Families of four or five children among the native Americans are quite common, but one almost never finds such patriarchal families of ten and twelve children as were common in the days of our grandfathers. The most conspicuous case of this kind that I saw was a family of eight children belonging to Iowa farmer. The mother, who is still slightly
the sunny side of forty, was daughter of a well-to-do farmer and had an excellent schooling” for the time and place. She was a country schoolma'am at the age of eighteen, and also gave music lessons to a few children in the community. She spent one year at a small western college, but was married at the age of twenty-two to a young farmer who was living on a rented farm and whose only capital consisted of his team and farming implements. She has raised or is raising her eight children; they have bought a farm of 160 acres, which is now paid for; they have a comfortable house; and they are just beginning to feel in easy circumstances.
The long, hard struggle through which they have gone has in no way embittered their dispositions. They are active in church work; the mother teaches a class in Sunday-school; and the eldest daughter, seventeen years of age, is the organist. The children were unusually bright and healthy, and the mother insists that some way must be found to send them all through college, and I have little doubt that they will succeed. The husband is a hard-working man of kindly disposition, but considerably her inferior in mental and social endowments, of which fact, however, both seemed utterly oblivious.
One form of social diversion common throughout the corn belt is what is known as the “basket-meeting.” A basketmeeting is nothing more or less than a regular church service turned into a picnic. Some grove near the country church is selected, and on Saturday afternoon the men gather and erect an outdoor pulpit, with a sufficient number of benches for the congregation, and on the following Sunday, at the regular hour, the church service is held here instead of in the church. After the service the members of the congregation, having come supplied with baskets of provisions,