1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Nebraska

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NEBRASKA (see 19.323). The pop. in 1920 was 1,296,372, an increase of 104,158, or 8.7%, over the 1,192,214 of 1910, as against an increase of 11.8% in the preceding decade. The foreign-born whites decreased from 176,662 in 1910 to 149,652 in 1920. The density of pop. was 16.9 per sq. m. as against 15.5 in 1910. The urban pop. (in places of 2,500 or more) was 405,306, or 31.3% of the whole, as against 310,852, or 26.1% of the whole, in 1910; the rural pop. was 891,066, or 68.7%, as against 881,362, or 73.9% in 1910.

The five cities having in 1920 a pop. over 10,000 were:—

1920 1910  Increase 
per cent

 Omaha  191,601   124,096  54.4 
 Lincoln 54,948  43,973  25.0 
 Grand Island  13,947  10,326  35.1 
 Hastings 11,647  9,338  24.7 
 North Platte  10,466  4,793  118.4 

A conspicuous feature of the census returns was the continuing decrease of farming pop. in the older counties. Out of 93 counties 33 showed a decrease in total pop. and 43 showed a decrease in rural pop. during the decade. This rural decrease was in the part of the state where land sold at the highest price. The increase of pop. was almost entirely in three localities: Omaha, the chief industrial centre; Lincoln, the state capital; and the Scottsbluff irrigated region in the North Platte valley.

Agriculture.—In the decade 1910-20 farms tended to become fewer and larger, as shown by the following figures:—

1920 1910

 Farms, total number 124,417  129,678 
 Total ac. in farms  42,225,475   38,622,021 
 Average size of farm (ac.)  339.4 297.8
 Improved land 23,109,624  24,382,577 

The decrease in the number of farms was due to improved machinery (especially farm tractors), making the farming of larger units more economical, and to the higher price of land, making more difficult its purchase by persons of small means. The increase in size of farms was partly due to homesteads of 640 ac. taken in the sandhill part of the state under the Federal Kinkaid Homestead Act. All but a few thousand rough acres of the public domain in Nebraska had been claimed by settlers by 1921. In 1920 Nebraska ranked sixth among the states in area of cultivated lands. It was first in production of hay and of alfalfa; second in production of winter wheat; third in corn; third in combined production of wheat, oats and corn. About 1,000,000 ac. were in woodland, of which half or more had been planted by settlers.

Production of the principal crops for the years 1910 and 1920 is shown in the following table:—

  1920 1910

Ac. Bus. Ac. Bus.

 Corn  7,560,355   255,544,816   6,595,088   178,925,128 
 All wheat  3,592,995  60,560,416  2,732,166  45,151,052 
 Oats 2,400,062  83,037,162  2,543,858  71,562,877 
 Barley 255,503  7,424,615  115,957  2,333,199 
 Rye 264,370  3,751,104  71,339  822,648 
 Potatoes  85,439  8,435,554  98,483  5,330,138 

Great progress was made in the decade in production of alfalfa and sugar beets. The comparative figures are as follows:—

  1920 1910

Ac. Tons Ac. Tons

 Alfalfa  1,232,947   3,527,689   701,455   1,883,661 
 Sugar beets  78,675  750,000  8,517  105,369 

Growing potatoes on a commercial scale became a large industry in western Nebraska during the decade, about 8,000,000 bus. being produced annually.

The number of live stock on farms was:—

1920 1910

 Horses  961,396  971,279 
 Mules 99,847  79,652 
 Cattle 3,154,265  2,567,392 
 Hogs  3,435,690   3,435,724 
 Sheep 573,217  240,116 

Farm tenantry increased during the decade as follows:—

1920 1910

 Farms occupied by owners  69,672   56  79,250   61.1 
 Farms occupied by renters  53,430  42.9  49,441 38.1

The percentage of tenants is greatest in the richer agricultural counties. About three-fourths of the tenants are renters for share rent. The landlord's share of grain crops is usually one-third of the small grain, two-fifths of corn, one-fourth of potatoes, one-fifth of sugar beets, one-half of the hay in stacks. In 1920 the total number of farm mortgages filed was 19,838 and their amount $116,440,626. The total number released was 17,514 and their amount $78,654,818. Most of these transactions arose from purchase and sale.

The Farmers' Coöperative and Educational Union became an organization of about 35,000 members in Nebraska during the decade. Its leading purpose is collective buying and selling. From it developed the Grain Growers, Inc., an organization covering all the states, with the purpose of handling the whole grain crop of the United States and securing better returns for the producer.

Minerals.—Of the pumice produced in the United States 97% is mined in Nebraska. Limestone, sand and Portland cement are increasing in production. Potash is found in alkali lakes in the sandhill region of western Nebraska. The World War shut out importation from Germany, and commercial potash rose to 10 times its former price. The result was that a new industry sprang up; large amounts were invested, and over 2,000 men were employed. In 1918 Nebraska shipped about 150,000 tons of potash—three fourths of the total production in the United States. When importation from Europe was resumed the Nebraska production decreased and the future of the industry became uncertain.

Industries.—The progress of manufactures during 1909-19 is shown in the following table:—


1919 1914 1909

 Number of establishments 2,884  2,492  2,500 
 Wage-earners (average) 36,521  25,144  24,336 
 Capital  $245,256,684   $121,007,944   $ 99,901,089 
 Salaries and wages 61,808,692  24,010,977  19,438,719 
 Value of products 596,042,498  221,615,848  199,018,579 
 Value added by manufacture  115,268,376  47,502,164  47,937,608 

Slaughtering and meat-packing, the chief manufacturing industry, in 1919 employed 10,122 wage-earners in 16 establishments and the products were valued at $303,849,000. Receipts of live stock at the Omaha stockyards indicate the growth of that industry in the past decade:—

1919 1910

 Cattle  1,874,996   1,223,533 
 Hogs 3,179,166  1,894,314 
 Sheep 3,789,188  2,984,870 
 Horses and mules  22,600  28,817 

 Total 8,865,950  6,131,534 

Banking and Finance.—The Bank Guaranty law of 1909 and its amendment in 1911 provided for a fund from all state banks for protection of their depositors. The extraordinary growth of banking business which followed is shown in this table:—

1919 1910

 Number of state banks 999  666 
 Number of national banks 189  238 
 Capital and surplus: state banks  $32,282,000   $14,823,000 
 Capital and surplus: national banks  26,434,000  21,940,000 
 Deposits: state banks 270,050,000  70,454,000 
 Deposits: national banks 180,596,000  87,663,000 

In 1919 Omaha ranked 13th among cities of the United States in respect of its volume of bank clearings, though 34th in population. The amount was in 1919 $3,058,973,348; in 1910 $832,971,607. The total legislative appropriations for the biennium 1909-11 were $6,248,362; for 1919-21 $15,963,392; for 1921-3 $26,513,771. The cash balance in the treasury Nov. 30 1920 was $2,089,631. There was no state debt. The total assessed value of the state (one-fifth actual value as prescribed bylaw) was in 1910 $412,138,607; in 1920 $775,949,730. The total state levies amounted to between six and seven mills on the dollar of assessed valuation. Under the new budget law of 1921 the date of the fiscal year was changed from April 1 to July 1. Heads of departments and institutions must make quarterly estimates in advance for expenditures of each quarter, which must be approved by the governor.

Education.—The total number of persons of school age in 1920 was 392,592; of these 311,821 were enrolled in school. The Nebraska law requires attendance of all children between 8 and 14 during 6 months of each year. There were 250,689 such children in the state, of whom 211,101 complied with this requirement. There were 7,168 school districts in the state. There were 12,705 women teachers and 1,084 men teachers. The total amount voted for school purposes in 1920 was $24,935,102. There were 100 consolidated school districts. The average monthly pay of men teachers was $134.42, of women teachers $86.26. The total value of school district property of all kinds was $142,145,280.

History.—The chief political issues in Nebraska during the period 1910-20 were prohibition, woman suffrage, initiative and referendum, reconstruction of the state Government and extension of public ownership. The first four issues were determined in the affirmative. The last mentioned was the subject of much controversy. The Democratic party carried the state in the elections of 1912, 1914 and 1916. The Republican party overwhelmingly carried the elections of 1918 and 1920. Party lines had been very much broken since 1900. Each of the leading parties developed a conservative wing and a progressive wing. The Non-Partisan League effected an organization in Nebraska. It was reported to have 25,000 members, but up to 1921 had succeeded in electing only a few of its candidates to office, its policy being to concentrate its votes in the primary of whichever party seemed to promise the greatest results.

A new political issue, that of language and religious instruction, arose out of the World War. About 200,000 Nebraskans were German-born or children of parents born in Germany. In many communities religious services and instruction were given in other languages than English. Through the efforts of the German-American Alliance, the Mockett law was enacted in 1913, providing for teaching the German language in the common schools upon petition of school patrons. The war caused antagonism toward everything connected with Germany. A general movement was inaugurated to drive foreign languages out of the schools and churches. The Mockett law was repealed. In its place was enacted the Siman law forbidding the use of any foreign language as a medium of instruction. The substance of this law was embodied in the state constitution Sept. 21 1920. The Legislature of 1921 amended the Siman law, making it more stringent. Out of more than 40 newspapers printed in foreign languages before the war, there remained only 10 in 1921.

Consolidation of some 20 state bureaus and organizations into 6 departments was enacted by the Legislature of 1919. A convention to revise the constitution met Dec. 5 1919. It submitted 41 amendments, all of which were adopted at a special election Sept. 21 1920. The most important were those providing for future amendment of the constitution by a majority of those voting on the question, provided such majority is 35% of total vote; providing for new executive offices by two-thirds vote of the Legislature; for classification of intangible property for taxing purposes; for the creation of a state industrial commission to administer laws relating to labour disputes and profiteering; making alien property rights wholly subject to the Legislature. The Legislature of 1919 provided a special tax and appropriated the proceeds to the amount of $5,000,000 for construction of a new state capitol. The erection of the building was entrusted to a State Capitol Commission.

The state furnished 49,614 men for service in the World War, of whom 3,021 lost their lives. To the Liberty and Victory loans and war charities Nebraska paid $264,760,000. Nebraska was first in per capita purchase of war savings stamps and her membership in the American Red Cross was 585,156—49% of the population.

The governors after 1910 were: Chester H. Aldrich (Rep.), 1911-3; John H. Morehead (Dem.), 1913-7; Keith Neville (Dem.), 1917-9; Samuel R. McKelvie (Rep.), 1919-21.

Bibliography.—G. E. Condra, Resources of Nebraska (1920); Publications of State Historical Society (1910-20); Addison E. Sheldon, History and Stories of Nebraska; Nebraska Blue Book and Historical Register (1921). (A. E. S.*)