A Rural Carpenter's World: The Craft in a Nineteenth-Century by Wayne Franklin

By Wayne Franklin

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In 1875, we may conclude, James was deriving a good deal of his support from the farm. He also was practicing a kind of diversified agriculture, characterized by a variety of crops and animals in mostly modest acreages and numbers, that was historically typical of the region. This last conclusion is borne out by a contrast with the census entries for his older brother Joseph Marvin Holmes. In 1855, when he had been married for nine years and was twenty-nine years of age, Joseph Marvin Holmes reported the following data: he had 60 improved acres and 20 unimproved, raised 200 bushels of oats on 10 acres, 75 bushels of corn on 2 acres, 150 bushels of potatoes on 1 1/2 acres, 25 bushels of buckwheat on 1 acre, and 3 bushels of barley on 1/2 acre.

In 1875, we may conclude, James was deriving a good deal of his support from the farm. He also was practicing a kind of diversified agriculture, characterized by a variety of crops and animals in mostly modest acreages and numbers, that was historically typical of the region. This last conclusion is borne out by a contrast with the census entries for his older brother Joseph Marvin Holmes. In 1855, when he had been married for nine years and was twenty-nine years of age, Joseph Marvin Holmes reported the following data: he had 60 improved acres and 20 unimproved, raised 200 bushels of oats on 10 acres, 75 bushels of corn on 2 acres, 150 bushels of potatoes on 1 1/2 acres, 25 bushels of buckwheat on 1 acre, and 3 bushels of barley on 1/2 acre.

I believe it can be inferred that in Holmes's case where he was mattered more than what he was. To that extent he stands before us here as a prime example of the rural American's refusal to make decisions based first and foremost on economic grounds. Something held him closely to Westford; if I have hinted at what it was-for he did not articulate it in the diary or in any of the other documents he left behind-I will count this project a success. The diary proper forms chapter 2 here. The first chapter sets the immediate context for it; chapter 3 discusses the jobs Holmes undertook in the year 1869.

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