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Eagle Archive: Measuring county's wealth in terms of cash, crops and heritage

Around 1919, a local newspaper took issue with an article in a Baltimore paper that had credited "Yolo County, Calif., with the record of any county in the United States as being the wealthiest."

The now-defunct Union Bridge Pilot carried an article which took "exception to a recent article in the Baltimore Star… so far as per capita wealth is concerned, the citizens of Carroll county claim that honor themselves, and knowing The Star wants to be fair toward Carroll county, request equal prominence to the latter's claims."

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Local historian Jay Graybeal, who wrote about the newspaper spat on April 17, 1994 for the Historical Society of Carroll County, reminisced that, "Sometime during my schooling at Manchester elementary a teacher told our class that Carroll county had the richest agricultural land in the nation. It was the kind of statement that impressed me and I filed it away with other childhood memories."

I also recall being taught in the 1960s that Carroll County was "the fifth richest agricultural county in the nation." So, like Graybeal, I was impressed to read the 1919 Pilot article.

However, other than the Pilot newspaper article that Graybeal discovered in his research, I have never found any authoritative account that supports any such claims or bragging rights...

Nevertheless, the Pilot observed, "Carroll county has a population of 34,000. It is strictly an agricultural county and cannot boast of a single millionaire. Its people for the most part are hardy farmers."

The Pilot boasted "Carroll county's taxable basis in round numbers in $30,000,000."

According to various accounts, the property tax rate in 1919 was $1.23. For 1920, taxes increased 2 cents. That year the commissioners ended the year with a surplus of $1,519.24 after spending 61 cents of the tax rate on schools, 7 cents for the courts and 43 cents on bridges and roads.

By the way, the county commissioners in 1920 were B. Stansbury, who was paid $935.26 in 1920; John Myers, $357.05; William Roop, $810.25; and Charles Melville, $568.30.

And no, I have no idea why they were all paid different amounts of money.

The Pilot went on to reason, "The banks of Yolo County have $7,112,854 on deposit. Carroll county banks have practically twice as much money on deposit as Yolo.

"Carroll County has 20 banks and trust companies, and the resources of these banks … total $13,843,000. This gives Carroll a per capita wealth, as represented in the banks, of $412.

"The resources of the county thus is divided by 34,000 population as against 13,926 for Yolo county, which claims $474 per capita…

"It is evident that the good people of Yolo county, in compiling their statistics, entirely overlooked Carroll county."

When he's not bragging about how great it is to live and work in Carroll County, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

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