Raising watermelons as cash crop.

Watermelon by Karen and Brad Emerson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One source of cash on my grandparent’s farm was raising watermelons, going to town, then selling them for cash. That provided a bit of money for groceries.

Many years ago my dad and his siblings wrote down many of their recollections of growing up on the farm. Hopefully very soon I will republish their remembrances.

Following comments are used with permission.

My Aunt Louise recalled:

Continue reading “Raising watermelons as cash crop.”

More thoughts about life on a farm in 1946

1916: Ranghild Gunderson, Randi Gunderson Venn, Lydia Venn Ulvog, Gilbert Ulvog. Copyright has long since expired. Photo courtesy of Sonia Strand Pooch.

Been thinking more on what life was like on the farm after my grandfather passed away.

Consider the cash expenses again – notice there are no bills for electricity, telephone, water, or sewer. Such things weren’t in place.

I’ll guess seed and other critical farm supplies were purchased on credit from Yankton Production Credit. The payment of $2,104 on 9/1/45 would have cleared the loan balance for the year, and perhaps any carryover balance from prior years.

Speculation on non-cash transactions

A few thoughts come to mind on non-cash transactions outside the probate document.

Continue reading “More thoughts about life on a farm in 1946”

Observations of life on a farm in 1946

1895: Rachel Josephine (left) and Lydia Johanna Venn – daughters of Jens & Randi Venn. Copyright has long since expired. Photo courtesy of Sonia Strand Pooch.

Life was hard after my grandfather passed from this vale of tears. Any way you look at the income and expenses it is obvious life was hard. Must have been really difficult for my dear paternal grandmother to raise the four kids still at home.

The narratives from my aunts and uncles make that very obvious and the dollar transactions prove it.

Farm was essentially self-contained

It is amazing how self-contained the farm was.

Continue reading “Observations of life on a farm in 1946”

Guess at value of 1946 estate expressed in 2019 dollars


The values assigned to my grandfather’s estate when it was probated are listed here.

My determination of a adjustment factor of 13 to bring 1946 prices forward to today is shown here.

The extended string of assumptions I’ve made shows a rough guess of the estate:

  • 1946-  worth $8,085 gross, with $7,785 after the administratrix fee due to my grandmother.
  • 2019 – worth about $105,000 gross and about $100,000 after the only listed liability.

Detail of the assets are:

Continue reading “Guess at value of 1946 estate expressed in 2019 dollars”

Consumer price index from 1940 through 2019

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

For an indicator of the changes in prices from the World War 2 era through today I pulled CPI information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This info will roll into my comments on the probate document for my grandfather’s estate.

It is also useful for general information.

The furthest into the table I can link is here: https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/surveymost?cu

The data is the CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) from 1940 through 2019 from Series Id: CUUR0000SA0.

Select data:

Continue reading “Consumer price index from 1940 through 2019”

Economic life on a farm in 1945: family size

Ulvog children, circa 1940. Front row: Carl, Clarice, Gilbert, James. Back row: Olaf, Louise, Alice, Lloyd. Photo provided by Sonia Strand.

This is the seventh in a series of posts exploring the economic life of a 1940s era farm in South Dakota.

My grandmother, Lydia (nee Ven) Ulvog was 52 years old when the probate document for my grandfather’s estate was filed.

Children of Lydia and Daniel were:

Continue reading “Economic life on a farm in 1945: family size”

Picture of life on a South Dakota farm based on what can be seen in a probate document

Daniel Ulvog with horses. Date unknown but before 1945. Photo courtesy of Sonia Pooch.

In 1945 my paternal grandfather departed this vail of tears. The probate document filed for his estate the next year provides a financial glimpse of life on a South Dakota farm in the mid-1940s.

This was a time of low productivity with all the members of a large family working all day every day to keep the farm running.

Farmers were starting to transition from horse power to tractor power.

It was also a time of self-sufficiency: Raising the oats and hay to feed the horses to work the fields to raise the corn and hay to feed the pigs and cows to sell for money to pay for the farm.

I will use my accountant eyes to see what can be learned from just a probate filing.

Discussion in this series:

Continue reading “Picture of life on a South Dakota farm based on what can be seen in a probate document”

First estimate of value of my grandfather’s estate at close of probate

House on a farm where Ulvog family lived for a while, back when my dad, aunts, and uncles were growing up.

The probate document for my paternal grandfather listed the assets in his estate. What is the total value of his estate? Let’s ponder that question.

Values for some items are listed in the probate document. Prices of asset purchases and sales during the time between his death and filing of probate document can be used to estimate other values. For example, I estimated values for livestock at this earlier post.

Here is a summary of the assets:

livestock       4,508
oats and corn       1,794
tractors          450
tractor drawn equipment          150
horses          400
horse drawn equipment          140
other equipment          180
car          300
total assets, without $400 liability       7,922


My estimate for the value of the individual items in his estate as listed in the probate filing are accumulated below. I’ll update this analysis later if I can get better definition for value of some assets.

Continue reading “First estimate of value of my grandfather’s estate at close of probate”

Cash-based income statement of farm in 1945/1946 – part 4

Daniel Ulvog. Date unknown but prior to June 1945. Photo provided by Sonia Pooch.

Previous post listed the cash transactions in the estate of my paternal grandfather from the day he passed away until a probate filing was prepared for the court.

The probate filing provides a glimpse into farm life in the mid-1940s.

As you read the summarized income statement and cash transactions below, keep in mind this is the cash activity to feed and cloth a family consisting of one mom and four children still living at home. Notice was one purchase of groceries for $9.60 and only two purchases of clothing. There is no indication of any purchases in November or December which could be considered Christmas presents.

To say finances were tight would be an understatement.

The cash transactions can be summarized into a cash-based income statement as follows:

Continue reading “Cash-based income statement of farm in 1945/1946 – part 4”