Friday, January 02, 2015

Erie County Farmers’ Institute in 1912

Farmers’ Institutes were modeled after the popular Teachers’ Institutes in the mid-1800s for the purpose of disseminating information to farmers about the latest developments in farm management. Dr. Norton S. Townshend, former secretary of the Ohio Board of Agriculture, promoted Farmers’ Institutes in Ohio. In an address at the annual meeting of the State Board of Agriculture in 1874, Dr. Townshend said, "What we want is to abandon the old idea that farming has no higher aim than getting a living, and instead of it to adopt the better one that the chief end of farming is the culture and improvement of the farmer and his family; and while it does this, it should, as a secondary result, give support and pay expenses. Farming needs a new departure, or to take a new start, and with a higher aim and purpose, so that it may secure to the farmer the same improvement in intellectual and social position that men expect to secure through the professions of law or medicine. These professions educate men by their daily work, and so will farming when taken hold of in earnest and in the right way."  The Farmers’ Institutes were held in most Ohio counties during the winter months, for two or three days. Lectures were presented by state agricultural leaders, followed by open discussions among the local farmers. On January 1 and 2, 1912, the Erie County Farmer’s Institute was held at the Perkins Methodist Church.

 Ross D.L. Ransom was the president of the Institute, with Charles F. Steen as vice president, Harry E. Storrs as treasurer, and L.J. Parker serving as secretary.

 Several lectures were given, covering topics such as soil needs, the consumers’ dollar, use and value of lime, corn growing, and pruning of nursery stock. Interspersed among the lectures and discussions were musical numbers by area residents. The Ladies’ Aid Society of the Perkins Methodist Church provided dinner in the church basement for twenty five cents. Clifford King donated four programs from Erie County Farmers’ Institutes, from 1911 to 1914. 

Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center if you would like to view this historical items, which are housed in archival box E-6, folder 5. A chapter about Ohio’s Farmers’ Institutes is found in the Farmer's Centennial History of Ohio, online at the InternetArchive. Agriculture continues to be an important component of Ohio’s economy, with one in seven Ohioans employed in agriculture or an agricultural related business. 

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