September 5, 2016

Great-Grandfather, Fritz (Friedrich/Fred) Elling's Farm, 1880

An often overlooked resource for information on rural America are the agricultural censuses which enumerate all the crops, livestock, and production of each farm.  In 1880, the agricultural census of Freedom Township, Henry County, Ohio, gave us a picture of my great-parents' (Fred and Mary Rohrs Elling) farm as it was on June 5, 1880, although some of the questions refer back to 1879, as well.

(Not all of the children in the photograph were born by 1880 and the house shown is the one Fritz and Mary had later in Fulton County, but Fritz and Mary are front and center in the photo.)

Fred's land was in Section 29 of Freedom Township on the north side.  In the 1875 atlas, his neighbors were Lewis Bockleman, Christ Binger, H. Van Deyton and Mary and James Raddy.

In 1880, Fred owned 30 acres of land, tilled, and 10 acres of woodland in Freedom Township, with a value of $1600.  He valued his farm implements at $100 and his livestock at $300.  He had hired some farm help in 1879 for 26 weeks and paid total wages of $36.
For 1879, he figured the estimated value of all his farm production (sold or consumed) was $300.

The report on his livestock was based on what he had on June 1, 1879:
2 horses
4 milch cows and 3 other cattle
1 calf dropped and 1 sold living
3 sheep
2 sold living, 1 slaughtered and 1 died of disease
21 swine
30 poultry
Production from these animals included 400 pounds of butter made on the farm, 3 wool fleeces of 18 pounds, and 125 eggs.

The final tally on his crops for 1879 included:
16 acres of Indian corn with production of 400 bushels
2 acres of oats with production of 100 bushels
12 acres of wheat with production of 200 bushels
1/8 acre of sorghum for 9 gallons of molasses
1/4 acre of potatoes for 40 bushels and
2 acres of apples

I think the evidence shows that Fred and Mary were subsistence farmers, feeding their family from the farm, like so many others of the time period.  I would imagine a large garden was part of this scenario, too.  Hardworking, children of immigrants, scraping by and celebrating their freedom in Freedom Township!

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