Agricultural Society, State.The first effort to organize a stateor more properly speaking a territorialagricultural society, was made on July 16, 1857, when a mass meeting was held at Topeka to consider the subject. After discussion pro and con a committee was appointed to draw up a constitution for such a society. Among the members of this committee were Dr. Charles Robinson, W. F. M. Arny, C. C. Hutchinson, Dr. A. Hunting and W. Y. Roberts. An organization was effected under a constitution presented by the committee, but for various reasons the society was never able to accomplish much in the way of promoting the agricultural interests of Kansas. In the first place the projectors of the movement were mostly ardent free-state men, while the territorial authorities were of the opposite political faith, so that it was impossible to secure the passage of laws favorable to the work of the society. Added to this, the unsettled conditions in the territory, due largely to the political agitation for the adoption of a state constitution and the admission of Kansas into the Union, kept the public mind so occupied that it was a difficult matter to arouse sufficient interest in agriculture to place the society on a solid footing. After a short existence it ceased its efforts altogether. The books collected by the society were afterward given to the state library by Judge L. D. Bailey.
The territorial legislature of 1860 provided for the organization of county agricultural societies in the counties of Coffey, Doniphan, Douglas, Franklin, Linn and Wabaunsee, and for the "Southern Kansas Agricultural Society," but no provisions were ever made by the authorities during the territorial era for a society that would cover the entire territory in its operations.
By the act of May 10, 1861, the first state legislature authorized ten or more persons to form an agricultural or a horticultural society in any county, town, city or village, and file articles of association with the secretary of the state society and with the county clerk in the countywhere the society was located. As a matter of fact, at the time this law was passed there was no state agricultural society, but on Feb. 5, 1862, a meeting was held in the hall of the house of representatives at Topeka for the purpose of organizing one. W. R. Wagstaff, F. G. Adams, Golden Silvers, J. Medill and R. A. Van Winkle were appointed as a committee to draft a constitution, and upon the adoption of their report the following officers were elected: President, Lyman Scott; secretary, Franklin G. Adams; treasurer, Isaac Garrison; executive committee, E. B. Whitman, R. A. Van Winkle, Welcome Wells, F. P. Baker, W. A. Shannon, J. W. Sponable, C. B. Lines, Thomas Arnold, Martin Anderson and J. C. Marshall.
The constitution adopted at the formation of the society provided for the payment by each member of annual dues of one dollar, or for ten dollars one could become a life member. It also provided for the organization of county societies as auxilaries to the state society.
On Jan. 13, 1863, L. D. Bailey succeeded Lyman Scott as president. Mr. Bailey served as president until Jan. 16, 1867, when he was succeeded by Robert G. Elliott, who in turn was succeeded by I. S. Kalloch on Sept. 30, 1870, the latter continuing to hold the office until the society went out of existence. Mr. Adams served as secretary until Jan. 12, 1865, when John S. Brown was elected as his successor. On Sept. 30, 1870, H. J. Strickler was elected secretary and served until Sept. 1, 1871, when Alfred Gray was elected to the office, being the last secretary of the society.
At a meeting of the executive committee on Feb. 20, 1863, the president and secretary were given full power to make all the necessary arrangements for a state fair, and the first state fair was held at Leavenworth the following fallOct. 6 to 9 inclusive. (See State Fairs.) The legislature of that year made an appropriation of $1,000 for the benefit of the society. Another work of the society in 1863 was the distribution of 500 bushels of cotton seed among the farmers of the state who were desirous of trying the experiment of raising cotton.
On March 12, 1872, the State Agricultural Society held its last meeting and adjourned sine die, the State Board of Agriculture (q. v.), which had already been authorized by an act of the legislature, taking its place.Pages 38-39 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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