Henry County, IAGenWeb

Agricultural Science.

Portrait and Biographical Album of Henry County, Iowa
Chicago: Acme  Publishing Company, 1888.


Agricultural societies have long been considered the best means of promoting the interests of that large class of citizens on whom the prosperity of the country so much depends - the farming people. Unlike tradesmen and mechanics, the agricultural class are not huddled together, and have not the usual means of disseminating their views enjoyed by those living in villages and cities. The annual fair brings them together, which their best productions of stock and cereals, and information is given one to the other as to the best methods of securing the best results.

At an early day the citizens of Henry County agritated the question of the annual exhibit of their agricultural and mechanical productions, and in 1853 the first county fair was held at the village of Salem. As may well be conceived, the number of entries was small indeed, and the amount given as premiums was still smaller, yet, as all things must have a beginning, this fair served as a starting point and as an incentive to further action. The following year another exhibition was held at Mt. Pleasant, and was a little improvement upon the first effort. Other fairs were held, but the war coming on, the people could not take that interest in them that otherwise would have been done.

Henry County Agricultural Society.

What is now known as the Henry County Agricultural Society was organized in 1865, and its first annual fair was held in the fall of the same year. John M. Hanson was the first President of the re-organized society, and did much to advance its interests and place it on the road to prosperity. Grounds were purchased near the asylum, which have been fitted up in a substantial manner, suitable for the proper display of exhibits. No county society has better exhibitions, although the rival fairs of Salem and Winfield, it is believed, injure it financially. Its influence is felt throughout the community, and as a consequence the stock of the county has been greatly improved.

The cyclone that visited this section in June, 1882, demolished the amphitheater on the fair grounds, but it was subsequently rebuilt.

The officers of association for 1888 are: W. Beckwith, President; J. L. Gillis, Vice President; Ed N. Kitchen, Secretary; L. M. Shubert, Treasurer.

East Iowa District Fair.

In the spring of 1882, T. C. Rittenhouse, of Winfield, Iowa, wrote an article for the Winfield Beacon recommending the organization of a district fair, which met with general approval by the people. The Beacon then kept the subject constantly in view, until a meeting was called, and citizens of the counties of Henry, Louisa, Washington and Des Moines, united in forming an association known as the East Iowa District Fair Association.

The new enterprise struck the popular chord, and the people of these great counties rallied to the support of the measure, and in the following autumn a most successful fair was held on the farm of W. Mullin, near the town limits. This was followed by a still better exhibit the next year upon the same grounds.

After the second exhibition a joint stock company was formed, and eighty acres of very desirable land was purchased one-half mile west of town. The buildings which had been erected were removed to the new grounds and a splendid half-mile track was made. Fairs have since annually been held, and each exhibition has been an improvement upon the preceding one. The fair held from September 13 to September 16, 1887, will long be remembered. The crowd was immense, and notwithstanding the drouth which prevailed, the various departments were well filled. Some inconvenience was occasioned by the scarcity of water and provisions made for the care of stock, but the Directors were equal to the occasion and did all in their power to render all comfortable. The showing of cattle, hogs and sheep was better than ever, every stall and pen being crowded. The display of farm machinery was fine, and much interest was manifested in this department.

The Eastern Iowa District Fair is one in which the citizens of Winfield feel a just pride. They have made it what it is, and the courage and grit shown, often under most discouraging circumstances, are indeed commendable. The officers for 1888 are: W. P. Dunahoo, President; E. D.Young, W. Mullin and A. Freeman, Vice Presidents; E. C. Hinkle, Secretary; William Lauder, Treasurer; A. J. Lewis, Chief Marshal; P. B. Nixon, Chief of Police.

The Salem Agricultural Society.

Citizens of Salem and vicinity have for a few years past maintained a local society, which has been well patronized, and which has created a considerable amount of interest.

Transcribed by Conni McDaniel Hall for Henry County IAGenWeb, November 2014.

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