Every once in a while you get the opportunity to travel back in time. If you’re like me, you do not carry a time machine with you. Luckily my Dad has ansetry.com which is pretty much the same thing. Looking back in time I discovered new information about my family. In my family, my great great aunt’s dad was the most recent documented farmer as an occupation. He started out as a dairy farmer back in 1910 before owning his own grocery store and gas station in 1929 in New York. His name is Frank Bowen Gates; his family tended to do farming with other work as well.
In the 1900s farming was growing bigger and bigger. At the time the total farm population was about 32,077,000 people, with 6,366,000 farms that had an average of 138 acres. Dryland farming started to become popular in the Great Plains, farm credit was becoming a rural issue, and the Farmers’ Equity Union was organized. When Frank was a dairy farmer Agriculture exports were $1.9 billion/per year. Commercial Fertilizer, at the time, was used at 6,116,700 tons/year. Just 35 minutes away from where Frank lived the first Farm Bureau formed. A few Years later World War I broke out. Between 1910-1925, more roads were built and people started using automobiles more often.
Frank started as a farmer with his father before learning mechanics where he turned it into a business. Unfortunately, when Frank first got his grocery store and gas station the Great depression struck between 1929-1939. This caused farm prices and income to drop. In the 1930’s the farm population was at 30,455,350, with 6,295,000 farms, with an average of 157 acres, with the addition of 14,633,252 irrigated acres. The use of farm-to-market road were becoming more popular in government road building. By the time Frank passed away in 1965, the Trade Expansion Act was developed. The Appalachian Regional Development Act was also put into place where there is a voluntary 4-year price and adjustment program. The stats for farmers have continued to increase since the great depression causing more of the population to do other forms of work.
Frank’s farm was passed down to my great great uncle and his family. When my Dad was a kid, his family also owned a farm. It was a personal ¼ acre farm that grew corn, green beans, carrots, blackly, beats, with a plum tree and peach tree. My immediate family doesn’t own a farm but it was interesting to find out how someone in my family were apart of major events such as the Great Depression. That’s how I found my roots.