Sunday, October 5, 2014

Snapshot of a Farm, 1927 - Census Sunday

I have an unending fascination with my near ancestors -- the ones who might have been alive during my lifetime had disease or illness not taken them early.  Had they lived I might have known more about their lives and visited the environments in which they lived.  For my farmer ancestors, an agricultural census seems like a tiny window into their lives -- a snapshot, if you will -- of animals, crops, and chores on the farm. 

The Pennsylvania Triennial Farm Census--1927 gives the barest image of the farm where my father and grandfather lived.  At the time the census was taken, between October 13 and November 29, 1927, Gust Doyle would have been 38 or 39 (his birthday was on November 17); my father, Lee, was 14.  Also living on the farm were Gust's second wife, my father's step-mother; and their four children, my father's half-siblings.  Gust's information is on p. 5, line 23.

 1     Gust Doyle - Name of Operator
        R.D. 1, Stoneboro - Address (R.D. & Post Office)
 2     O - Owner, Renter, Manager
 3     1 male under 10
 4     3 females under 10
 5     2 males 10 and older
 6     1 female 10 and older
 7     140 total acres all land in farm
 8     35 total acres land used for crops during season
 9     7 acres corn for grain
10    6½ acres corn for silage and fodder, etc.
11    6 acres wheat for grain
12    15 acres oats for grain
13    no acres rye for grain
14    no acres buckwheat for grain
15    ½ acre Irish potatoes
16    no acres tobacco
17    no acres tame alfalfa hay
18    21 acres all other hay
19    no apple tress of bearing age
20    14 apple trees of non-bearing age
21    18 peach trees of all ages
22    2 pear trees of all ages
23    2 horses including colts
24    no mules
25    2 horses & mules of working age
26    18 milk cows & heifers 2 years old and over
27    2 heifers 1-2 years old to be kept for milking
28    4 all other cattle including calves
29    no sows or gilts for breeding
30    no other swine including pigs
31    no sheep including lambs
32    30 hens and pullets of laying age
33    30 other chickens
34    no hives of bees
Equipment and conveniences - report number of each
35    1 running water in kitchen
36    1 furnace heating system
37    no milking machines in use
38    1 automobile
39    1 motor truck
40    1 tractor
41    no gas engines
42    1 telephone
43    no radios
44    1 silo
If farm is equipped with electricity, source of current
45    not own plant
46    1 power station

Had the census requested an account of other fruits grown on the farm in addition to apples and pears, Gust would have answered that there were up to several acres of strawberries grown and harvested each year.  The Doyle Farm was known for its strawberries and was situated on what was called Strawberry Hill.

The Pennsylvania Triennial Farm Census--1927 is available at the website of the Pennsylvania History and Museum Commission.  Thank you for the snapshot, PHMC!


Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Seeing all that he and was responsible for just makes me tired! It's no wonder they worked from sun up to sun down and had little time for much else. I have two apple trees, a peach tree and an asian pear and a small garden and it is all that I can keep up.

    1. Farming was hard work, no doubt about it, Michelle. I really don't know how they managed it all. One great aunt commented to me that everyone worked, the little ones almost as soon as they could walk. I wonder what skills they had that I don't have that they were able to get so much done and to have had the energy to do it all.


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