Chapter XXI, 21 October 1909 -- Thorp Courier, Clark County, Wisconsin 

Written by R. J. MacBride and transcribed by Crystal Wendt.



"In any crystal stream, my wood land, Though its acres are but few,

And the trust that I shall gather home, My crops in season due;

Lies a joy which he may never grasp who rules in gorgeous state Fertile Africa’s dominions,

Happier, happier far any fate."



Previous to the civil war there was but little in the way of agriculture in Clark county.

It is true there were a few clearings in the town of Levis, some in Pine Valley, near Neillsville, and at Weston Rapids, perhaps the largest then was the farm of Conrad Dell, known afterwards as the Chandler place near the mound on the west side of the river across from Weston Rapids. There was some clearing in Town 26, R 2 west at Huntzicker’s and as far north as Eaton’s , and a little in what is now known as the town of Loyal. Erastus Mack being one of the earliest of the settlers in the last named locality. There were also small farms or clearings in what is known now as the towns of Grant and Lynn, made by the early settlers there, the Yankee’s, Kleinschmidt’s, Sternitzky’s, George Williams, John D. Wage, Bartemus Brooks, and the Marsh’s, Nelson and Levi. Also some small farms near Houghtonburg in the southwest corner of the county.

All that was raised in those days was not more than enough for home consumption, and farming did not commence to attain the dignity of a business or avocation until within the past thirty or thirty-five years.

It would be difficult to trace from year to year the growth of agriculture in the county, and it would be tedious to do if it were practicable.

It is sufficient to day that during the past thirty years the farming interests have developed rapidly. Indeed in that past five years the development has been great, it not phenomenal.

An examination of the conditions existing in 1905, according to the statistics of the census of that year will give the reader, at a glance the progress that has been made in four years when they are compared with the statistical returns made in 1909, by the town authorities, to the county clerk of the county pursuant to law.

According to the state census of 1909 there was 3,2829 farmers in the county of Clark, this included both those who owned, and those who leased or rented their farms.

There was also enumerated in addition 2,870 persons who were denominated or classed as agricultural laborers, which presumably includes, not only those hired to work upon the farms, but also the sons and other members of the family who assist in cultivating the soil and securing and caring for the crops.

Of the 3,828 farmers in the county the town of Grant ranked first with 240 in number. The town of Withee second with 228, Thorp, third, with 199, and Worden and Mayville fourth and fifth, each having at that time 190 farmers.

The town of Mead ranked the lowest having 22 only.

Of those classed as agricultural laborers, the town of Grant was again first with 217. Pine Valley second 148, Loyal third, 140, Sherman fourth 135; and Colby fifth, 130.

There were 3,777 farms according to the 1905 census, consisting of 351,117 acres of which 129,988 acres were improved, and 221,129 were unimproved. The cash value of the farms was returned at the sum of $12,743,548.00.

The hay crop for the year 1905 consisted of 90,886 tons, grown upon 49,256 acres and valued at $500,034.00.

The town of Grant raised the largest amount of hay being 5,639 tons, on 3,133 acres of land.

A recapitulation of the farm products of Clark county -- other than dairying -- as shown by the last state census, for the year 1905 census is as follows:

Wheat 35,746 bus. ……………………….$28,619.00

Oats 973,622 bus…………………………260.161.00

Corn 87,047 bus……………………………31,972.00

Barley 70,092 bus…………………………..80,712.00

Rye 27,299 bus……………………………..16,861.00

Buckwheat 8,501 bus………………………..5,108.00

Potatoes 262,329 bus………………………..57,101.00

Other root crops 32,575 bus………………….6,253.00

Beans and Peas 14,902 bus…………………..11,620.00

Sugar Beets 1,083 bus………………………..4,835.00

Clover, Flax and other seeds 10,268.00

Apples, honey, berries, maple sugar

Syrup, tobacco, etc…………………………16,802.00

Hay ………………………………...............500,034.00


                                             Total for 1905 $980.346.00   (Dairy products omitted)




Clark county is essentially a dairy county, and is destined on account of its abundant natural grasses, and herbage, its climate, water, and location, to be one of the foremost dairy counties in the state of Wisconsin.

Since the advent of "Creameries" -- they should be called butter factories,--- the making of butter has been brought up to a high state of efficiency, as well as concentration, and economy. Formerly thousands of farmers had a like number of churnings at their several farm houses, now under the creamery system thousands of farms churning is done at one place, the factory.

It is said that the first creamery in the United States was built in Orange county, New York, in the year 1861.

It was in 1867 that the first creamery was built in Illinois, and the first built in Iowa was in the year 1871.

Wisconsin probably had its first creamery about the same time as Iowa or possibly a little later. At all events the State Dairymen Association was formed in 1872, and at the Centennial Exposition in 1876 at Philadelphia, the cheese from Wisconsin took first honors, in competition with the world.

Very few states have as drastic laws for the protection of the dairy interests as has Wisconsin. Legislation has been enacted from time to time, providing sever penalties for selling adulterated milk, butter, or cheese, requiring substitutes for butter to be plainly marked, regulating the sale of oleomargarine and matter of like kind.

At the close of the nineteenth century, it was given out by the United Stated Department of Agriculture that it required from 23 to 27 cows to every 100 of population to keep the country supplied with milk, butter and cheese, and to provide for the exports of dairy products (cheese principally.)

At the end of the year 1905 according to the U. S. Cattle Census, there was in the United States 19,793,866 milch cows of the average value of $29.44 each and of the total value of $582,788,502.00.

By the Wisconsin state census of 1905, the number of milch cows in the State of Wisconsin was 1,237,910 of the average value of $24,85 per head, and of the total of$30,784,377.00.

Of this number of Clark county had 24,456 cows of the average value of nearly $22.90 each and of the total value of $559,141.00.

The town of Grant in 1905 leads all of the towns in the number of milch cows, having 1855 of the average value of $20.23.

Pine Valley is second with 1667 cows, with an average value of $20.11. Loyal third, with 1547 in number, and with an average value of $24.36.

The town of York is fourth with 1509 cows, average value of $24.40, and the town of Weston fifth with 1347 cows with an average value of $23.00.

The town of Hoard was the town reporting in 1905, the least of any in the county, returning only 34 cows.

At the same census, the village of Thorp, returned 111 cows, the average value being a slight fraction less then $30.00 a head, and having the highest valued cows in the county.

In 1905 there were 28 creameries in the county the value of the buildings and machinery being placed at $89,350.00. There were 1907 patrons with 16,170 cows, contributing 49,688,838 pounds of milk. The number of pounds of butter produced was 2,123,540 of the value of$426,673.00

The number of cheese factories in the county the same year was 30 in number and the value of the buildings and machinery amounted to $34,000.00. There was 686 patrons contributing with 6,107 cows, the amount of milk received was 15,684,492 pounds, producing 1,529,000 pounds of cheese of the value of $136,619.00.

In addition to that furnished to the creameries and cheese factories, in 1905, there was otherwise sold or consumed, milk to the value of $98,077.00; butter to the value of $115,680.00, and cheese to the value of $332.00.

Making the total value of all dairy products sold to creameries and cheese factories $563,292.00, and the total sold to others or consumed $214,089.00, making a total for dairy products for that year of $777,381.00.

This added to the sum of the farm products hereinbefore tabulate at$960,346.00 makes a grand total for the year 1905 of farm and dairy products in the county of $1,758,727.00.

But in addition to this, there should be added the amount received by farmers from the sales of beef, veal, mutton, poultry, eggs, wool and hides, no statistic of which are at hand, but the amount must be quite large.

Referring now to 1909, it appears from the returns made by the assessors of the several towns to the county clerk of the county, that the number of creameries in the county was twenty-six (26) or two less than in 1905, and that the value of the buildings and machinery was $71,605.00.

These creameries are situated at Curtiss, Greenwood, Owen and Neillsville, two in the town of York, two in Weston, two in Pine Valley, two in Grant, one in the village of Thorp, and one each in the following named towns: Eaton, Green Grove, Levis, Loyal, Lynn, Fremont, Mayville, Mentor, Reseburg, Sherman, Thorp, Washburn and Withee.

The number of patrons were 2,320, with 17,087 cows, contributing 49,484,476 pounds of milk, producing 2,442,170 pounds of butter of the value of $559,098,49.

The increase of butter produced in 1909 over 1905, amounted in value to the sum of $132,425.49, and the increase in amount was 318,630 pounds.

In 1909 according to the assessors returns to the county clerk, there were 38 cheese factories in the county, and increase of eight, since the census of 1905. These factories are situated: three in the town of Beaver, five in town of Colby, four in Sherman, three each in Unity, Warner, and York, two each in Grant, Levis, Loyal, and Mayville, one at Greenwood, one at Longwood, and one each in the following named towns: Hoard, Lynn, Fremont, Mentor, Reseburg, Thorp, and Worden.

The value of the cheese factory buildings and machinery is returned at $63,805.00. The number of patrons were 1,392 with 10,740 cows, contributing 31,229,195 pounds of milk, producing 3,017,958 pounds of cheese, of the value of $342,486.49. This is an increase of the number of pounds of cheese manufactured over 1905, of 1,488,958 pounds, and an increase in value of the cheese produced of the sum of $205,867.49.

In addition to that the butter manufactured on the farms amounted to 71,171 pounds of the value of $19,125.75, and there was also made at the farms 3,500 pounds of cheese of the value of $360.00 making the amount and value of dairy products in the county for the year 1909 (exclusive of milk sold to others then factories) a grand total of $921,070.73.

The assessors returns for the year 1909 do not show separately the number of milch cows; all kinds of cattle, including oxen, steers and cows are classed under one head, that of "neat cattle." of these there were 45,335, of the value of $786,486.00.

While the returns of the assessors on dairy products are quite accurate, the same cannot be said of their returns on farm products. On these they return no values, but give the amounts in bushels, pounds, and tons as the case may be. In the case of the census of 1905, and the census to be taken in 1910, the amounts and values of farm products are to be relied upon.

According to the assessors, Clark county raised in 1909: Wheat 14,511 bushels, corn 202,930 bushels, oats 583,619 bushels, barley 123,228 bushels, rye 34,244 bushels, potatoes 165,618 bushels, beans 113 bushels, Cax seed 508 bushels, clover seed 2,206 bushels, timothy seed 209 bushels, apples 2,231 bushels, berries (mostly strawberries) 320 bushels, sugar beets 94 tons, tobacco 3,086 pounds, hay 80,200 tons.

There was also reported 6,342 growing apple trees in the county.

The amount of dairy products in the county for the year 1909, amounting to nearly a million of dollars, shows a net increase in value over the census of 1905 of nearly twenty per cent.

Cotton may be King of Mississippi, and corn King of Nebraska, but the Cow is Queen in Clark County.

Willet E. Burt, one of the early settlers of the county, who some years ago removed to the state of Washington, where he died in the year 1909, claims to have brought into Clark county the first sulky hay rake and the first mowing machine, ever used here.

Many praise have been sung of agriculture, from the Roman poet Horace, in the first century, who himself, owned his Sabine farm, down to Horace Greely in the 19th century.

Perhaps one of the finest tributes was that of Cicero, who twenty centuries ago makes Cato say:

"I come now to the pleasures of husbandry in which I vastly delight. They are not interrupted by old age, and they seem to me to be pursuits in which a wise man’s life should be spent. The earth does not rebel against authority; it never gives back but with usury what it receives. The gains of husbandry are not what exclusively commend it. I am charmed with the nature and productive virtues of the soil. Can these old men be called unhappy who delight in the cultivation of the soil?

In my opinion there can be no happier life, no only because the tillage of the earth is salutary to all, but from the pleasure is yields. The whole establishment of a good and assiduous husbandmen is stored with wealth; is abounds in pigs and lambs, in poultry, in milk, in cheese, in honey.

Nothing can be more profitable, nothing more beautiful than a well cultivated farm."

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