"Illustration from "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder: ox "calves", Bright and Star, and an ox yoke.
"Illustration from "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder: ox "calves", Bright and Star, and an ox yoke.
With farm land at premium prices these days, it was unbelievable to read the following clipping from the files of the local historical society. Dated Dec. 12, 1875, with a Fountain, Minn., address, the 90 acres sounds almost too good to be true. See for yourself.

"Valuable Farm and Timber Land, for sale cheap, and on easy terms. The subscriber offers for sale his Farm and Timber land in Fillmore County, Minn. consisting of eighty acres of improved land and ten acres of heavy hardwood forest timber adjacent to the farm. The 80-acres lot has two good stone dwellings, one of them 22 x 36', two stories high, handsomely finished off; the other 18 x 20', one story, suitable for a small family or tenant. There is also a good frame barn, 20 x 30', 16' high, with stone basement of stable made whole size, capable of accommodating eight span of horses, with plank floor, stalls, etc. together with corn-house, hog-pens, poultry-house, etc. The farm is enclosed with good fences; Fifty acres under cultivation and the balance pasture land, well shaded, and watered by a beautiful, never-failing stream of pure spring water. There is also a spring running down between the two houses, which can be carried into the barnyard at a trifling expense, and another large spring in the best dwelling, sufficient to supply a dozen families, which has never failed summer or winter.

"The farm has thirteen acres of natural meadow, which will turn off from one and a half to two tons of hay to the acre, in the driest of seasons; about 100 healthy young apple trees, of the hardiest varieties, 300 currant and gooseberry bushes, half an acre of cultivated strawberries, two acres of garden fenced in with wire, and is in all respects a desirable home for a small farmer or professional man. The buildings are situated in a ravine, surrounded by trees and shrubbery, and protected from wind and storm. The property is located within eight miles of the Iowa state line, six miles from the S.M. Railroad station, and four miles south of the thriving village of Preston, the county seat of the largest and wealthiest and most populous counties in the state, and is only fifteen miles from a flourishing station on the McGregor & St. Paul Railroad. There is a post office and school house within five minutes walk of the dwelling.

"The property is now offered for sale at $2,500, and credit will be given on a portion of the purchase money, if desired, at ten per cent. Altogether this is one of the finest opportunities ever offered in Fillmore County, to any person wanting a snug little home in one of the richest farming sections in the state. Titles perfect, and property free from all incumbrances. Apply immediately to the subscriber or to Henry B.Wells, Attorney, Preston, Minn. D.D. Farrell, Prop'r."

Sounds like a bargain, to me! However, also in the file was a copy of an auction bill from 1855, brought by a gentleman in Rochester when he was visiting the Mayo Clinic back in 1931. Here is this story:

"Having sold my farm and am leaving for Oregon territory by ox team, I will offer at public auction on March 1, 1849, all my personal property, to wit: All ox teams except two teams, Buck and Ben and Tom and Jerry; two milk cows, one gray mare and colt, one pair of oxen and yoke, one baby yoke, two ox carts, 1,000 feet of boards, 150 ten-foot fence rails, one 60-gallon soap kettle, 85 sugar troughs made of white oak timber, spinning wheels, 30 pounds of mutton tallow, and one large loom made by Jerry Wilson.

"Also 300 poles, 100 split hoops, 100 empty barrels, one 132 gallon barrel of Johnson-Miller Whiskey (!) seven years old; one 40-gallon copper still; 20 gallons apple brandy; one dozen real coopers, two handle hooks, three scythes and cradles; one dozen wooden spiles, bullet molds and powder horns; rifle made by Ben Miller; 50 gallons of soft soap; ham, bacon, lard; 40 gallons of sorghum molasses, six head of fox hounds all soft mouthed except one."

Mentioned in the ad is a scythe, a hand-harvesting implement with a curved cutting blade. It has a long bent wooden handle called a snath. A cradle scythe has fingers or rods that receive the grain and lay it in even gavels on the field stubble. Spiles are wooden vent plugs or spouts for draining sap from trees.

"Terms of sale: Cash in hand or note to draw from four per cent interest with Bob McConnell as secretary. My home is two miles south of Versalles, on McCoon Ferry Pike, sale will begin at 8 A.M. Plenty of drinks and eats. J.L. Mess"

Such was life in those days...and we know "times have changed!"