In the 1930s, many farmers had purchased land with some at selling prices of $10 or $12 per acre. With the arrival of the Great Depression era, many farmers couldn’t make their payments. Large loan companies and insurance companies often purchased the repossessed notes from the banks for less than one-fourth of the note’s value. In some communities, these companies might own one-half of the land.

The large companies that purchased the land would usually try to work with the farmers and give them an extension on their loans if they’d tried to pay their loans in past years. In other instances, they’d rent the land to farmers fortunate enough to keep a team of horses and some machinery. Both the farmer and the company received one-half of the crop’s income.

Still, other farmers were left without any money at all. They had to seek other methods to make a living, but this was often difficult because of the slow economy and the fact that farming was the only skill that many knew.

Many farms were sold in order to pay the back taxes. If another person could pay the back taxes, he could often buy the farm.

In spite of all the farm foreclosures, many farm sales around the country were called off due to farmer’s protests. One such incident occurred at Plattsburg, MO, where several hundred farmers from northern Missouri and southern Iowa arrived at the courthouse just prior to the foreclosure sale. As the marshal and three deputies made their way to the courthouse steps, revolvers were taken from two of the deputies. After a few hours, the sale officials decided it would be in the best interest of all concerned if the sale was called off. The authorities were told if they tried to conduct other sales, similar protests would take place.

The riots, the mobs, and the hardships were not limited to Daviess County and Northwest Missouri. For instance, in Julesburg, Colorado, 500 farmers from eight Nebraska and three Colorado counties marched into the county in a military fashion. The result was that they were able to restore $3,000 worth of machinery that had been repossessed by a loan company.

— written, researched and presented by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin, MO (2003)

Harvest time brought the sale of surplus grain at Civil Bend. (circa 1930, courtesy David Stark, Gallatin)


Yesteryear farm scene in Daviess County, MO (date unknown)