Agriculture in Post-Civil War Missouri
As a whole, Pulaski County was very
underdeveloped in the 1860ís. There was little attention paid to industry, including
agriculture. This was
largely due to the lack of ambition of the inhabitants, not the lack of
possibilities. There were
no first-class mills, no manufacturing, and no good agricultural
Corn was the principal crop, yielding an average of 40 bushels per acre, but with proper cultivation practices could obtain much larger yields, especially in the fertile bottomlands of the Gasconade River. Wheat was also grown, yielding about 10 bushels per acre, but could have produced up to 40 bushels. Oats yielded well, but were not extensively raised. Grasses were raised in small amounts. All different kinds of garden vegetables were grown, as did fruits of all varieties. However, grapes were not grown, therefore there were no vineyards in the county.
The uplands and hills were covered with an abundant supply of blackjack, black, post, and white oak. These seemingly inexhaustible supplies of wood were largely used for making rails, but were better suited for fuel purposes. The edges of river bottoms were teeming with sycamore, walnut, elm, locust, and many others. Wild berries and fruits were also in abundant supply. Wild blackberries, raspberries, grapes, crabapples, persimmons, and pawpaws were the dominating species.
About 75,000 acres of land were privately owned, mostly by non-residents. The government and the Southwest Pacific Railroad owned the rest. Improved land could be bought for $10 per acre, while unimproved land could be bought for $1.25-$2.50 per acre.
Hogs were the most extensively raised livestock, numbering 11,354 head, valued at $17,082 ($1.50 per head); followed by 4,561 head of cattle, valued at $54,550 ($11.96 per head); 3,851 head of sheep, valued at $6,059; 1,498 horses, valued at $67,470 ($46.38 per head); and 117mules, valued at $5,825 ($49.79 per head).
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