KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS
Excerpts from MARVELS OF THE NEW WEST by William M. Thayer.


From MARVELS OF AGRICULTURE.




Map Showing the Geographic Centre of the United States.

Geographically, Kansas is the "hub" of the American Republic. An able journalist says:--

     "Kansas lies between the thirty-seventh and fortieth parallels of latitude, the district which, the world round, controls the destinies of the globe, and the time will come when this State will be the powerful centre of the most powerful nation on earth. In 1790 the centre of population in the United States was in Maryland, on the thirty-ninth parallel, and at every census it has moved westward very nearly along that line, until now it is just west of Cincinnati and on its way to Kansas. The thirty-ninth parallel, which has been the thread upon which, as on the necklace of the world, have been strung the jewels of wealth, culture, plenty, luxury, and refinement, passes directly through the State of Kansas, through the fertile Arkansas Valley."

     The Commissioner of Immigration furnishes a map to prove beyond controversy that Kansas is the central State of the Union. He says:--

     "The geographical centre of the United States is located near Fort Riley, not far from the centre of Kansas, and near the place where Coronado first crossed the Kansas River. Take a map of the United States and fold it both ways,--fold the ends together and crease it through the middle; then place the top and bottom edges together, and crease the map again. It will be found that the creases will cross in Kansas, as is shown by the lines drawn at right angles to each other through the middle of the map on the preceding page. With the point where these lines cross as a common centre, describe circles including parts, or all of the United States, and the central location of the State will at once be apparent. The same circle which passes through Boston passes through San Francisco."

     Reference to the centre of population in 1790, by the writer just quoted, adds interest to the following table:--

     "It is claimed that the centre of population has moved westward at the rate of fifty miles for every ten years, since 1790, which is five miles a year.

In 1790 the centre of population was  . .   22 miles east of Baltimore.
 " 1800 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   17 miles west of Baltimore.
 " 1810 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   40 miles northwest of Washington.
 " 1820 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16 miles north of Woodstock, Va.
 " 1830 . . . . . . . . .  19 miles west by southwest of Mooland, W.Va.
 " 1840 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16 miles west of Clarksburg, W.Va.
 " 1850 . . . . . . . . . . .  23 miles southeast of Parkersburg, W.Va.
 " 1860 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   20 miles south of Chillicothe, 0.
 " 1870 . . . . . . . . . . .  48 miles east by north of Cincinnati, 0.
 " 1880 . . . . . . . . . . .   8 miles west by south of Cincinnati, 0.

     It is a significant fact that corn is king in the pivotal State of the Union, though only eight million of its fifty-two million acres are under cultivation. If the State were as thickly populated as England, it would contain thirty-five million people, --five times as large a population as would be necessary to bring every acre of its arable land into a high state of cultivation. If a million and a quarter of inhabitants cultivate eight million acres, six million of people will bring the whole area under the plough and harrow.

     Corn became king in Kansas in 1883. In 1860 the farmers of that State raised but six million bushels of corn; in 1883 they raised one hundred seventy-two million bushels, and thereby stepped to the front. Moreover, this vast yield of corn was mostly sound. The "Report of the United States Department of Agriculture for March, 1884" says that "Kansas, in 1883, raised sixty-two million more bushels of 'merchantable corn' than did any other State of the Union." Said report furnishes the following very instructive tables:--

                      Sound Corn.

                 Bushels. |                  Bushels.|
Oregon . . . .    106,026 | Indiana . .    46,853,800|
Dakota . . . .  1,867,721 | Texas  . . .   57,463,133|
Michigan . . .  3,854,214 | Kentucky . .   64,125,476|
Wisconsin  . .  4,008,481 | Nebraska . .   67,856,863|
New York . . .  6,129,445 | Illinois . .   73,363,140|
Mississippi  . 23,236,532 | Missouri . .    6,993,000|
Ohio . . . . . 27,952,800 | Kansas . . .  158,976,828|
Iowa . . . . . 44,103,540 |

     That the reader may gather an idea of the exact force of these figures, the per cent of corn raised in the various States which was actually merchantable is given:--

Oregon  . . . .  9 1/3 | Indiana . . . .   49
Wisconsin  . .  17     | Missouri . .  .   60
Michigan . . .  18     | Nebraska . . ..   67
Iowa . . . . .  26     | Kentucky . .  .   82
New York . . .  35     | Texas . . . . .   91
Illinois . . .  36     | Mississippi . .   92
Dakota . . . .  38     | Kansas . . . ..   92
Ohio . . . . .  38     |

     The United States Department of Agriculture shows, also, the number of bushels per acre raised in the best corn-growing States in 1883, and Kansas leads the van:-

                Bushels per Acre.

South Carolina . .   8.0 | New York . . .  23.0
Georgia  . . . . .   8.7 | Oregon . . . .  23.5
Mississippi  . . .  13.5 | Kentucky . . .  24.0
Arkansas . . . . .  17.5 | Colorado . . .  25.0
Texas  . . . . . .  17.5 | Illinois . . .  25.0
Dakota . . . . . .  18.2 | Indiana  . . .  27.0
Tennessee  . . . .  20.0 | Missouri . . .  27.5
Minnesota  . . . .  20.8 | Kansas . . . .  36.7
Wisconsin  . . . .  21.0.|

     One who has examined the reports of the United States Department of Agriculture for the aggregate production of wheat in Kansas, says:--

     "Kansas produced more corn to the acre than did any other State or Territory. Kansas produced sixty-two million more bushels of merchantable corn than did any other State or Territory. Kansas produced, in 1883, more corn than did any other State excepting Illinois, and at the present rate of increase will outrank Illinois in 1884. When one remembers these four facts, he cannot but acknowledge that Kansas is the first corn State in the Union. This, of itself, is sufficient to crown Kansas chief of the farming States, if no other crops were thought of.

Two-Row Corn Planter.     "A careful examination of the official statistics as to wheat will prove that no State outranks Kansas in the profitable production of this cereal. In 1860 the aggregate yield for the whole State was 194,173 bushels. In 1870 it had increased to but 2,391,198 bushels. In 1882 the average yield per acre was 23.17 bushels, the total yield 35,734,846 bushels. In 1883 the yield fell to 26,851,100 bushels, Dakota produced 16,128,000, and Oregon 13,122,400 bushels. In 1883 only one State, Colorado, produced more wheat to the acre and got more money from each acre of wheat than did Kansas, and the limited area which Colorado can devote to wheat-raising takes her out of the list of rivals. For the product of each acre in wheat Kansas farmers got sixty-five cents more than did those of California, $2.13 more than the dwellers in Dakota, and $3.25 more than the men of Minnesota. Herewith is given the number of bushels per acre raised in 1883 in various States. Colorado, which yielded twenty-one bushels to the acre, is omitted for reasons previously given.

              Bushels of Wheat.

Kansas . . . .  17.5 | New York . . .  10.3
Dakota . . . .  16.0 | Ohio . . . . .  10.0
Nebraska . . .  15.5 | Illinois . . .  10.0
California . .  13.0 | Texas  . . . .   8.5
Minnesota  . .  13.0 | Arkansas . . .   6.1
Empire Grain Drill.

     The number of bushels of wheat raised in Kansas in various years from 1860 to 1883 was as follows:--

1860 . . .     194,173 | 1877 . .  14,316,705
1870 . . .   2,391,198 | 1878 . .  32,315,358
1872 . . .   3,062,941 | 1880 . .  17,324,141
1873 . . .   5,994,044 | 1881 . .  20,479,579
1874 . . .   9,881,383 | 1882 . .  35,734,846
1875 . . .  13,209,403 | 1883 . .  26,851,100
1876 . . .  14,620,225

     The yield of oats in Kansas is scarcely less remarkable than that of wheat The following comparative statement of the number of bushels of oats per acre in 1883 is derived from official sources:--

Arkansas . . .  14.4 | Iowa . . . .   34.1
Texas  . . . .  22.8 | Michigan . .   34.6
Missouri . . .  28.7 | Illinois . .   36.1
Colorado . . .  29.3 | Nebraska . .   40.0
Wisconsin  . .  30.4 | Dakota . . .   42.9
Minnesota  . .  33.1 | Kansas . . .   44.6

     In 1884 Kansas sowed fifteen per cent more acreage of oats than in 1883. The State produced, also, 49,113,000 bushels of wheat, which was 13,000,000 more bushels than any State raised in 1883. Other statistics prove that farming in Kansas is diversified notwithstanding the prominence of corn and wheat. The rye crop of the State was:--

                               No. Bushels.        Value.

1877 . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2,525,054        $806,092
1878 . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2,722,008         816,602
1883 . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5,084,391    1,666,909.70

Other Farm Products

Stands of bees in 1883 . . . . . . . . . .         19,752
Pounds of honey  . . . . . . . . . . . . .        325,000
Pounds of cheese . . . . . . . . . . . . .        591,770
Pounds of butter . . . . . . . . . . . . .     23,947,016
Pounds of sugar made from sorghum  . . . .        600,000
Gallons of syrup . . . . . . . . . . . . .      4,684,023
Acres of sorghum in 1883 . . . . . . . . .        102,042
Value of sorghum cane per acre . . . . . .       . $20.17
Total value of product of sorghum fields .  $2,058,127.60

     The per cent of returns on money invested in farming lands, officially stated, puts Kansas again at the head of the roll of honor. In Pennsylvania it is 13 1/8 per cent; Ohio, 13 8/9; New Jersey, 15 1/2; Massachusetts, 16 1/3; New York, 16 5/6; Maryland, 17 3/8; Indiana, 18 1/30; Michigan, 18 1/4; Illinois, 20 1/5; Wisconsin, 20 1/3; Virginia, 21 1/8; Kentucky, 21 1/3; Kansas, 22 1/4.

     The value of Kansas farms is a very significant item. It is the value of only the 21,417,468 acres now in farms, and does not include the more than 30,000,000 acres not in farms. These farms are valued at only $10.98 per acre, while Massachusetts farms average $43.52; Connecticut, $49.34; New York, $44.41; Pennsylvania, $49.30; Ohio, $45.97; Michigan, $36.15; and Illinois farms $31.87 per acre. The following is the comparative value of farms in 1883:--

Dakota . .   $22,401,048 | North Carolina . .   $135,793,602
Colorado .    25,109,223 | Texas  . . . . . .    170,468,886
Oregon . .    56,908,575 | Kansas . . . . . .    235,178,936
Arkansas .    74,249,655 | True valuation of all property
Nebraska .   105,932,541 |    in Kansas . . . $402,864,163.22
Georgia  .   111,910,540 |

     We have quoted the value of the honey product of Kansas, which is but a fair illustration of the value of this industry all through the New West. It is a land of flowers, sweet-scented and beautiful. The bee finds it a natural home, and gathers sweets from its vast area of floral wealth. A tourist writes of the flowers of Kansas as follows:--

Sunflowers.     "Can you picture to yourself ten acres of portulaca? or whole hillsides curtained with what seems a superb variety of wisteria, except that it grows on a stalk instead of hanging from a vine? Do you know how it feels not to be able to step without crushing a flower, so that the little prairie dogs, sitting contentedly with their intimate friends the owls on the little heaps of earth thrown up around their holes, have every appearance of having planted their own front yards with the choicest floral varieties? Think of driving into a great field of sunflowers, the horses trampling down the tall stalks, that spring up again behind the carriage, so that one outside the field would never know that a carriage-load of people were anywhere in it; or, riding through a 'grove' of them, the blossoms towering out of reach as you sit on horseback, and a tall hedge of them grown up as a barrier between you and your companion! Not a daisy, or a buttercup, or a clover, or a dandelion, will you see all summer; but new flowers too exquisite for belief ; the great white prickly poppies, and the sensitive rose, with its leaves delicate as a maiden-hair fern, and its blossom a countless mass of crimson stamens tipped with gold, and faintly fragrant. Even familiar flowers are unfamiliar in size, profusion, and color. What at home would be a daisy is here the size of a small sunflower, with petals of delicate rose-pink, varying from a cone-shaped centre of rich maroon shot with gold."

     The same writer describes another scene as follows:--

     "It was a river of flowers; I do not know how else to describe it. A deep hollow, like the dried channel of a river, perhaps nearly half a mile long, completely filled, between bank and bank, with a mass of most exquisite pink flowers. Not a green leaf nor a stalk could be seen, and there was not a break in the broad surface of bloom; though the flower itself, when examined, proved to be the tiniest of things; something not unlike the little white sweet-clover that we find in eastern garden-beds; only of a most wonderful rose-color. The curious part of it was that not a single one of the flowers could be found anywhere in the meadow, even a foot beyond the river-bed; they were concentrated there, and only there, and lay like a broad pink ribbon on the prairie; a bit of landscape gardening which I have never seen a landscape gardener able to surpass.

     "If I were to chronicle the flowers as they appeared, I might date my prayers, as Miss --- did her diary, 'The day we found the first sensitive rose'; 'the day we drove over to the Elk House to see the prickly pear with sixty blossoms on it'; 'the day we saw the sunflower twenty feet high'; 'the day that I, a member of the Society for the Protection of Animals, which ought to include flowers, trampled down half an acre of crimson portulaca, because I couldn't find room for my horse's feet where there wasn't a blossom,' etc., etc. But I have grown fond of large figures since I have known the West, and am tempted to mass my flowers as nature does there, and give them all to you at once. Ah! If my page could only glow with their color! There were very few of the flowers we had known at the East; many were not even in the botanies."

     Raising broom corn is a valuable industry of Kansas. Last year about thirty thousand acres were planted, which yielded twenty million pounds, valued at $700,000. The illustration shows the method of baling and shipping the crop.

Broom Corn.

     Tree-planting is another prosperous industry, not only in Kansas, but in every State and Territory of the New West.

     In 1881 there was in Kansas the following number of acres in planted forest:--


Walnut . . . . .  5,895 | Osage Orange . . .   617
Maple  . . . . .  6,453 | Catalpa  . . . . .   788
Honey Locust . .  1,215 | Other varieties  . 38,763
Cottonwood . . . 39,108 | Total . . . . . .  92,839

     Since that time the acreage of tree-planting has rapidly increased. The governor of Kansas said, in his "Arbor Day" proclamation, that "the State which the pioneers found almost treeless and a desert, now bears upon its fertile bosom twenty million fruit trees and more than two hundred thousand acres of forest trees, all planted by our own people." A writer says:--

     "These groves have attained a height of from fifteen to sixty feet, the trees having a diameter of three to fifteen inches. The annual growth is from one to two inches diameter, and a four or five year old forest will thereafter furnish a good supply of fuel for the family. In the homestead counties, where the Government has stimulated artificial forestry by the 'Timber Act,' giving any man, or head of family, one hundred and sixty acres of land on the condition of his or her planting forty acres of the same in timber and caring for it seven years, beautiful groves of cottonwood, ash, box-elder, maple, and walnut dot the country in every direction, and lend a charm to the prairie landscape quite beyond the power of description. These charming groves will be as numerous and noteworthy, in the near future of Kansas, as the orchards of Michigan and Western New York. Columns of forest trees outline the farms and highways for miles and miles, in many districts, and it is no unusual thing for a farmer to plant ten thousand young trees in a single year. With the pretty valley timber belts and artificial groves grown into stateliness, ten years from to-day Kansas will be one grand continuous park, and the most beautiful country under the sun. Beyond the question of abundant and cheap fuel, building and fencing timber, and embellishment of landscape, which are involved in extended tree-planting, these groves will superinduce rainfall, temper the February and March winds, and give increased equability to the climate."

     The State of Nebraska originated "Arbor Day"; thanks for the public enterprise of its citizens. Minnesota was the first State to copy Nebraska's example, and one million five hundred thousand trees were planted in that State on its first "Arbor Day." Now, the States and Territories west of the Missouri River make tree-planting an important industry.

     Nebraska not only originated "Arbor Day," but enacted stringent laws, also, for the protection of trees, and made very liberal provisions to encourage tree-planting, as follows:--

     "The Nebraska State constitution provides that 'the increased value of lands by reason of live fences, fruit and forest trees grown and cultivated thereon shall not be taken into consideration in the assessment thereof.' A State law 'exempts from taxation for five years $100 valuation for each acre of fruit trees planted, and $50 for each acre of forest trees'; also makes it obligatory that 'the corporate authorities of cities and villages in the State shall cause shade trees to be planted along the streets thereof.'

     "Further: 'Any person who shall injure or destroy the shade tree or trees of another, or permit his or her animals to do the same, shall be liable to a fine of not less than $5, nor more than $50 for each tree injured or destroyed.'



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