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Moment of Indiana History

Early Indiana Agriculture

The Indiana countryside looked very different when Euro-American settlers first began moving here in the late 18th century. The landscape was covered with dense, old-growth forests which had to be cleared before the settlers could begin farming.

The settlers came armed with only primitive tools and faced years of backbreaking labor. The trees were felled with axes and hauled away by teams of animals, who also helped pull the remaining stumps. Once the land was cleared, it was time to employ primitive wooden plows which would often break in the hard soil.

By the mid 19th century the Industrial Revolution brought the steel plow to Indiana farmers. They also began to use machines for reaping and threshing. These developments allowed each farmer to work many more acres than before. For the first time farmers were able to move beyond subsistence level farming, feeding and clothing the people in the new cities that were growing up around the new industries.

(Photo Credit: Bass Photo Co. Collection, Indiana Historical Society)

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