Friday, 20 June 2014

Ten Acres Enough - A Book Scam from 1864?

Warning - being my gullible self I got all excited when i starting reading this book.  It was referenced in another blog and of course, i started chasing it down.  Who wouldn't want to read an actual account of a families journey to self sustainability written in 1864.   The following is what got me all excited.  When you have finished, be sure to read the discovery by a librarian in 2013 that follows.   

Ten Acres Enough 
a practical experience, showing how a very small farm may be made to keep a very large family. With extensive and profitable experience in the cultivation of the smaller fruits.

Published  by J. Miller in New York .

Download for Free  Ten Acres Enough    available in many formats


THE man who feeds his cattle on a thousand hills
may possibly see the title of this little volume paraded
through the newspapers ; but the chances are that he
will never think it worth while to look into the volume
itself. The owner of a hundred acres will
scarcely step out of his way to purchase or to borrow
it, while the lord of every smaller farm will be sure
it is not intended for him. Few persons belonging
to these several classes have been educated to believe
Ten Acres Enough. Born to greater ambition, they
have aimed higher and grasped at more, sometimes
wisely, sometimes not. Many of these are now
owning or cultivating more land than their heads or
purses enable them to manage properly. Had their
ambition been moderate, and their ideas more practical,
their labor would be better rewarded, and this
book, without doubt, would have found more readers.
The mistaken ambition for owning twice as much
land as one can thoroughly manure or profitably cultivate,
is the great agricultural sin of this country.
Those who commit it, by beginning wrong, too frequently
continue wrong. Owning many acres is the
sole idea. High cultivation of a small tract, is one
of which they have little knowledge. Too many in
these several classes think they know enough. They
measure a man's knowledge by the number of his
acres. Hence, in their eyes the owner of a plot so
humble as mine must know so little as to be unable
to teach them any thing new.
Happily, it is not for these that I write, and hence
it would be unreasonable to expect them to become
readers. I write more particularly for those who
have not been brought up as farmers for that numerous
body of patient toilers in city, town, and
village, who, like myself, have struggled on from year
to year, anxious to break away from the bondage of
the desk, the counter, or the workshop, to realize in
the country even a moderate income, so that it be a
sure one. Many such are constantly looking round
in this direction for something which, with less mental
toil and anxiety, will provide a maintenance for
a growing family, and afford a refuge for advancing
age some safe and quiet harbor, sheltered from the
constantly recurring monetary and political convulsions
which in this country so suddenly reduce men
to poverty. But these inquirers find no experienced
pioneers to lead the way, and they turn back upon
themselves, too fearful to go forward alone. Books
of personal experience like this are rare. This is
written for the information of the class referred to,
for men not only willing, but anxious to learn. Once
in the same predicament myself, I know their longings,
their deficiencies, and the steps they ought to
take. Hence, in seeking to make myself fully understood,
some may think that I have been unnecessarily
minute. But in setting forth my own crudities,
I do but save others from repeating them. Yet
with all this amplification, my little contribution will
occasion no crowding even upon a book-shelf which
may be already filled.
I am too new a farmer to be the originator of all
the ideas which are here set forth. Some, which
seemed to be appropriate to the topic in hand, have
been incorporated with the argument as it progressed ;
while in some instances, even the language of writers,
whose names were unknown to me, has also been

All sounds good doesn't it and certainly wants to make you run out a get a copy.  I wanted to know more about the author and so i did a little more research and this is what i found.  Seems im not the only one who likes to dig.  

Link to Blog  - Toolemera Press    The following was posted by Gary Roberts in August 2013 

Ten Acres Enough by Edmund Morris 1864: Not All It Seems To Be

    In the world of libraries, there is what is known as theAuthority File:
"Authority File: noun Library Science.
a file, either on cards or in machine-readable format, in which decisions involving bibliographic records, particularly for form of entry, are recorded to establish a precedent or rule for subsequent decisions and to provide for consistency of entries."
    This process of determining accuracy of information extends to verifying the origin of citations and of authorship. It's vital to the process of cataloging and of library research in that to provide a person with a book, document or quote that is not verifiable and true is misleading and damaging to both the reputation of the library, the librarian and ultimately to the work of the person requesting the information.
    With all good intentions I was referred to the book Ten Acres Enough, by Edmund Morris, 1864, as an excellent and well known book on how to start your own farm as well as on self sufficient farming. It's been reprinted numerous times, is thoroughly praised over and over in magazines and reviews and generally considered to be the classic American go-to book on mid 19th century small farming technique for the homesteader.
    So I bought a copy. I also bought copies of a few of Morris's other books.
  1. Farming for boys: what they have done, what others may do in the cultivation of farm and garden 1864; J. Miller, NY
  2. Derrick and drill, or, An insight into the discovery, development, and present condition and future prospects of petroleum, in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, &c.; 1865; J. Miller, NY
  3. How to get a farm, and where to find one : showing that homesteads may be had by those desirous of securing them, with the public law on the subject of free homes, and suggestions from practical farmers : together with numerous successful, experiences of others, though beginning with little of nothing, have become the owners of ample farms; 1864, J. Miller , NY
    I read Ten Acres Enough and then the librarian hairs on the back of my neck stood up. The final chapters deal with the advantage of buying land in New Jersey for the purpose of homesteading, particularly berry farming. The entire book is about one person's experience in moving from the financial world to creating his own farm in New Jersey during a deep economic depression. And succeeding in this endeavor in record time too.
    Note also that in the first edition of Ten Acres Enough, the author is not named. It's only from the other titles that Edmund Morris has been attached as the author.
    Being who I am, I looked at the verso, the opposing page to the title page, to see who copyrighted the book. It was not Edmund Morris but the publisher, J. Miller. Bong Bong Bong. In each of the other Morris books, the publisher held the copyright. It was not uncommon during the 19th century for women to write a book and for their husbands to copyright the book. Unfortunate but true. For a male author to hand over copyright to a publisher is rare and in my experience in 19th century books, almost unheard of.
    Morris wrote a number of books and was, by the subject matter, a true entrepeneur. So why would the publisher and not Morris hold the copyrights? Returning to the books to examine their construction, it's apparent they're printed on inexpensive paper, cloth bound with a fancy embossed cover but nothing that I would say was of any value.
    Next, I turned to Google Books to check on period advertisements, journal reviews, newspaper notices, etc. Period gardener's and horticultural journals gave me the answer, devoid of any later years rose colored glasses:
    And lastly, the second publisher's own advertisement for the book, which gives some indication of the market. J. Miller was a publisher of inexpensive childrens books for many years. At some point, Miller sold the rights for the Morris books to Tuckner:
J miller ad country gentleman vol 24 1864
    I checked the Burlington, New Jersey records for an Edmund Morris. The only Edmund Morris that I could find was born 1804 in Philadelphia, PA and died May 9, 1874.
Next, Appleton's Cyclopedia Of American Biography. It's important to remember that this reference too is suspect in that the contributors were not subject to examination. We don't know who wrote this piece or from where the information was obtained. It may very well have been his obit and as such, glowing.
    "MORRIS, Edmund, journalist, born in Burlington, New Jersey, 28 August, 1804; died there, 4 May, 1874. He received a good English education, learned the trade of a printer, and at twenty years of age was editor and publisher of the "Bucks County Intelligencer" at Doylestown, Pennsylvania He subsequently conducted the" Ariel" and the "Saturday Evening Bulletin" of Philadelphia, where he introduced the custom of selling newspapers on the streets. After editing and publishing for several years the Burlington, New Jersey, " Gazette," he removed in 1855 to Trenton, New Jersey, and took charge for two years of the "New Jersey State Gazette." In 1857 he returned to Burlington and resided there until his death. During and after the war he wrote regularly for the "New York Tribune," and was otherwise a frequent contributor to the press. He devoted much attention to the subject of farming, publishing "Ten Acres Enough," an attempt to teach the advantages of intensive cultivation, and " How to Get a Farm and Where to Find One" (New York, 1864), and "Farming for Boys" (Boston, 1868). He also edited " Derrick and Drill" (New York, 1865), a compilation of information regarding the oil-fields of Pennsylvania. He wrote several pamphlets on silk-culture mid other practical subjects, and made numerous inventions. He is said to have been the first in this country to print in more than one color. Mr. Morris was a member of the Society of Friends, and for years an earnest Abolitionist."
    From the period journals reviews, it's clear the purpose of the Morris books was to fleece the desparate who had been hurt by the economic crash with dreams of owning a farm, living off the land, etc. It is likely that, once a customer bought the book, a followup personal visit or mailing from the real estate agent would be in order in an attempt to sell the unsuspecting would-be farmer land in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I would not be surprised to find that a deal was in there for sales of farming and garden supplies too!
    The Appleton's entry, which does sound like an obit to me although I haven't checked that yet, does clarify that Morris was a writer first and formost. Take into account the damning reference to his having pulled an entire chapter from another gardening book, the clear bent of his books as 'get rich quick' or 'survive the crash' schemes which primarily put cash in his pocket and you have the makings of a neat 19th century writer who figured out how to smooth over his morals, publish books that appeared to 'mean something' and make a living for himself.
    Or, he simply ghost wrote the books for J. Miller, the publisher who specialized in cheap children's books. Remember that Morris had the connections and ability to publish on his own, yet he didn't publish these books. Instead, he went to J. Miller. That begs the question of why would Morris do such a thing when he would make more profit by publishing his own books? Perhaps he owned an interest in J. Miller, Publishers. Perhaps he was J. Miller, Publishers. Either way, it wasn't until after Ten Acres Enough was a sales success that Morris decided to expose his authorship in the title page of subsequent 'get out of jail free' books.
    Is there value in the content related to farming and gardening, to oil drilling and silk culture? Quite possibly. You'd have to be the judge of that if you choose to read any of his books. Just remember that Morris didn't write with the purpose of helping you to be a better farmer or oil driller. He wrote to support himself.

Go to the link above and read some of the comments that follow this post.  At the very least its a good read and Morris certainly knew how to write a good story.  Its just a pity it was all a scam. I'm going to continue reading the book but view it in a different way.  One of simple enjoyment.

Have you heard of this book?  Have you read it?  

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