News: Clark County  (Farmers - 06 Feb 1914)


Surnames: O”Neill, Hoseley

----Source: Granton News (Granton, Clark County, Wis.) 02/06/1914

THE IDEAL FARMER—Address by James O’Neill at the Farmer’s Institute at Granton, Clark County, Wis., January 28, 1914

When my friend Gus Hoseley was bidding me good-by the other day to leave for Idaho where he now resides, he said: “Wisconsin is the best state and Clark County is the best county in the state. The farmer who sells a good farm here and moves to the west is a fool.” We all like to have our own locality praised and I was both pleased and interested in what my friend said.

Is it true that Wisconsin is the best agricultural state? It is beyond my purpose to go into facts and figures to prove the truth of this assertion. But I believe that if you consider the quality and variety of all our products, it may be demonstrated that Wisconsin stands at the head. You know that our dairy products is now about $90,000,000 annually and that in that respect we have beaten the empire state of New York. The animal industry in this state is $50,000,000 annually. I have not the time to mention other items.

Is Clark County the best county in the state: We have friends here from other places in the state and it is well to be modest in the claims we make. Last summer I rode with an automobile party 110 miles around this county in one day. The itinerary was Neillsville, Christie, Greenwood, Reeseburg, Thorp, Withee, Owen, Curtis, Abbotsford, Colby, Unity, Beaver, Loyal, Granton and home. If you can find a county in the state where you can travel for such a distance and find a richer farming and dairying country, I would like to know where it is.

When I came here forty years ago there was not a bank in the county. Now we have 18 banks with over 2 million dollars of deposits, mostly farmers’ money.

I have said before and repeat it now that if you set a stake here in Granton and turn a radius of ten miles, you will enclose one of the richest portions of the whole state. Just drive on the Ridge Road from Granton to Neillsville and observe the fine farms, the rich grass lands, good houses, modern sanitary barns, and every evidence of thrift. The dairy product of Clark County last year at the factories was $1,685,000. If the whole milk product be included, the amount would exceed 2 million.

Well, whether Mr. Hoseley’s statement is justified or not, it is beyond dispute that we have one of the richest and most fruitful portions of the state.

It has been particularly my thought to give a word of advice to the boys and young men who are growing up on our farms to induce them to remain on the land and to give them some reasons why I think farming is now the best desirable occupation. I have been often asked by young men what calling I would recommend. It has been my practice for years in most cases to advise farmer boys to remain on the land.

When I was a boy the life of a farmer was pinching and required the hardest physical work. There were no mowing machines, no self-binders, or steel horse rakes or horse forks, or disk harrows, or litter carriers or tedders. There was no factory system for working up milk into butter or cheese. All the milk was brought to the house. My mother skimmed the cream and packed the butter by hand in the basement. The boys did the churning with the old dash churn and later with a barrel churn, which we thought was a great improvement. Then the power came to be furnished by a sheep or a dog on a treadmill and later by a horse.

Butter, before the Civil War, brought 8 to 10 cents. A cow was worth $15 to $20. Money was scarce. An old man in New York told me it took him thirteen years to make a payment of $60 on his farm.

I remember my father in St. Lawrence County, New York, hired young farm hands during the summer season for $8 and $9 per month. Farm hands received 37cents per day usually and 50 cents in haying and harvesting. No wonder boys desired to leave the farm.

In those days about the only employment for girls was to go out to domestic services or teach school. Wisconsin was largely settled by young men from the east who were dissatisfied with such conditions.

Look at the conditions surrounding the farmer today. Nearly all the drudgery and the hard physical work has been provided for by labor saving machinery. The gas engine pumps the water, saws the wood and fills the silo. Here is the litter carrier jus coming into use which is a great labor saver. Then has come the silo. You can put up enough feed in two days to carry the stock on an ordinary farm through the winter with the use of a little hay or even straw.

The last great invention remaining was the milking machine. I have visited three places during the past year where these are in use and were told they were giving excellent satisfaction.

The taking of all the milk to the factory except enough for the tea and coffee has immensely relieved the farmer’s wife.

The telephone saves many trips and the farmer’s mail is delivered daily by the mail carrier.

Then has come these fine, convenient, sanitary barns. They greatly save labor too. The chores can be done in half the time required in the old dismal barns which I will recollect. There is light and ventilation and warmth as well in these modern stables. The farmer whistles as he feeds his cattle and the cows smile in their new sunlit parlors. You know about the returns from winter dairying under these changed conditions. The checks keep coming the year around.

I visited a farmer last summer who had installed an electric plant to light his house and the barns and stables. These may now be procured at a moderate expense. Another improvement which is entirely within reach of the farmer is water for the home with bath and toilet. Farmers may have those conveniences just as well as people in cities. Good roads and the automobile will eliminate the condition of isolation of the dwellers in the country and bring them into easy touch with their neighbors. All these improvements and conveniences will make the farmers life delightful.


While our farmers are prosperous they are still opposed by some monopolies. I heard a story a few days ago which ran like this:

A witness was describing what had happened when he and a companion were walking along a railroad track. He said that he and Ole were walking along the track and a train was approaching; that he stepped aside to allow the train to pass and after it had passed he began to look around for Ole. He said he first found a leg lying beside the track and going further he found another leg and then he found a hat and then he found a body beside the track. The witness’ exclamation then was: “My God, I begins to think something is the matter with Ole.” Now our farmers are not dying or dead, but there is still something the matter with Ole.

Let me give you an illustration. You have been paying, I think, about $125 for a harvester. I am reliably told that these can be built at the factory for $37. You are paying $115 for a manure spreader. I fully believe they can be manufactured and sold at a profit for $50.

Take the item of gasoline engines. A dealer showed me a 14 horse power gasoline engine with a truck at the price of $600. I am confident this machine could be manufactured and sold at a good profit for one third of that sum. A man who has been a manufacturer of gasoline engines but who has ceased to be engaged in that business told me lately that the right thing to do was to buy your engines from Galloway and pay twice what they are worth instead of paying four times what they are worth, to others.

I and two neighbors purchased a silo cutter and blower three years ago at the price of 4200. I think the same apparatus can be manufactured and sold at $50. And so you run through the list.

Take another item. The automobile has ceased in some respects to be a luxury. It has come to be regarded as quite useful and the farmers are very largely buying them. You notice that was stated that Henry Ford had sold the past year 250,000 at a profit of $100 each and that his aggregate profits were 25 million dollars. He proposes to divide ten million a year of this profit with his employees, leaving fifteen million of excessive charges against the public to be piled up in profits in his own family. These things must cease. Instead of collecting up this excessive profit, would it not be better to allow the consumer to buy his machine for $100 less? Suppose on a consignment to the dealers here in Granton he should cut the prices $99 so that the Ford could be sold for, say $450, and that instead of collecting the profit of $100 each machine he collected $1; he would then have an annual income of a quarter of a million dollars, which would seem to be sufficient for an ordinary family.

Well, steps are being take to restrain the excesses of these great corporations. The International Harvester Company was once driven out of the state of Missouri and fined, I think, $50,000. The prosecutions of the Standard Oil Company and the American Tobacco Company under the Sherman Law, it seems have not been very effective. But our good President is devoting his attention now to this subject of trust legislation. I hope you have all read or will soon read his last excellent message. Let me give you a few paragraphs from that document.


“The government and business men are ready to meet each other half way in a common effort to square business methods and processes and consequences of monopoly as we condemn them; and the instinctive judgment of the vast majority of business men everywhere goes with them.”

“Fortunately, no measures of sweeping or novel change are necessary. It will be understood that our object is not to unsettle business or anywhere seriously to break its established course. On the contrary, we desire the laws we are now about to pass to be the bulwarks and safeguards against the forces that has disturbed it. What we have to do can be done in a new spirit, in thoughtful moderation, without revolution of any untoward kind.”

“We are all agreed that private monopoly is in defensive and intolerable, and, our program is founded upon that conviction.”

“Every act of business is done at the command or upon the initiative of some ascertainable person or group of persons. These should be held individually responsible and the punishment should fall upon them, not upon the business organizations of which they make illegal use. It should be one of the main objects of our legislation to divest such persons of their corporate cloak and deal with them as with those who do not represent their corporations, but merely by deliberate intention break the law. Business men the country through would, I am sure, applaud us if we were to take effectual steps to see that the officers and directors of great business bodies were prevented from bringing them and the business of the country into disrepute and danger.” (To be continued.)

News: Clark County (Farmers - 13 Feb 1914)

Contact: Betty Comstock


Surnames:  Tidswell, Foss, Pope, Sullivan, Wolff, Rogers, Hoesell, Webb, Thayer, Stevens, Henry

----Source: Granton News (Granton, Clark County, Wis.) 02/13/1914

THE IDEAL FARMER—Address by James O’Neill at the Farmer’s Institute at Granton, Clark County, Wis., January 28, 1914, continued from last week.


I heard Prof. Holden at a meeting in Madison last year say that the animal product of the farms in the United States was eight billion dollars.  The farmers receive that sum but the consumers pay sixteen billions of dollars for the same product. He went on to point out where the waste came in the unnecessary transportation of the crops and animals long distances and the return of the same in different form, excessive freight charges and unnecessary number of middle men and their excessive profits.  Efforts are being made to relieve the farmers of these economic wastes.  Some ten thousand Wisconsin farmers belonging to the society of Equity have had a representative in Chicago for several months trying to devise a method of bringing the product and consumer together.  So far the effort has not met with great success.

But there are economic wastes which my ideal farmer will avoid.  Let me speak of some of them.

In what I am saying tonight, I am not directing my remarks against the dealer in liquor at all.  I wish to speak to the individual young farmer and the farmers’ boys growing up in the country.  The farmer ought to be a temperate man.  He ought not to be given to the use of intoxicating liquors for the reason among others that it is a great waste of his means.  The state tax in Clark County this year is $88,082. And the county tax $36,200, and together they amount to $124, 782.  I am not in possession of accurate data but I suspect this amount paid out for intoxicating drinks annually in this county is more ? to the total state and county tax.  If we include tobacco I feel very certain that there is wasted every year a sum equal to the total state and county tax.  People just now are screaming about their taxes.  It is said they are excessively high and more than ever before.  If I am right about the amount wasted in intoxicants, why should we be screaming about high taxes?  We have no legislature and no Czar to compel us to buy this liquor or the tobacco.  We do this voluntarily and we can shift this burden at our will.

I have no doubt that the amount paid out by our 30,000 people in this county for tobacco annually amounts to the sum of $30,000 or $1.00 per capita.  A young man, a friend of mine, told me lately that he spends more for tobacco than he does for clothes.  This young man has a mortgage on his farm and a family growing up to be clothed and educated.  Yet he voluntarily throws away more for tobacco than he uses for clothes.

There were consumed in the United States during the last fiscal year over 14 billion cigarettes.  Surely we are doing our part in making millionaires of the manufacturers.  I feel that I ought not to let the occasion pass without a word of warning to the boys and young men of the injurious effect of tobacco.  A boy in the Neillsville High School had to drop out last year on account of smoking cigarettes.  Let me quote from a book by Dr. Herbert H. Tidswell of the Royal College of Surgeons of London, England.  On page 20 I find this: “To the young man, we would say; Shun the habit of smoking as you would shun self destruction.  As you value physical and moral well being, avoid a habit which for you can offer no advantage to compare with the dangers you incur by using it.  The bright hopefulness of youth, its undaunted aspirations and its ardent impulses, require no hale of smoke through which to look forward upon the approaching struggle of life.  Your minds must be emasculated indeed and arrant cowards must you be totally unfit for the stern realities of what is to come.  If you cannot face your present, few and comparatively small anxieties, without having recourse to the daily use of narcotics, a poisonous substance like tobacco whether in powder, juice or vapor cannot be brought in contact with an absorbing surface like mucous membrane, without in many cases producing disorder of the system.”

On the subject of economic wastes caused by the use of liquor and tobacco I can give some figures which may scare you.  The total tax as the state of Wisconsin of every ? which includes state tax, county, city, village, school and road taxes amounts to $11,000, 000,000.  The liquor consumed in this state alone amounts to $3 millions, in other words we spend 30 percent more for liquor in the state of Wisconsin than we pay for all the taxes assessed in the state.  Again, the per capita amount of liquor consumed in this state is $26.50.  That is, if the amount is divided by the total population it will be found there is consumed for every man, woman and child $26.50.  This is an immense economic waste. I am not censoring the manufacturer or the dealer in liquor; if we did not buy intoxicating liquors they would not be sold.  The most effective remedy for such waste is with the people themselves.

I have in mind some concrete cases.  Two weeks ago tonight I was called upon in Eau Claire by an old German woman whose son I had sentenced to State’s prison for life five years ago.  The mother came to see me, pleading for my assistance in obtaining a pardon.  Henry Foss was a farmer boy and acquired the drink habit.  He married and moved into the city.  One day he became greatly intoxicated, went to his brother’s house and shot the brother as he sat at the supper table.  His brother had invited him to sit down and eat, but Henry whipped out his revolver and the deed was done.  There was left a widow and several children to be aided by the public.  The public, that is, you and I, are contributing annually to the cost of keeping this man in the state’s prison.  I had to tell that mother that for the present nothing could be done.  Her sad reply was, “I shall be dead before he will be released and I can never see my boy again.”

Two divorce cases were heard before me last fall in an adjoining county.  In the first case the plaintiff was a woman who had six children.  The evidence showed that they lived on a little farm few miles out from the city.  A witness testified that he visited the family in October and that the wife had no shoes and her feet were bleeding and that not one of the children had a pair of shoes.  The husband had been regularly going to town and getting drunk, two or three times a week for several years.  Another family is on the public for support.

The next case called was that in which the petitioner was a woman and it appeared that her husband was over in the jail seized with delirium termers.  The public was also supporting the prisoner and the wife and the children.

Another economic waste is the drug habit.  A country druggist told me that 80 percent of his sales consisted of patent medicines.  The people are constantly wasting their money for drugs which are either injurious or absolutely worthless.

Now the farmer may not soon be able to relieve himself from the extortions of the monopolist, but the economic waste which I have just been mentioning may be relieved by the voluntary action of the individual.  We can at our own volition be relieved from this enormous tax for intoxicating liquor, for tobacco and for drugs.  The remedy is in our own hands.


There are better opportunities for our farmer boys today than ever before.  I have heard it occasionally said that land is becoming expensive and that it is harder for a young farmer to get started.  True, land is advancing.  I can remember when the John Pope 40 of this very town here sold at $50.00 an acre and they exclaimed “What a great price!”  Farms have been sold in the town within the last few years at around $100 per acre, and the end is not yet.  But there are large quantities of hardwood lands in northern Wisconsin and tens of thousands of acres of good land to be purchased in Clark County at reasonable prices.  No ambitious young man need leave our own county to find an opportunity to make his way.

Let me give you some concrete examples of the manner in which young men have succeeded here in Wisconsin.

Two years ago I visited Mr. E.W. Sullivan who owned a 200 acre farm at Alma Center and I learned the story of his life.  Mr. Sullivan was born and raised near Black River Falls.  He purchased the remaining year of his minority from his father for $29.  He worked until he had earned $800.  Then he bought this farm at Alma Center.  He had, when I visited him, 33 acres in apples, black berries, raspberries, strawberries, celery, peas and other vegetables.  The net remains after paying all expenses for a year were around $3700.  His son worked the remainder of the farm and the father told me that his share amounted to ten percent on a valuation of $100 per acre.  He said he could sell his two hundred acre farm for $25,000.  And he informed me privately that he had $25,000 at interest.  Here is a case of a poor boy that has made a great success.  You will see that he makes his profits largely from fruit.  I have just received a letter from Mr. Sullivan giving me a statement of his sales from eighteen acres last year.  Here it is: Cabbage, two acres $250.00; Onions, one and on half acres, $500.00; Raspberries, one and one half acres, $400.00; Strawberries, 4 acres, $500.00; Potatoes, nine acres, $1400.00.  Total, 18 acres, $3050.00.

Mr. Sullivan did not state the expenses but it will easily be seen there is a large margin of profit.  I see no reason to doubt that the same result could be worked out here in Clark County by the application of the same skill.

Erick Wolff is a young farmer 43 years old from the town of Beaver.  He bought 160 acres 23 years ago for $3300, paying down only $850.  He worked a farm in a southern county in the state for four years and came to Clark County and went on to his new farm about 9 years ago.  He has cleared up and improved his farm, keeps 17 cows has a good frame house and a modern barn, 33x80, with all conveniences.  Everything is now paid for and his farm is worth $12,000.

One of the jurors at the last term of court who lives not far from Granton told me that he started on a piece of wild land, cleared it up, has built good buildings, has a modern barn and plenty of cattle and is able to sell his property for $9000.  I said to him that “The next thing you will have will be an automobile.”  His quick answer was, “Oh, I have that already.”  A few days afterwards he sailed by me in his auto with his wife and children waving his hand.

I have a young friend, Gus Rogers who was born and raised in the city of Milwaukee.  His father was my classmate at Cornell University. Young Rogers took the agricultural course at our state university and then became instructor in Horticulture.  He has gone over to Michigan, bought land and started in the fruit business.  He has 7000 trees, just coming into bearing.  He writes that neither he nor his wife would ever live in a large city again.

I have a fine Swiss friend in Neillsville, Mr. Marcus Hoesell who has a number of boys.  The other day he bought 100 acres about three miles northwest of Neillsville at $100 per acre.  There was some stock thrown in of course.  Mr. Hoesell told me that he expected that land would be worth $150 per acre within ten years.  He expects his two boys to have that farm.

Mr. Hoesell told me that he knew of a young man in Green Co. who bought 110 acres some years ago at $102 per acre.  His friends thought that he had paid an extravagant price.  This young man’s milk checks the past year were $3000 and he has lately been offered $225 per acre for his farm.  I have not the slightest doubt that you will see a similar increase in values in Clark County in the coming years.

I have been interested in 2 boys born and raised in this town of Grant.  They graduated two years ago at the Neillsville high school.  They went together to a business college and graduated there.  Both of them went the past year to St. Paul and have been trying different positions.  One of them came home in rather poor health last week and I leaned just what he is doing.  He is employed by a big corporation at $1.75 per day.  His room costs him two dollars a week and his board $4.00.  He has to pay twenty cents car fare each day in coming to and going from his work.  Then it costs him twenty five cents a day for his lunch.  You will see there is very little left out of his wages.  He informs me that a gentleman employed in the same corporation states that if one worked for that corporation five or six years the highest wages that he might expect to receive would be $80 or $55 per month.  The other boy is working at $12 per week for a corporation and his expenses are about the same.  In my judgment both of these boys would be a hundred times better off to live on a farm in Clark County.

The attractions of farm life are greater than ever before.  There has never been a period in the history of the country when so many good reasons could be assigned why the boy should not, after he receives his education, return to and remain on the farm.

First, the hard physical labor has practically been provided for by machinery.  The meadows are no longer mowed by the scythe.  The grain is not reaped by the sickle or the cradle.  We no longer churn by hand.  The whole process of manufacturing butter and cheese is conducted by machinery.  The wind mill or gas engine saws the wood or pumps the water.  And now the last portion of the work particularly complained of by dairymen, the milking is being provided for by apparatus which is claimed to be successful.

Is there some work left to do.  Of course there is, and plenty of it.  You can’t succeed in any business without work and no one ought to succeed without labor.  We were put here on this earth to work and act.  There is pleasure and glory in work. A lazy man has no place on the farm and it may be said also he is of no use in any other line of business.  But the excessive physical labor required of our forefathers, is no longer necessary.  All farm work can now be done during reasonable hours and with reasonable exertion.  There may be left abundant time for recreation.

There has never been a time when a farmer has received such ample returns for his labor as he now receives.  Such prices as those paid for farm crops have never been known before.  Butter, 30 to 35 cents a pound, cheese 15 to17 cents, hogs 7 to 8 cents live weight, beef cattle constantly advancing and common cows selling at $60 to $100 a piece.  A span of good working horses brings from 4400 to $500.  Prices are good for everything you have to sell on a Wisconsin farm.  All you have to do is to raise the stuff.

Mr. Webb of Melrose drove 83 head of hogs to Black River Falls the other day and took back $1674. A farmer who had a herd of 12 Holstein cows in Jackson County realized from their milk at a creamery, last year $1448.86.

Cec. Thayer of Curtis, a brother of your hardware merchant here, made 21 cows earn in one year at a cheese factory $2109.86 or a little over $100.00 apiece.

…?...sales of farm products from his 140 acre farm in your own town, last year amounted to $2400.

Such prices and such profits have never been realized from farms until within the last few years.  No wonder the price of land is advancing and that farmers’ banks are springing up all over the land, the deposits are principally farmers’ money.

Are not these facts and figures attractive to the young men just finishing their education?  Of course the profits do not come in big lumps.  But they come moderately and steadily and that is the best way after all.

Judge Stevens wrote me last summer from a farm he was visiting in Tennessee that he saw 600 cows being milked at one time in one barn.  The manager was a graduate of the Wisconsin Dairy School and was receiving a salary of $15,000 a year.  The manager’s son is a student in the Wisconsin University taking the agricultural course.

Prof. Henry who built up the agricultural department in our State University has an only son. He did not make a lawyer or a doctor or an engineer out of him.  He went down to Connecticut, bought one of those cheap abandoned farms and set his boy to raising fruit.  His sales three years ago amounted to $10,000.

So much for profits to attract our boys to the country.

Then the farmer’s life is independent.  He manages and directs his own affairs.  He goes when he pleases and returns when he wishes.  His occupation is healthier than any other and generally he will live longer than the business man in the city or the laborer in the factory.  And there is a satisfaction and a joy in sowing and harvesting, in tending flocks and herds, in watching the blooming of the clover, the ripening of the corn and the apples, which comes to no one, engaged in other kinds of business.

Send the boys to the schools.  Let no boy fail of a good education.  An increasing number should have the advantage of a course in our high schools.  Those who wish to teach should take the normal course.  I hope to see the stream of bright promising young men, tending to our universities, constantly increasing.  But when the preliminary education is completed, when the boys are graduated at the high school and the university, we wish to see the masses eagerly return to country life and realize the health and wealth and the contentment and the happiness which there awaits them.

When the extortion of the monopolist has ceased to oppress, when we have unburdened ourselves of the voluntary economic wastes which have been mentioned and when our boys and girls come back from the schools and colleges appreciating the advantages of country life over anything the rushing, turbulent city affords, then will be realized Whittier’s prophecy that “whose wisely wills and acts may dwell as king and law giver, in broad acred state  and manhood be lifted up through broader culture to the level of the hills.”




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