Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ozark Farm Prices Circa 1940

by Pa Rock
Ozark Chicken Farmer

Referencing once again Marguerite Lyon's wonderful book, Take to the Hills, I thought I would share her comments regarding land prices in the depression years just preceding the Second World War.  Mrs. Lyon was asked by a friend how much she would have to pay for an Ozark farm, and she put her response into the book.

"When our friends, Mr. and Mrs Don Gardner (Jill Edwards) came to the Ozarks, they paid five thousand dollars for a cattle farm of two hundred acres, with good house, cattle and goat barns, and five springs.  But farms can be obtained far more cheaply. 
"You can get a farm of forty acres with a two-or-three room log or native timber house and barn (such as it is) for five hundred to a thousand dollars.  I know of one with twenty acres and a very nice little house for six hundred dollars.  I know of another farm with one hundred and sixty acres and a fair-minus house for which the owners ask fifteen hundred dollars.  And still another with twenty acres and a better-than-average house that is priced at nine hundred dollars.  All of these farms have woodlands on them, in addition to more or less cleared pasture land.  No farm is ever entirely cleared of its timber. 
"All of the farms I have mentioned are on good highways or farm-to-market roads."

Mrs. Lyon went on to caution her readers to not buy a farm sight unseen, and to always carefully investigate the water supple.  And she warned prospective buyers to be skeptical of what they are told by "real estate dealers."  All of that is good advice today.

I regret to inform you that farm prices in the Ozarks have risen considerably since the days when "the Jedge" and Marge Lyon lived at Sunrise Mountain Farm.   Still though, it's all relative, and a small farm with a decent house and a few out-buildings in the Ozarks today can often be had for about the same price as an average single family dwelling in the city.

There are perks with living out in the country, but drawbacks as well - and it's definitely not for everyone!

1 comment:

Xobekim said...

I recall a conversation between my father and Uncle Elzie Hogan on the front lawn of the Hogan farm near Gainesville in the early 1960's. My father stood admiring the land, the hills, the stream said now would be a good time to get some of that $40 an acre Ozark's land.

Uncle Elzie informed him that since my father's first arrival on the farm, probably during WWII, the price had skyrocketed to over $100 an acre. You could visibly see my father's dream deflate. Today those land prices are at least $1000 an acre.

There was also talk of Native Americans wandering through those hills. I never saw any of them.

On my first visit to Arkansas (the family used the Oakland Cemetery just south of the state line)I saw white people living in tar paper shacks with tin roofs. I had seen poor blacks in the old pre-war tenements living in extreme poverty, but nothing like that. There, I thought to myself, is where you could grab some cheap land. I didn't share that idea, apparently I lack the "vulture capitalist" gene.