Hinshaw Brothers. “General Merchandise, Grass Seeds,

“Star Brand Fertilizers”, Grain, Provisions, &c.” Advertisement.

The Danbury Reporter, September 30, 1880, 4.


This is an advertisement from a Newspaper published on September 30, 1880 in Danbury, NC, named The Danbury Reporter. The advertisement is for a wheat manure made by the Hinshaw Brothers called Star Brand Fertilizers. In addition to Fertilizers, they are also selling grass seeds, grain, provisions, and general merchandise. Along with a general description of the fertilizer and why they recommend it, they give first-hand accounts from local farmers who used the product. They use a total of a dozen different accounts to show how their product has affected the farmers’ crop growth, productivity, and profitability.

The first of these narratives summarizes many of the other accounts as it describes how the farmer, Mr. Miller, used this manure on previously infertile land and achieved an abundant harvest. The story of this farmer is common for the late 1800’s as many people in North Carolina believed their land to be infertile [1]. Yet, as the South industrialized following the Civil war, new technologies, such as improved fertilizers, allowed these previously infertile lands to yield copious harvests; however, farms still had many issues that the fertilizer couldn’t fix. One such issue is discussed in many of the accounts, including the second; the issue presented is one of blights, mostly caused by early frosts killing the wheat. This issue had always been prominent in North Carolinian wheat growing and would continue to be for years to come [2].

Although this advertisement was published in Danbury, a northern town in North Carolina, it’s important to the story of food and food production in Chapel Hill because wheat was commonly grown in the Chapel Hill area throughout the late 19th century. Additionally, the 1880’s represents a time of transition for the whole South, but especially the agricultural South, as the loss of slave labor pushed farmers to advance technologically to remain profitable. The Star Brand Fertilizer represents one of these technological advancements in Southern agriculture. Chapel Hill’s wheat production would have been affected by advancements similar to this and farmers would have had accounts of growth in production and profitability similar to those in the advertisement.


[1] Massey, W. F. “Wheat Growing in North Carolina.” The Standard(Concord, NC), January 24, 1890, 3rd ed., sec. 1.

[2] Battle, H. B. “Weekly Weather Crop Bulletin For the Week Ending Oct. 11th 1889.” The Lincoln Courier(Lincolnton, NC), October 18, 1889.

Written by Nicholas Anixter