Agricultural Schedules

During my recent trip to the Family History library in Salt Lake City, I had the opportunity to look for my ancestors in the 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 census agricultural schedules.  The agricultural schedules were among the non-population schedules taken in conjunction with the population schedules. 

Before reviewing the agricultural schedules, I was well aware that most of my ancestors were farmers.  However, being a city person, I had no idea exactly what these farmers actually raised. 

Very small farms weren't included in the agricultural schedules, which may be why I was unable to find some of my ancestors, such as the Dudley family.  On my maternal side, I was able to locate my 3rd great-grandmother, Mary E. Shaper, in Hamer Township, Highland County, Ohio on the 1850 schedule.  She owned 75 acres, 20 of which were improved.  She had two horses, two cows, eight sheep, and eight pigs and grew crorn.

I had more success on my paternal side.  The largest farm among my ancestors belonged to my 3rd great-grandfather Alfred Ogden, who owned 850 acres in Clark Township, Brown County Ohio.  Alfred owned horses, cattle, sheep, and 100 pigs.  He grew wheat, rye, corn, oats, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.  He also kept bees, producing 50 pounds of honey and/or beeswax in 1850.  He had apparently given that up by 1860, since no bee products are listed for him in the 1860 agricultural schedule.  I don't blame him!

Clarkson Dunn

The data on the more modest farms are what really made me think about the hard work involved.  Alfred could probably afford to hire regular help with his farm, but the smaller farms probably couldn't.  The names of my other ancestors who appeared on the agricultural schedules are Levi Wardlaw, Clarkson Dunn, William Coulter, Robert Dunn, Isaac Davis, Sylvester Shaw, Francis Steward, Santford Ogden, and Peter Ballein.  In addition to the products listed above, they also produced apples, peas, beans, hay, maple sugar, and molasses.

Robert Dunn
I guess my idea of farm life was formed by watching Little House on the Prairie when I was growing up.  I believe the Ingalls family had horses and cows, but I don't recall sheep and pigs.  Ignorant city dweller that I am, I never considered that my ancestors raised sheep and pigs.  The beekeeping was a surprise also, as were the apple orchards.  I can only imagine my ancestors' hard work, not to mention the extreme heat, freezing cold, insect bites, and physical exhaustion they must have endured day after day.  I struggled this summer with only two tomato plants! 

Reviewing the agricultural schedules helped me recall the day several years ago when it dawned on me that much of the farm land we pass when we ride through the country was cleared not by farm machinery and power tools, but by human hands and real horsepower.  I believe that few of us today have any idea of what hard work really is.  I believe my most of  my ancestors were hard workers, regardless of the size of their property, and that's why it doesn't matter to me whether or not I'm descended from royalty or someone famous.  I'm proud to be descended from these hard-working farmers.


  1. Your blog caught my eye because I am researching Ogden. I especially enjoyed your graveyard journey and got very excited when I saw tombstones that I recognized. Santford Ogden is my husband's 2nd great grandfather. His great grandmother was Lillie Ann Ogden. I would welcome the opportunity to share information.

  2. I enjoyed your post very much. Clarkson Dunn is my 3rd Gr. Grandfather and Robert Dunn is my 2nd Gr. Grandfather.


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