Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Agriculture Has Played a Key Role in the History and Development of Erie County

Before the 1800s, nearly all Ohioans earned their living through agriculture. Even as industrialization expanded in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, agriculture remained and continues to play an important role in our economy. A 2012 Census of Agriculture indicated that there were over 300 farms in Erie County, Ohio, with over 83,000 acres of farm land in the county. The market value of agricultural products sold was worth more than $88,000,000 dollars. The top crops in Erie County were listed as soybeans and corn. 

Several items in the Sandusky Library Archives Research and Sandusky Library reflect the importance of agriculture to our area. This is a ribbon from the Erie County Fair held in 1856:

The 1874 and 1896 historical Erie County atlases show the locations and property owners of the farms in rural Erie County. In the holdings of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center are several ribbons and premium booklets from past Erie County Fairs, primarily from the nineteenth century. 

Man local citizens have been recognized over the years for their agricultural skills and innovations. Erie County resident Wells W. Miller served as Ohio’s ninth Secretary of Agriculture, from 1894 to 1906. The medal below was presented to Charles J. Messer for his corn sheller at the 1858 Ohio State Fair, which was held in Sandusky. Mr. Messer’s threshing factory was located at the corner of Water and Warren Streets. An early annual report the Ohio State Board of Agriculture reported that Messer’s power corn sheller had no superior.

The Hero Reaper was manufactured by the Sandusky Machine and Agricultural Works in the 1880s.

The well-known Hoover Potato Digger was made at the same time in Avery, just a short distance south of Sandusky. Using the wealth derived from the invention, the Hoover family became prominent investors in the Lakeside Chautauqua community in Ottawa County. 

In 1911 the National Corn Exposition was held in Columbus, Ohio from January 30 to February 11.  Milton Earle donated this ribbon from the Corn Exposition to the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.

The National Corn Exposition of 1911 featured exhibits from thirty five states. Scientific displays were exhibited by over twenty agricultural colleges and agricultural experimental stations. The National Corn Banquet was held on February 3, 1911, and President Taft spoke at the Exposition on February 10. 

If you would like to learn more about the history of agriculture in Ohio, there are many books available for loan through the ClevNet system on the topic of farms in Ohio.

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