[page 53, par 1]
THE CHARACTER OF THE LANDS IN NEWTON COUNTY -- KINDS OF LANDS THAT WERE FIRST CULTIVATED -- HOW THE FRESH LANDS PRODUCED -- HOW PEOPLE DISPOSED OF THEIR STOCK AND COTTON -- INCREASE OF POPULATION FOR THE FIRST TEN YEARS AFTER SETTLEMENT.
[page 53, par 2]
The lands of Newton county are divided into what is termed the ridge and branch lands. Some loamy, sandy upland, some level with good clay foundation, some red clay sub-soil. Quite an amount of bottom and creek lands, and the prairie in the southwestern portion of the county.
[page 53, par 3]
Though Newton county is not one of the rich counties of the State, there are a great many bodies of fine land in the county. They are very much diversified, there being many kinds on a small area. The character of the lands first cultivated in the county were usually the level table lands. On these there was very little undergrowth, and after the turf was broken the virgin soil was rich and produced remarkably well, with very little cultivation.
[page 53, par 4]
Very frequently the new comer settled on an Indian's place and they appeared to be very good judges, and in many instances had selected such places for their homes, as were very attractive to the white settler. The prairies of the county were very open; thousands of acres of this kind of land were entirely unobstructed by timber or undergrowth, and were very easily brought into a state of cultivation. The level, sandy and uplands were much more in demand, as the people much preferred the level uplands to the ridges or prairies.
[page 54, par 1]
There was no disposition to, or knowledge of terracing or circling land in those days. Farmers had great pride in having the fields laid off in very straight rows. No fertilizing to any extent was practiced at that time; very little attention paid to rotation of crops, and the consequence was that these level lands were soon worn down; more fresh lands were cleared up, and the old fields allowed to lie out and grow up in short-leafed pine trees, and in this way most of the choice places were brought ill at an early day and put under cultivation, and many of them allowed to go to ruin. These same grounds when they lie level and were allowed to lie out and take a second growth of timber, are among the most valuable of the county.
[page 54, par 2]
They have been reclaimed, and in many instances nature has done wonders in recuperating them. Having an abundance of vegetable mold, the intelligent application of commercial fertilizers has brought them up to a production equal if not greater than when they were first cleared. These lands, though level, are terraced so as to retain the greatest amount of moisture, and crops can be made with less rain than when they were fresh.
[page 54, par 3]
Great improvement in the proper kind of plows to work the crops have much improved the yield and greatly protects them from washing and wearing out. Newton county, as has been stated, was eminently a stock raising county as well as an agricultural one. A man had very little labor to perform to make corn or cotton; had only to keep his stock gentle to secure heir increase and growth.
[page 55, par 1]
MARKET FOR STOCK AND CATTLE.
[page 55, par 2]
WHAT WAS MADE ON THE FARM.
[page 56, par 1]
CLOTHING MADE AT HOME.
[page 56, par 2]
Large amounts of clothing were made by the women of the county, both cotton and woollen goods. These goods were of the most lasting character. Large amounts of the coarse shoes were made at home; many farmers tanned their own leather, while others carried their leather to the tan-yards of the county and exchanged hides for leather, getting half the weight of the hides in leather, if it were sole, and proportionately according to size and finish if it were upper leather. Farmers made their plow-lines, plow-stocks, hames and backbands at home. The county and town blacksmiths did new plow work and repaired old work so as to keep them busy most of the year. When they were not working on plows they were repairing and ironing wagons, whose wood-work was made at some neighboring shop in the county. People lived close at home and made more of the implements with which to work the farm than they now do. Quite an amount of money was derived from the sale of beef cattle, sheep and hogs, driven from this county to market. In some instances prices ran very low; at others they were very high, and as the stock grew up on the range and became very fat, much profit was gained from the raising of them. Thousands of cattle and other stock were driven to market from this county in the first twenty years after its settlement.
[page 56, par 3]
POPULATION AGAIN CONSIDERED.
[page 56, par 4]
The population of Newton county, when settled, is supposed to be from ten to twelve hundred, not counting the Indians. The first census after the organization of the county in the year 1836, was taken in the year 1840, which showed Newton county to have 2,528 of all classes, not including the Indians. This was quite an increase on the population of 1836. In the year 1850 the census gives 4,465, not to include the Indians. This showed that Newton county was still increasing very fast, and much of the good lands were being taken up, and all the advantages which this new county could give were being appreciated.
[page 57, par 1]
By this time much more interest was taken in schools and churches, and the general civilizing of the country. Better houses were being put up; quite an amount of negro property brought to the county, and many things done to give the county respectability and importance in the State. A new court-house had taken the place of the old log house built in early days, and a new jail, and the Baptist church, had by this time, or a little after, been built, all showing a tendency towards improvement.
[page 57, par 2]
This new court-house, or the second one to be built in the county, was a two-story frame building on the site occupied by the present brick structure. It was built by Willis Norman, but the price paid for it cannot be learned, nor the date it was built, possibly, as early as 1840 to 1841.