Farming has been the main economic force in Clarke County since it was first settled. A majority of early settlers came here because of the rich soil and the favorable growing conditions.

Agricultural Societies

Corn husker

Crop failure - 1857

Farmers Directory - 1892

Farm Equipment

More Farm Equipment

First Land Records

Grasshopper invasion (1867)

Landowners- 1902

Markets - 1870

Newspaper articles

Stray Animals

Century Farms in Clarke County

BLM Land Records



Land: from reprint of "Clarke County Historical and Biographical Record" by Lewis Publishing, 1886. p.255+

In Clarke County, the soil is a dark alluvial, very flexible, easily worked,...remarkably productive. The land in this county, with the exception of creek bottoms and bluffs along a few of the streams, is rolling. The entire acreage of Clarke County amounts to 276,480 acres. Land will never again be as cheap as at present (1886), when it can be bought for $6 to$15 per acre. The crops of this county include a great variety of grain, vegetables, fruits, etc. Wheat is not a standard crop. Rye is a sure crop and highly prized for early and late pasturage. Corn is the king of all crops, about half of the cultivated land being usually planted with that cereal. Oats, barley, flax and broom-corn are all grown with profit by good cultivators. Millet, Hungarian, sorghum and all the field and garden vegetables are grown in profusion by ordinary cultivation. Prairie grass in scores of varieties can be found on all the wild ranges, and are of invaluable aid to the stock-man from April to August, being equally valuable for pasturage or hay. But tame grasses, the imperial blue, timohty, clover and other varieties are marching to the conquest of the whole country.

Average number of acres in a farm, 145; farms managed by owner, 1061; farms managed by manager, 44; by tenant for money rent, 29; by tenant for crop rent, 298; acres of corn, 44,262; acres of wheat, 2017; acres of oats, 27,550; acres in pasture 37,927; acres of sorghum, 342; acres of potatoes, 851; acres of planted timber, 174; acres of natural timber, 24,046; acres of clover, 471; acres of timothy, 38,726; tons of hay from wild grass, 4,149; acres of flax, 1559; gallons of milk sent to facty, 6454; thorough0bred cattle, 218; graded cattle, 2630; milch cows, 7086; all other cattle, 16,417; horses, 6405; horses sold for export in 1884, 261; hogs, 26639; average value of farms, $2,929.

1883 Corn: Source: "Osceola Centennial Issue ..1851-1951", Osceola Tribune, Tuesday, September 18, 1956

Edgar Bell of Knox Township reported a big corn yield in 1883, 5/8 of a bushel per acre. The same ground in 1882 averaged over 40 bushels to the acre. It was said that Clarke county raised the poorest crop in 1883 of any year since the county was settled, yet corn sold that year for only 40 to 50 cents per bushel.

Chickens: Source: "Osceola Centennial Issue ..1851-1951", Osceola Tribune, Tuesday, September 18, 1956

Osceola was a great place for chicken raising in 1885, with most of the residences having large yards which afforded excellent facilities for this business. Nearly every family had from a half dozen to three or four dozen hens. It was said there were 500 families with enough hens to average 6 eggs per day. This was a grand total of 91,250 dozen eggs per year, and at 10 cents per dozen meant an income of about $18.25 per family. Many families made more than this by raising hundreds of chickens each season. Every family gratified its appetite for fresh eggs and fried pullet.

Timber: Source: "Osceola Centennial Issue ..1851-1951", Osceola Tribune, Tuesday, September 18, 1956

Following is an article printed in the Sentinel of January 2, 1896:

"The high value now set on pasture and farm land has led to the clearing off of the greater portion of timber tracts in the county, in the past five years, and timber is rapidly disappearing. Ten years from now we venture to say that building timber and firewood will command a high price and be hard to get. People will begin to secure firewood after the fashion of Old England, where twigs and sticks are laboriously picked up and tied in small fagot bundles. Every farmer should keep a patch of growing timber or grove. It is of use in numberless ways, and last but not least furnishes cover for birds...besides it is said that the farmer should aim to provide for his future needs as well as the present."

County Fair: Source: "Osceola Centennial Issue ..1851-1951", Osceola Tribune, Tuesday, September 18, 1956

The first Clarke county fair, sponsored by the Clarke county Agricultural Society was held in 1871, at the fairgrounds northeast of Osceola.

Jersey cow: Source: "Osceola Centennial Issue ..1851-1951", Osceola Tribune, Tuesday, September 18, 1956

First Jersey milk cow was brought to Clarke county in 1875 by John W. Richards. The cow, a pretty, gentle brute, died about 10 years later, and the family feeling it had lost a friend, buried the Jersey in their own lot and had the grave sodded over.

Last revised September 24, 2018