Agriculture, State Board of.On Feb. 19, 1872, Gov. Harvey approved "an act for the encouragement of agriculture," section 1 of which provided that "The present officers and executive committee of the Kansas State Agricultural Society shall be and are hereby constituted the State Board of Agriculture, who shall continue to hold office during the terms for which they have been respectively elected, to-wit: The president, vice-president, secretary, and one-half or five of the executive committee, until the second Wednesday of Jan., 1873, and five of the executive committee until the second Wednesday of Jan., 1874; Provided, said society alter or amend their constitution in such manner as not to conflict with the provisions of this act. The governor and secretary of state shall be ex officio members of the State Board of Agriculture."
The act also provided that every county or district agricultural society, then in existence or afterward organized under the laws of the state, that had held a fair in the current year, should be entitled to send a delegate, with proper credentials, to the annual meetings of the state hoard, and such delegates should be members ex officio for the time being. It was further provided that beginning with 1873, and thereafter, the annual meetings should be held on the second Wednesday in January; that the board should make annual reports to the legislature, including both the agricultural and horticultural societies; that 3,500 of this report should be printed each year, and an appropriation of $3,500 was made to carry on the work of the society for the year 1872.
The first board was composed as follows: President, H. J. Strickler; vice-president, George W. Veale; secretary, Alfred Gray; treasurer, Thomas Murphy; executive committee, Martin Anderson, E. S. Niccolls, George L. Young, James Rogers, William Martindale, Malcolm Conn, Joseph K. Hudson, S. T. Kelsey, James I. Larimer and John N. Insley. Gov. James M. Harvey and Sec. of State W. H. Smallwood were ex officio members.
The first meeting of the board was held on March 12, 1872, when the constitution of the old agricultural society was amended to conform to the provisions of the act establishing the new board. At the close of the year the first annual report was compiled and presented to the legislature. Although this report contained much information regarding the agricultural interests of the state, the legislature evidently thought it ought to contatin more, for by the act of March 13, 1873, it was provided that "It shall be the duty of the State Board of Agriculture to publish, as a part of their annual transactions, a detailed statement, by counties, of the various industries of the state, and other statistics, which shall be collected from the returns of the county clerks, and from such other reliable sources as the said board may deem best; also to collect, arrange and publish from time to time, in such manner as the said board may deem to be for the best interest of the state, such statistical and other information as those seeking homes in the west may require; and they shall deliver a synopsis of it to such immigrant aid societies, railroad companies, real estate agencies, and others interested, as may apply for the same; also to arrange, in suitable packages and cases, and place the same in the agricultural rooms for public inspection, samples of agricultural products, geological and other specimens, provided for in this act."
By the same act the Academy of Science was made a coördinate department of the State Board of Agriculture, and assessors were directed to collect samples of agricultural and other products and turn the same over to the county clerk, who would forward them to the agricultural rooms in the capitol at Topeka.
At the annual meeting on Jan. 14, 1874, Prof. James H. Carruth, of Lawrence, was elected botanist; Prof. W. K. Kedzie, of Manhattan, chemist; Prof. Edward A. Popenoe, of Topeka, entomologist; Prof. B. F. Mudge, of Manhattan, geologist; Prof. Frank H. Snow, of Lawrence, meteorologist; J. H. Carruth, B. F. Mudge and Frank H. Snow, a signal service committee.
During the year 1874 the secretary prepared and published a series of monthly statements, by counties, showing the condition of crops, etc. The board also began in this year the collection and arrangement of specimens of coal, building stone, fossils, gypsum, timber, etc., and made preparations for securing a collection of Kansas birds, noxious insects, and anything else that would be of interest to the agricultural industry in the state. Early in the year it was decided to hold a state fair at Leavenworth in September, but owing to the ravages of drought, grasshoppers and chinch-bugs as the season advanced, petitions from all parts of the state came to the board urging that the fair be abandoned, as it was believed to be impossible to show products that would be up to the standard of a more favorable year. The board, however, declined to listen to these complaints, and on Aug. 18 issued an address to the people of the state, advising them to bring the best they had for exhibition, and predicting that, if they would do so, the fair would be a success. Concerning the fair, the annual report said "The result was all that could he desired as an exhibition. The products of the soil were never so well represented, either as to breadth of country or quality of product. Representatives of Eastern journals were present, and able to correct the prevalent idea that all of Kansas was dried out and eaten up." (See State Fairs.)
DISPLAY OF KANSAS AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS.
Plans for the annual report for 1874 were made at the beginning of the year. It was decided to include in this report a synopsis of the board's proceedings, the substance of the monthly statements, an outline of the agricultural history of the state, a review of the work of the agricultural college, a statistical and industrial exhibit, a diagram showing the rainfall in various sections of the state, an outline map of Kansas, and a sectional map of each county, showing townships, villages, etc. At that time the outstanding indebtedness of the board, for the years 1871-72-73, was $6,585.42. To pay this indebtedness and publish the annual report along the comprehensive lines contemplated, it was resolved to ask the legislature for an appropriation. By the act of March 4, 1874, the sum of $16,735.42 was appropriated to liquidate the indebtedness, pay the current expenses of the board, and publish the report. This was the first considerable appropriation ever made for the benefit of the board, and the precedent thus established has been followed by subsequent legislatures, which course has kept the Kansas State Board of Agriculture fully abreast of similar organizations in the most progressive states of the Union.
The annual report for 1875 was the best issued up to that time. In fact, it embodied so much useful and valuable information regarding the agriculture, mechanical and educational institutions of the state that the legislature, by the act of March 4, 1876, appropriated $8,625, or so much thereof as might be necessary, for the publication and distribution of a second edition.
Since 1877, when the constitutional amendment making the legislative sessions biennial went into effect, the reports of the board have been made biennially instead of annually, and efforts have always been made to keep the character of the report up to the high standard established in 1875. The first biennial report embraced the years 1877-78. For a number of years the annual appropriation for the board has been in the neighborhood of $10,000, and special appropriations for certain specified work have been made from time to time. By the act of March 5, 1901, the secretary was ordered to print and distribute 7,500 copes of the report for 1899-1900, in addition to the 15,000 previously printed, and appropriated $10,550 to defray the expenses of the extra edition. The act also provided for the publication of 20,000 copies of the report thereafter. The legislature of 1903 made a special appropriation of $300 to gather data to make tests of sugar beets.
Following is a list of the presidents of the board, with the years in which they served H. J. Strickler, 1872; F. S. Niccolls, 1873; George T. Anthony, 1874 to 1876, inclusive; John Kelly, 1877-78; R. W. Jenkins, 1879 to 1884, inclusive; Joshua Wheeler, 1885-86; William Sims, 1887-88; A. W. Smith, 1889 to 1892, inclusive; Thomas M. Potter, 1893 to 1896, inclusive; George W. Glick, 1897-98; T. A. Hubbard, 1899-1900; Edwin Taylor, 190102; J. H. Churchill, 1903-04; J. W. Robison, 1905-06; A. F. Sponsler, 1907-08; Charles E. Sutton, 1909-10; I. L. Diesem, 1911-.
Alfred Gray served as secretary from the organization of the board to 1879, when J. K. Hudson was elected to succeed him. Hudson resigned before the expiration of his term, and on Oct. 1, 1881, F. D. Goburn was elected to fill the vacancy. William Sims was then secretary from 1882 to 1887. He was followed by Martin Mohler, who served until 1894, since which time the office has been held by Foster D. Coburn.Pages 51-55 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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