Chopping Knife

Blacksmiths often made or repaired items that farmers used in their homes. A blacksmith made the metal blade on this chopping knife and attached a wooden handle as well.

Diary of Marshall Fairbanks – March 6, 1878

From the years 1878 until 1888, if not longer, Marshall Fairbanks kept a daily account of life on his farm in Evans (Erie County), New York, including his accounts of the weather, money coming in and out, and any other events of interest. He wrote about driving into Buffalo to sell crops and about laborers that came to the farm to work for a few months at a time. According to the census in 1875, Marshall’s farm had expanded to 126 acres. He harvested wheat, oats, Indian corn, potatoes, peas, beans, apples, and grapes. On the farm, they also raised a small number of cattle, swine, and poultry, made butter, and sold eggs.

Mild partly clear with a south wind Webster and I went to Buffalo with the team took 18 chickens live 81 1/4 lbs of butter 9 dozen of eggs and a bushel of apples received of poltry 10cts am to $9.00 received for butter 26 cts am to $21.12 eggs at 20 cts a doz $1.80 and apples $1.25 To cash for groceries $13.80 To cash for timothy seed $8.90 shoes for Jennie $2.50 expenses, 70 cts

1875 NY Census – Wilder Family

Almanzo James Wilder, the main character in Farmer Boy, and husband of author Laura Ingalls Wilder, was the fifth child of James and Angeline Wilder. The Wilder family left the farm in Franklin County in 1875, to seek better farmland in Minnesota. The 1875 New York Census, indicates that Almanzo’s oldest brother, Royal, remained on the family farm in New York.

The agricultural schedule of the New York Census shows the types of crops and animals being raised and goods being produced on farms in New York State, as well as the value of farmland.


This 1882 oil painting by Theodore Robinson illustrates the change in technology toward wheeled farm equipment. This riding reaper, or cutter, reduced the amount of physical labor needed to harvest crops. The horses pulled the reaper, and it cut automatically. The farmer only had to direct the horses. This painting also illustrates how women played an important role on farms as well. Women often did just as much work in the fields as men.


Horseshoes were very common in a blacksmith’s shop. The blacksmith would not only make the shoes by hammering and shaping hot iron, but he would also assist farmers by putting the shoes on their horses.

Broadcast Seeding Bag

Planting is a very important step in the farming process. This small seeding bag spread the grain seed out onto the field. Planting could have also been done by hand, but the seeding bag made the process much easier. This seeder is operated by a crank at the bottom. The farmer would turn the crank, the seeds would come out through the bottom of the bag, and be spread out onto the field.


The plow was the major farm implement of the nineteenth century. A strong plow was needed to break up the soil to prepare for planting. This plow has an iron share and moldboard. The share is the sharp edge that cuts the soil, and the moldboard is the curved, metal part of the plow that turns over the soil. The beam and handles are made of wood. This is just one of many different styles of plows.