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As It Was: Typical Southern Oregon Farmer Does OK in 1913

In 1913, the Oregon Immigration Bureau and Oregon Agricultural College published a book describing a typical farmer in each of several regions in the state.  For Southern Oregon’s small farm, they chose to highlight a 13-acre place with a pear orchard and garden area.

This small farm was bought in 1909 for $2,000 an acre.  Improvements included a dwelling, other outbuildings and farm implements. The owner had a total investment of almost $34,000 in the orchard, buildings and machinery.

An electric pump irrigated the farm’s deep, black-clay loam from a well.  The orchard was planted in three kinds of pears: Bartlett, Howell, and D’Anjou.  In 1911, the yield was 3,000 boxes for a gross income of $6,900.

Expenses were high because hired men did all the work.  Two laborers and two teams, hay and grain for their own cow and pigs, and costs for picking, packing and marketing the pears came to more than $3,800.

This still left an income of over $3,000 or 9 percent of the amount invested, which was considered a very good return.

Source: State Immigration Commission, Oregon. The Oregon Farmer; What He Has Accomplished in Every Part of the State. Corvallis, Oregon, Oregon Agricultural College, 1913, pp. 127-28.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.