In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was campaigning for President, home canning jars and the Winchester rifle had just been invented, and the Pony Express was beginning its mail delivery service. The latest census showed that the United States had 31 million people, 77 of whom were killed that year in the country’s first factory disaster. Land was selling for $3 to $5 an acre, and a laborer’s wage without board was 90 cents a day.
Wheat flour — $7.14/barrel
Rice — 7 cents/pound
Granulated sugar — 8 cents/pound
Roasting beef — 11 cents/pound
Soup beef — 4 cents/pound
Cheese — 13 cents/pound
Eggs — 20 cents/dozen
Hard wood — $6.49/cord
Rent for 4 rooms — $4.45/month
Room and board for men — $2.79/month
Room and board for women — $1.79/month
I gathered this information and these prices from entries in a journal that my great-great (I’d have to figure it up to know exactly how many greats) grandfather kept in 1860. This man made a journal entry almost every day of his adult life and recorded family happenings and events around town, as well as prices for everything he purchased. I “inherited” many of these journals… lucky me… they make for some fun reading.