William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


[TOC] [part 15] [part 13] [Cutler's History]


The Kansas State Agricultural Society was organized in the open air, in front of the old Topeka House, July 16, 1857, in pursuance of a published notice, and an Executive Board was chosen. From this board, Hon. Alfred Larzalere, of Doniphan County, was chosen President. Hon. C. C. Hutchinson, of Franklin County, Secretary. The Executive Board held but two meetings, but the society collected complete sets of the Agricultural Reports of New York, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and the new Western States. Owing to the political troubles and the poverty of the settlers, it was impossible to hold a State Fair, and the society came to a natural death. The library was placed by the Secretary in the hands of Hon. E. D. Ladd, of Lawrence, and subsequently was placed in the Kansas State Library by Hon. Lawrence D. Bailey.

March 5, 1862, a meeting was held in the hall of the House of Representatives, at Topeka, for the purpose of organizing a society for the promotion and encouragement of agriculture and the mechanic arts of the State. Hon. F. P. Baker, of Nemaha County, was called to the Chair, and J. D. Church of Atchison, was chosen Secretary. A committee appointed to draft a constitution consisted of Golden Silvers, of Jackson; R. A. Van Winkle, of Atchison; James Medill, of Leavenworth; William R. Wagstaff, of Miami; F. G. Adams, of Shawnee. The committee reported a constitution of fourteen articles which was adopted. The name of the association was "The Kansas State Agricultural Society;" its object "to promote the improvement of agriculture and its kindred arts, throughout the State of Kansas." Its officers were a President, a Secretary, a Treasurer and an Executive Committee consisting of these officers and ten other members chosen for that purpose. The President of each County Agricultural Society was ex officio Vice President of this society; the Secretary of each County agricultural Society was ex officio Corresponding Secretary for that county of this society. Annual elections were provided for, occurring in January of each year, and the lay members of the Executive Committee were to hold, after the first election for a term of two years, five of whom were to be chosen each year. The executive Committee were empowered to determine the place and time for holding each State Fair; to direct the money appropriations to the society and have control of its property; to prepare the necessary by-laws for the society, and "annually regulate and award premiums on such articles of production and improvement as they may deem best calculated to promote the agricultural and household manufacturing interests of the State, having special reference to the most economical or popular mode of competition in raising the crops or stock, or in the fabrication of the articles offered."

Provision was made for preparing a report of the transactions of the society during the preceding year, which should embrace valuable reports from committees, statements of experiments, cultivation and improvement, proceedings of county societies, correspondence, statistics, and other matters, the publications of which will exhibit the condition of the agricultural interest of Kansas, and a diffused knowledge of which will add to the productiveness of agricultural and household labor, and there fore (sic), promote the general prosperity of the State, and transmit such report and abstract to the Speaker of the House of Representatives for the use of the Legislature. The Secretary was the only officer to whom compensation was allowed, the Executive Committee to fix the amount. Every member of the society is such by virtue of paying an annual fee of $1; life membership, $10. The several present and prospective County agricultural societies were deemed auxiliaries of the State Society, and it was made the duty of the Secretary to invite and receive reports and abstracts of the county societies, to be used in preparing the annual report to the Legislature.

The following named persons were elected officers for 1862: President, Lyman Scott, of Leavenworth; Secretary, F. G. Adams, of Shawnee; Treasurer, Isaac Garrison, of Shawnee; Executive Committee, F. P. Baker, of Shawnee; Martin Anderson, of Jackson; R. A. Van Winkle, of Atchison; E. B. Whitman, of Douglas; J. W. Sponable, of Johnson; J. C. Marshall, of Linn; Thomas Arnold, of Coffey; W. A. Shannon, of Lyon; Charles B. Lines, of Wabaunsee; Welcome Wells, of Riley.

In June, 1862, the Executive Committee held a meeting, and decided it inexpedient to hold a fair during the year. F. G. Adams, F. P. Baker and E. B. Whitman were appointed a committee to prepare a series of questions in relation to agricultural matters, and have them printed and forwarded to the Trustees of each township of the State, with a request to answer them as far as is practicable, and return to the Secretary by the 1st of December, 1862.

First Annual Meeting. - This was held January 13, 1862, and the officers then elected determined to publish a "Journal of the State Agricultural Society." and christened it the Kansas Farmer, the publication of which commenced May 1, 1863. It was a monthly, at 50 cents a year; in clubs of 10 or more, 40 cents.

James L. McDowell, of Leavenworth, was chosen General Superintendent of the First State Fair held at Leavenworth, October 6-9, 1863. The total receipts of the fair were $5,139.12; the total disbursement, $5,377.10. The Legislative appropriation for 1863 was $1,000; Life Membership fund, $495.

The officers of the society for 1863 were as follows: President, L. D. Bailey; Secretary, F. G. Adams; Treasurer, F. P. Baker. Messrs. Lines and Marshall were again chosen members of the Executive Committee; the new members were J. P. Johnson, of Doniphan; John S. Hidden, of Nemaha; Samuel M. Stricker, of Davis; David L. Lakin, of Jefferson; Charles Starns, of Leavenworth; Abram Ellis, of Miami; George W. Collamore, of Douglas; Jon R. Swallow, of Lyon.

Second Annual Meeting. - At the meeting held January 12, 1864, the Secretary reported the available funds of the society at $1,721.35. Of the deceased life-members, five of the nine were killed in the Lawrence massacre; three died in the service of their country. The following named persons were elected officers for the coming year; Messrs. Bailey and Adams were re-elected President and Secretary; William Spriggs, of Anderson, Treasurer; Robert G. Elliott, of Douglas; J. W. Sponable, of Johnson, S. S. Tipton, of Anderson; Perry B. Maxson, of Lyon; James L. McDowell, members of the Executive Committee.

Third Annual Meeting. - At the meeting held January 12, 1865, President Bailey and treasurer Spriggs were re-elected; John S. Brown, of Douglas, was chosen Secretary; members of the Executive Committee - James B. Maynard, of Doniphan; Henry B. Keller, of Leavenworth; E. S. Hubbard, of Wyandotte; A. J. W. Brown, of Allen; Charles B. Lines, of Wabaunsee. The society had decided to hold a fair in October, 1864, and Gov. Richard Yates, of Illinois, was designated to deliver the address, but owing to the unsettled condition of the country, no fair was held; neither was there any held in 1865.

Fourth Annual Meeting. - The officers of 1865 were re-elected, January 3, 1866, and the new members of the Executive Committee were Hiram J. Strickler, of Shawnee; George W. Dietzler, of Douglas; Alfred Gray, of Wyandotte; S. S. Tipton, of Anderson. June 3, 1866, John S. Brown resigned his position as Secretary, and H. J. Strickler was appointed. The people of Lawrence subscribed $2,006 to have the Second Annual State Fair held there, and it came off there October 2-5, 1866. Horace Greeley had been invited to deliver the opening address, but he was unable to be present. Hon. Solon O. Thacher, of Lawrence, delivered the annual address, followed by Hon. I. S. Kalloch. James L. McDowell was the General Superintendent. The receipts of the fair were $4,459; the disbursements, including cost of building were, $4,458.

Fifth Annual Meeting. - President Bailey, at this meeting held January 16, 1867, delivered the annual address and reviewed the rise and growth of the society, predicting its greatness and usefulness. Having acted as President of the society four years, he declined another election, thinking he had done his part of the pioneer work. The officers elected were as follows: President, Robert G. Elliot; Secretary, Hiram J. Strickler; Treasurer, Charles B. Lines. The Executive Committee was composed of M. C. Cloyce, of Atchison; M. K. Dalton, of Jefferson; W. G. Coffin, of Leavenworth; M. J. Alkire, of Shawnee; Henry C. Cross, of Lyons; William A. Phillips, of Saline. At a meeting of the society held January 30, 1867, Messrs. Lines, McDowell and Strickler were appointed a committee to memorialize the Legislature, asking "for an appropriation of $5,000 per annum to the State Board of Agriculture, to aid them in holding annual fairs."

Sixth Annual Meeting. - The President, Secretary and Treasurer were re-elected at the meeting held January 15, 1868. The members of the Executive Committee elected were: Josiah Miller, of Douglas; W. L. Harrison, of Franklin; John W. Scott, of Allen; A. B. Whiting, of Riley. The State Fair was held at Leavenworth; Peter G. Lowe was General Superintendent; Prof. J. S. Hougham of the State Agricultural College delivered the annual address, and was followed by addresses from Dr. John W. Scott and by Thaddeus H. Walker.

Seventh Annual Meeting. - At the election of officers chosen January 13, 1869, the President, Secretary and Treasurer were again elected. The new members of the Executive Committee were: Boaz W. Williams, of Atchison; James I. Larimer, of Leavenworth; John N. Insley, of Jefferson; Alfred Gray, of Wyandotte; S. T. Kelsey, of Franklin. The State Fair was held at Lawrence, and Alfred Gray was General Superintendent. Gov. James M. Harvey delivered the opening address.

Eighth Annual Meeting. - At a meeting held January 25, 1870, the constitution of the society was amended so as to provide for a Vice President, and Hon. Oscar E. Learnard, of Douglas, was elected. The sixth annual exhibition of the society was held at Fort Scott, September 27-30, 1870. Alfred Gray acted as General Superintendent. George A. Crawford delivered the opening address, and extended the hospitalities of the city. President Kalloch replied, and Gov. Harvey and Hon. E. G. Ross delivered addresses. The election for officers occurred October 30, 1870, and the following named persons were chosen: President, Isaac S. Kalloch; Vice President, O. E. Learnard; Secretary, Alfred Gray; Treasurer, Thomas Murphy, of Atchison. The new members of the Executive Committee were Joseph K. Hudson, of Wyandotte; John Inlow, of Johnson; E. S. Niccols, of Anderson; George A. Crawford, of Bourbon; Andrew Wilson, of Shawnee; N. A. Adams, of Riley.

Ninth Annual Meeting. - At this meeting held January 11, 1871, J. K. Hudson was chosen Secretary pro tem; Secretary Gray being absent in consequence of sickness. President Kalloch in his address, January 18, 1871, in Representative Hall, triumphantly said:

For the first time in history, the State Agricultural Society is not a pauper beseeching alms, but is on a basis of such honorable independence that, with a little longer continuance of the same generous treatment from the State which is has heretofore received, it will be able to accomplish the high mission with which it is charged.

A State Fair was held at Topeka, September 11-15, 1871. The officers elected September 15, were: President, H. J. Strickler; Vice President, George W. Veal; Secretary, Alfred Gray; Treasurer, Thomas Murphy; members of the Executive Committee, Martin Anderson, of Jackson; E. S. Niccols, of Anderson; George L. Young, of Shawnee; James Rogers, of Osage; William Martindale, of Greenwood; Malcomer Conn, of Morris.

Tenth Annual Meeting. - At the meeting held January 10, 1872, it was resolved that the annual fair of 1872 be held September 16-20, 1872. The fair was held at Topeka; Hiram T. Beman, of Shawnee, was chosen Superintendent. Shawnee County donated the use of her county fairgrounds and buildings, and the citizens of Topeka, contributed $2,000. January 11, the board adopted the following resolutions, the first relating to representation of the society, the second to memorializing the Legislature:

Resolved, That President Strickler and Secretary Gray be appointed delegates to represent the society at the National Agricultural Convention, to to be held at Washington, D. C., commencing February 13, 1872, under the auspices of other Commissioner of Agriculture.

Resolved, That a committee, consisting of the President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Mr. Rogers, be appointed to memorialize the Legislature for an appropriation for premiums, and also to ask for the Publication of the reports of the society.

The Legislature made a response to this in "an act for the encouragement of agriculture," which was approved February 19, 1872, which provided that

The present officers and Executive Committee of the Kansas State Agricultural Society shall be and are hereby constituted the State Board of Agriculture, who shall continue to hold office during the terms for which they had been respectively elected, to wit: The President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and one-half or five of the Executive Committee, until the second Wednesday of January, 1874; Provided, said society alter or amend their constitution in such a manner as not to conflict with the provisions of this act. The governor and Secretary of State shall be ex-officio members of the State Board of Agriculture.

Section 2 of the act provides that every county or district agricultural society, composed of one or more counties, whether now organized or hereafter to be organized under the laws of the State of Kansas, shall be entitled to send the President of such society or other delegate therefrom, duly authorized in writing, to the annual meeting of the State Board of Agriculture, to be held on the second Wednesday of January of each year, and who shall, for the time being, be ex officio members of the State Board of Agriculture.

Provided, That each county or district society herein mentioned, shall have held a fair the current year, offered and awarded premiums for the improvement of stock, tillage, crops, implements, mechanical fabrics and articles of domestic industry and such other articles and improvement as they may deem proper, and grade the said premiums so that it will be competent for small as well as large farmers and artisans to compete for the same, make out a statement containing a synopsis of the awards, and an abstract of the Treasurer's account and report on the conditions of agriculture in their county to the State board, which statement shall be forwarded by mail or otherwise to the Secretary of the State Board on or before the 15th of November of each year.

Sec. 3 provided that the State Board of Agriculture, together with so many of the Presidents or authorized delegates of the county societies as may be in attendance, to meet at Topeka on the second Wednesday of January, 1873, and annually thereafter, and proceed to elect by ballot a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and five members of the State Board of Agriculture, who, when regularly convened, shall constitute the State Board of Agriculture. The President, Vice President and Treasurer shall be elected to serve for one year, and the Secretary and Treasurer shall be elected to serve for one year, and the Secretary and members shall serve for two years from the time of their election.

Sec. 4 makes it the duty of the State Board of Agriculture to make an annual report of its proceedings for the preceding year to the Legislature, embracing a report of the State Horticultural Society, and an abstract of the proceedings of the county societies, as well as a general view of the condition of agriculture throughout the State, accompanied by such essays, statements and recommendations as they shall deem interesting and useful, which reports shall be printed by the State. The transactions of the state Agricultural Society, and the State Horticultural Society, shall be published in one volume, from the respective organizations of said societies, until the close of the last year of the said societies. The reports shall be bound in cloth, and shall not cost to exceed $1 per copy.

Sec. 5 limits the number of copies of the report to 3,500. The Secretary of State shall distribute 275 copies to the State officers; 1,270 to the Legislature; 500 to the State Horticultural Society; 1,450 copies to the State Board of Agriculture for distribution among the agricultural and horticultural societies, mechanical associations and farmers' clubs of the State, and for distribution and exchange with other State Societies, and as may seem best for the interest of the estate; five copies to the State Library and five copies to the State Agricultural College.

Sec. 6 located the office of other State Board of Agriculture in the capitol building, in the rooms occupied by the State Agricultural Society. In 1883, the office was located in the northeast part of the basement of the west wing.

Sec. 7 provided for an appropriation of $35,000 for the benefit of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture for the year 1872; this amount to be used in paying the premium awarded at the fairs or industrial exhibitions to be held under the auspices and control of the said State Board of Agriculture.

At a meeting of the State Agricultural Society held at their rooms March 12, 1872, President Strickler stated that it would be necessary to amend the Constitution of the society to conform to the legislative act above recited. E. S. Niccols, James Rogers and A. J. Ryan were appointed a committee to consider and report what amendments are necessary to conform to the provisions of said act. Mr. Niccols, Chairman of the committee, reported an amended Constitution, which was accepted, and on motion of Mr. Rogers the Executive Committee of the Kansas State Agricultural Society were instructed to accept of the provisions of said act.

Thereupon the Kansas State Agricultural Society adjourned sine die, and the Kansas State Board of Agriculture came into a condition of organized vitality.

[TOC] [part 15] [part 13] [Cutler's History]