Friday, February 15, 2013

Jim's Big Day

James County Times, Monday, March 20, 1916; page 1

Jim's Big Day
April 3rd
1 County Court!
2 Farmers' Institute!
Have you ever attended a Farmers' Institute? If you have you will be glad to hear that you are to have one in your own county. The Agricultural Experiment Station of Tennessee University have been invited by some of James County's farmers and citizens to hold an Institute in James County.
April 3rd and 4th
Here are some of the topics to be discussed! Improvements of Farm Soils, Farm Crops, Live Stock, etc, etc. Look for program in next issue.
If your family was a farmer during the time that James County existed, they probably attended this special day. It was free and it educated the farmers how to manage their crops for better productivity.
The University of Tennessee was kind enough to send me a book concerning the history of this project, A History of the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station by Thomas J. Whatley. Thanks to them!
As early on, as the the beginning of the 1800's, our agricultural society and government leaders would debate the issues on how to obtain a safe and adequate supply of food for our growing population. The railroads allowed farmers to transport their goods out of their immediate area to other areas around the county. The Industrial Revolution was creating a larger and more diverse population that required various forms of agricultural specialties. These debates by the leaders took into consideration the farmers themselves did not have the resources or the education to conduct the necessary research to meet the growing goals. The decision from the government was to create higher education that specialized in the fields of agriculture and mechanical arts, in addition to, the more sought after fields of the ministry, medicine and law.
President Lincoln signed the Morrill Act in 1862 that created a system of land grant colleges and universities where agriculture and the mechanical arts were part of the education roster. The Hatch Act, followed in 1887, that established an agriculture experiment station in each state and territory, as the primary agricultural research center. The government appropriated $15,000 per state.
In 1869, after the Civil War, East Tennessee University at Knoxville, which later became the University of Tennessee, was our state's location for the research center. The College of Agriculture was created, land was purchased, and experiments were conducted. "The objective of the Station was to promote the agricultural interests by practical and scientific investigations. Analyses were to be conducted of seeds, fertilizers, soils, minerals, drinking waters, and botanical determinations of benefit to the public ..." Later, dairy and ranching were added to the curriculum.  Agricultural societies were organized on a county basis. Farmers began to send in samples that were then analyzed. The University would then correspond with the farmers of that county the results of their research.
These farmers' agricultural societies across the state provided an opportunity for the "Station" to promote themselves to the farming communities around the state in the form of county conventions. Speakers would follow the railroads and travel from one convention site to another to give their discussions on agricultural topics. These conventions were usually well recieved by the farmers.The farmers would use these conventions to display their farm products and learn the latest agricultural information.
In summary: These county farmers' institutes were used to promote the adoption of the latest approved methods of crop production, the improvement of live stock, the conservation of soil fertility and the improvement of agricultural conditions.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Our Founder- Polly Watkins Donnelly

A few weeks ago, we lost an individual that was instrumental to the creation of James County Historical Society. Polly Watkins Donnelly, a retired teacher and historian, died January 25, 2013 in Florence, South Carolina after an extended illness. She was a long-time resident of Cleveland, Tennessee.
She was the founder of our James County Historical Society and was significantly involved in our publication of JAMES COUNTY: A LOST COUNTY OF TENNESSEE in 1984. We would like to thank her for all of her hard work. Without her, we would not be here today.
As an active historian, she was a Regent of the Ocoee Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution. She was also involved with the First Families of Franklin, as well as, many other historical societies.
You can read all about the wonderful life that she led in her obituary from the Morning News in South Carolina. There will be a memorial for her in Cleveland with a date to be set later. Rest in Peace, Polly.