Knox County's Farms in the Past

"The dwelling houses were generally log cabins, covered with clabboards, with usually two rooms and a garret, with a wide open fire place at the end of the house, and outside chimney made of sticks and mud. This was the place for the cooking, baking and eating, as well as the 'family hearth,' around whose blazing fire, the family sat on winter evenings, and read, ate apples, drank cider, cracked nuts and jokes, told stories and enjoyed life."

~Martin Welker
Farm Life in Central Ohio Sixty Years Ago
Water Wheels by Gandma Moses

The first farms of Knox County were small, typically about one hundred acres of land. The acreage was sufficient to support a diverse, largely self-sufficient operation. Farmers kept a few dairy cows for milk, chickens for eggs, and hogs for meat. The animals were fed from hay and corn grown in the fields. A large garden provided vegetables. Surplus from these efforts, or from some specialty products like maple syrup, supplied the cash needed for purchasing additional goods from the town store. Farm work was accomplished principally by family members. Men, women, and children of all ages helped out on the farm and around the house. Long days of agricultural labor could prove isolating, yet farm families relied upon one another to help with harvesting and other collective tasks. Farmers gathered in each other's kitchens, while grange meetings and church offered support and broader sociability. Henry Howe described the close knit community of the early farmers in Knox County:
"The early settlers in the town felt as one family. If one got a piece of fresh meat, he shared it with his neighbors, and when a person was sick, all sympathized. At night, they met in each other's cabin, to talk, dance, and take a social glass."
The farms and farm community in Knox County, as well as elsewhere in the nation, remained like this until the mid 20th century, when new technology created enormous social and agricultural change. Dale Grassbaugh, a corn, soybean, alfalfa, wheat, and dairy farmer from central Knox County, comments on the changes which have occured on farms: "I think a high percentage of farmers would like to stay in the good ol' days if you might say it. But it's just not there."
artwork credit: Grandma Moses

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