The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 67, July 1963 - April, 1964 Page: 377
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Population Trends in the Western Cross Timbers
of greenbriars and stinging nettles, this hardwood region has long
supported a small-farm economy. For many decades subsequent
to its initial settlement in the mid-nineteenth century, thin soils,
drought, and economic dislocations have altered its cultural
growth and curtailed its economic affluence. During the first half
of the twentieth century the checkerboard pattern of the small-
farm landscape began to give way to a scene dominated by larger
farms, more numerous livestock ranches, and increased economic
diversification. This study is concerned primarily with these eco-
nomic changes and their effect upon the social climate of the
province. To facilitate statistical tabulation and the use of census
figures, only eleven counties from the heart of the province shall
be considered-Montague, Young, Jack, Wise, Stephens, Palo
Pinto, Parker, Eastland, Erath, Comanche, and Brown. As was
the practice in the earlier study, the eleven counties shall be des-
ignated "the heartland."
Declining prices of agricultural produce have been of major
concern to farmers in the United States for many decades, and
heartland farmers have not been spared from sharing their chronic
misery. Production stabilization in the early twentieth century
helped maintain farm incomes, and farm prices rose as market
demands increased during both world wars. But after the return
of peace, prices sagged and recovered only slightly during the
Korean conflict. Mechanization of agriculture limited the number
of man-hours required to produce more and more farm commod-
ities, and productive rates increased while farm prices declined.
City dwellers reaped great economic benefits from falling farm
prices, but American farmers realized little from the growing
demand for their produce. The result was a mass abandonment
of farms and farm occupations.
The average heartland farmer was a chronic debtor by the
last decade of the nineteenth century, and each decline in the
price of his commodity forced him to sell a greater quantity of
his produce to meet the interest payments on his obliga-
tions. When demand declined the only strategy which occurred
to him was to try to increase production, which in turn brought
him lower prices for his produce. New Deal legislation had some
effect in reducing his productivity, and nature also assisted with
frequent droughts and periodic insect invasions. The artificial
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 67, July 1963 - April, 1964, periodical, 1964; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101197/m1/439/: accessed December 14, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.