Sibling Saturday: Alfred Payne and Civil War Taxes

Alfred PAYNE on November 1864 Tax List in Fremont, Lake County, Illinois. (Click to enlarge.)

McMurray Family, Payne Family (Click for Family Tree)

Taxes seem to follow us everywhere, and they did for our ancestors as well. Whether called an ‘excise tax’ (which was really an ‘income tax’ in this instance) to pay for the Civil War, as in the case of this ancestor, taxes on beloved British tea that would ignite a Revolution, or even going as far back as tributes to the chief of our ancient ancestor’s tribe, it seems we seldom get to keep all our earnings.

Taxes provide a “treasure chest” for our counties, states, and country to take care of infrastructure, provide employees and offices for essential services, etc. The old tax lists are also a treasure chest for family historians.

The life of Alfred Payne (1815-1895) is of interest because he was the brother of Rev. Joseph Hitchcock “J. H.” Payne, the great-grandfather of Dr. Edward A. McMurray. The above tax list from 1864 places Alfred in Fremont, Lake County, Illinois, to which at least two Payne lines migrated. It also tells us a bit about how he made his living. We know from censuses that he was a farmer, but he apparently also manufactured a significant amount of sorghum syrup.

At that time, the government had instituted the first income tax, to help pay for the Civil War. The tax laws were such that if one made $600 or less per year with a particular product, and if the product was produced by the farmer or his family, it would be exempt from duty. Alfred’s sorghum syrup production was more than double that dollar limit, so he was required to pay a 5% tax on the product they manufactured.

Alfred was taxed on 2,200 gallons of sorghum syrup. (It is unknown as to what the time period was for that much production- it may have been his annual production for 1864.) The syrup was valued at $1,320- that would be about $19,000 in today’s money. Most of us today would gladly exchange our tax rates with his 5%, which worked out to $66 in 1864, equivalent to about $960 today. We don’t know Alfred’s specific views on slavery, but most people in the family were staunch abolitionists, as were many in the town of Fremont and the members of the Congregational Church where Alfred was a charter member. So Alfred may not have minded the tax too much, since it was helping to pay for the war to end the cruel institution of slavery.

Alfred Payne is found on the December 1865 tax list as well, this time listed as a manufacturer for 7 months. His tax bill was $5.83. Sadly there is no more detail available, but he could have still been making the sorghum syrup since he was listed as a manufacturer.

In May of 1866, Alfred was listed in Bowen as a “retail dealer” and his tax was $10. Again, that is the only information…

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So just what was Alfred manufacturing, and what was it used for?

Sorghum syrup is made from a plant called Sweet Sorghum— there is a grain sorghum, too, which is not as high in sugars— both originally from Africa. The plant itself looks much like corn, but it can be grown under much drier conditions than corn. In the US today, sorghum is mostly grown in the south, but back in the nineteenth century, it was a common crop in the midwest as well. (Some of today’s farmers in the midwest sow it as a cover crop and winter food for pheasants, so that the hunting—and meat— is good.)

Sorghum almost ready to be harvested in Uganda, via Wikipedia, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Today sorghum is used to produce biofuels, but as in the old days, it is also used for animal feed. The harvested plant is packed tight into silos with little air movement, for anaerobic fermentation. This silage keeps well over the winter when grass is scarce, and is fed to ruminants like cattle and sheep. When made into a syrup, sorghum is used as a sweetener– again, just as in Alfred Payne’s day.

“Grinding sorghum on the farm of J. W. Stooksberry, Anderson County, Tennessee. This land will be inundated by the waters of Norris Dam reservoir.” Image by Tennessee Valley Authority, 25 October 1933, public domain via Wikipedia/NARA. (Click to enlarge.)

The sorghum would be cut down at the end of summer, in September or October, and often juiced right in the field. Alfred Payne likely had some sort of a press for the sorghum on his farm, draft animals to turn the press/juicer, and a large cooker to reduce the sorghum juice down to a thick syrup.

As the stalks of the plant are crushed between the rollers of the press, a bright green juice is extracted. It would be cooked as soon as possible, so stacks of firewood would have been made ready for tending through the day and probably even the night. Boiling for hours would kill most of the bacteria that could spoil the liquid, and the heat would turn the juice into a golden amber colored, thick liquid. It would take about 10 gallons of the fresh juice to make just one gallon of syrup. Alfred and his family and any workers would have harvested quite a number of acres in order to produce 2,200 finished gallons of sorghum syrup. And they would have celebrated the harvest as the syrup cooked, eating and maybe dancing away the long hours of the night.

“Grinding sorghum on the farm of J. W. Stooksberry, Anderson County, Tennessee.” Image by Tennessee Valley Authority, 25 October 1933, public domain via Wikipedia/NARA. (Click to enlarge.)

Sorghum provides minerals that cane sugar and high fructose corn syrups do not, especially if it is minimally processed. Our ancestors used sorghum as a ‘tonic’, and would have used sorghum syrup in pies and cakes, drizzled on their biscuits or rolls, etc. Sorghum has a rich, earthy flavor similar to molasses, though a bit different. If you want to try some, make sure you get 100% sorghum- sometimes they mix it with other products. It is very good over pancakes or biscuits, and really makes excellent cookies, too!

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. For more information about sorghum syrup and how to use it, see:
    http://www.farmflavor.com/at-home/shopping/what-is-sorghum/ and http://nssppa.org/Sweet_Sorghum_FAQs.html
  2. Inflation calculator– http://www.in2013dollars.com/1864-dollars-in-2016?amount=66
  3. Alfred PAYNE on November 1864 Tax List in Fremont, Lake County, Illinois from U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918, Ancestry.com.

 

 

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Tuesday’s Tip: Context- The 1888 Presidential Election

Leominster, Massachusetts Politics during the 1888 Presidential Election. Fitchburg Sentinel, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, 18 October 1888, page 2, column 3.
Leominster, Massachusetts Politics during the 1888 Presidential Election. “Fitchburg Sentinel,” Fitchburg, Massachusetts, 18 October 1888, page 2, column 3.

McMurray Family, Payne Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Trees)

Tuesday’s Tip:

Look for the context of your ancestor’s life-

from politics to clothing,

from community happenings to the style of their house.

Thankfully most family historians have moved away from being collectors of names and dates, and now want to tell the stories of their ancestors lives. Without detailed daily diaries or bundles of old letters, how do we learn about their lives? Newspapers are a great way to learn what was happening in a community, and an ancestor might be mentioned in a story or obituary. Also, browsing the pages around where one finds an ancestor article can help us to fill in the blanks about the little things in their lives- or even the big things.

Politics can be messy, as we all have experienced these last two years of this what seems to be a never-ending election. (In Great Britain, they only have a certain number of WEEKS they are allowed to campaign- that seems much more sensible.) Elections in our country’s history have been just as bad, maybe even worse than this one, but learning about them will help us to understand our ancestors a bit more.

Edward B.Payne (1847-1923) and his wife, Nanie M. (Burnell) Payne (1847-1898), lived in Leominster, Massachusetts in 1888, the year of this article. Their only child, Lynette Payne (who later married William Elmer McMurray), was about to turn nine years old just eight days after this article was published. Rev. Payne was the pastor of the First Congregational Unitarian Church in Leominster. Further down this newspaper column about Leominster happenings was a report of the Porter-Davis wedding at which he officiated, but a few moments of browsing the paper turned up this nugget of context.

In 1888, the Democratic incumbent President, Grover Cleveland, desired a second term. The Republican nominee was Benjamin Harrison, and US tariffs were the biggest issue of the campaign. Tariffs are a tax on imported goods, paid by the importer, and until the Federal Income Tax began in 1913, tariffs were the main source of federal income- up to 95% of the total at times.

1888 Presidential Election- Tariff Reform poster for Grover Cleveland, via Wikipedia; public domain.
1888 Presidential Election- Tariff Reform poster for Grover Cleveland, via Wikipedia; public domain.

Since high tariffs, paid by foreign manufacturers and importers, provided income to our federal government, they reduced the need for taxes to be paid by our citizens. Sounds good- make the other country pay, right? Well, the bad part  is that U.S. tariffs make the cost of imported goods higher to the consumer in this country- the cost just gets passed through to the buyer, of course.

Tariffs that are high make domestic products more affordable than imports, and thus more desirable. Therefore those in U.S. industries, including factory workers, preferred high tariffs so that their own production had a lower comparative cost, and they could sell more. Our own citizens would be in high demand as workers, too.

Since the country was prospering and there were no wars going on in 1888, tariffs became THE issue. Grover Cleveland was adamant that high U.S. tariffs were hurting the consumer.  He knew that our citizens felt it every time that they bought an imported item, and it hurt their pocketbook. Cleveland thus proposed a large tariff reduction to Congress.

(But then would personal taxes go up? The money has to come from somewhere…)

Harrison, however, felt that high tariffs protected our workers and manufacturers.

Grover Cleveland-Benjamin Harrison presidential (1888) campaign poster about the trade policy of the two candidates. The map supports the work of the Harrison campaign.
Grover Cleveland-Benjamin Harrison presidential (1888) campaign poster about the trade policy of the two candidates. The map supports the work of the Harrison campaign. via Wikipedia, public domain.

Benjamin Harrison was a Republican from Indiana, and he gave speeches from his front porch in Indianapolis- our Springsteen ancestors, such as Jefferson Springsteen and his son Abram Furman Springsteen, may have been a part of those crowds. The Springsteens were Democrats, so may have been part of the hecklers, although they may have had divided loyalties. Their party’s man, President Cleveland, was against military pensions. Since Jeff had at least 2 sons who had served in the Civil War, one of which was Abram, the Springsteens may not have been so happy with Cleveland, either.

Back in Leominster, Massachusetts, where Edward B.Payne and family were living, the factory workers, as expected, were supporting Harrison with his views of keeping tariffs high. It is interesting that the shirt factory ladies were going to “unfurl one of the finest flags in town, bearing the names of Harrison and Morton.” (Morton was the V.P. nominee.) Since women in most states could not legally vote in a Presidential election until 32 years later, it was one small way they could voice their political opinions and help influence the outcome.

Rev. Payne was a Christian Socialist in his later years, and surely, with his devotion to the poor, he exemplified that philosophy even earlier in life. He most likely would have favored a candidate who had the middle and lower classes in mind. (Later in California, he registered as a Socialist; we have found no other documentation of his political leanings.) He worked quite a lot with factory workers though, so he too may have had a difficult time deciding between candidates when he was ready to cast his ballot in the Cleveland-Harrison contest. Although just 41 years old in 1888, he also was a Civil War veteran, thus probably liked the idea of a military pension in his future- after all, preachers really do not make very much income.

In 1888, America still was one of the biggest manufacturers in the world, and the costs for our products were among the lowest in the world. So the tariff issue may not have been of such importance after all, but it was the loudest of the campaign.

Harrison carried Indiana as well as Massachusetts, and received the majority of  electoral votes. Cleveland, however, received the majority of the popular votes. It was a close election, but as one of only four elections when the popular vote did not match the Electoral College vote, the Republican Benjamin Harrison became the next President of the United States.

The context of our ancestor’s lives in 1888 included tariffs; today, ours include trade agreements, which can affect prices and demand in similar ways.

Our ancestors needed to educate themselves well before they voted, just as we need to do today.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1. Image sources per captions.

2. “United States Presidential Election, 1888,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1888

 

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Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
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Madness Monday: Edward B. Payne, Utopia, and Altruria

McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)

Star Trek on a family history blog?

Madness? No- it really does make sense, and it is good to connect our current world with that of the past. Studies have shown that children who have a sense of family and their family history have more resilience- and that is always good in this crazy world.

“Altruism” is a fairly recent word in our language- it comes from a French word in the 1850s. Most know that this word means an unselfish, caring devotion concerning the welfare of others. It is even used in a biological sense with animals, when their behavior does not contribute to their reproduction or longevity, but does help genes from a close relative get passed on. In popular culture, of course, the 1982 film, The Wrath of Khan (see 3:15 in clip), has Spock and Capt. Kirk finishing each other’s sentences: “It was logical. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one.” This epitomizes altruism.

“Cooperation” rather than “competition” is a way that altruism is put into practice. Edward B. Payne believed strongly in cooperation over the rampant competition of the late 19th century, with railroad magnates and big business making men rich while the middle classes and poor struggled. In 1893, the year that started a mostly-forgotten serious depression in America, William Dean Howells published A Traveller from Altruria. The book was a Utopian science fiction/fantasy, in which a traveller described his own home, where altruism flourished. The novel was a huge hit, and small societies of “Altrurians” sprang up, including in the San Francisco and Berkeley, California area. Edward B. Payne was a charter member of one of these groups in Berkeley. The groups discussed social reform, but the Berkeley group took it a step further- they wanted to put their altruistic ideals into practice by forming a colony in the Santa Rosa, California area. Rev. Edward B. Payne wrote and published a newsletter, The Altrurian, funds began coming in, land was purchased, and members of the group began to move to “Altruria” in October of 1894.

There were some management problems, and definitely financial problems- after all, the venture was started during an economic depression that would stun the nation for years. The project was abandoned in 1896, but Payne called it a “glorious failure.” The small cooperatives that had been selling produce from Altruria out in the community continued, and similar cooperatives continue today.

“Altruria” in Santa Rosa has been mentioned in many books, articles, and even dissertations in the years since. (See notes.) A 2009 book, The Utopian Novel in America, 1886-1896: The Politics of Form, by Jean Pfaelzer, discusses Howell’s two Utopian novels and states:

A Traveller from Altruria and Through the Eye of the Needle launched no programs, newspapers, imitators, or clubs, although they did inspire a certain Edward B. Payne to found a short-lived community named Altruria.”

Madness? A wild idea? A lone voice acting on a hopeless idea? Maybe, and some of the newspapers at the time also suggested that the formation of the Altruria colony was madness and would not survive. But Payne was not a lone voice- there were many who wanted to follow an altruistic lifestyle then, and many continue to do that today, although most do not live in colonies devoted to cooperation.

Even though the above book quote is not entirely true- there actually were Altrurian clubs and newspapers across the United States- Edward B. Payne would most likely be very pleased that his own cooperative efforts are still noticed, and still a part of the conversation in our society.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1.  Edward Bellamy’s 1888 Utopian novel, Looking Backward: 2000-1887 was likely also inspiration for the Altruria colony.
  2. McMurray, Pamela M. To the friends of cooperation…” The Quest for Cooperation and Edward B. Payne.” Russian River Recorder, Issue 124, Spring 2014, pp. 4-7. Healdsburg, California: Healdsburg Museum & Historical Society.
  3. Pfaelzer, Jean. The Utopian Novel in America, 1886-1896: The Politics of Form. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009, 75.
  4. Hine, Robert V. (1953). California’s Utopian Colonies. San Marino, Calif.: Huntington Library. pp. 101–113
  5. O’Connor, Peter Shaun (2001). On the Road to Utopia: The Social History and Spirituality of Altruria, and Intentional Religious Community in Sonoma County, California, 1894-1896. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Dissertation Services.
  6. LeBaron, Gaye, Dee Blackman, Joann Mitchell, and Harvey Hansen. Santa Rosa: A Nineteenth Century Town. Santa Rosa, CA: Historia, Ltd, 1985, 113.
  7. Lewis, James R. The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1998.
  8. Goal, Iain, Janferie StoneMichael WattsCal Winslow. West of Eden-communes and utopia in northern California. PM Press2012, pp. 4-5.
  9. “Altruria” article on Wikipedia- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruria,_California

 

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Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
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Friends of Friends Friday: More About Edward B. Payne

Lola Ridge, via Wikipedia, public domain.
Lola Ridge, via Wikipedia, public domain.

McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)

Earlier this week we published a post noting that Edward B. Payne’s writings are still referenced today by modern authors. We have found another instance- a 2016 book that uses the same quote as in our previous post, from 1899 about Edwin Markham’s poem, “The Man with the Hoe”:

“Clergy made the poem their text, platform orators dilated upon it, college professors lectured upon it, debating societies discussed it, schools took it up for study.”

The new book that includes this reference to Payne’s work is Anything That Burns You: A Portrait of Lola Ridge, Radical Poet, by Terese Svoboda, IPG, 2016.

Lola Ridge was an anarchist poet, social reformer, and human rights activist (including women’s and worker’s rights). She ran the Ferrer Center in New York City, and invited authors, artists, philosophers, and other reformers to lecture. Described as “…a community center for anarchists and freedom-loving writers and artists,” the Center opened in June, 1910.  Edwin Markham was an invited guest, and apparently Jack London was a visitor to the center, too. London was a close friend to our Edward B. Payne and a declared socialist at one point; he and his wife Charmian (Kittredge) London were friends of Markham as well. Markham  lived on the west coast for some time, so he and Edward B. Payne may have known one another, especially since Payne wrote the article published in the Overland Monthly about Markham’s most famous poem.

Before this time, in 1907, Lola Ridge had emigrated from Australia to San Francisco, so it might be possible that Edward B. Payne met her in person on the West Coast before the Ferrer Center period. More research revealed that her first poem was published in the Overland Monthly (OM) magazine in 1908, making the likelihood even stronger that they met. Edward B. Payne had been an OM editor in the 1890s, although not when Lola’s poem was published. (Also, in the April 1908 issue, the OM editor was described as bald – that would definitely NOT describe Edward B. Payne, who had a beautiful head of white hair until his death in 1923.)

Portrait of Edward B. Payne in "Memories of an Editor" by Charles S. Greene, Overland Monthly magazine, Bret Harte memorial, September 1902, page 269.
Portrait of Edward B. Payne in “Memories of an Editor” by Charles S. Greene, Overland Monthly magazine, Bret Harte Memorial, September 1902, page 269. Possibly taken during his time as editor of the OM.

Payne travelled among the literati and socialists of San Francisco and Berkeley, so may well have met Lola Ridge during her early years in the US. Unfortunately, his letters and library burned in the Great Berkeley Fire of September, 1923, so it is currently unknown if they communicated with each other. Although there were quite a few years difference between them, their social and political views, as well as their similar talents as writers and poets, may have brought them together in one or more of the great liberal gatherings of the West Coast. Edward did not take socialism all the way to anarchy, as did Lola- in fact, he resigned the Socialist Party due to their movement toward that spectrum with violence, but he would have very much appreciated the human rights work of Lola Ridge.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1.  Anything that Burns You: A Portrait of Lola Ridge, Radical Poet, by Terese Svoboda, IPG, 2016. Possibly p. 78- GoogleBooks no longer shows page numbers, but the search function can be used to find the reference in Chapter 9. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=b7-zCwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT11&dq=%22Edward+B.+Payne%22&ots=sUSR_em1H_&sig=R-gOGmFtTENDAf1Mvj9iB0oavL8#v=onepage&q=Payne&f=false
  2. Lola Ridge, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lola_Ridge
  3. “The Te Katipo Extended” a poem by Lola Ridge, Overland Monthly, Vol. 51 , No. 3 , Pages 298-9, March 1908. Jack London’s “In a Far Country” was published in that same issue, p. 270-8.
  4. “The Song of the Bush” a poem by Lola Ridge, Overland Monthly Vol. 51, No. 6, P. 540, June 1908.

 

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Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted. 
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Talented Tuesday: Edward B. Payne Still Quoted

Edward B. Payne
Edward B. Payne

McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)

Edward Biron Payne (1847-1923) prided himself on his words, whether spoken or written. Trained as a minister, he was a powerful speaker for first the Congregational Church, then the Unitarians, and finally as a Christian Socialist and learned man. He was a powerful writer as well, and his writings and activities are still referred to, even today.

A 2012 book, Downwardly Mobile: The Changing Fortunes of American Realism, by Andrew Lawson, Oxford University Press, 2012, mentions Edward B. Payne’s criticism (‘criticism’ here used with the meaning of “analysis,” not a disapproval) of the poem by Edwin Markham called, “The Man with the Hoe.” As discussed in previous posts on this subject (see links below), Payne’s article was actually concerned with social as well as literary criticism of the poem, rather than his own thoughts on the work. In his recent book, Lawson  quotes Payne as writing,

“[t]he clergy made the poem their text, platform orators dilated upon it, college professors lectured upon it, debating societies discussed it, schools took it up for study.”

This was all true, as in 1899, when the poem was published, there was great economic and social disparity in America, and it began to be discussed more loudly.

Just as today.

In Downwardly Mobile, Lawson mentions the 1896 Presidential election, in which William Jennings Bryan was defeated because he was a Democrat-Populist. There had been a terrible depression in the US- the ‘Panic of 1893’- and, as Bryan was quoted in the book, “The extremes of society are being driven further and further apart.” Ambrose Bierce even used the term, “class hatred” when referring to the feelings of the nation as the poem brought the covered-up inequality of our society to the public for large discussion.

In “The ‘Hoe Man’ On Trial,” published by Edward B. Payne in The Arena, we can see our country today reflected in many other comments made in those discussions of 1899. Payne’s article distills both sides of the conversation- er, often ‘argument’- and shows us the context of those times.

Payne’s article itself is not totally unbiased- it was, after all, printed in a magazine dedicated to addressing social and ethical dilemmas of the day. As a journalist, he did lay out the facts of both viewpoints, and left much of the analysis up to the reader. Payne was a Socialist- declared as such on the voter rolls for a few years, and he devoted his worklife to helping people better themselves, rather than giving them a handout. He always emphasized “cooperation” rather than “competition,” with the idea that more would be provided for if we all worked together.

Edward B. Payne struggled himself- after all, a minister was not a highly paid profession (he would be sickened at the wealth of today’s big church evangelists), and he had to retire from the ministry due to health reasons, plus reasons of changed ideology. Thereafter he made his living by lecturing and writing, neither of which made him a wealthy man. He worked long past normal retirement age, and his meager Civil War invalid pension of $6 per month granted in 1902 at age 55 likely made a huge difference in whether or not the rent could be paid.

“History repeats itself” as they say, and economy and society have their own repeated cycles. Edward B. Payne would most likely be saddened by the obstacles that we still face in our society, more than a century after the “Hoe Man” became famous, as well as infamous. In “the next world” or wherever he is, however, Edward probably would smile to know that his writings on the subject still matter, that scholars still read his work, and that his talented words still bring something to the conversation.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Downwardly Mobile: The Changing Fortunes of American Realism, by Andrew Lawson, Oxford University Press, 2012, page 130.
  2. “The ‘Hoe Man’ On Trial”, The Arena, Vol. XXII, No. 1, July, 1899. pp. 17-24. https://archive.org/stream/ArenaMagazine-Volume22/189907-arena-volume22#page/n0/mode/2up
  3. “The Man with the Hoe,” Edward B. Payne, and Labor Day, Part 1. Published on HeritageRamblings.net on 1 September 2014.
  4. “The Man with the Hoe,” Edward B. Payne, and Labor Day, Part 2. Published on HeritageRamblings.net 4 September 2014.

 

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