122 – Farm and Livestock

While the women and younger boys did all the domestic chores, the men and older boys worked the farm and livestock.

William Jarvis had several sons and some good neighbors for help with farm work.

In the 1810 census, there are five males in William’s household. Two boys are under age 10; those were Gilbert, actually 12, and Harvey, age 7. There were two boys 10 to 15; those were Parker, age 18 and William age 16. And there was one male over 45; that was William, age 50.

Ed. Note: You noticed some age discrepancies above. Those are common in early censuses.

1810 US Census – William Jarvis

So William had three, maybe four boys of age to help him with the farm and livestock.

Notice some of William’s nearby neighbors – Conyers, Wingate, Collins, Jump, and Zinn. Also notice neighbor Fountain Mullins (of Mullins Log Cabin family).

There were five females in the household. Sarah, the oldest daughter, had married in 1807, so wasn’t living at home. Three girls were ages 10 to 15; Malinda, age 14, Margaret, age 10, and Susannah, age 9. Elizabeth, age 20, wasn’t married yet, but doesn’t seem to be listed. Margaret is the female over 45. She’s age 48.

1810 US Census – Pendleton County Summary

The census summary for Pendleton County listed the county population as 3,061, more than double the count in 1800. Of the total, 386 were slaves.


Most families planted several acres in corn. It was used to feed the family and their animal stock and sold as a cash crop to earn what little money the family needed to buy goods they didn’t make.

William didn’t get the best pick when he and his neighbors acquired land from Samuel McMillan. Much of William’s land was wooded valleys that drained into the creek.

We don’t know how much land he cleared for a corn crop, but it most certainly was less than the 100 acres.

Clearing the land of timber for crops was hard work. After felling trees, the stumps and roots must be pulled. Prying, pulling, chopping, burning – anything to get the roots and truck out.

The men of the family generally prepared the land for planting (using a mattock and axe to rid the virgin soil of roots and a scrub brush and a plow and hoe to cultivate the earth); The major crop was corn, but most families also had a truckpatch planted in wheat, oats, beans, squash, turnips, potatoes, and melons.

Kentucky’s Story – KET Education
Husking corn


Livestock was an important part of early Kentucky life. Most families owned a few cows. And most raised pigs.

In 1811, William Jarvis’ neighbor Jacob Wingate died. The Wingate farm was adjacent to the Jarvis farm on the south. William was bonded with widow Patsy Wingate as administrator of Jacob’s estate.

From the court records of Jacob Wingate’s 1812 estate sale, we can get an idea of typical livestock holdings.

Jacob Wingate’s estate sale – 1812
  • Three marked sheep 1.50
  • Pided cow & bell 6.75
  • White cow and two red heifers 17.25
  • three sows and pigs 1.50
  • Seven head of Geese 2.01
  • Three first choice sheep 6.00
  • Four last choice sheep 5.50
  • Red cow 10.50
  • Pale red steer 3.00
  • Dark red steer 5.00
  • Two calves 5.50
  • Six Barrows & two sows 5.12

Grazing the livestock

Stock ran at large in the county, as well as in town.

When Falmouth Was a Babe in Swaddling Clothes – Dr. H. C. Clark

It was common to keep the livestock in a small corral or fence at night, but to turn them out to graze during the day.

Stray livestock

Since animals were often left to graze outside fenced areas, they often strayed away from their owner’s farm. Usually a neighbor would recognize a stray animal and notify the owner. But not always.

If livestock strayed onto your farm, and you couldn’t identify the owner, you could either report the stray to the court, or bring the animal to the county’s “stray pen” in Falmouth.

The stray pen was important. In the following court record from August 1810, the county commissioners ordered a report of the condition of the jail, stocks, and stray pen. There was no courthouse yet; the court met in someone’s house.

The stray pen was in good condition. Unfortunately, the report showed “the jail in a very imperfect state; And although your Worships did, a few years ago, cause three locks to be furnished for the Jail, we find that but one of them remains.”

Pendleton County Court – August 1810

For the Jarvises and their neighbors, it was impractical to take the stray animal to the stray pen in Falmouth. Falmouth was over five hours away, and the stray probably belonged to someone nearby.

In these cases, you could report the stray to the court the next time you visited Falmouth. And the owner of a missing animal could check the court record the next time they visited Falmouth.

Here’s an example of reporting a stray animal to the court. In 1817, William Conyers, husband of Elizabeth Jarvis Conyers, reports a stray bay filly with white hind feet that he is keeping at his farm.

Livestock mark

To identify your livestock, it was important to register your mark, or brand. Without a mark, it could be difficult to identify or claim a stray.

In an 1814 court record, William Jarvis recorded his mark as “a crop off of the right ear and a hole in the left ear.”

Wolf Scalps

There was also a variety of carnivorous animals, such as the panther, wild-cat, foxes, wolves, etc., which prowled around the cabins and frequently destroyed sheep, pigs, poultry, etc., of the settlers.

The sheep and other stock ran in the woods, the sheep being penned up at night close to the house to keep the wolves from getting them.

The Settlement of Pendleton County – Mildred Bowen Belew

Wolves were such a problem that the court paid bounties for wolf scalps. Court records are full of recorded bounty payments.

In this November 1811 court record, the court paid bounties for 24 wolf scalps over six months old at $1.50 each and 6 scalps under six months old at $1.00 each.

By the late 1800s, wolves were eradicated from Kentucky.



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