Farms and Farm Owners in Denton County
Below are several charts detailing various aspects of farming and farmers in Denton County during the period from 1870 to 1930. From these compiled charts, a general sense of farms and farmers in the county can be developed.
As indicated from chart to the left, the number of farms in Denton County steadily increased through 1910. After this, the number of farms fell to and stabilized around 4,200. Following the start of the Great Depression, the number of farms in Denton County fell by almost 300 in 1930. By looking at these numbers, the growth of Denton County can be seen through the rapid increase in farms between 1870 and 1880. Additionally, the trends seen in Denton County align with those of the larger state. As agriculture became more profitable, the number of farms increased. Additionally, the number of farms began to decrease starting in 1920 aligning with the larger agricultural crises seen in the state.
As can be seen in the chart to the right, following the rapid growth of the 1870s and the increase in the number of farms, Denton County farms grew in size as well as number. Starting in 1880, the largest proportion of farms were 100 to 499 acres, with the exception of 1920. Very few farms, comparatively, were more than 500 acres or less than 20.
As indicated in the chart to the left, prior to the 20th century, there were more owner operated farms than tenant farms. However, by 1900 tenant farms began to outnumber owner operated farms. While in 1900 this was by a slight majority (only 19 farms), the numbers began to outweigh owner operated farms significantly. In 1925 for example, the number of tenant farms was almost twice that of owner operated farms. Understanding the further perpetuating cycle of tenant farming can explain how the number of tenant farms grew over time since few were able to escape the plights of tenancy.
It can be seen in the chart to the right that farmers in Denton County were primarily white – colored farmers only accounted for approximately 5% of total farmers. Colored farmers and white farmers both had a majority of tenant farmers. However, proportionately there were far fewer colored farm owners compared to white farm owners. This indicates that while both white and colored farmers were tenant farmers, colored farmers were more prone to tenancy, at least in Denton County. However, this does align with the larger state trend that there were more white tenant farmers than colored tenant farmers as a whole.
Many of the St. John's families consisted of farmers. Some owned the land they worked, while many others rented or worked as farm laborers. This aligns with the larger trends seen in the county. Additionally, one of the possible reasons that the families of St. John's migrated to Pilot Point was their tendany to agricultural practices and their ability to purchase land. Similar trends concerning tenant farming and farm ownership can be seen in Freedmen's Communities across the state -- for example, Bear Creek, Garden of Eden, Grant's Colony, Kendleton, Mosier Valley, and Mudville.