The University of Wisconsin Press
Memoir / Agriculture / Wisconsin
When Horses Pulled the Plow
Life of a Wisconsin Farm Boy, 1910–1929
Olaf F. Larson
Wisconsin Land and Life
Arnold Alanen, Series Editor
A centenarian looks back at his boyhood in an era of rural transformation
“Larson’s memory is excellent, his description is detailed––and throughout the book his love of farming is constantly being expressed.”
In 1910, when Olaf F. Larson was born to tenant livestock and tobacco farmers in Rock County, Wisconsin, the original barn still stood on the property. It was filled with artifacts of an earlier time—an ox yoke, a grain cradle, a scythe used to cut hay by hand. But Larson came of age in a brave new world of modern inventions—tractors, trucks, combines, airplanes—that would change farming and rural life forever.
When Horses Pulled the Plow is Larson’s account of that rural life in the early twentieth century. He weaves invaluable historical details—including descriptions of farm equipment, crops, and livestock—with wry tales about his family, neighbors, and the one-room schoolhouse he attended, revealing the texture of everyday life in the rural Midwest almost a century ago. This memoir, written by Larson in his ninth decade, provides a wealth of details recalled from an earlier era and an illuminating read for anyone with their own memories of growing up on a farm.
Olaf F. Larson was born and raised on a tobacco farm in Edgerton, Wisconsin, and now lives in Florida. He is professor emeritus of rural sociology at Cornell University and coauthor of Sociology in Government: The Galpin-Taylor Years in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1919–1953.
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LC: 2010041463 S
168 pp. 5 1/2 x 7 1/2
20 b/w photos
Paper $19.95 t
“Though artifacts from this era remain, we will lose our ability to understand and interpret them unless we preserve these sorts of complementary narrative accounts. The experience of life on a family farm is becoming distant today, but has been remarkably preserved in Olaf Larson’s memory.”
—Robert J. Gough, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, author of Farming the Cutover
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