Before purchasing farm acreage, the land
would have to be surveyed. If not, the farm could
be taken by another title holder in later years.
This happened to Thomas Lincoln in Kentucky.
Lawyers and surveyors in Kentucky, Indiana and
probably Illinois were not trusted or liked by
sustenance farmers like Thomas Lincoln.
It is strange that his son, Abraham would end up
surveying and law.
Abe was known for his high level honesty. Thus he
was nicknamed "HONEST ABE!"
What's included in a
Pioneer 19th Century Log Farm?
Tom Lincoln's cabin was of the
"saddlebag" style. It is actually two
separate cabins connected in the middle. It
does have a loft area for bedding. The logs
were chinked, and the method of construction
was of the Kentucky style.
Tom Lincoln's barn is called a double
crib barn. It has a crib (corn storage)
area on both sides, with an open area in the
middle. Each crib area has hay storage
above for oxen. The western crib has a tack
and feed room built in. the middle area,
called the threshing floor, is used for
processing wheat. Tom's oxen would be
sheltered in this large barn.
A ROOT CELLAR
A small partially underground
building used for storing root crops and
other food items that need to be kept cool
in the summer and from freezing during the
Another log structure used for salt
curing and smoking meats during the winter
months of January, February, and March after
butchering in December. The salt curing was
done to preserve the meat, while the smoking
was for flavor and kept flies and other
flying pests off of the meat.
THE WATER WELL
A necessary item for a farm. It
would supply needed water when the creek
would go dry. A lot of pioneer farm wells
had long poles, called "the sweep," that
helps to raise the heavy buckets of water.
THE GARDEN AND ORCHARD
Close to the house, and often in
front would be the garden and orchard.
Crops on pioneer log cabin farms raised
fruit and vegetables for food. They usually
weren't interested in selling their produce
in a market. There were no markets in their
isolated locations. Heirloom gardening is a
method of preserving species of plants which
are rare or obsolete today.
In Illinois, Indiana and other
Central U.S. states, the common livestock
was hogs, chickens, sheep, oxen and
- Hogs raised by
farmers were brought in from other
states such as South Carolina. They had
a fenced in pen and a simple lean to, to
reside in during the winter. Scraps
from meals and corn were their main food
- Chickens would run
all around the farm, especially around
the cabin and often "inside" the cabin.
Roosters were not well-liked by pioneer
children, as they would often chase
- Sheep were raised to
provide the wool to spin the yarn, to
make the clothing and blankets. Sheep
were very important to pioneer
survival. Wool would provide warm
blankets and clothing.
- Oxen were very large
"cattle" used to pull farm implements or
wagons. They were another necessary
animal for the pioneer farmer to have.
FIELDS-- DEALING WITH THE WOODS & A WILD
- Horses were used for
farm work, as well as traveling to town
and to a neighbor's farm. They were
also a necessary animal to survive in
the prairie wilderness
A Definition of Sustenance Farming:
1. A means of sustaining
2. A means of livelihood.
The sustenance farmer grew and raised
his crops and animals for he and his family
to eat and use. They did not normally sell
or barter their crops or animals, but would
in next column to the right
CROPS AND DEALING WITH
THE LAND, CONTINUED
Upon selecting a good farm site,
where the land title could be purchased
clear and legal, a good water supply, and
trees for logs, the job of clearing for a
field crop was a big one.
Trees would be felled, stumps would
be burnt or pulled out. Sometimes whole
trees would be burned out to increase the
size of a field. Fence would be made of
the logs after splitting.
Whole wooded areas would disappear with a
The business and survival of being a
"sustenance farmer" in the 19th Century was
the planting and preparing of a crop. The
following winter could be bad, and the corn
and other crops, vegetables, and potatoes
Abraham Lincoln learned to farm from
His life-interests were not in farming a
field, but in learning
He learned to use the ax and to hold
the plough. He became inured to all the
duties of seed-time and harvest. On many a
day, during every one of those thirteen
years, this Kentucky boy might have been
seen with a long "gad" in his hand, driving
his father's team in the field, or from the
woods with a heavy draught, or on the rough
path to the mill, the store, or the river
Abe was specially good at felling
trees, and acquired a muscular strength in
which he was equaled by few or none of those
about him. In the sports of hunting and
fishing, he was less skilled. Upon killing
his first animal, he made a personal promise
to never do it again.
7- (92-100 inches) make 1
25 links make 1 rod
rods make 1 chain
80 chains make 1 mile
[Note--a chain is 100 links, equal to 4 rods
or 66 feet]
OTHER MEASUREMENTS OF OLD
Shoemakers formerly used
a subdivision of the inch called a
barley-corn; three of which made an
Horses are measured
directly over the fore feet, and the
standard of measure is four inches,
called a hand.
of Old Continued in column on the right
In Biblical and other old
measurements, the term span is sometimes
used, which is a length of nine inches.
The sacred cubit of the
Jews was 24.024 inches in length
The common cubit of the
Jews was 21.704 inches in length.
A pace is equal to a yard
or 36 inches
A fathom is equal to 6
A league is three miles,
but its length is variable, for it is
strictly speaking a nautical term, and
should be three geographical miles,
equal to 3.45 statute miles, but when
used on land, three statute miles are
said to be a league.
In cloth measure an aune
is equal to 1 1/4 yards, or 45 inches
An Amsterdam ell is equal
to 26.284 inches
A brabant ell is equal to
U.S. Land Measures, as
recorded on deeds
1. A township is divided into 36
sections, each a mile square.
2. A section contains 640 acres.
3. A quarter section, half a mile square
contains 160 acres.
4. An eighth section, half a mile long,
north and south, and a quarter of a mile
wide contains 80 acres
5. A sixteenth section, a quarter of a mile
square contains 10 acres.
6. The sections are all numbered 1
to 86, commencing at the north-east corner.
7. The sections are divided into
quarters, which are named by the
8. The quarters are divided in the same
way. The description of a forty acre lot
would read: The south half of the west half
of the south-west quarter of section 1 in
township 24, north of range 7 west, or as
the case might be; and sometimes will fall
short and sometimes overrun the number of
acres it is supposed to contain.
9. The nautical mile is 795 feet 4-5
feet longer than the common mile.
Planning a Farm Resources
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