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THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA
Published Weekly by the
University of North Caro
lina for the University Ex
FEBRUARY 17, 1926
CHAPEL HILL, N C.
THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS
VOL. XII, NO. 14
Editorial Boardi E. C. Branson. S. H. Hobbs. Jr., L. R. Wilson. E. W. Knight. D. D. Carroll. J. B. Bullitt. H. W. Odum.
Entered as second-class matter November 14. 1914. at the Postoffice at Chapel Hill, N. C.. under the act of August 24, 1912
North Carolina is probably headed j than during any previous five years
since immediately after the Civil War.
How does one account for the fact
that North Carolina leads all states in
increase in number of farms operated
by tenants during'the last five years?
The following three reasons are perhaps
the main explanations.
First, the depression. During the
prosperous war period immediately pre
ceding 1920 thousands of farmers,mainly
former tenants, made first payments on
high-priced cotton-tobacco land. When
the slump came these would-be farm
owners found it unwise or impossible to
hold the land. The land reverted to the
original owners, and the would-be pur
chasers reverted to their former tenant
A second reason is that both cotton
and tobacco are ideal tenant crops, and
North Carolina is the only state in which
both of these crops are grown in large
quantities. These crops have sold at
relatively high prices since 1920 and
many farmers have come to the state
to produce them. The majority of such
newcomers necessarily begin as tenants.
The third reason is the boll weevil
which recently wrought havoc with cot
ton production in South Carolina, Georgia,
and other nearby states, causing several
thousand tenants to shift operations to
North Carolina which was not suffering
so badly from the boll weevil. The
possibility of tobacco production was
also an added attraction. South Caro
lina and Georgia suffered heavy losses
of farmers, many of them settling down
in North Carolina.
into farm tenantry more rapidly than
any other state in the Union. Such is
the conclusion one must draw from a
close study of the'1926 farm census data
which have recently been released. In
1920 there were 117,469 farms operated
by tenants in North Carolina. In 1925
there were 131,867, or a five-year in
crease of 14,408 tenant farms. The
five-year increase in all farms was
13,729, which means that the increase
in the number of farms operated
by tenants was larger than the net
gain in all farms. Only two states in
the Union experienced larger increases
in farms during the last five years, and
probably no state had anywhere like as
large an increase in farms operated by
In 1920 the farms operated by tenants
were 43.6 percent of all farms in the
state. The farm tenant ratio in 1926
was 46 6 percent, a ratio increase of
three percent in just five years. This
is a significant gain considering the
enormous number of farms in the state.
The table which appears elsewhere
ranks the counties from low to high
according to the percent of all farms
operated by tenants. The parallel or
second column shows the ratio increases
and decreases in farms operated by
tenants for the five-year period.
Dare county, an exceptionally un
important county in agriculture, with
only 7.6 percent of her farms operated
by tenants, has the lowest farm tenant
rate in the state. Edgecombe county
has rapidly been heading into tenancy
during recent years and now has the
highest farm tenant ratio in the state.
Of all farms in the county 83.3 percent
are operated by tenants
Forsyth county experienced the largest
decrease in the ratio of all farms oper
ated by tenants, dropping from 40.6
percent to 23.8 percent. Very likely
this is accounted for by the presence of
Winston-Salem which attracted the
tenants off the farm into industry,
Chowan, on the other hand, experienced
the largest ratio increase in tenant
farmers, moving up from 45.4 percent
to 63.0 percent, a ratio increase of 17.6
percent. The largest numerical
creases in farm tenants occurred in
Wayne and Nash counties.
The West Decreases
A study of the table shows that the
counties with low farm tenant ratios
are in the central Piedmont and moun
tain areas, and the extreme eastern
Tidewater counties. In other words
those counties of the state which do not
produce much cotton or tobacco have
few tenants, and for the most part
these are the counties in which the
tenant rate decreased during the five-
year period. The same was true for the
census decade 19J.0 to 1920. For the
most part the western counties are wit
nessing a loss of farm tenants, due to
the exodus of this class to available
The East Increases
On the other hand, the eastern half of
the state, including the cotton belt along
the South Carolina border, is rapidly
headed into higher tenant ratios. The
tenant belt of North Carolina is in the
shape of a full cresent moon, with one
horn in Rockingham county on the
north, widening to the east and south
as tobacco and cotton grow more
important, then extending westward
along the South Carolina border with
the other horn resting in Cleveland and
Rutherford counties against the Blue
Ridge. In this area are located all the
counties whose tenant rate exceeds
the state average of 46.6 percent, forty
counties in all. In these forty counties
whose tenant ratios are above the state
average two-thirds of all farms are
operated by tenants. In the cotton-
tobacco belt comprising approximately
67 counties are concentrated nearly nine-
tenths of all farm tenants in the state.
The percent of farms operated by
tenants has a close correlation with
the percent of agricultural wealth pro
duced by cash crops, and vice versa.
Why the Great Gains?
It might be interesting to point out
that, except for the 1890 to 1900 decade,
our increase in tenant-operated farms
was larger during the last five years
OUR LANDLESS MULTITUDE
North Carolina has twenty-two
million idle wil(?erness acres, a hun
dred thousand vacant town and city
lots, and a million three hundred and
eighty thousand landless, homeless
people, town and country. Almost
exactly one-third of our white farmers
and two-thirds of our negro farmers
own no land. The people who live
in rented dwellings in our towns and
cities are from two-thirds to three-
fourths of the various municipal
These are the people in North Caro
lina who own not an inch of the soil
they cultivate nor a single shingle in
the roofs over their heads. They are
fifty-two percent or more than half
the entire population of the state.
Enduring social structures cannot
be built on land-ownership by the
few and land-orphanage for the many.
Civilization is rooted and grounded
in the home-owning, home-loving,
home-defending instincts. — E. C.
IN INTERESTS OF FORESTS growth, increases rapidly. For while
A hopeful lawyer from San Antonio, |
Texas, writes asking for information i =‘'.efly m the
At a recent meeting of the North
Carolina Club Mr. F. S. Wilder,
graduate student from New Hampshire,
presented a paper on planning the
county. The following is a brief digest
of his paper.
Much is said and written nowadays
about planning a city to correct the de
fects, inconveniences, and mal-organiza-
tion of city life. Are there not as
serious but less obvious defects in the
arrangements for life in the country?
Cannot the country be planned for the
benefit of its inhabitants as well as the
city? This paper starts with that as
sumption and aims to outline the way
in which the regional planner would go
about planning a county.
The first task is to get a topogra^ical
survey of the region or county to be
planned. No effective county planning
can be accomplished until a minute sur
vey of the sort performed by the U. S.
Geological Survey has been made. This
has not been done for Piedmont North
Carolina, and it is very desirable that
the state government cooperate with
the Survey in completing this topo
graphical map of the state. Starting
with such a map the regional planner
lists and locates the natural resources
of the region such as minerals, water
power, types of soils, forests, etc. He
gets records of rainfall and climate.
He makes an economic and social survey
of the county showing:
1. Distribution of the population by
age, race, sex, occupation, and com
2. Markets and sources of incomes.
3. Means of transportation and com
4. Institutional organization.
When this is complete, he studies it
in relation to the map of the region and
in comparison with other regions.
Topography affects two parts of county
planning: the drawing of community
lines and the classification of the uses
of the land. It has little effect in the
plains apart from rivers, but is domi
nant in the mountains; But the regional
planner first classifies the land accord
ing to the uses of the soil with the aid
of the contour lines op the topographical
map. The three main classes are:
Grade Description of Soil Use
A Level, well-drained,
well-watered, fertile Tillage
B The medium slopes
and narrow bottoms Pasture
C Rough, rocky, slop
ing, wet or dry, ster
This will be found to correspond quite
closely with the best present practices;
yet it is astonishing how much land is
broken for tillage that ought to be left
in forest, for the value of the growing
timber crop is bound to increase rapidly
with the present rapid destruction of
the remaining virgin forests. Every
region, every farm where possible,
should preserve sufficient land in forest
to suppty its own needs, and provide
some surplus for local market when the
farmer has spare time. Class B should
include all land not tilled or in forest.
Most Piedmont farmers either neglect
pastures or do not know bow to care for
them, for good pastures can be and
sometimes are maintained in that
region—also in eastern Carolina. Dairy
farms, exclusive of forest, should be
about 60 percent pasture, since stock
can be kept on them nine months in the
year. Livestock and legumes is the
combination for soil-building. Many
children on the farm as well as in the
city do not get enough fresh milk. The
growing industrial centers are furilish-
ing expanding markets for dairy prod
ucts. I should therefore classify 26 per
cent of Piedmont North Carolina in
pasture land instead of the present six
to eight percent.
When the land has been classified for
agriculture, sites for development and
possible locations for the extraction of
minerals should be noted and provided
for on the planner’s map, Convenient
trade centers should be listed. The
present population should be'considered
with the aim of improving quality, not
to increase numbers. The home-builder
is concerned with the quality of his
neighbors—not with their number, as is
the real estate agent.
How many rural communities should
we have? The average number per town
ship is decreasing. Good roads, autos,
rural free delivery, and consolidated
schools all point to fewer and larger rural
communities. How organize the com
munity to have real community life?
Answer: Consolidated schools, com
munity churches, community play
grounds, a town plan, a farmers’ insti
tute, town and outlying country under
one local government. Such are the
ideas entering into the county plan. For
example, half the mileage in roads could
connect up all the farm homes with the
community center and the outside world
if the roads were properly located and
a few of the farm homes relocated. That
would mean better roads, more chances
for community contacts, and less lone
liness in the farm home. The county
planner would work this out with a good
I might go on, but enough has been
said to suggest what county planning is.
Its immediate practical value lies in
showing in what direction improvement
of country life conditions can be made.
Any county that wants such a plan can
have it. If adopted officially, it would
not be .carried out in a few years.
Changes, while slow, are inevitable and
are going on continuously. If made in
conformity with such a plan, the amount
that could be accomplished tov/iirds
carrying it out in the course of a decade
would be astonishing. The country com
munities would just grow to it.
concerning the whereabouts of a tract
of pine land of which he has heard in
this state. As described to his clients,
the attorney states that this tract con
tains 86,000 acres, is on a river, is
bisected by a railroad, and contains
timber which is estimated to cut 400
million feet of shortleaf and 200 million
feet of longleaf pine.
It is needless to say that there is no
such tract of timber in North Carolina.
There has been no such tract for twenty
years, at least. In fact, of all the great
forests of longleaf pine which once
covered the Coastal Plain, there remain
only here and there some small tracts
which have been preserved on account
of litigation or by reason of sentiment.
A tract such as that pictured in the
letter of inquiry would be a fortune
Originally the stand of longleaf pine
amounted to 400 billion board feet, dis
tributed through the states of North
and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida,
Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana^
Today there remains of this tremendous
supply probably not more than one-fifth,
practically all of which is in the five
states bordering on the Gulf of Mexico.
Longleaf pine in the Carolinas and
Georgia is, in the commercial sense, a
tale that is told.
There is a brighter side to the story
of longleaf pine, if only present pro
vision be made for future needs. Second
growth, in distinction to old or original
development of a large root system,
; and generally from three to six years
are required for longleaf to reach the
height of three inches to one foot, this
is preparation for the rapid shoot up
wards which follows. At five years
some longleaf saplings reach a height
of from two to three feet, and at seven
years of age are from five to eight feet
high. On protected old fields in North
Carolina measurements of longleaf pines
show that in 35 to 60 years the average
trees produce saw logs 14 to 20 inches
at the butt and 20 feet in length.
With the abolition of the free range
of hogs in Eastern North Carolina,
young pines of the longleaf species are
volunteering by the hundreds of thou
sands. A little foresight and protection
from fire in many parts of the Coastal
Plain will in another generation begin
once more to produce longleaf pine
The old forests of original growth,
which might have been maintained in
all essentials by reproduction, have
passed. But the new forest of the
same species is still possible on account
of the persistence, hardihood, and will to
survive which the longleaf pine has
shown against every possible practice
designed for its extermination. Whether
this new forest shall be realized within
a reasonable period of time depends
upon the degree to which public senti
ment supports the effort of state and
counties to afford it the necessary pro
FARM TENANCY IN NORTH CAROLINA IN 1925
Percent Increase or Decrease, 1920-1925
In the table below the counties of the state are ranked from low to high
according to the percent of farms operated by tenants in 1926. The second
column shows the percent tenant ratio increase or decrease from 1920 to 1926.
To illustrate: In Edgecombe county 83,3 percent of all farms were operated by
tenants in 1926, and 79.4 percent in 1920. The tenant ratio increased 3.9 percent
during the five-year period.
In 1926 farms operated by tenants represent 46.5 percent of all farms. The
rate in 1920 was 43.6 percent. In 44 counties the tenant rate decreased, while it
increased in 66 counties, mainly cotton and tobacco counties. One county showed
During the last five years the number of farms in the state increased 13,729,
while the number of farms operated by tenants increased 14,408. This is the
largest increase in the history of the state, except from 1890 to 1900.
Based on press summaries of the U. S. Census of Agriculture, 1926.
S. H. Hobbs, Jr.
Department of Rural Social-Economics, University of North Carolina
Rank Counties tenants
1 Dare 7.6 ..
2 Henderson 9.0 ..
a A vprv . 9.7 ..
4 Mitchell 10.2...
4 Watauga 10.2,,.
6 Alleghany Iff.S.,.
7 Ashe 11.3 ..
8 Buncombe 12.3.^.
9 Transylvania... .12.4...
10 Brunswick 14.3 ..
.... — 0.2
60 Rutherford ..
11 Alexander 16.3...
12 Macon 16.2...
13 Wilkes 18.3...
14 Randolph 18.9...
16 Jackson 19.2..,
16 Carteret 19.6...
.... - 0.9
17 Davidson 20.4.,.
67 Cabarrus ....
18 Caldwell 20,6 ,,
19 Cherokee 20.6...
20 Haywood 20.7...
21 McDowell 22.6...
9.9. SwRin 9.9. 6 .
23 Burke 22.9..
94 PpnHpr 9.S 0
25 Catawba 23.2..
76 Johnston ....
26 Guilford 23.6..
27 Graham 23.6 .
28 New Hanover....23.7..
29 Forsyth 23.8..
30 Columbus. 23.9..
31 Yadkin 26.6..
32 Yancey 26.7..
82 Granville ....
33 Bladen 27.7..
34 Tyrrpll 9.8 0
36 Madison 29.1..
36 Moore 30.1..
37 Clay 30.6 .
:^7 Pqlk 30 6
39 Pamlico .30.7..
4(1 Alnmanpp .31.6
41 Stanly 32.4 .
,42 Rowan 32.6..
43 Surry.* 33.2 .
44 nhnf.ham .33 6
94 Lenoir ;
46 Orange 34.0..
■ 95 Piet
46 Montgomery.,. .36.5 .
47 T.inpnin 36 7
48 Onslow 37.4..
4Q T.pp .38 4
; 99 Greene
60 Gates 38.8..