Emigration to America
Important Extracts of a Letter from a very Intelligent and respectable Engineer in Louisville, dated January 20. 1819.
“The best time for coming to America I should judge to be in the summer, to land in September, so as to be able to get here before the weather was too cold. It is safe to settle in the beginning of winter or spring, so as to inure to the climate by degrees. The best plan for coming is to take a part of the steerage of a vessel, and find your own provisions; you will save more in this way, over a cabin passage, than would buy a decent farm here. The lands in this neighbourhood raise a crop of wheat and one of corn alternately, and improve ; dung is never applied, and is said to be hurtful. It is without question what the land here is as good as can be, and when to this is added the heat of the summer, one ought to be able to raise crops as heavy as they will stand. You wonder at 10 dollars being enough to clear an acre. It is not cleared, all the trees under 12 inches are cut down and burned on the ground, and the large ones are killed by cutting round the bark. The ground is then prepared for Indian corn by scratching it with a hoe, or a kind of shuffle, which, from the looseness and mellowness of the soil, is easily done, and in this way sixty or eighty bushels an acre are sometimes raised. – the trees die in a few months, and in three or four years fall down one by one, and the roots will rot out in seven or eight years. It is a great want of sense in any new settler not to adopt the modes of this country, proven to be the best adapted to the state of it by 200 years experience. The Americans, of all other people I know of, are the most ingenious in adapting the means to the end. I do not know if they have more sense than other nations, but they certainly make it go farther. Every tools answers the purpose most effectually. This is evident in their axes. An American will cut down three times more trees and square three times more timber than the best of your wrights could do, and not by more strength but by fitter tools. So it is with cutting their grain ; a man will cut down four acres of wheat in a day, what what he calls a cradle scythe, and lay it as refular for binding as reapers can do. Sixty bushels of Indian corn is the average of Kentucky ; but 25 bushels of wheat is about the average of an acre. It is easier farming here than with you on sundry accounts ; the soil is free, few weeds make their appearance, and when ploughed down are certainly killed by the hot sun. There are no frosts to injure the crop, and no wet weather to destroy it when cut. Hay is made in two days, and grain is cut one day and stacked or housed the next. From the shortness and mildness of the winter, little provender is needed for the stock. Swine are raised at no expence. They breed and feed in the woods, and only want from one to three bushels of corn to fatten for killing, when they sell for five cents a lb. In the less settled parts of the country, it is the practise to give all the corn to swine and then send them to market. A bushel of corn is equal in nutriment to a bushel of wheat for man or beast.
Citation: Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh, United Kingdom), 27 May 1819, available at the Scissors and Paste Database, http://www.scissorsandpaste.net/142.