HISTORY OF TAMA COUNTY IOWA

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CHAPTER XVIII

"AGRICULTURE AND AGRICULTURAL SOCIETIES"


Tama county is among the finest agricultural counties in the State. It comprises an area of seven hundred and twenty square miles, or a total of 455,182 acres; but a small portion of which is unfit for cultivation.

 

The first ground broke was by William Riley Vandorin, on the third day of June 1849. Ephraim Whittaker came with Vandorin, and did breaking a few days later. This was in what now comprises Salt Creek township. They brought with them two breaking plows and some seed corn, besides garden seed. They "chopped in" some pumpkin seed, and planted corn, and Mrs. Van Dorin "chopped in the sod" quite a garden. A good crop was the result, raising quite a lot of corn and nearly a hundred wagon loads of pumpkins, while Mrs. Vandorin, from her little garden, put up a barrel of pickles.

 

During the summer of 1850, the Vandorin party broke nearly thirty acres and put a fence around it.

 

The next to engage in agricultural pursuits was Anthony Wilkinson and his brother, and shortly afterwards Isaac Asher in the western part of the county.  The details of their early actions will be found in another Chapter.

 

It has, therefore, been a little more than a third of a century since the first crop was raised in Tama county.  The whole county was then in a wild state; trackless, and to the westward, almost endless.  As far as the eye could reach, nothing was presented except the tall swaying prairie grass, relieved here and there by a small cluster of trees.  But what a change; Churches, schools, villages and cities have sprang up, and to-day the broad fields of rich, golden grain furnish a wonderful contrast between now and then.  To-day nearly every acre of tillable land is under a high state of cultivation.  There is some unoccupied and unimproved land in the county which is held by speculators, who are retaining it for a rise in its market value.

 

The soil of Tama county is admirably adapted to raising all the cereals common to this latitude, and as regards fruit, every year shows an increase over the previous one.  No estimate has been made or statistics gathered of the number of acres of land under cultivation and the amount produced, since 1875.  This gave the amount raised in 1874.  In that year there were 255,183 acres of improved land, of which 97,013 acres were in spring wheat yielding 1,437,807 bushels; corn, 73,251 acres, yielding 2,842,859 bushels; rye, 110 acres, yielding 1488 bushels; oats, 13,573 acres yielding 284,569 bushels; barley, 7,305 acres, yielding 142,765 bushels; buckwheat, 120 acres, yielding 1,686 bushels; flax, 1,423 acres, yielding 12,529 bushels; sorghum, 132 acres, yielding 9,047 gallons of syrup.  There were 1,589 acres of blue-grass for pasture; 15,644 acres of tame grass; 148 acres of hungarian grass.  There were 10,169 tons of tame hay; 27,067 tons of prairie hay; and 166 tons of hungarian hay mown.  Of potatoes, there were 1,189 acres, yielding 95,041 bushels, and 372 bushels of sweet potatoes.  Of onions, turnips, beats, peas, and beans, there were 9,555 bushels.  There were 18,282 acres of natural timber, 1589 acres of planted timber and 98,835 rods of hedge.  There were of bearing apple trees, 28,464, yielding 9,207 bushels; pears, 149 trees, yielding 15 bushels; peaches, 8 trees; plums, 1198; cherries, 2,404; other fruit trees in bearing, 2,846; number of other fruit trees, not in bearing, 153,685.  Of grapes there were 66,407 pounds gathered.  There has been a large increase over foregoing amounts since 1875.  Since that time four or five townships have settled, and thousands of acres of improved land have added to the sum total.

 

THE FIRST FAIR.

 

In 1856, a few citizens of Tama, who were interested in Agricultural and Mechanical Arts, met in Toledo, the county seat, for the purpose of effecting an organization, having for its object improvement in the agricultural interests of the county.  On September 25, of this year, a fair was held.  The display of the different products of the county was fair, both from field and garden.  Stock was very well represented and manifested the interest that Tama county farmers took in this creditable enterprise, at so early a date.  This experiment proved so successful that the prime movers in it, determined to set themselves to work and make the organization efficient and permanent.  A few more fairs were held with moderate success, but finally, the interest waning, the society ceased to exist.

 

After this a few fairs were held in various parts of the county without organization, until in 1866, when a permanent organization was effected, under the name of Tama County Agricultural Society.

 

Great was the contrast between the fairs of that early day and present times.  Samuel D. Chapman in writing of them, says: "We cannot help drawing a comparison between the fairs then and now.  At that time, although they were spoken of as being successful, the entries were few indeed in comparison to what are now made each year.  Blooded stock was then scarce.  No such fine herds of cattle as are now owned and exhibited each year by L. Carmichael, Andrew Jackson, the Wilson's and others; no such droves of hogs as J. T. Ames and others show; no improved horses like those of M. and J. Wylie's, W. McGowans', Dr. W. Corn's and J. H. Hollen's, to carry off the ribbons.  The floral hall at an early day would blush if placed side by side with the buildings now owned by the Societies, and filled each year to overflowing."

 

TAMA COUNTY AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY.

 

Pursuant to call, a primary meeting of the citizens of Tama county was held in Iuka now Tama City, for the purpose of agitating the question of holding a county fair during the fall of 1866.  Quite a number of delegates from the southern part of the county were present.  This was on the 4th day of August, 1866.  The meeting was called to order by W. T. Hollen.  John Ramsdell was chosen President, and A. M. Batchelder Secretary.

 

Remarks upon the necessity of encouraging agriculture were made by the President, W. C. Salsbury, of Indiantown, T. Forker, and others, after which B. A. Hall made a proposition to the meeting in behalf of the citizens of Iuka.  The proposition was to furnish the grounds to hold the fair, also build sheds and pens for the accommodation of stock, and furnish forage for the same, build a trotting course, and furnish halls suitable for the floral department, and to entertain free of charge all persons from out of town that took an active part in the fair; also, to make all other necessary arrangements for the accommodation of all who might wish to attend the fair.  After voting to hold the fair during the fall, the meeting adjourned to meet on the 18th day of August.

 

Accordingly, a meeting was held for the purpose of permanently organizing the "Tama County Agricultural Society." West Wilson, of Crystal township, was chosen chairman of the meeting.  The following persons were elected officers for one year:

 

W. C. Salsbury, of Indiantown, President; West Wilson, of Crystal, Vice-President; John Ramsdell, of Richland, Treasurer; A. M. Batchelder, of Iuka, Secretary.

 

A committee was then appointed to frame a constitution and draft by-laws, and at the meeting of the officers and board, held at Iuka, September 1, 1866, a constititution was adopted.

 

The books were then opened for the subscription stock, of which the amount of one hundred dollars was subscribed without any effort.

 

It was then decided to hold the first fair on the 10th and 11th of October, 1866.

 

J. B. Louthan, W. T. Hollen and L. F. Stoddard were appointed a committee to draft by-laws.  E. Hayward, James Fowler, and W. C. Salsbury were appointed a committee on premium list.  W. T. Hollen was elected Marshal for one year.

 

At a meeting held October 6, 1866, it was voted to make the admission as follows:

 

Single ticket for one admission $ .25
Membership ticket, for one year, admitting family 1.00
Children under 12 years old .10
Horse and buggy, one admission .50
Two horses and carriage, one admission .75
One horse and buggy during Fair 1.00
Tow horses in buggy or wagon 1.00

 

The fair was held according to appointment and proved a success.

 

At an annual meeting held December 1, 1866, the following named officers were elected:

 

Judge W. C. Slsbury, President; A. J. Wheaton, Vice President; A. M. Batchelder, Secretary; John Ramsdell, Treasurer; Directors, West Wilson, J. Reedy, T. Forker, B. A. Hall and L. F. Stoddard.  The Board of Directors held a meeting at Tama city May 25, 1867, when it was decided to hold the annual Fair on the 10th, 11th, and 12th, of October, 1877.  The Secretary was directed to use the funds then in the Treasury (amounting to $407), in constructing a suitable board fence on the north and west side of the grounds and in making arrangements for the forthcoming fair.  It was also decided to make an assessment of $2.50 on the stock subscribed to be paid on or before the 10th day of October.

 

Fairs have been held every year since that time with good success.

 

In 1879 the officers of the Society were as follows:

 

President, L. Carmichael; Vice President, A. E. Taplin; Secretary, H. Soleman; Treasurer, E. L. Carmichael; Directors, William Earnest, J. H. Hollen, J. L. Bracken, John Fife and W. G. Malin.

 

At an annual meeting of association held at Tama city on the 4th day of December, 1880, the following named officers were elected:

 

L. Carmicheal, President; A. Taplin, Vice President; H. Soleman, Secretary; E. L. Carmichael, Treasurer; Directors, John Fife, A. L. Brooks, Wm. Earnest, W. G. Malin, J. H. Hollen.

 

At an annual meeting of the stockholders held at Tama city on the 4th day of December, 1881, the following officers were elected:

 

Andrew Jackson, President; A. L. Brooks, Vice President; H. Soleman, Secretary; E. L. Carmichael, Treasurer; Directors, W. G. Malin, Peter Lichty, John Fife, Wm. Earnest, A. Taplin.

 

At a directors meeting held in February, 1882, the following reprt of finance was made:

 

To balance on hand last report - $57.28

Total amount received in 1881 - 617.49

Total - 674.77

Credit by amount paid for vouchers - 645.28

Amount on hand - 29.49

 

It was also decided to hold the next annual fair on the 12th, 13th and 14th of September, 1882.

 

AGRICULTURAL ASSOCIATION OF TAMA COUNTY

 

On the 12th day of July, 1873, at one o'clock in the afternoon, A. J. Wheaton, West Wilson, T. A. Graham, L. B. Nelson, A. W. West, W. H. Stivers, N. Huff, J. Reedy, P. Lichty and others interested in such matter, met at the Court House in Toledo for the purpose of organizing the Agricultural Association of Tama county.  West Wilson was called to the chair and W. H. Stivers was chosen Secretary Pro tem.  Remarks were made by various gentlement, and the importance and feasibility of the proposed organization was discussed, and finally articles of incorporation of said association were duly adopted and placed upon record.

 

At the next meeting held on the 19th of July, a tract of land in section fifteen, belonging to F. Davis, was purchased for the fair grounds.  P. Lichty, J. S. Townsend and D. F. Bruner were appointed a committee to prepare and fence the ground, and N. Huff, E. Taplin and J. O'Niel were appointed a committee to prepare the trotting track.

 

These matters being all attended to, the first annual meeting of the association was held on the 1st, 2d and 3d days of October, 1873.  The officers were: President, A. J. Wheaton; Vice-President, West Wilson; Secretary, W. H. Stivers; Treasurer, L. B. Nelson.  The fair proved a success in every respect, and yearly exhibitions were held upon the grounds of the society until 1878, when from various causes the active work ceased and the grounds were sold.

 

TRAER DISTRICT AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY.

 

This society effected an organization at Traer on the 28th of February, 1874, under the above name.  The first permanent officers were elected March 14, 1874, and were: President, West Wilson; Vice-President, J. R. Steer; Secretary, G. Johnston; Treasurer, J. T. Wild.  The first fair was held in September of that year, was a marked success both financially and in exhibition.

 

Since that time, the association has held a fair each year with increasing success.  The grounds are located just north of the city of Traer, and are, without doubt, the finest in the county.  The affairs of the association have been managed in a most able manner, and the interested parties are to be congratulated upon their selection of officers.

 

The present officers are as follows:

 

President, Arthur Pratt; Vice-President, G. Jaqua; Secretary, W. B. Gillespie; Treasurer, C. T. Moore.

 

TAMA COUNTY HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY.

 

This society was organized in the spring of 1883.  The object was for the promotion and encouragement of horticulture and arboriculture by the collection and dissemination of correct information concerning the cultivation of such fruits, flowers and trees, both deciduous and evergreen, as are adapted to the soil and climate of Tama county.  Any person can become a member of the society by the payment of the annual fee of fifty cents.

 

The first President of the society was A. Hufford; the first Secretary, David F. Bruner.


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