The Romance of a Hog Drive or Get along Little Porky

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by blufford, Oct 27, 2006.

  1. blufford

    blufford Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Another excerpt from the book The Ohio Frontier, Crucible of the Old Northwest 1720-1830 by R. Douglas Hurt.

    Buckeye farmers sold their hog crop either on the hoof or already dressed. As early as 1810 , Ohio farmers drove an estimated 40,000 hogs over the Appalachians to the eastern markets and during the War of 1812 vast amounts of Northern Ohio hogs were driven to Detroit and other military garrisons in that region....

    Through the 1840s thousands of hogs would be driven eastward each year...The most important swine route eastward followed the present day throughfares of U.S. Highways 35 and 66 through Gallipolis and the Kanawha Valley. Although the distance to market was long, hogs were frequently driven with cattle and allowed to forage on the wasted feed. Hogs were driven at the rate of 8 to 15 miles a day, and 2 months may pass before the drive terminated at the eastern market. If fed and driven properly, these swine would maintain even gain weight over the long trail drive. There farmers frequently bought the pigs for 5 to 6 cents per pound and fattened them for slaughter. Others were sold directly to the packers in Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City.
     
  2. palani

    palani Well-Known Member

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    Interpret this to read "chowed down on cow pies".

    I have a book on the laws of Pennsylvania from 1700 through 1830. One of the jobs that used to exist then was that of hog reeve. If anyone had lose hogs running in the streets he would make sure they were yoked and ringed and charge the owner. Something like the weed commissioner these days.
     

  3. Rockin'B

    Rockin'B Well-Known Member

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    I've never been on a hog drive, but would that be a little like herding cats?
    :cowboy: :) :)
     
  4. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Bear in mind back then hog fat/lard was likely as important as the pork. They raised them BIG, with some being the size of cattle.

    A couple of years ago The Tennessean ran an article on Big Bill, believed to be the world's record holder for weight, grain elevator scaled (but not apparently documented) at 2,552 pounds. He is said to have been nine feet long and 4 1/2 - 5' in height. When Big Bill died his hide was tanned, stuffed and used in a freak show in the 1940s. His skull was said to be extremely small, perhaps accounting for the weight gain. It is not known what happened to him. May be a bit of urban myth mixed in there.

    However, in the same article a sidebar indicates China had documented a pig which weighed out at 1,950 pounds. That one was 8' 3" long.

    Anyone have a current Guinness Book of Records handy?

    If interested in their history your local library should be able to get you a loaner copy of:

    THE HOG BOOK by William Hedgepeth. Sort of a tongue-in-check look at their history including hog poetry (about them, not by them).

    PIGS from Cave to Corn Belt by Charles Towne and Edward Wentworth. Very readable and interesting.

    Harder to find would be SWINE IN AMERICA by F. D. Coburn, 1908. Textbook. Interesting in how they raised hogs about 100 years ago now.
     
  5. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    Wow! Really interesting info. Thanks for sharing. I wouldn't mind reading some of these books. Especially the one on raising hogs 100 years ago.

    Heather
     
  6. blufford

    blufford Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I wonder if being a hog herder carried as much clout as being a cowboy. I also wonder how they kept the hogs in formation. I guess they had to herd them the same way the did the cattle. When I think of cattle drives, the old west comes to mind. But the first ones had to be a back east. I would love to hear of any more colonial livestock driving trails.
     
  7. TedH71

    TedH71 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    They probably used catahoula or blackmouth curs to herd the hogs. Very smart dogs.
     
  8. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Towne and Wentworth include a chapter on hog driving and don't mention dogs at all. A drive of 1,000 hogs might be divided into ten groups with one man doing the driving of each.
     
  9. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    More from Towne & Wentworth:

    Drives might be several hundred miles long and might be exclusively sheep, cattle, swine or turkeys. Sometimes several were mixed together, such as sheep, cattle and swine.

    The drover would round up head in an area, likely on consignment. For example they cite paying $.05 lb on the hoof for swine, hoping to get $.07 when they arrived at their destination. Now if you are driving 1,000 swine, averaging 200 pounds in weight (departing and arriving), that would be a gross of about $4,000. Out of that would come the road expenses of paying the herders about $.50 day (plus room and board) and animal feed. They cite a typical feed was eight ears of corn per night per swine. Some drovers started with a dedicated crew and other counted on hiring locals for several days at a time.

    They stayed at drove houses, which provided the accommodations (blanket on the floor), apparently a huge evening meal and breakfast, liquor (sold by the drink - which likely severely cut into their $.50 day wages), corrals for the stock and feed. Don't remember typically how many ears there are to a bushel, but they must of had a wide ranging supply network, providing income for farmers in the area with not only corn, but also provisions for the drove house kitchen.

    After the herds arrived at their destination the herdsmen would be paid for the return trip, such as $.50 per day plus another $.50 for room and board. Time was based on a set mile rate, such as 33 miles per day. They noted a fast walker, doing say 45 miles per day, could make some additional money out of the return trip. I suspect those willing to sleep in barn lofts and eat sparingly could do even better.

    That all ended with the railroads.
     
  10. blufford

    blufford Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks Ken, enjoyed your reply. That must have been a sight to see and a mess to behold. I wonder what their loss rate was. It was probably set off by all the confused livestock along the way that decided to join the parade..LOLs. Do you think the drivers had any money left after expenses. I think I would prefer driving livestock over clearing land.
     
  11. blufford

    blufford Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks for your reply bluecreekrog. My dad was born in raised in Cincinnati and lived near the stockyards and railroad (Camp Washington area ,I think.) He has many memories of the yards in the 1930s along with barns filled with livestock and hobos stopping in the neighborhood begging a piece of bread and butter from the people who lived there. I'll have to ask him about the winged pig statues at Sawers Point.
     
  12. Wildwood Flower

    Wildwood Flower Halfway, OR & Wagoner, OK

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    So fascinating! I had no idea. Thanks for sharing this.
     
  13. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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  14. Bluecreekrog

    Bluecreekrog Well-Known Member

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    The statues weren't there untill 1988. Also a statue of Cincinnatus, the roman emperor Cincy is named for. My G-Aunt ran a boardinghouse in Camp Washington, her husband was a cattle buyer.