STATE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE
THE Fifth Territorial Legislature, in an act approved Oct. 14, 1858, providing for the organization of County Agricultural Societies, established a Territorial Board of Agriculture to receive and digest reports from, and of, the several organizations, and to hold annual meetings for the purpose of deliberating and consulting as to the wants, prospects and condition of the agricultural interests throughout the Territory.
This Board, as originally constituted, consisted of Thomas Gibson, Harrison Johnson, A. D. Jones, E. Estabrook, J. M. Thayer, Christian Bobst, Robert W. Furnas, Jesse Cole, S. A. Chambers, .Jerome Hoover, Mills S. Reeves, Broad Cole, J. C. Lincoln, Harlan Baird, Joel T. Griffin and E. H. Chaplin, duly created a body corporate, with perpetual succession, empowered to fill vacancies in its memberships, and to elect officers at its discretion.
The first meeting of the Board was held in Omaha October 30, 1858, the election of officers for the ensuing year resulting as follows: President, R. W. Furnas; Secretary, A. D. Jones; Treasurer, J. M. Thayer; Board of Managers, E. H. Chaplin, H. Baird, M. S. Reeves, Broad Cole and C. Bobst. It was determined at this meeting that the first annual fair be held three days in succession, commencing on the third Wednesday of September, 1859, in such county as offered the largest donations, privileges and best accommodations; the President and Secretary being appointed a committee to report and publish such list of premiums as they might deem advisable, in behalf of the Board.
The list of premiums having been published accordingly, and Otoe County being selected as the location, the first Territorial Fair was held at Nebraska City September 21, 22 and 23, 1859, the list comprising premiums on farm stock, blooded and ordinary, of all kinds then in the West, farm implements, domestic manufactures and dairy products, American cloth manufactures, needle, shell and wax works, paintings and drawings, stoves and stone ware, cabinet ware, book binding and printing, flowers, fruits, vegetables, grain and field crops, listed in nearly the same order in which they have been mentioned. A premium was also offered for the best essay on the character, composition and improvement of soils in Nebraska, for which it appears there was no competition. The amount actually awarded aggregated $355, in addition to a gold watch, saddle and bridle, and two sets of jewelry, valued at $115, and a goodly number of diplomas. The address of the occasion was delivered by J. Sterling Morton. At the end of the report of the fair, to the next Legislature, the Committee "beg leave to say that this first Territorial Fair of Nebraska, though not a complete success, is far from a failure. Taking all things into consideration, it is a marvel that we have done half so well."
This was the only Territorial Fair ever held in Nebraska, no decided effort appearing to have been made toward another exhibition until 1868, when the Board, having been resolved into a State organization by the admission of the Territory, held the second annual fair, also at Nebraska City, on October 7, 8 and 9 of the year mentioned, the officers of the Board, elected on the 30th of January previous; being as follows: John Patrick, President; E. A. Allen and Samuel Maxwell, Vice Presidents; C. H. Walker, Secretary, and L. A. Walker, Treasurer. The oration was delivered by Major H. T. Brooks, of Pearl Creek, N. Y. The premium list of this fair was more comprehensive than of the one previous, embracing fourteen classes, the competition was brisk, and the Board greatly encouraged. As according to the by-laws of the Board, its election of officers should be held at its regular annual meeting, the second election of the year occurred on October 9, placing in office R. W. Furnas, President; O. P. Mason and Dr. G. B. Graff, Vice Presidents; the other offices being filled as before. The second report was made to the fourth State Legislature, and comprised, in addition to a list of premiums awarded, the address of Maj. Brooks, and discussions of the Board on various subjects pertaining to agriculture.
Nebraska City was again, and or the last time for several years, selected by the Board, the third Annual exhibition being held there on the last three days of September and first day of October, 1869. I was in many ways an improvement on either of the ones preceding, and was referred to in the reports in terms of great self-complacency by the Committee. No change was made in the Presidency. Gov. A. Saunders and Hon. J. Sterling Morton were elected Vice Presidents, and D. H. Wheeler, Secretary, L. A. Walker retaining his position as Treasurer.
The fourth fair was held at Brownville, September 20 to 23, 1870, the display again being a fine one, except as to fruits, the extreme cold weather about the middle of April killing the greater portion of the fruit in the State. The only result of the election was to place George Jennings and Oliver Harmon in the Vice Presidencies.
The fifth exhibition was at Brownville, September 26 to 29, 1871, J. S. Morton and J. T. Allen superseding Jennings and Harmon.
The sixth annual fair was held at Lincoln, September 3 to 6, 1872. Special premiums were offered on this occasion, in addition to the regular list, of $200 for the best essay on the timber question, $50 for the best essay on the swine question, and $100 for the best essay on the subject of live fences. The address was delivered by Dr. H. Latham, of Laramie City, W. T., and the former officers re elected, with the exception of the Treasurer, who was succeeded by J. W. Moore.
Lincoln being again selected as the location, the seventh exhibition was given at that place in September, 1873, Hon. J. Sterling Morton officiating as orator of the occasion. Gov. R. W. Furnas positively declining re-election to the Presidency, Mr. Morton was chosen to fill the position, and M. Dunham and C. H. Walker elected Vice Presidents, no change being made in the other incumbencies.
The eighth and ninth annual fairs were held at Omaha, in September, 1874 and 1875, respectively. On the first occasion, Prof. A. L. Perry, of Williams College, delivered the agricultural address, his subject being "The Foes of the Farmers." No change was made in the officers. In 1875, Hon. Moses Stocking was the orator of the day, and succeeded, at an election hold in January, 1876, to the Presidency, J. F. Kinney and C. Mathewson being elected Vice Presidents.
The tenth agricultural exhibition was held at Lincoln in September, 1876, Hon. J. F. Kinney delivering the centennial address. In the succeeding January, M. Dunham was elected President; C. Mathewson and Edward McIntyre, Vice Presidents; D. H. Wheeler and J. W. Moore retaining their former positions.
The eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth annual fairs were also held at Lincoln, an address on "How the West has moved on," being delivered by Prof. Rodney Welch, of the Chicago Times, in 1877; on "Agriculture in Nebraska," by Hon. A. S. Paddock, of the United States Senate, in 1878, and on "Our Nebraska Farms," by Col. Champion S. Chase, Mayor of Omaha, in 1879. In January, 1878, C. H. Winslow was elected Vice President in place of Edward McIntyre, and Christopher Hartman, Treasurer, in place of J. W. Moore. In 1879, R. W. Furnas was chosen to succeed C. H. Winslow, deceased, and in January, 1880, the Vice Presidencies were conferred upon J. T. Clarkson and J. B. Dinsmore, no change except those mentioned being made.
Omaha was honored by the Board as the location of the fourteenth exhibition, held in September, 1880. On the third day of the fair, Hon. James W. Savage, Judge of the Third Judicial District of Nebraska, delivered an oration upon "A Farmer's Life," being the yearly agricultural address. The premiums offered upon this occasion aggregated $10,000.
The fifteenth annual exhibition, also at Omaha, was held on September 12 to 17, 1881, $15,000 being offered in premiums. The display was a remarkably fine one, especially in the Fine Stock and Speed Departments, and more especially as contrasted with the first fair, that of 1859, which, in the words of Hon. J. Sterling Morton, rejoiced in "some corn, a few specimens of small grain, half a dozen swine, a few Devonshire cattle, owned by Gov. Furnas, a trio of Durhams, and a few fine horses, horticulture rejoicing in less than half a peck of all kinds of fruit." The address of the occasion was delivered by Gen. C. H. Van Wyck. The present officers, elected in January, 1881, are: Hon. J. T. Clarkson, President; G. W. E. Dorsey, First Vice President; Edward McIntyre, Second Vice President; J. C. McBride, Secretary; C. Hartman, Treasurer. The Board of Managers consists of G. W. E. Dorsey, J. F. Kinney, R. W. Furnas, C. H. Walker and A. D. Williams. It is a noticeable fact that Gov. R. W. Furnas is the only member of the Board who has been such without interruption since its organization.
The State Board of Agriculture embraces all of the minor kindred organizations, the Horticultural Society and others, reports of which are incorporated in the official statements of the Board to the Legislature. These will be found treated of under their own heads. It has, since its institution as a territorial organization, fostered, encouraged and developed the farming interests of Nebraska, stimulating honest rivalry--one of the best promoters of prosperity. To it the State owes much of its present popularity, and to the indefatigable efforts of its officers, past and present, is due in a great measure the fact not that Nebraska is an agricultural State, but that she is pre-eminently, because scientifically, much.
STATE HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY.
At the first territorial fair of the Board of Agriculture, held in 1859, four premiums only were awarded on fruits, eight diplomas given for the best displays of various flowers, and two for the best native wines, this being the extent of the horticultural exhibit. At the second fair, in 1868, three awards were made on apples, two on canned fruits, and three on flowers, the eight premiums being divided among five exhibitors.
Maj. H. T. Brooks, in his address delivered upon this latter occasion, said: "Fruit is a subject so vast and fundamental as to demand your prompt and unremitting attention," dwelling particularly upon the need of scientific horticulture, and the facilities offered by the location for securing the best possible results.
The consequence of this and similar encouragement was to incite liberal discussion among those interested in the subjects of fruit and forestry--the result being the organization of a State Horticultural Society at the third annual meeting of the Agricultural Board, whose object was declared to be the promotion of pomology, arboriculture, floriculture and gardening.
The first meeting of the new society was held at Nebraska City September 29, 1869, twenty-three persons uniting themselves as charter members. The election of officers resulted: J. H. Masters, President; R. W. Furnas, Secretary; and O. P. Mason, Treasurer. Committees were appointed and something of a plan of action determined upon.
At the first semi-annual meeting, at Brownville, commencing January 5, 1870, what was at the time a really remarkable display of fruits was made and intelligently discussed, and, at a special meeting at Omaha, in June of the same year, the attention of the society was more particularly directed to vegetables and flowers, the show of these being such that a committee was appointed to examine the articles displayed and award premiums, it being thought best that official notice be this way taken of the efforts of those interested. This committee, in view of the fact that no list had been published or competition asked for, recommended that a diploma be awarded to each and all of those represented.
The Legislature of 1870 made an appropriation of $2,000 to the society, but at the annual fairs of that year and of 1871, the horticultural exhibits were, as heretofore, merged in those of the Agricultural Board, this Board and the new society making an arrangement in 1872, whereby the pomological and fruit displays at the State Fair should be under the control and management of the latter organization. No change was made through election until September, 1871, when a Vice Presidency was instituted, J. T. Allen being chosen to fill the position, and D. H. Wheeler superseding O. P. Mason an Treasurer. Meetings were held at Nebraska. City in August, and at Lincoln in September, 1872, the latter in connection with the agricultural exhibit, being particularly fine as to apples, grapes and pears.
At the regular meeting of the society in January, 1873, a committee was appointed to attend the pomological exhibition at Boston, in September of that year. This delegation, comprising R. W. Furnas, J. S. Morton, James T. Allen and J. H. Masters, not only attended the meeting referred to, but placed on exhibition a car load of Nebraska fruits and evergreens, consisting of 237 varieties of apples, forty-nine of pears, twenty-four of peaches, fourteen of grapes, three of native plums, and three of evergreens, a special car being constructed and placed at their disposal for the trip by the Missouri & Burlington Railroad Company. At this same meeting, James T. Allen was elected President, E. N. Grennell, Vice President, D. H. Wheeler, Secretary, and John Evans, Treasurer.
Nothing of especial interest occurred in the proceedings of the society from this time until January, 1876, when a partial change of officers was effected, the new incumbents being R. W. Furnas, President; E. N. Grennell and Charles Mathewson, Vice Presidents; D. H. Wheeler and John Evans retaining their positions as Secretary and Treasurer respectively. The society during the summer had charge of the Nebraska display in Horticultural Hall at the Centennial Exposition, a display attracting general attention and receiving special honorary awards.
In 1879, the society passed resolutions of respect upon the death of an old and valued member--Hon. C. H. Winslow, of Cass County. At the annual election, John Evans was superseded as Treasurer by Christopher Hartman.
In 1880, Samuel Barnard was chosen Second Vice President in place of Charles Mathewson. In 1881, R. W. Furnas retiring, the Presidency was bestowed upon E. N. Grenell, Samuel Barnard was elected First Vice President, and A. W. Hawley, Second Vice President, these with D. H. Wheeler, Secretary, and Christopher Hartman, Treasurer, constituting the present list of officers. The Board of Directors consists of E. N. Grenell, Christopher Hartman, D. H. Wheeler, L. Crounse, R. W. Furnas and J. H. Masters. The annual display, made at Omaha, September 12 to 17, 1881, was unusually complete in all its details, competition being encouraged by premiums aggregating $1,200.
The society since its organization has received three medals from the American Pomological Society, the first as early as 1871, for the best collection of fruits displayed, the second in 1873, for the best State collection of apples, and the third in 1875, again for the best collection of fruits. It was also the recipient, in 1874, of a silver medal from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. As has been implied, Nebraska's horticultural exhibit at the Centennial Exposition was in every way a remarkable one. In recognition of this fact, and for its special merits, the following awards were made, the society receiving a Commissioner's medal in token thereof. "For eight varieties of pears, shown without the name of the grower, but all well grown. The Flemish Beauty, Louise, Bonne de Jersey, White Doyenne and Duchess d'Angouleme are superior specimens, large, smooth and well colored."
"For 263 varieties of apples--a remarkably fine collection, and for the unusually large number of finely grown varieties; also for their general freedom from insect markings, fungus and weather discolorations."
It has been the object of the society to promote horticulture by setting forth the best methods, and making the experience of each horticulturist available for all. To this end comprehensive and frequent reports have been published containing discussions, suggestions and essays, and in this way it has been grandly successful, fully demonstrating the fact that Nebraska is peculiarly and especially adapted to the culture of the finest fruits, flowers and forest trees.
STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
The men who founded Lincoln wisely set apart one of the most valuable blocks in the city plat and called it the "Historical Block," with the intention of utilizing the revenue, some day, for the preservation of the historical data of the State. Shortly after the organization of the commonwealth, a body was organized under the title of the "Nebraska State Historical Library Association," and preliminary steps were taken toward the institution of a society which should not only have the will and purpose to save the valuable records of those early days, but, through the increase in value of the historical block, the requisite means for carrying out that noble aim. Hon. John Gillespie was President of the Association. The many duties and absorbing subjects incident to the founding of a new city and the erection of a State government, for a time compelled the retirement of this matter to a greater degree of obscurity than its importance merited, and so considerable time elapsed between the inception and the formal operations of the Historical Society.
In order to revive general interest in the work, ex-Gov. Furnas, on the 12th of August, 1878, sent to many of the older settlers and leading men a circular letter reading thus:
BROWNVILLE, NEB., August 12, 1878.
My Dear Sir: Feeling, as I presume every citizen of this State does, the necessity for a State Historical Association, after consultation with persons in several parts of the State, it is thought advisable to call a meeting at Lincoln, on the same day as the State Fair, to effect the organization of a State Historical Society. I would like your views, and, if favorably entertained, the use of your name in such a call. Please advise me at your earliest convenience.
In response to this request, Gov. Furnas received letters from all whom he addressed, expressing approval of the plan. Thereupon, the following call was published:
The undersigned, impressed with the importance of collecting and preserving, in particular, such historical material as shall serve to illustrate the settlement and growth of the State of Nebraska, and knowing that much valuable to that end can now be obtained from living tongues and pens of those familiar from organization, and which may be lost by further procrastination, adopt this method of securing the organization of a State Historical Society. We call on friends of the object in view throughout the State, to meet at the Commercial Hotel in the city of Lincoln, on the evening of Wednesday, September 25th, 1878, for the purpose herein indicated.
ALVIN SAUNDERS, GEORGE L. MILLER,
A. S. PADDOCK, J. STERLING MORTON,
ROBERT HAWKE, J. C. LINCOLN,
R. H. LIVINGSTON, WILLLIAM ADAIR,
D. H. WHEELER, J. L. EDWARDS,
E. LOWE, ELAM CLARK,
JOHN L. CARSON, E. B. FAIRFIELD,
SILAS GARBER, G. C. BARTON,
FRANK WELCH, E. H. ROGERS,
ROBERT W. FURNAS, THOMAS W. TIPTON.
The plan was duly carried out, and the following proceedings were had:
LINCOLN, NEB., September 25, 1878.
Pursuant to a call heretofore published, the following named gentlemen convened at the Commercial Hotel, Lincoln, Neb.:
Dr. George L. Miller, Chris. Hartman and J. T. Allan, Douglas County; Gov. Silas Garber and H. S. Kaley, Webster County; S. R. Thompson, T. P. Kennard, W. W. Wilson and Samuel Aughey, Lancaster County; Rev. J. M. Taggart and J. H. Croxton, Otoe County; C. H. Walker, Franklin County; Hon. L. Crounse and E. N. Grennell, Washington County; Prof. C. D. Wilbur, Saline County; J. Q. Goss, Sarpy County; D. H. Wheeler and William Gillmore, Cass County; O. T. B. Williams Seward County; L. B. Fifield, Buffalo County; Rev. L. B. W. Shryock and E. Shugart, Gage County; William Adair, Dakota County; and Robert W. Furnas, Nemaha County.
Robert W. Furnas called the meeting to order, on whose nomination Dr. George L. Miller was elected temporary Chairman. R. W. Furnas was elected Secretary, on motion of D. H. Wheeler.
Dr. Miller, on taking the chair, delivered a short, appropriate and pressing address on the importance of forming a historical society, and regretting that it had not been done before.
On motion of S. R. Thompson, the Chair appointed the following gentlemen Committee on Organization: S. R. Thompson. J. Q. Goss, D. H. Wheeler, J. M. Taggart and Lorenzo Crounse.
The committee in due time made the following report, which was adopted:
Your committee, to which was referred the matter of organization, report favorably, and recommend that the name of the organization be "Nebraska State Historical Society." That the officers be one President, two Vice Presidents, Treasurer and Secretary. Also a board of five Directors. Membership to be elective, upon the payment of a fee and annual assessment to be agreed upon hereafter. Also that committees be appointed on permanent officers and constitution and by-laws.
In compliance with recommendations to the report, the Chair appointed the following committees:
On Permanent Officers--T. P. Kennard, Silas Garber, E. N. Grennell. O. T. B. Williams and C. D. Wilbur.
On Constitution and By-Laws--D. H. Wheeler, J. T. Allan, L. B. W. Shryock, J. H. Croxton and Samuel Aughey.
On motion, the meeting then adjourned to meet at same place to-morrow evening.
GEORGE L. MILLER, Chairman.
ROBERT W. FURNAS, Secretary.
LINCOLN, NEB., September 26, 1878.
Pursuant to adjournment, the meeting convened with the following additional named gentlemen: H. T. Clark, Sarpy County; J. H. Brown, A. Humphrey. J. H. Ames, John Cadman and A. G. Hastings, of Lancaster County; J. A. MacMurphy, Cass County; Hiram Craig, Washington County; J. J. Budd, Douglas County; F. J. Hendershot, Thayer County; S. A. Fulton, Richardson County; Theron Nye, Dodge County.
Dr. Miller, Chairman, being absent, Gov. Silas Garber was called to the chair.
The Committee on Constitution and By-Laws, through Prof. Aughey, presented a constitution and by-laws which after being read in full, were adopted.
The constitution and by-laws are somewhat lengthy, and were published in pamphlet form, so that those who desire may obtain a copy from Prof. Aughey. They are consequently omitted from this sketch. The membership fee was fixed for the present at $3.
Mr. Kennard, from the Committee on Permanent Officers, reported as follows, which report was adopted and the officers declared duly elected:
President--Ex.-Gov. Robert W. Furnas. Nemaha County.
First Vice President--Dr. George L. Miller, Douglas County.
Second Vice President--Judge E. S. Dundy, Richardson County.
Treasurer--W. W. Wilson, Lancaster County.
Secretary--Prof. Samuel Aughey, Lancaster County.
Corresponding Secretary--D. H. Wheeler, Cass County.
Directors--Gov. Silas Garber, Hon. J. Sterling Morton, Prof. C. D. Wilbur, Dr. G. C. Monell, and Hon. Lorenzo Crounse.
The committee recommend that the President and Secretary be ex officio members of the Board of Directors, which, by vote, was agreed to.
Meeting adjourned to meet again at the same place September 30th next.
SILAS GARBER, Chairman.
ROBERT W. FURNAS, Secretary.
Annual meetings have been held, and the value of the proceedings may be estimated by the character of the papers read on those occasions: The "Discovery of Nebraska," by Judge Savage; the "Philosophy of Emigration," by Hon. J. W. Woolworth, and the history of the times when Nebraska was created a State, by Senator Gere, form some of the most entertaining pages in this volume. The official roster has remained substantially unchanged.
The question of title to the Historical Block has been raised. By an act of the Legislature, the city of Lincoln became possessed of the said Block 29 for use as a market square. The State Historical and Library Association, which is still in existence, is now contesting the validity of that possession. As the case is still pending, prudence dictates all omission of opinion here. The hope may, however, be properly expressed, that nothing will intervene between the expectation and the realization of the most sanguine desires of this most noble association. The preservation of historic data is of far more value than can be calculated in dollars and cents. Should the handsome property fail to find ultimate lodgment with the association, probably the people of the State will not allow interest in the matter to die out. By the obtaining of clear title to the Historical Block, and the union of the two societies in future effort, vastly better results would accrue than could be looked for in any other direction.