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ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY
Essex Agricultural Society
Essex County, Massachusetts
THOMAS FRANKLIN WATERS
Published by the Trustees
NEWCOMB & GAUSS
. . PRINTERS . .
The History of the Essex Agricultural Society
The earliest Societies for the Advancement of Agri-
culture in America were established in 1785 in South
Carolina and in Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia So-
ciety was organized in March of that year, became in-
active after a few vigorous years, but was revived and
incorporated in 1809.
The Massachusetts Society for the Promotion of Agri-
culture was incorporated in 1792, the first of its kind
in the Commonwealth and in America. Having raised a
fund by annual assessments and by subscription amount-
ing to $4,000, it proceeded to import valuable animals to
improve the domestic stock, to study the improvement
of agricultural implements, and, in 1797, to establish
the Agricultural Journal, which was continued more than
thirty years. It promoted the establishment of County
Societies, contributed to the founding of a Professorship
of Natural History and the institution of the Botanical
Garden at Harvard College, and erected a hall in Brigh-
ton for the exhibition of domestic manufactures and
agricultural products. In the year 1818 it began a series
of addresses by eminent men.
The first County Society to be organized was the
Western Society of Middlesex Husbandmen. It was in-
corporated February 28, 1803. Its name was changed
to the Society of Middlesex Husbandmen and Manufac-
turers January 24, 1830. The Berkshire Agricultural
Society was incorporated February 19, 1818; the Wor-
cester Agricultural Society, February 23, 1818.
The men of Essex were already moving. An adver-
tisement appeared in the Salem Gazette on February 6,
The Farmers and others in the County of Essex, who
are desirous of promoting the Agricultural interests, are
4 THE HISTORY OP THE
requested to meet at the Hotel in Topsfield on Monday,
the 16th day of February current at eleven o'clock A. M.
for the purpose of forming an AGRICULTURAL SO-
CIETY FOR THE COUNTY OF ESSEX, in aid of the
Massachusetts Agricultural Society. As the object of
this meeting is important, it is hoped there will be a
Another notice appeared in the Gazette of February
Those gentlemen in Salem or its Vicinity who are dis-
posed to organize the proposed Essex Agricultural
Society are requested to meet at the Essex Coffee House
To-MORROW (Saturday) Afternoon at 3 o'clock to de-
liberate on the subject previous to the general meeting
to be held at the Topsfield Hotel on Monday next.
Pursuant to this invitation, a company of practical
farmers, about twenty in number, met at Cyrus Cum-
mings's tavern in Topsfield. Mr. John W. Proctor of
South Danvers, the Secretary of the Society for many
years, in his address in 1844, recalled their names:
John Adams of Andover.
Hobart Clark of Andover.
Aaron Perley of Boxford.
Amos Perley of Boxford.
James Kimball of Bradford.
Dr. Andrew Nichols of Danvers.
Daniel Putnam of Danvers.
Eleazar Putnam of Danvers.
George Osgood of Danvers.
Temple Cutler of Hamilton.
Robert Dodge of Newbury.
Paul Kent of Newbury.
Orlando B. March of Newbury.
Enoch Tappan of Newbury.
Stephen Tappan of Newbury.
Stephen Mighill of Rowley.
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY &
David Cummings of Salem.
Elisha Mack of Salem.
Ichabod Tucker of Salem.
John Peabody of Topsfield.
Jacob Towne Jr. of Topsfield.
Ichabod Tucker Esq. was chosen Moderator, and
David Cummings Esq. Secretary of the meeting. Quot-
ing from the Records :
A Committee of Five was appointed to take the sub-
ject of forming a Society for the County of Essex into
consideration and make report to this meeting as soon
as might be convenient. The following gentlemen were
appointed said committee, viz.:
Ichabod Tucker Esq., Capt. Paul Kent, David Cum-
mings Esq., John Adams Esq., and Elisha Mack Esq.
The meeting was then adjourned for an hour. The
Committee after due deliberation upon the subject at
said adjournment made their report.
Evidently the preliminary caucus at the Coffee House
in Salem had made wise preparation, and the Committee
was able to report at once that it was expedient to form
such a Society, and to submit a proposed series of Rules
and Regulations. Their report was adopted unani-
mously. Two articles of the Rules are of especial in-
terest, as indicative of the scope of the new organiza-
Article 8. The Trustees shall regulate all the con-
cerns of the Society during the intervals of its meetings ;
propose such objects of improvement to the attention of
the public, publish such communications and offer such
premiums in such form and value as they shall think
proper, provided the premiums offered do not exceed
the funds of the Society. . . .
Article 16. A Committee shall be raised from time
to time, severally to solicit and receive subscriptions for
raising a fund for encouraging the noblest of pursuits,
the agriculture of our country, the same to be sacredly
appropriated to that purpose.
6 THE HISTORY OF THE
The following officers were chosen :
Hon. Timothy Pickering.
William Bartlett, Esq.
Hon. Thomas Kittredge.
Hon. John Heard.
Ichabod Tucker, Esq.
Benjamin R. Nichols, Esq.
Hon. Leverett Saltonstall.
Hon. Nehemiah Cleaveland.
Voted that the proceedings of this meeting be pub-
lished in all the Newspapers printed in the County of
Essex and in such Boston papers as the Secretary of
this meeting may direct.
The Salem Gazette of February 20th made compli-
mentary editorial comment:
It will give pleasure to the friends of the country to
observe that a Society is formed in the County of Essex
for the promotion and improvement of Agriculture, the
real basis of individual and national wealth and pros-
perity, and that that scientific and practical farmer, the
Hon. Timothy Pickering, (who assisted many years ago
in the formation of the Agricultural Society of Phila-
delphia and of which he is still a member) has been
elected its first President. It will be recollected that at
Brighton the exhibitions of our Essex farmers have made
no mean figure and in some instances borne away the
prizes. The celebrated Oakes Cow of Danvers has been
commemorated by the art of the engraver.
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 7
Meeting again on May 6th the Society chose Ichabod
Tucker, Treasurer, in place of Dr. Cleaveland, resigned,
Voted, That all the ordained ministers of the Gospel,
who reside within the County of Essex be admitted Hon-
orary Members of the Society.
A committee was chosen to petition for incorporation,
and the charter was granted June 12, 1818.
On February 10, 1819, the Treasurer reported that
117 members were enrolled. David Cummings was chosen
Recording and Corresponding Secretary, Hon. Daniel A.
White, Treasurer. Frederick Howes Esq. succeeded Mr.
Cummings in February, 1820, and he was succeeded in
1821 by John W. Proctor of Danvers, who held the office
with distinguished ability for many years. Mr. White
resigned and Benjamin R. Nichols was chosen Treasurer
in 1823, Benjamin Merrill in 1824, and Dr. Andrew
Nichols in 1828, who held the office until 1841.
It was a happy omen for the success of the Essex
Agricultural Society that its President and its inspiring
genius was the Hon. Timothy Pickering. A graduate of
Harvard in the class of 1763, he chose the legal profes-
sion and was admitted to the bar. After distinguished
military service in the Revolutionary War, he removed
from Salem, his birthplace and early home, to his wild
lands in Pennsylvania in the Wyoming Valley, where he
secured the organization of Luzerne County. Called from
his retirement in 1791, he became Postmaster General in
Washington's cabinet, Secretary of War in 1795, and in
December of the same year Secretary of State. At the
completion of his term of office, in 1800, he returned to
his lands in Pennsylvania, but soon removed to Essex
County, through the kindness of friends, who purchased
his land holdings.
In his old home fresh honors awaited him. He became
Chief Justice of the County Court of Common Pleas in
8 THE HISTORY OF THE
1802, was elected a Senator of the United States in 1803,
and re-elected in 1805, and served as a member of the
House of Representatives from 1813 to 1817. His public
political life was now ended, and having purchased a
small farm in Wenham, he devoted himself to agricul-
ture with the same intensity which had characterized
his political career. He had been the Secretary of the
Philadelphia Agricultural Society and had been an influ-
ential factor, it is said, in the organization of the Mas-
sachusetts Society of Agriculture.
The Vice-Presidents were exceptionally fit men to give
prestige to the new Society. William Bartlett, a wealthy
Newburyport merchant, owned a great farm in Methuen ;
John Heard, the Ipswich merchant, was an enterprising
farmer as well ; Dr. Kittredge of North Andover and
Ichabod Tucker of Salem joined agriculture to their usual
Leverett Saltonstall, the Secretary, was a commanding
figure in the legal and political world. Gorham Parsons
Esq., the wealthy proprietor of the great Fatherland
farm in Byfield, was an enthusiastic lover of the soil.
The year 1818 was a fitting time for the birth of the
Essex Society. It was an era of bewilderment and dis-
couragement. The Indian corn crop had suffered great
damage from frost in the autumn of 1812, and almost
total destruction in the fall of 1816. Confidence in the
reliability of the great staple was shaken, and there was
an idea more or less current that it was injurious to the
The American consul at Lisbon, seeing the value of
the Merino sheep had sent home to Vermont large flocks
of this breed in 1809-1811. The Salem Gazette of Sept.
18, 1810, noted the arrival of imported sheep at Newbury-
port for the Northern States, 150 Merinos with a shep-
herd and his dog. A vessel had sailed from Marblehead
for Spain to secure a cargo of sheep. A brig had arrived
at New York from Cadiz with 180 sheep and a ship
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 9
broker of Newburyport had imported a flock of ninety.
The Essex Merino Sheep Company was organized. It
imported largely, rented farms in various parts of the
County, and placed the flocks under the care of shepherds
brought from Spain. Many farmers disposed of their
native flocks and invested in the new breed. But the
foot-rot and scab appeared and made sad ravages. The
agents of the company proved incompetent and some-
times dishonest. The company became bankrupt, the
flocks were scattered. Choice rams or ewes that had
cost a thousand or fourteen hundred dollars had died or
were sold for a trifle. Many farmers lost heavily and
the Merino mania became a by-word for wild and ruinous
The common farmers were plodding along in the ways
of their fathers. Their tools were clumsy and inefficient,
largely home made or hammered out by the neighboring
blacksmith. The sheet-iron shovel was patented in 1819
and the shovel of cast steel in 1828. The first American
patent for improvement in hoes was registered in 1819,
and the cast steel hoe appeared in 1827. The light and
efficient steel spring pitchfork was invented by Charles
Goodyear in 1831. Samples of the old tools that have
been preserved are of burdensome weight and easily
bent, as they were made of soft iron.
The old plough, with its wooden mould board covered
with thin strips of iron, with an iron coulter, was still
in vogue. It was often home made and so ill contrived
that three or four yoke of oxen were required in breaking
up heavy ground. The iron plough had been invented
many years before, but found little favor. As late as
1835, it is said. Sir Robert Peel presented two iron
ploughs of the best construction to a famous club in
England. On his next visit the old wooden ploughs were
still in use. "Sir," said a member, "we tried the iron
and be all of one mind that they made the weeds grow."
Charles Newbold of New Jersey took out a patent for
10 THE HISTORY OF THE
an iron plough in 1797, but after spending $30,000 in
his effort to bring it into common use, abandoned the
attempt, as the farmers persisted in declaring that the
iron plough poisoned the soil and prevented the growth
Benjamin P. Ware, born in 1824, in an address to the
Society, drew a vivid picture of the farmer of his boy-
hood days. Incessant physical toil and great muscular
strength were the chief essentials. The farmer who was
determined to succeed had to mow the broadest swath,
hoe the hardest row, work the longest hours, and always
lead and spur his laggard men. The striped frock and
heavy cowhide boots were his only livery.
There was crying need of a clearing house of agri-
culture, as it were, a common medium of information
which should gather up the methods of the most alert
and progressive farmers, the results of the latest experi-
ments with crops and new tools and improved breeds,
and bring them home to every farmer in every nook and
corner of Essex County, and teach him how to make his
head help his hand. This was the great task the Essex
Society set for itself.
Its first method was publication. Abundant and in-
spiring material was not lacking. Col. Pickering's first
paper, read at a meeting on May 5, 1818, was published
at once in pamphlet form. In this practical document
he reported his visit to Danvers to see the famous Oakes
cow. Some years before, Caleb Oakes had bought a mon-
grel cow from a herd on its way from Maine to Brighton.
She had developed extraordinary butter-making quali-
ties and had taken the premium at the Cattle Show of
1816, held by the Massachusetts Society in Brighton.
Root crops were beginning to receive attention. He had
raised about half a ton of the new Mangel Wurtzel and
was so well pleased with the result that he had brought
^U. S. Census Report, 1860.
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 11
a package of seed for every member of the Society who
desired it. He recommended the culture of Swedish tur-
nips as well.
In his address to the Society in 1820 he called atten-
tion to the great crop of carrots raised by Erastus Ware
in 1817 on the Pickman farm in Salem, 752 bushels,
weighing 18% tons, on one acre ; commented on the flat
culture of corn as preferable to hilling; remarked upon
the Arbuthnot iron plough, and quoted at length from
the foremost English authorities on farming. The se-
ries of publications thus begun has been continued, with
a few interruptions, to the present day, and constitutes
probably the largest and most helpful contribution to
the literature of agriculture made by any County Society
in the Commonwealth, and perhaps in the country.
The second method adopted by the Society was the
Cattle Show, already popular in other localities. Its first
venture in this field was at Topsfield, the most central
point in the County in the days of stage travel, on October
5th, 1820. Dr. Andrew Nichols of Danvers, physician
and skilled farmer, made a noteworthy address, in which
he made keen disclosures of the shortcomings of the
average farmer, his error in attempting to cultivate too
many acres, his deplorable neglect of the garden and
orchard, and with prophetic foresight declared that the
best interests of the County would be promoted by the
establishment of an Agricultural Academy. It i^ an
interesting coincidence, that when the day came, nearly
a century later, and an Essex County Agricultural School
was opened, it was near neighbor to Dr. Nichols's farm.
His closing appeal to the Society, "to prevent our annual
cattle show from becoming scenes of riots, drunkenness,
gambling, cheating and dissipation," is a suggestive pic-
ture of the typical Cattle Show then in vogue.
In the published Transactions there were included,
beside the Address, the Reports of Committees on
Working Oxen and Neat Cattle, on Fat Oxen and Swine,
12 THE HISTORY OF THE
on Indian Corn and Potatoes, on Manures, and on the
Dairy. Premiums were awarded to Tristram Little of
Newbury, for raising IO31/2 bushels of corn on an acre,
and to John Dwinell of Salem for 398V2 bushels of pota-
toes on an acre. Interesting statements of experiments
with corn and potatoes and manures were made. But
the most notable feature was the ploughing match.
The Committee agreed to award the first premium to
the Hon. Timothy Pickering on account of the superior
performance and superior utility of his plough. They
think also that great credit is due to Gorham Parsons
Esq. for the performance by his plough from his Byfield
Farm and award to him the second premium.
Years afterwards the venerable Dr. Nehemiah Cleave-
land of Topsfield, in his address in 1865, remarked, "I
well remember the tall and venerable form of our first
President as I saw him holding his own plough on that
For the Cattle Show in 1821 premiums were offered
on The Management of a Farm, Crops for Cows, Cider,
and on Sumac, "to any person who can prove on not less
than half an acre that either species of sumac, exten-
sively used in morocco leather, can be profitably cul-
tivated." A prize was also offered for the best planta-
tion of white oak trees, not less than an acre, nor fewer
than a thousand trees per acre, to be raised from the
acorn, which should be in the most thriving state by
Sept. 1, 1823. Prizes were offered for similar planta-
tions of locust, larch and hickory. This was in accord-
ance with the Act of Legislature, Feb. 20, 1818, providing
premiums "to increase and perpetuate an adequate supply
of ship timber."
In these early years the dairy received deserved atten-
tion. The Oakes cow, already mentioned, was constantly
in evidence. Her record was published in the Fourth
Report of the Agriculture of Massachusetts in 1841, by
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 13
the Commissioner, Henry Colman. She produced in 1813,
180 lbs. of butter; in 1814, 300 lbs.; in 1815, over 400,
and in 1816, 4841/2 lbs. During this time one quart of
milk was reserved for family use and she suckled four
calves for four weeks each in the course of these years.
She produced in one week I914 lbs. of butter and an
average of more than 16 lbs. The largest amount of
milk given in one day was 441/2 lbs. The preeminence
of this remarkable cow was never seriously questioned
for fifty years.
A circular was published by the Massachusetts Agri-
cultural Society in 1824 advertising the bull, Admiral, of
the best improved Short Horn breed, recently imported
from England, the gift of Sir Isaac Coffin for the pur-
pose of improving the breed of cattle in his native State.
This famous bull had been placed on the farm of E.
Hersey Derby Esq. of Salem for twelve months. Another
circular, signed by T. Pickering, addressed to the farmers
of Essex County, called their attention to this offer.
In 1826 the Nourse cow, owned originally by Nathaniel
Nourse of Salem, then owned by Col. Pickering, took the
first premium at the Cattle Show. From her milk in
April, May and June, 154 lbs. of butter had been made.
Col. Jesse Putnam of Danvers reported the result of
his scientific experiments with potatoes in 1829. Care-
ful observations had been made with five kinds of seed,
the Long Red or River La Plate variety, the Speckled
Blues, a variety well approved by many farmers, the
Richardson Whites, and a White potato raised from the
seed of the green balls, after several successive plantings,
a line of experiment much in vogue. Each kind was
planted in several ways, with whole potatoes and cut
potatoes, large and middle sized. The results were care-
There were interesting statements of the crops raised
on some Essex County farms in these days of hand labor
with the ox for draught. Jonathan Morse 2nd, tenant on
14 THE HISTORY OF THE
Wm. Bartlett's 200-acre farm in Methuen, reported his
harvest in 1822 :
70 tons English hay.
306 bushels of oats.
1200 bushels of potatoes.
300 bushels of corn.
1100 bushels of English turnips.
300 bushels of Ruta bagas.
40 bushels Winter apples.
20 bushels Winter pears.
6 bushels white beans.
500 lbs. of flax.
100 bbls. of cider.
400 lbs. of butter.
2400 lbs. of cheese.
The stock comprised 15 cows, 10 oxen, 3 heifers, 4 fat
oxen, 12 calves, 19 swine, 34 sheep and lambs, and one
horse. The labor, Mr. Morse stated, was performed by
himself and wife, with two men and a boy and two young
women or girls, but in most "hurrying times" as many
hands as can be employed to cut and cure to advantage,
"carried on entirely without the use of ardent spirits at
any season of the year."
The farm of the Salem Alms House raised crops of
large variety, including squashes, cucumbers, melons, rad-
ishes, broom corn, celery and pot herbs. It supported
10 oxen, 10 cows and 2 horses. On the great Pickman
farm, Erastus Ware kept 50 cows, 6 oxen and 3 horses,
and raised milk for the Salem market. His laborers
were provided with family beer, molasses and water, milk
and water, but no ardent spirits.
James Osgood of Andover employed a man and a boy
by the year, and another man five or six weeks in haying
time, yet in the year 1829 he mowed about 50 acres, and
fenced in his farm with nearly a thousand rods of stone
wall, mostly laid with his own hands, with rocks which
were all brought from a distance of half a mile or more.
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 15
He kept 4 oxen, 2 horses, 12 cows and 12 sheep. Amos
Gould bought his first hundred acres of the Turner Hill
farm, now owned by Charles G. Rice, in 1810, gradually
enlarged it and built 700 rods of stone wall. He kept 20
to 30 horned cattle, 1 horse and 20 sheep.
But Thomas Chase of West Newbury made the most
extraordinary statement of hard work, its routine and
its results, on his farm in 1833. His working force in-
cluded himself, his son, and one hired man at $11 a month
for eight months, and 29 days at one dollar a day, and
a young woman 24 weeks at a dollar a week. "Our cus-
tom," he says, "is to drive the cows to pasture and feed
the swine before breakfast and to go to field in summer
at six o'clock. Luncheon with tea or coffee between nine
and ten. Dine at half -past twelve — our drink cider and
coffee; tea at 5, if desired, milk after; beer, water and
milk and water is all the drink required in the field."
The faiTner himself had been confined to the bed with
a fractured hip since October 5th and in December was
able to do only light work. He kept 4 oxen, 9 cows, 1
horse, 5 swine ; cut 44 tons English hay, 13 tons meadow
hay, and 18 tons of salt hay on his 12-acre marsh, which
was six miles distant. He planted 4 acres of Indian corn
and potatoes and 4 acres of potatoes, which yielded 1,128
bushels, produced 674 lbs. of butter, 2,033 lbs. of cheese,
29 barrels of cider, and in addition to the regular round
of farm work, took down and rebuilt a barn, made and
new laid 50 rods of stone wall, dug 120 rods of ditch, of
which 70 rods measured 3 feet by 2, set 200 apple trees
and 400 grafts. No alcoholic liquor, he says, was served.
During this first decade of the active life of the Agri-
cultural Society, Rev. Henry Colman, formerly a Salem
clergyman, later an enthusiastic student of agriculture
and experimental farmer, and eventually a State Secre-
tary or Commissioner of Agriculture, contributed to the
Transactions a series of papers of great value on many
themes of current interest, the dairy and improved breeds
16 THE HISTORY OF THE
of COWS, the comparative values of crops, etc., with
detailed facts and figures. In his "Hints Addressed to
the Farmers of Essex County," published in 1829 (though
his name does not appear), he summarizes the maximum
of crops in the County, which were well authenticated :
Wheat, 26 bushels to the acre.
Indian corn, II714 bushels to the acre.
Barley, 52 bushels to the acre.
Potatoes, 5I8I/2 bushels to the acre.
Carrots, 900 bushels to the acre.
Mangel wurtzel, 1,340 bushels to the acre.
Ruta bagas, 688 bushels to the acre.
Beets, 783 bushels to the acre.
English turnips, 814 bushels to the acre.
Onions, 651 bushels to the acre.
We know of a lot of 6 acres from which thirty tons
of hay actually weighed were gathered in one season,
and another field of about forty acres, from which accord-
ing to the statement of respectable and disinterested
individuals, the yearly crops have averaged more than
one hundred and twenty tons or three tons to an acre.
Querying as to the most profitable crop for an Essex
County farmer, he remarked that hay was one of the
first articles which would ordinarily yield a fair profit.
"The Ipswich farmers have for years found a profit in
transporting vast quantities to Boston market by land,
in spite of the competition of the neighboring towns and
the screwed hay from Maine." Yet, in his Andover ad-
dress in 1831, Mr. Colman said the average yield of
hay in Essex County was only li/4 tons to the acre and
that it sold for $18 in Boston and Salem. In the same
address, quoting manure at $2 a cord, corn at 70 cents a
bushel, and potatoes on the farm worth scarcely more than
a shilling a bushel, with an average yield of 150 bushels
per acre, he distrusted the value of the potato crop and
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 17
advised the culture of roots. One Essex County farm,
he declared, was built on corn, carrots and ruta baga.
The ox was still the farmer's chief reliance and he had
a kingly place of honor at the Cattle Shows. At Andover,
in 1831, the farmers made up a mighty team of about
150 yoke, a novelty in the Essex shows, though frequently
seen in other centers. The ploughing matches with
double and single yoke were the thrilling episodes of the
annual fairs. But the horse was coming into his own.
In 1829, Rufus Slocum of Haverhill appeared in the lists
with a team of three horses and ploughed "with skill and
dispatch, to wit in 45 minutes, and as well as the average
of ox-teams." His time was noticeably shorter. In 1832
premiums for horses were given for the first time, and
it was recognized with regret that insufficient attention
was being given to breeding.
New inventions were calling for the horse each year.
In 1831 the report was made that a revolving horse rake
had been introduced lately in Pennsylvania and that a
man and a single horse with this machine could do the
work of six men with hand rakes. It was affirmed in
1835 that a boy with his horse rake could draw the hay
into windrows as fast as eight men could put it into
cocks. There were obscure allusions to a mowing ma-
chine in some sections of the country, drawn by a horse,
which could mow ten acres in a day, and a threshing
machine operated by a horse which equalled in one day
the work of a man with his flail in ten.
By the year 1834 the wooden plough had yielded to
the superior efficiency of the iron. As early as 1820,
Mr. Howard had taken out his patents and made the first
iron ploughs, as he affirmed, in the Commonwealth. Many
other patents had been granted, but Howard was recog-
nized as the pioneer. The Committee on Agricultural
18 THE HISTORY OF THE
Instruments rose to heights of enthusiasm in their Report
The plough, for which more than a hundred patents
have been obtained since the promulgation of that glori-
ous document, the Declaration of Independence, has by
late improvements arrived to such perfection, that could
our oxen like Balaam's ass be endowed with the power
of speech, they would shout "Howard forever," or in the
more quaint language of late political times, "Huzza for
Howard, the man who has relieved our necks of half
their burden and aided the Harrow in its duties."
Speaking at Danvers, in September, 1835, Daniel P.
King of Danvers extolled the Agricultural Societies as
potent factors in securing new prosperity for the farmer,
greater hay crops, finer results in the dairy, the rich fruit
of better methods. But a year afterward, the orator of
the day, Nathan W. Hazen, sounded a note of despond-
ency and alarm. Beef and pork, packed in Ohio, he as-
serted were being freighted in teams through the Notch
of the White Mountains to the fertile intervales in the
Connecticut River. A few years before Worcester County
was producing 2,000,000 pounds of pork a year, now it
was buying the western product. Farms were never more
difficult to sell. Both speakers may have taken extreme
views, we may believe, but in one particular the Essex
County men were suffering great disappointment in this
decade, through the failure of their golden dreams of
wealth from the new industry of silk culture.
In his Statement in the Transactions of the year 1838,
Rev. Gardner B. Perry, of Bradford, an enthusiastic ex-
ponent of the new industry, stated that the pioneer in
this experiment in Essex County was Enoch Boynton of
Byfield, who planted some mulberry cuttings in 1822.
His nursery was enlarged by trees raised from seed,
graftings and cuttings, to more than 42,000 in 1832. He
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 19
fed many worms upon the leaves and produced consider-
able silk, for specimens of which he received several
gratuities from the Essex County Agricultural Society.
A committee of the Massachusetts Legislature on the
culture of Silk reported in January, 1829, recommending
an extension of the grant to Agricultural Societies, made
in 1819, to encourage the culture of silk, expressing great
confidence in the simplicity of the process and the cer-
tainty of success. The committee of the Essex Society
reported in September, 1830, that nurseries of the white
mulberry had been established by Mr. Boynton, Rev.
Gardner B. Perry, of Bradford, Stephen Currier, Jr.,
Samuel Eaton and J. M. Grosvenor, and Dr. J. M. Gros-
venor in Methuen. Premiums were paid to each of these.
In the Transactions for 1831, Dr. Andrew Nichols,
for the Committee on Silk Culture, presented an exhaus-
tive report with minute directions for the cultivation of
the leaves and the care of the silkworms, with a large
engraved plate. "At present," the report says, "nothing
seems to promise better than the production of silk. . . .
Like gold, it possesses an intrinsic value and will never
cease to be in demand. . . . Farmers of Essex, can you
longer hesitate? White mulberry trees, seeds and eggs,
together with the necessary directions for managing the
whole business are now within your reach.'*
It proceeded to urge that women, boys and infirm peo-
ple, every family, indeed, might rear a few thousand
worms easily. Encouraged by this, many persons in dif-
ferent parts of the County set out plantations, in size
from a few hundred to as many thousand trees. Worms
were raised in a great many families, from a few dozens
by way of experiment, to many thousands for profit.
Many of these efforts yielded a good profit. "Every cir-
cumstance," Mr. Perry stated, "seemed to justify the
expectation that the business, if followed with energy,
would generally secure a competence and not unf requently
lead to wealth."
20 THE HISTORY OF THE
Then came the disastrous winter of 1834, which utterly
destroyed many orchards of tender fruit trees and did
great injury to the young mulberries. Rust and scab and
other diseases completed the work of ruin. The industry
was checked at once. Many cut down their nurseries or
allowed them to run to waste, and there was a general
belief that the climate rendered the culture impossible.
But Mr. Perry and a few other enthusiasts still had
Temple Cutler of Hamilton made a detailed statement
of his success with the Morus Multicaulis or Perotted
Mulberry, a hardier variety than the Morus Alba or
White Mulberry. His confidence knew no bounds.
Should silk one day rival all our other staple commodi-
ties, it would not excite my surprise. . . . Is it to
be credited that a people so renowned for enterprise and
industry as those of New England would shrink back
from even a trial of their skill to raise silk? . . .
Should we make the trial and should we succeed in intro-
ducing an employment that would tend to keep our young
men from wandering away, leaving the tombs of their
fathers, often to find an early grave among the infected
prairies of the West; and our young women from flying
to the manufacturing towns to be immured in loathsome
prisons, where all improvements in household concerns
with them must cease, a great and philanthropic pur-
pose will be accomplished.
The industry made a brief recovery with the introduc-
tion of the new variety of mulberry. Mr. Cutler, report-
ing for the committee in 1843, remarked with much
severity upon the multicaulis speculation, which had
dealt the industry a well nigh fatal blow. Unprincipled
agents had hawked the trees around and caught the un-
wary with dreams of extravagant profit. The tree itself
was brought into disrepute and odium cast on silk cul-
ture, so that it became a subject of ridicule. Many aban-
doned it for this reason alone. Morus Multicaulis became
a by-word and a jest, and silk culture took its place be-
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 21
side the Merino sheep mania in the limbo of exploded
fancies. A few silk purses and several pairs of silk stock-
ings seem to have been the only visible fruits of the
The most remarkable story that has been preserved
is the tale of the silk gown, which was exhibited in the
Cattle Show of 1840. Mrs. Burbank of Bradford, then
ninety-five years old, stated that she had made it twenty-
three years before. She had obtained some eggs in 1815,
which had been brought from India, and secured some
mulberry leaves from trees planted on her land by a
former tenant. In two years she raised the silk, carded
it, spun it on a linen wheel, wove the fabric in a common
loom and made the dress.
The decade opened with a Prospectus of an Agricul-
tural Seminary at Andover. Twenty years had elapsed
since Dr. Andrew Nichols had voiced his hope that such
an institution might be established. Some years later an
attempt had been made to introduce an agricultural course
at Dummer Academy, but it failed. Prof. Alonzo Gray,
of the Teachers' Seminary in the South Parish of An-
dover, now presented a course of study contemplated in
that school. It was planned to introduce Scientific Agri-
culture as a regular department. Botany, Physiology,
Mineralogy, Geology and Chemistry were included, and
the opportunity of witnessing practical farming under
the direction of a teacher. No labor would be required,
but if any chose to work a fair remuneration was prom-
ised. Nothing came of this scheme, though the Prospectus
was accompanied by a strong essay on Scientific Agri-
culture by Dr. Nichols.
John W. Proctor, the Secretary, and later President,
in his address in 1844 alluded to these frequent demands,
and made an eloquent appeal for a course of instruction
22 THE HISTORY OF THE
in the common schools, to teach the elements of the science
of agriculture, the constituents of soils and manures, the
physiology of plants and the philosophy of vegetation.
A notice had come to him that the State of New York
had made a liberal appropriation for a State Agricultural
School. He deplored that Massachusetts should be out-
done in a work so essential to her best interests.
The Cattle Shows were very popular at this period,
taking the place of the former training days of the
militia as an autumnal holiday. Year by year new ex-
hibits varied the familiar series. Fruits and flowers had
appeared in 1835, bees and honey in 1844. Home indus-
tries in infinite variety made a fine display. As Mr.
Gregory had begun the cultivation of the tomato in 1841
this novelty probably had a place of honor. The new
breeds of cows were contending for supremacy. Col.
Moses Newell of West Newbury, one of the finest farmers
of his day, favored a cross of the Ayrshire and Alderney,
and the North Devon for oxen. Daniel P. King of Dan-
vers, farmer and statesman, and John W. Proctor claimed
that the Ayrshire was best adapted to this climate.
But tree culture was perhaps the most engrossing
theme. The apple orchard, it was claimed by some, was
a neglected asset on most farms. But there were bril-
liant exceptions to this rule. William Thurlow of West
Newbury was gathering a thousand barrels a year, worth
$1,200, as early as 1824, from his 2,500 trees, the largest
and most productive orchard in the County. In 1843
George Thurlow received the first premium for his West
Newbury nursery, with 20,000 apple trees on a single
acre, and Joshua H. Ordway's nursery in the same town
received a premium the year before.
The building of the railroad had facilitated competition,
the price of butter was depressed, farm products did not
find so ready a market. Allen W. Dodge of Hamilton,
lawyer and farmer, discussing the outlook in 1843, saw
great promise in the growing of the apple. "The apples
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 23
of Essex may yet be as widely celebrated as the oranges
of Havana. Great credit is due to our Manning and Ives
for their indefatigable zeal and judicious skill in stocking
their gardens with such choice descriptions of cherries,
plums, peaches and pears. Thanks, too, should be
awarded them and other gentlemen in Salem and its
vicinity for the excellent Horticultural Society, which
they have so successfully established."
Robert Manning of Salem, "the great pomologist of
America," had gathered into his own collection nearly
2,000 varieties of fruit. From that collection, 240 varie-
ties of the pear were shown at an exhibition of the Massa-
chusetts Horticultural Society. The Essex County Nat-
ural History Society invited displays of fruit in its weekly
exhibitions from Spring to Autumn. John M. Ives of
Salem, one of the most skilled pomologists of his time, in
his enlarged edition of Manning's New England Fruit
Book, recommended the finest varieties of pears and ap-
ples in 1842. His essay on The Apple, in the Transactions
of 1847, was a valuable contribution to the literature of
the orchard. He was a constant exhibitor at the Cattle
Renewed attention to Forestry was also apparent. Al-
lusion has been made to the State grant in 1819 to pro-
mote the raising of ship timber. Dr. Andrew Nichols
had urged the cultivation of the locust in the bare and
rocky pastures. But the offer of premiums had elicited
no response. At the Lynn meeting in 1847, Richard S.
Fay of Lynn made an offer of a hundred dollars for the
best acre of white, black or yellow oak, planted from the
acorn, that should be entered in 1852. In the same year,
Rev. Gardner B. Perry of Bradford, one of the wisest and
strongest members of the Society, contributed an essay
on The Cultivation of the Oak. Mr. Fay, as chairman
of the Committee on Forest Trees, made a report of great
value, regarding the profit of tree culture, in 1848, and
appealed to the farmers to plant.
24 THE HISTORY OF THE
Upon the death of Henry Colman, on August 14, 1849,
by his bequest the Society came into possession of his
valuable private library of agricultural works, European
as well as American, 518 volumes and many pamphlets.
Pickering Dodge, the Salem merchant, donated 53 vol-
umes, and 37 volumes had been received in purchase.
This library was kept at the City Hall in Salem for a
time, then removed to the Court House, and some years
since was deposited with the Essex Institute In Salem.
John W. Proctor's statement, in his Address in 1844,
regarding the abolition of the drink habit on the farm,
is of especial interest :
Twenty-five years since, and nine-tenths of our farmers
were more or less in bondage to alcohol. I do not mean
so many of them were intemperate, in the ordinary sense
of the term, but that they were in the habit of using
that which was not necessary to be used — to the great
detriment of themselves and their estates. Where will
the farmer now be found, who will unblushingly say,
before he commences his haying, that he must lay in as
many gallons, or even quarts of spirit, as he expects to
cure tons of hay? Or that his men cannot commence
mowing in the morning without their hitters; — proceed
at eleven o'clock without their grog; — or load in the
afternoon without their bumper; — not to mention the
grosser indulgences of the evening. Time was when
these customs, by whatever name they were called, were
as familiar as househould gods. But manners
have changed with times.
During this decade the Transactions, which had been
gradually increasing in size, reached a maximum of some
224 octavo pages annually at its close, with an occasional
exception, the largest size ever attained. In addition
to the Address, which was given usually in some church,
with appropriate religious exercises, generous provision
was made for the detailed reports of the various commit-
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 25
tees, the statements of the contestants for premiums for
the management of farms, the reclaiming of waste or wet
lands, experiments with manures, and the like, and for
elaborate essays on special topics.
The Addresses of this period were of notable quality.
Caleb Gushing, orator and statesman, delivered an elo-
quent oration in 1850. Gen. Henry K. Oliver, Salem
schoolmaster and Lawrence mill agent, spoke in 1852.
Richard S. Fay in 1854, Dr. James R. Nichols of Haver-
hill in 1855, Major Ben: Perley Poore, the famous war
correspondent during the Givil War, in 1856 ; Dr. George
B. Loring, the elegant and cultured farmer, politician,
future Commissioner of Agriculture and diplomat, in
1858. Edward Everett was a speaker at the dinner in
1858, taking the same part that fell to him in 1836, when
he was Governor of the Commonwealth.
The Reports of this period vied with each other in
unique and grotesque peculiarities. Fitch Poole's report
on "Poultry" was a broad burlesque, entitled "The Con-
vention of the Domestic Poultry." Gen. Oliver followed
w:ith a humorous deliverance on "Bees and Honey," and
as these literary novelties proved attractive, no doubt, he
contributed a long poetical and classical essay on "Flow-
ers,' and in 1854, reporting on "Poultry," already cele-
brated in Fitch Poole's masterpiece, he produced a mar-
vellous compound of poetry and prose, embellished with
quotations from Virgil and Anacreon, Shakespeare and
Milton, Dryden and Gray, the New England Primer and
Mother Goose. Whereupon Fitch Poole launched into
poetry in 1858, with the humorous "Ballad of 1692 — The
Second Dream of Giles Corey." This seems queer diet
for the everyday farmer, and it is in no wise surprising
that it was remarked in 1857 that not more than a third
of the thousand members of the Essex Agricultural So-
ciety were exclusively tillers of the soil. But though it
bore the earmarks of a literary club, or a coterie of fine
gentlemen, the old Society was still true to its ideals.
26 THE HISTORY OF THE
There were essays of a more practical sort, Samuel P.
Fowler's on "The Destruction of Insects Injurious to
Vegetation," and David Choate's report of his elaborate
experiments with the Chinese sugar cane. At the Cattle
Shows there were evidences of notable advancements in
farm methods. The Michigan sod plough, which turned
two furrows at once, was exhibited in 1850. In 1852 a
two-day session was adopted. In that year there was a
particularly fine display of Suffolk swine, and Charles A.
Stetson offered a premium for the encouragement of horse
teams in plowing.
The address of the President, Richard S. Fay, in 1854,
sounded a warning note. Wages had doubled in twenty
years, and the return was only half. The farmer must
either resort to machinery or give up the unequal con-
test. He has much to learn from the English and Scotch
farmer. The mowing machine, he states, has been intro-
duced into our fields during the past summer. So the
year 1854 must be written down as the year of transition
from the Old to the New Era, the Old Era of the scythe
and the slow-moving ox and the heavy, unaided toil of
man, to the New Era of machinery, revolutionizing the
work of the farm and lightening its toil.
The mowing machine met with the same captious crit-
icism that always obstructs the progress of a great in-
vention. It was objected that the expense put it beyond
the reach of the average farmer, that the fields were too
small and rough, that it required a skillful hand to
operate it. The Essex Society moved rapidly. The
President offered a special premium for the best machine.
A committee on mowing machines was appointed, which
visited Dr. Loring's farm on July 16th, 1855, to see sev-
eral machines in operation, and on the 17th went to Col.
Moses Newell's farm in West Newbury. These exhibi-
tions drew great crowds of spectators, as many had
never seen a machine in operation. Many accidents hap-
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 27
pened and one machine was put out of the race, but the
trial was instructive and helpful.
A few of the more progressive farmers made practical
test of the value of the new invention on their own farms
in the same summer. William F. Porter of Bradford
cut 116 acres with a mowing machine; Horace Ware,
541/^ acres with one of the same make. Dr. Loring cut
58 acres with a Ketchum machine, and made successful
experiment with his machine drawn by oxen on his salt
marsh. As a matter of fact, the committee favored the
use of oxen rather than horses with the mower. A
hay-tedder of English make, which had been imported by
Mr. Fay, was exhibited by Dr. Loring in 1858.
The time-honored ploughing match, with the competing
double yokes of mighty oxen, was still the most exciting
event of the Cattle Show, and in 1858 it was held up
for two hours, waiting the arrival of their expected guest,
George Peabody, the London banker and philanthropist,
then revisiting his old home in Essex County. But there
were those who called for more modern accessories, which
gave popularity to other County Fairs, though once and
again their covert demand was silenced by the scornful
query of the elder men : "What have military companies,
and fire engines, horse races and female equestriennes to
do with farming?"
The Society became heir to the Treadwell farm in Tops-
field in 1856, under the will of Dr. John G. Treadwell of
Salem. He devised the farm after the decease of his
mother, to the Society, "for the promotion of the science
of Agriculture by the instituting and performance of
experiments and such other means as may tend to the
advancement of science," with an eventual reversion to
the Massachusetts General Hospital if the Society de-
clined to accept the gift on these terms, or failed to ob-
serve the conditions of the gift. Two schemes for the
use of the property were considered. One was the estab-
lishment of a school of practical agriculture, which might
28 THE HISTORY OF THE
be instituted in case some person be found competent to
take the farm and teach young men the essentials of
successful farming, receiving the rent for his remuner-
ation. The other plan was to place it in the hands of
an experienced and intelligent farmer on a long lease,
subject in lieu of rent to various duties and experiments.
The latter was adopted, the transfer of the farm was
made, and it was leased at once.
The Civil War period brought no interruption in the
activities of the Society. The orators made eloquent ref-
erence to the new and larger duties of the time. Gail
Hamilton contributed a stirring Original Ode for the
exercises in 1861.
"Ho, freeman of Essex! Stout sons of the soil!
What meed to your labors, what rest to your toil.
While the tread of the traitor pollutes the wronged earth
And Liberty faints in the land of her birth!"
And when the war was done, John G. Whittier wrote
"The Peace Anthem," which was sung at the anniversary,
Sept. 26, 1865.
"Thank God for rest, where none molest
And none can make afraid ;
For peace that sits as Plenty's guest
Beneath the homestead shade.
Bring pike and gun, the sword's red scourge,
The negro's broken chains,
And beat them at the blacksmith's forge
To ploughshares for our plains."
Dr. Jeremiah Spofford made a careful study of the
Forestry problem, and encouraged the attempt by chap-
ters from his own observation and experience, illustrat-
ing the growth of white pine seedlings. "I can now
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 29
cut a frame for a good-sized house from land from which
the previous owner cut nearly all the wood he consid-
ered worth cutting in 1838." Dr. George B. Loring de-
livered the semi-centennial address in 1868, filled with
interesting reminiscences of the past and with deserved
tributes to the founders and supporters of the Society.
Benjamin P. Ware, son of Erastus Ware, of the great
Pickman farm, himself a farmer of exceptional breadth
of mind and friendliness to new methods, made a valuable
summary of the progress in farming in his address in
With Raymond's Hay Elevator, he [the farmer] may
store away his hay in his barn with comparatively little
labor and a great saving of time. . . . The potato
crop can now be grown entirely without hand labor.
True's Potato Planter cuts the potato, drops, furrows
and covers in one operation. With Holbrook and Chand-
ler's Horse Hoes, the labor of hoeing is wholly performed
by horse power. . . . With Willis's Seed Sower, the
Danvers Truckle Hoe, all of the root crops can be grown
with about one-half the labor formerly required.
We need not leave Essex County to find that within a
few years there has been introduced by skill and careful
cultivation, the Hubbard Squash, the Stone Mason and
Marblehead Mammoth Cabbages, Emery's Early Cabbage,
a superior early Tomato and Lettuce, the Danvers Onion,
all better in some respects than before existed ; and to the
list of fruits have been added Allen's two hybrid grapes,
and those of Mr. Rogers, possessing qualities superior to
those of any others.
Who ever heard, until within a few years, of seventy-
four tons of mangel-wurzels being grown upon one acre
of land; of thirty-six tons of carrots or nine hundred
bushels of onions per acre? Such crops as these are
facts that can be proved.
Illustrating the value of home grown, carefully selected
seed, thorough-bred as he termed it, he instanced the
experiment of a Salem farmer who planted his own
thorough-bred seed, then seed grown by his neighbor, as
good as the average, and supplemented this with seed
30 THE HISTORY OF THE
bought at a seed store. "On the part sown with thorough-
bred seed there is scarcely an imperfect onion and the
crop is the largest in the vicinity. On the part sown with
good seed the onions are ten days later, of inferior qual-
ity and less quantity and valued at twenty-five per cent
less than the first." The product of the third kind
of seed was estimated as fifty per cent less in value than
But one suggestion of this wise counselor would fail of
approval to-day. "Besides protecting our native song-
sters that do so much to aid the orchardist, I must ear-
nestly recommend the importation of English sparrows,
whose principal occupation is to feed their numerous
progeny with insects. ... I know of no way by
which a portion of the income of this Society can be so
profitably expended as by the importation of several
thousand of these birds, to be distributed in different
parts of the country."
Noticeable improvements in farm wagons were made
in this decade. In 1870 a horse-cart with small wheels
forward was exhibited, which soon supplanted the old
two-wheeled tip-cart, and with the later addition of a
pole and the use of two horses, greatly facilitated the
transportation of heavy loads. Webster Smith, the Ips-
wich blacksmith, exhibited an ox-wagon for hay in 1871,
regarding which the comment was made: "Probably in
no other part of the country can such large, evenly laid,
handsome loads of hay be seen as are hauled to Boston
from Essex County upon these Ipswich hay wagons."
In 1873 Frank H. Burnham exhibited his covered seat,
and with this equipment the Ipswich hay teamers, in
their great horse-drawn wagons, scoured the whole coun-
try side as far as Hampton and Greenland for hay for
the Boston market. The manure spreader appeared in
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 31
The dairy exhibits in this period were of great import-
ance. Francis H. Appleton of Peabody, William A. Rus-
sell of Lawrence, and J. D. W. French of North Andover,
all gentlemen of wealth who delighted in their farms and
choice breeds of cows, began a series of exhibits which
were continued for many years. Mr. Appleton brought
his choice Ayrshires, Maud, with her record of twenty-
two and three quarts a day, and Lassie, whose best yield
was a twenty-five pound daily average for two months.
The famous Holstein herd of Mr. Russell came in 1876
and following years. Lady Clifden with a year's record of
16,274 lbs., or 21 143-363 lbs. a day; Maid Marion, with
an average of 31.38 lbs. for 421 days; and Lady Andover,
with 36.11 lbs. average for 273 days.
Mr. French's North Andover herd of Ayrshires in 1877
included Betty Burke, whose average for 308 days was
26.42 lbs., and Rosanna, with a record of 33 lbs. a day
for 123 days.
Mr. D. F. Appleton of Ipswich exhibited his fine Cots-
wold sheep and his herd of Kerry cows.
Coincident with these famous records was the introduc-
tion of a new food. While visiting in Hungary in 1873
Gen. Francis H. Appleton saw a method of curing fodder
corn by heaping the stalks in pits and covering them with
earth. He was so much impressed with the evident value
of this process which was already a well established ad-
junct of the best Hungarian farms that he secured from
his friend a statement of his method of "Sour Fodder
Making," as it was called, which was published in the
American Agriculturist in October, 1873. He was not
confident of its popular introduction into this country.
Remarking upon ensilage, its European name, in 1879,
he observed: "I would say that it must be done with
much care and expense, as well as on a large scale, to
be successful, so that it probably cannot come within
reach of the smaller sized farms of New England, unless
some one person could prove it to be of true value and
32 THE HISTORY OF THE
enough desirable to make a business of supplying the
The Essex County seedsmen were making great con-
tributions in these years to the man on the farm and to
the pages of the Transactions. In 1879 Mr. J. J. H.
Gregory exhibited 80 varieties of 17 different kinds of
vegetables, and 210 varieties of seed. His collection of
tomatoes was the largest and his method of culture, re-
ported in 1871, had been reprinted in the State Report
of the same year. Crosby's Early Sweet Corn and Stow-
ell's Evergreen, his favorite varieties, are still standards.
John S. Ives of Salem displayed 198 varieties of seed.
Aaron Low of Essex made fine exhibits. Experiments
with seedling potatoes were producing excellent results,
and the use of phosphates and other condensed fertilizers
had become general.
The Address of Dr. James R. Nichols of Haverhill, in
1881, on the theme, "What Science Has Accomplished
for Farmers," was a gratifying complement to the learned
papers of his forerunner in the early days, Dr. Andrew
Nichols, whose papers on Scientific Agriculture were a
plea for and foretaste of the new agriculture which had
now become a fact.
Dr. Nichols remarked that in his address to the Society
in 1855, he had predicted chemistry would come to the
relief of the farmer. Since that time vast stores of phos-
phoric rocks had been found in Russia, Spain and the
United States. The great phosphate beds near South
Carolina, which had been discovered in 1867, had yielded
in fertilizers shipped upwards of $2,000,000 in 1870. On
his own farm artificial fertilizers had largely supplanted
domestic manures. Speaking of strawberries and rasp-
berries, he said, "I do not remember to have seen culti-
vated varieties until long after reaching adult age. Now
of strawberries there are more than 350 varieties."
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 33
Dr. Nichols had made contributions of great value to
scientific agriculture by his work on his farm near Lake
Kenoza, Haverhill, which he had purchased in 1863.
Under his skillful treatment an unproductive land yielded
abundant crops. He established the Journal of Chemistry
in Boston in 1866. His books, "Fireside Science,"
"Chemistry of the Farm and Sea," had wide circulation.
"Whence, What, Where," published in 1883, had great
popularity. He died on Jan. 2, 1888.
Gen. Appleton, speaking at Haverhill in 1882, was able
to say that the French method of sour fodder, adopted
in the United States, was already becoming popular, and
that silos had been built on a large number of farms.
Benjamin P. Ware, in his address in 1883, recounted
the possessions and achievements of the Society: no
grounds, no trotting park, no show buildings, only a tent,
some portable cattle pens, 1,200 exhibition fruit dishes,
but an experimental farm of 150 acres, which brought an
income of $300 to $500 a year besides expenses, a library
of 800 volumes, and funds which amounted to $16,690.00.
"It has never paid a dollar for speed since its organiza-
tion, but has paid an average of $3,000 annually for pre-
miums for the past ten years, and a total sum since the
beginning of $44,271.54."
"The Society is supporting," he continued, "three
scholarships at the Massachusetts Agricultural College
for four years at $50 each, and has offered a premium of
$100 for the best prepared student from Essex County
who completes his course. Its present membership is
1,388. It publishes annually 1,600 copies of its Transac-
tions, averaging from 120 to 220 pages."
The activities of the Society had now been manifest
in a new field, the holding of Farmers' Institutes in vari-
ous towns, at which valuable papers were read and prac-
tical farm affairs discussed. The most significant evi-
dence of the quickening influence the Essex Agricultural
34 THE HISTORY OF THE
Society had exerted throughout the County was the rec-
ord of local clubs and societies which had sprung into
being in many localities, and were closely affiliated with
the venerable Society in spirit and method. The Ames-
bury and Salisbury Agricultural Association had been
organized in April, 1856; the West Newbury Farmers'
Club in December, 1856; the Ipswich Fruit Growers'
Association in September, 1866; the North Andover
Farmers' and Mechanics' Club in March, 1878; the An-
dover Farmers' Club in November, 1879. There were
also the Houghton Agricultural Society of Lynn, the
Marblehead and Swampscott Farmers' Club, the Brad-
ford Farmers' and Mechanics' Association, farmers' clubs
in Rowley, Georgetown, Topsfield, West Peabody and
Wenham. The farmers' instinct for clubs and societies
being still unsatisfied, it was reported in 1886, that during
that year Granges of Patrons of Husbandry had been
organized in Amesbury, North Andover and Ipswich.
Gratifying interest in tree-culture and forestry was
apparent. Major Ben : Perley Poore made the Report in
1883, reviewing the failures of the past, but urging to
constant endeavor to replace the fast disappearing forests.
His own planting at Indian Hill farm had been so suc-
cessful that the Massachusetts Society for the Promotion
of Agriculture awarded him a premium of a thousand
dollars for his twenty acres of oak, chestnut, hickory,
locust, fir and pine, on which every tree had been planted
by his own hand. The Society had a Committee on Orna-
mental and Wayside Trees as well.
At the Cattle Shows a sulky plough was shown for
the first time in 1881. In the following year a trial of
two or three ploughs was made in a very rough and stony
field, with very satisfactory result. After the trial was
over the committee requested Mr. Richard S. Jaques, a
veteran ploughman, who had taken more first premiums
than any other member of the Society, to turn one furrow
with his "Lion" plough and four-ox team in direct com-
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 35
petition with the sulky and one pair of horses. Though
an old farmer is usually conservative regarding new in-
ventions, his one rough and uneven furrow was enough
to convince him, and he acknowledged on the spot, "The
sulky is the plough of the future."
The horse was coming rapidly to the place of honor.
In 1885 the Society offered its first premium for gentle-
men's driving horses, and in the following year there
was a notable display. Premiums were awarded for
Stallions, first and second class. Brood Mares, Family
Horses, Gentlemen's Driving Horses, Draft Horses, Pairs
of Draft Horses, Pairs of Farm Horses, and for Colts
for draft purposes in two classes, and for general pur-
poses in two classes also.
At Peabody, in 1887, greater dignity than ever before
attended the public exercises. A procession was formed
of officers, members and friends of the Society, headed by
the 8th Regiment Band, which marched to the Peabody
Institute, where Dr. William Cogswell of Bradford de-
livered the annual address. In the following year a more
pretentious procession was formed, with all the oxen and
horses and various teams in line, which paraded through
A singularly happy episode marked the close of this
decade. At a Farmers' Institute at Peabody, December,
1888 ,a very appreciative essay on Whittier, the farmer's
poet, was read, and a message was sent to the poet con-
gratulating him on the health of body and mental vigor
with which he had reached and passed his eighty-first
birthday, and assuring him "that in no places are your
poems read with more interest and pleasure, or your
works of tenderest love cherished with a purer admiration
than in the homes of the farmers of your native County
The poet replied, expressing deep gratification with the
message, and recalling that he had worked faithfully on
the old Haverhill homestead until at the age of thirty
86 THE HISTORY OF THE
years he was compelled to leave it, greatly to his regret.
No better proof of real gain can be found than the
creation of pleasant homes for the comfort of age and
the happiness of youth. When the great English critic,
Matthew Arnold, was in the country, on returning from
a visit in Essex County, he remarked that while the land
looked to him rough and unproductive, the landlord's
houses seemed neat and often elegant, with an air of
prosperity about them. 'But where,' he asked, 'do the
tenants, the working people live?' He seemed surprised
when I told him that the tenants were the landlords and
the workers the owners.
Mention has been made m.ore than once of the old-time
Essex County cow, the Oakes cow of Danvers, nameless
and without pedigree, whose record of 4841^ lbs. of
butter, besides suckling a calf four weeks and allowing a
quart daily for family use, was unsurpassed in the county
and far wider circles for a half century as a butter-
maker. The record had been surpassed long since by
the imported animals of choice breeds. But in 1890 the
crown returned to Essex County. Mr. D. Fuller Appleton
of Ipswich, merchant and farmer, who had exhibited his
fine Cotswold sheep and his herd of Kerry cows in the
seventies, had become greatly interested in the Jerseys,
and had built up a choice herd. On April 22, 1889, he
began a test with his Eurotisama, born and bred on his
Ipswich farm. The test was ended April 21, 1890, and
the famous cow had produced 945 lbs. 9 oz. of butter, the
highest record yet attained by that breed, and Mr. Apple-
ton became the owner of the "Challenge Cup."
It is interesting to note the successive stages by which
the record was advanced to this great figure. Thomas
Motley's imported Flora produced 511 lbs. 2 oz. in 1853.
In 1866, in another quarter, the record was advanced to
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 37
5741/2 lbs. ; in 1878 to 705 lbs. ; then by steady advances to
851 867 and 936 lbs. Eurotisama advanced the record
to 945 lbs. 9 oz., notwithstanding a slight sickness early
in the year, which caused a marked shrinkage in her milk
for a time. She retained the place of honor for only
a brief period. In the same year a Tennessee Jersey made
a record of 1,028 lbs. 5% oz., and in 1892, in another
quarter, 1,047% lbs. was attained.
In September, 1891, the Society suffered a great loss
in the death of Dr. George B. Loring, Besides his active
endeavors to promote the finest methods of agriculture
in the County, he had founded the New England Agricul-
tural Society in 1864 and was its President for nearly a
quarter of a century. He was the President of the Massa-
chusetts Senate from 1873 to 1876, was a Representative
in Congress, and was appointed United States Commis-
sioner of Agriculture by President Garfield in 1881.
President Harrison appointed him U. S. Minister to Por-
tugal, but he resigned the office and returned home within
During this decade the burning question was: Shall
the Society continue its peripatetic course about the
County or secure a permanent abiding place? It was
warmly discussed at an Institute at Peabody in January,
1891. The advocates of a permanent location maintained
that under modern conditions the people could be brought
to the show more easily than the show could be carried to
the people. It was claimed that as $400,000 was invested
in horse stock farms in Essex County, their owners were
entitled to fair consideration. The conservatives opposed
the scheme, scenting a horse trot as the underlying
The drift of opinion was so pronounced in a few years,
that a Committee, chosen by the Trustees to consider plans
for a permanent location, reported in September, 1894,
recommending that the Society establish itself permanent-
ly in Danvers, where the citizens had pledged a contribu-
38 THE HISTORY OF THE
tion of a thousand dollars toward the purchase of land.
A large Committee was chosen and authorized by a vote,
81 in the affirmative, 11 in the negative, to bond or pur-
chase, grade and fence land and erect suitable buildings
for the use of the Society, paying for the same out of
the Society's funds.
Locations in various parts of the County were sug-
gested and carefully studied, and in the end purchase was
made of ten acres, centrally situated in the town of Pea-
body. Buildings were erected, a quarter-mile track laid
out, and the annual Cattle Show was held there in Sep-
The Transactions of that year included a full state-
ment of the reasons which made the new departure a
wise venture. The annual receipts had been falling off
largely for a number of years. The free exhibit of live
stock remained popular but there was a marked diminu-
tion in the attendance at the Hall Exhibit which involved
the payment of a small admission fee. Consequently the
expense of the Cattle Show exceeded the total revenue
from admission fees, from the funds and the annual grant
of $600 by the State and the funds had been depleted
largely. It was believed that as the location in Peabody
was the geographical center of a large population, the
financial situation would be greatly improved.
Some economies were urged, curtailing the size of the
Transactions which seemed larger than the requirements
of the Society warranted, and the number and liberality
of the premiums, which far surpassed those of any other
Society in the State. "The possibilities of an exceedingly
good show next year, with attractions of an interesting
and harmless character, can be introduced to advantage."
A vigorous and very successful effort was made in 1896
to inaugurate a new era. A hundred head of cattle in the
exhibition pens were a reminder of the palmy days of the
Society. Nine yoke came from the State Lunatic Hos-
pital at Danvers, which made notable contributions each
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 39
year. An unusually good collection of fowls, more than
five hundred, received much attention. The exhibits in
every department were large and fine. On the second day
of the Fair, the citizens of Peabody, Salem, and other
towns joined in a street parade, which included the horses
and cattle and extended over a mile in length. The
weather was favorable and great popular interest was
aroused. The delegate from the State Board remarked in
his report : "Without a horse trot or other outside attrac-
tions aside from a bicycle race and firemen's muster, the
attendance was very large, the entrance fees amounting
to over $4,000." It was estimated that ten thousand
people were on the grounds.
Hon. George von L. Meyer in his Address in 1897, re-
marked upon two recent or recently improved inventions,
which were destined to work great changes in farm life,
as in society generally.
Fifty years after the arrival of the first passenger
train, a thoroughly successful horseless carriage was run
through Salem over our Essex roads, and I venture to
predict that some of us who are here today will live to
see the time when it will be as rare to see carriages drawn
by horses as it is at present to see street cars drawn by
horses. I noticed in Paris last Winter the automobile
as it is there called is becoming quite a frequent sight.
. . . Bicycles are now so cheap that they are within
the reach of mechanics and farm laborers.
In 1898 the new order had commended itself so well
that Gen. Francis H. Appleton declared, "We must have
more land for a grand stand that shall have seating
capacity to rest our visitors and patrons and from which
they can view a half-mile track to find entertainment."
The annual deficit had now been replaced by an annual
But the exhibition of 1899 was visited with heavy rain
and consequent shrinkage in attendance and in revenue.
Rev. J. M. Pullman, D.D., of Lynn, delivered the Address
40 THE HISTORY OF THE
at the Peabody Institute, the last apparently of the long
series which reached back to the very beginning of the
Society. Not only was it the last, but it was not honored
with a place in the greatly abridged Transactions of that
year, the first omission of the kind since Col. Pickering's
first address was printed in 1818.
The Peabody Experiment.
On the turn of the century preparations had been made
for the largest and most attractive exhibit the Society
had ever held. The ancient and honored name, "Cattle
Show," had given place to the less rural and more compre-
hensive "Fair," and it was a significant evidence that
not only had the cattle disappeared, but the old-time
gathering of farmers with the products of their farms
had ceased. In the hope of making good the recent
financial losses the Society had established itself perma-
nently in one of the busiest manufacturing centers, with
a large and compact population within easy reach. The
plan was now adopted of drawing a large gathering by
attractions manifold and various.
To further this end the retiring President, Hon. George
von L. Meyer, had borne the expense of a grand stand.
The members of the Myopia Hunt Club gave an exhibition
of hurdle- jumping ,and many fine horses competed for
the various prizes. The various departments on the
grounds and in the hall were full of interest. But heavy
rain again interfered seriously with the attendance and
the financial return. Similar disappointment befell the
following year. Thursday, the great second day of the
1901 Fair, was the day of President McKinley's funeral,
and the nation was shrouded in gloom. Heavy rain inten-
sified the difl^culties of the situation. It was no wonder
that great discouragement was evident in the scant re-
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 41
ports of the Fair of 1902. The Society was in debt and
facing annual deficits. Only twelve new members had
been added during- the year.
But great preparations were made for 1903, and beau-
tiful weather favored the success of the Fair. On the
opening day a coaching and automobile parade gave great
eclat to the occasion. Led by mounted marshals, a line
of open barouches, bearing the officials of the Society and
the City, followed by a long train of four-in-hands, dog
and pony carts and automobiles, all beautifully decorated,
formed on Salem Common and moved to the Fair Grounds
in Peabody. It was estimated that ten thousand people
passed through the gates in the afternoon. Band con-
certs, hurdle- jumping, vaudeville shows, and bicycle races
entertained the crowd. Gasoline engines in operation at-
tracted much attention. The receipts were $3,000, less
by two hundred than those of the preceding year.
The records of the following years vary little. Rain on
the evening before the parade caused a meager turnout in
September, 1904. A balloon ascension and parachute de-
scent had been added to the attractions, but repeated at-
tempts met with exasperating failure. There were fire-
men's races and hurdle races and a mimic Midway. The
great event, however, was the stirring address of Hon.
Henry Cabot Lodge at the dinner.
New features characterized the exhibition of 1905.
The public schools were closed and children were admitted
free in the afternoon of the opening day. The Salem
merchants organized a Trade Bazaar in a large tent.
The show of live stock was the largest made on the new
grounds, working oxen, fine herds of milch cows, swinq
At the dinner of the Society in September, 1906, Hon.
Robert S. Rantoul delivered a just eulogy of Benjamin
P. Ware, who had died on February 7, 1906, at the age
of eighty-four. His long life had covered nearly the
whole period of the existence of the Agricultural Society,
42 THE HISTORY OF THE
of which he became an active member in 1848. He soon
came to a leading place in its councils, and filled with
honor the office of President for sixteen years. For many-
years he held many important official positions in agri-
cultural societies, wrote much on farm topics, and was
a constant exponent of the best methods of practical
In 1907, 1908, 1909, the exhibitions were very credit-
able. James C. Poor of Andover sent his herd of choice
Holsteins; T. Jefferson Coolidge of Manchester his fine
Guernseys. There were fat cattle from Charles J. Pea-
body's Topsfield farm, interesting displays of manufac-
tures, and the Merchants' Bazaar. The Midway had now
become a grotesque feature of the attractions, with its
merry-go-rounds and Ferris wheel, ring-tossers, fortune
tellers, African dodgers, novelty boards, fakes and fakirs
of every sort. The horse show, hurdle races and firemen's
contests had more dignified place on the track. The bal-
loon, fireworks and vaudeville were constant features.
But the financial situation grew more acute each year.
There was a constant popular demand for the horse race
as the thrilling thing which would draw the crowd and
fill the treasury, and equally firm insistence by the officers
of the Society that the track was not suitable, that it could
not be introduced without large initial expense, that the
Middlesex-Reading Fair, with its big grand stand and
half-mile track, had proved a financial failure and had
held no Fair for two years, and that every Agricultural
Society making this venture faced bankruptcy.
The Fair of 1909 involved a deficit of $314, and it was
patent that a radical change of policy was necessary. A
mortgage of $6,000 had been placed upon the Fair
Grounds. The amusement of the multitude was in danger
of becoming the principal factor in the plans of the
Society. Already there had been great departure from
the primary design of promoting agriculture. There
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 43
were those who questioned if the ancient Essex Agricul-
tural Society had not fulfilled its mission.
When the Society was organized in 1818, Essex County
was an agricultural section, and farming was the prin-
cipal industry. The total population by the Census of
1820 was 74,666. Salem was the principal town, with
a population of 12,731, where there was some farming
but the principal employments were commerce and manu-
factures. Gloucester had a population of 6,384, and the
industries were equally farming and manufactures,
Newburyport, with a population of 6,852, did little farm-
ing, and its activities were commerce and manufactures.
Marblehead, population 5,630, was chiefly engaged in
commerce. In Lynn, fifth in population, 4,515, about one-
seventh of the population were engaged in agriculture,
six-sevenths in manufactures. In Beverly, Danvers and
Newbury there were large farming interests. Haverhill,
with a population of 3,070, was largely a farming com-
munity, but with considerable manufacturing. In all the
rest of the County farming was the predominant industry.
By the Census of 1860, Haverhill was credited with
208 farms, the largest number of any town in the County,
and on these farms there were 597 cows and 196 oxen.
Beverly, Newbury and Danvers were largely farming
But in the next half century, by the Census of 1910,
Lynn had attained a population of 89,336, and farming
was practically eliminated. Lawrence was founded in
1845, and its territory included some thousands of acres
of land in Methuen and Andover. On these acres the
new city sprung into being, and in 1910 its dense manu-
facturing population numbered 85,892. Haverhill had
advanced rapidly as a manufacturing center and reached
a population of 44,115. The great South Parish of Dan-
vers, famous for its fine farms in earlier years, had
become Peabody, the largest manufacturing town in the
State, with a yearly output of leather valued at $16,000,-
44 THE HISTORY OF THE
000. Methuen had become a busy town of nearly 12,000
people. In some of the smaller communities as well
manufactures had attained a predominant place, and all
along the North Shore and in Wenham, Hamilton, Tops-
field and Ipswich, many farms once tilled by working
farmers had passed into the hands of wealthy summer
residents, with whom agriculture was largely an amuse-
ment. So it was affirmed that Essex County had now
little concern for farming, and that the Agricultural
Society might now rest from its labors.
But wiser counsels prevailed, and it was decided that
while the Peabody experiment had proved a failure,
there was still the promise of usefulness in a return to
the simpler ways of the fathers.
The Home-Coming to Topsfield.
A very practical reason led the Society back to Tops-
field, where the first Cattle Show was held in 1820. As
has been stated, Dr. John Goodhue Treadwell of Salem
had bequeathed his Topsfield farm to the Essex Agri-
cultural Society in 1858. The farm had served somes
practical purposes in the way of experiment, and in
some years had netted a profit. At times it had been
an asset of questionable value, but the Society still held
title. It was now utilized as the location for the Cattle
Show and Fair of September, 1910.
New inspiration would have attended the return if
Cyrus Cummings's tavern were still standing. Unfor-
tunately, as a matter of sentiment, it had been taken down
in August, 1844, and removed to Clifton, where it was
rebuilt as a shore hotel, but was totally destroyed by
fire two years later. But the old farm house proved
attractive to many visitors. The story goes that it was
erected by Dr. Richard Dexter of Maiden in 1741. The
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 45
tradition lingers that his wife was a daring rider, and
that while the house was being built the workmen con-
structed a narrow ascent to the second story, up which
she rode her spirited horse.
Be that as it may, it is an historic fact that the ancient
Garrison House, into which the Topsfield folk hurried
when the Indians attacked Haverhill and carried off
Hannah Dustin, was built in the great field utilized for
the tents, in the rear of the band stand. The great
trees on the turnpike near by and on the edge of the
field were set by Dr. Treadwell in 1835. Here a very
successful Fair was held. There was a band, and base-
ball, and hurdle-racing, but main reliance was placed on
the old-fashioned ploughing match and heavy draft by
horses, and in the fine exhibition of animals, fruits and
flowers, and home work in infinite variety.
•In 1911 the number of cattle, horses and swine was
nearly doubled. The ploughing, harrowing and drafting
by horses attracted much attention, as usual, and there
were unusually large exhibits of poultry, fruit and vege-
tables, stimulated by the silver medals, given by Mr.
Thomas E, Proctor, for the best collection in each of
these departments. The school exhibits proved an inter-
esting novelty. In the Spring the school superintendents
had given four potatoes and six ounces of sweet corn
to every child who agreed to plant and care for them.
Exhibits of the product came from nearly every town,
as well as speciments of handiwork. In addition to the
Holsteins, Guernseys and Jerseys, Kerry cows, the breed
which had been exhibited forty years before by D. F.
Appleton, re-appeared at this time, and eight yoke of
oxen lent an old-time flavor.
In 1912, from the old Fatherland Farm, owned a cen-
tury before by Gorham Parsons, one of the staunch
supporters of the Society, now owned by Frank L. Burke
and Son, came their herd of imported Ayrshires. South-
down, Shropshire and Horned Dorset sheep and a few
46 THE HISTORY OF THE
goats suggested a renewal of sheep raising. At the 1913
Fair a flock of Angora goats was exhibited. In 1914
the Essex County Agricultural School made its first ex-
hibit. In 1820, at the first Cattle Show in Topsfield, Dr.
Andrew Nichols had made his earnest plea for such a
school. His plea had been repeated at intervals by
others, and schemes for such a school had been proposed.
At last the Essex County Agricultural School had opened
its doors on October 1st, 1913, to an opening class of
85 pupils at Hathorne.
This exhibit was singularly happy and effective. Dis-
play was made of the proper tools for modern farming,
plans of farm buildings, tabulations of fertilizers and
chemicals, and ten-minute lectures were given at inter-
vals. The Essex County Poultry Association had been
merged with the Agricultural Society, and the combined
exhibit filled a large tent. The Essex County School
made another effective exhibit in 1915. Demonstrations
were made of grading, packing and canning fruit, killing
and plucking of poultry, and making of hotbeds. Types
of milking apparatus were displayed and the science of
bee keeping explained. New buildings for the horses,
cattle and swine, and two new large tents for the general
exhibition in 1916, indicated returning prosperity.
Thus as the century is rounded out the venerable!
Society is rejoicing in a revived enthusiasm in the im-
provement of agriculture. The Midway has been elim-
inated. Children are encouraged to exhibit the products
of their gardens, their school work and manual training,
their poultry, their heifers and their pigs, the raising
of which is being promoted by the Massachusetts Boys
and Girls Pig Clubs. Boys are invited to compete in the
old-time contests in ploughing with horses and oxen and
in handling teams of oxen and horses. The homely arts
of darning and patching home garments, the making of
kitchen aprons, and many home industries are stimu-
lated by premiums. The Myopia Hunt Club entertains
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 47
with exhibitions of skilled horsemanship and offers spe-
cial prizes for the best draft teams and the best farm
or utility colts. There are special premiums for the best
ears of Indian corn.
The isolation of farm life has been offset largely by
the telephone and the daily rural mail delivery. The
automobile has made the farm near neighbor to the town,
and made carriage of products easy. The transportation
of children at public expense has facilitated education.
The gasoline engine has relieved the hard work of wood
sawing and ensilage cutting. The Grange has promoted
the social relations. And now the Essex Agricultural
Society, by its Fairs, its many premiums, and its good
fellowship is making large contribution to the pleasure,
the attractiveness to children and youth, and the profit
of life on the farm, and the stimulation of agricultural
pursuits. The Inspector of the State Board of Agricul-
ture concluded his observations on the Topsfield Fair in
1916 with the complimentary remark: "It seems to me
that with more fairs upon these same lines agriculture
in New England is bound to return."
48 THE HISTORY OF THE
The Publications of The Essex Agricultural
The Society issued its first publication in 1818, the
first year of its existence, a thin pamphlet of 27 pages,
entitled, "Address to the Essex Agricultural Society, May
5:1818, by the Hon. Timothy Pickering, President of the
The second, a pamphlet of 27 pages, entitled, "A Dis-
course read before the Essex Agricultural Society in
Massachusetts February 21, 1820, suggesting some im-
provements in the Agriculture of the County by Timothy
Pickering, President of the Society," was issued in 1820.
"The Trustees' Account of the Cattle Show and Other
Exhibitions at Topsfield, Oct. 5, 1820," with "An Address
to the Essex Agricultural Society at their First Cattle
Show at Topsfield, Oct. 5:1820, by Andrew Nichols Esq.,"
a 56 page pamphlet, was published in 1821.
The Address by Rev. Abiel Abbot of Andover and the
Trustees' Account of the Agricultural Exhibition at Dan-
vers, October 16 and 17, 1821, 55 pages, was published
The Society published the address of Rev. Peter Eaton,
D.D., of Boxford, at Topsfield on October 2:1822, with
full reports, premiums, etc., 60 pages, in 1823, but in
the following year, 1824, a thin pamphlet of 23 pages
was issued, which contained the Address of Frederic
Howes Esq. at Topsfield, October 6, 1823, with no re-
ports, but with the list of premiums for the following
No publication was issued by the Society regarding
the Cattle Show of 1824, at which there was no address
apparently, but a full statement was made in the New
An Account of Premiums awarded in 1825 and a list
of premiums offered for 1826, with "Remarks and Ex-
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 49
planations for the Information of the Farmers of the
County," without mention of an address, 33 pages, was
pubHshed in 1826.
In 1826, at South Danvers, there was no address, and
the only report was that in the columns of the New Eng-
land Farmer, and the report of the Fair at Newbury in
1827, at which there was no address, was published in
the same paper.
Col. Pickering made his last Address at West Newbury
in 1828, and the Society published it, with reports, pre-
miums, list of members, a pamphlet of 77 pages, in April,
There was no address in 1829 at Haverhill, but a full
report, with "Hints addressed to the Farmers of Essex
County," an 88 page pamphlet, was issued in 1830. From
this date the Publications were issued regularly for many
years, always containing the Annual Address in full.
The title, "Transactions of the Essex Agricultural So-
ciety," first appeared in 1840.
50 THE HISTORY 0^ THE
List of Presidents of the Essex Agricultural
Society, with the Date of Election.
1818 Hon. Timothy Pickering of Salem.
1829 Hon, Frederick Howes of Salem.
1833 Hon. Ebenezer Moseley of Newburyport.
1836 Hon. James H. Duncan of Haverhill.
1839 Joseph Kittredge, M.D., of Andover, now North
1841 Hon. Leverett Saltonstall of Salem.
1845 John W. Proctor Esq. of South Danvers, now
1852 Hon. Moses Newell of West Newbury.
1856 Richard S. Fay Esq. of Lynn.
1858 Daniel Adams Esq. of Newbury.
1860 Hon. .Allen W. Dodge of Hamilton.
1863 Joseph How Esq. of Methuen.
1865 William Sutton Esq. of South Danvers, now
1874 Benjamin P. Ware Esq. of Marblehead.
1891 Francis H. Appleton Esq. of Peabody.
1896 Rev. Oliver S. Butler of Georgetown.
1898 Hon. George von L. Meyer of Hamilton.
1900 Francis H. Appleton Esq. of Peabody.
1904 Frederic A. Russell Esq. of Methuen.
1910 John M. Danforth Esq. of Lynnfield.
1912 Charles H. Preston Esq. of Danvers.
1915 Herbert W. Mason Esq. of Ipswich.
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 51
List of Secretaries of the Essex Agricultural
Society, with the Year of their Election.
1818 David Cummings of Salem.
1819 Frederick Howes of Salem.
1820 John W. Proctor of South Danvers, now Peabody.
1842 Daniel P. King of South Danvers, now Peabody.
1844 Allen W. Dodge of Hamilton.
1860 Charles P. Preston of Danvers.
1885 David W. Low of Gloucester.
1890 John M. Danforth of Lynnfield.
1910 Fred. A. Smith of Ipswich.
1914 Walter H. Brown of West Peabody.
List of Treasurers of the Essex Agricultural
Society, with the Year of Their Election.
1818 Ichabod Tucker of Salem.
1819 Daniel A. White of Salem.
1823 Benjamin R. Nichols of Salem.
1825 Benjamin Merrill of Salem.
1828 Andrew Nichols of Danvers.
1841 William Sutton of Salem.
1856 Edward H. Payson of Salem.
1881 Gilbert L. Streeter of Salem.
1902 William S. Nichols of Salem.
52 the history of the
List of Addresses Delivered at the Annual Meeting
OF the Essex Agricultural Society.
1818 Hon. Timothy Pickering of Salem.
1820 (Feb.) Hon. Timothy Pickering of Salem.
1820 (Oct.) Dr. Andrew Nichols of Danvers.
1821 Rev. Abiel Abbot of Andover.
1822 Rev. Peter Eaton, D.D., of Boxford.
1823 Frederick Howes Esq. of Salem.
1828 Hon. Timothy Pickering of Salem.
1830 Hon. James H. Duncan of Haverhill.
1831 Rev. Henry Colman of Salem.
1832 Rev. Gardner B. Perry of Bradford.
1833 Dr. Jeremiah Spofford of Bradford.
1834 Hon. Ebenezer Moseley of Newburyport.
1835 Hon. Daniel P. King of South Danvers, now Pea-
1836 Hon. Nathan W. Hazen of Andover.
1837 Rev. Nathaniel Gage of Haverhill.
1838 Rev. Leonard Withington of Newbury.
1839 Rev. Allen Putnam of Danvers.
1840 Hon. Asahel Huntington of Salem.
1841 Alonzo Gray, A.M., of Andover.
1842 Hon, Allen W. Dodge of Hamilton.
1843 Hon. Leverett Saltonstall of Salem.
1844 Hon. John W. Proctor of South Danvers, now
1845 Rev. Edwin M. Stone of Beverly.
1846 Hon. Moses Newell of West Newbury.
1847 Thomas E. Payson Esq. of Rowley.
1848 Josiah Newhall Esq. of Lynnfield.
1849 Hon. Asa T. Newhall of Lynnfield.
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY 53
1850 Hon. Caleb Gushing of Newburyport.
1851 Rev. Milton P. Braman of Danvers.
1852 Hon. Henry K. Oliver of Lawrence.
1853 Hon. Joseph S. Cabot of Salem.
1854 Hon. Richard S. Fay of Lynn.
1855 Dr. James R. Nichols of Haverhill.
1856 Ben: Perley Poore Esq. of West Newbury.
1857 Dr. E. G. Kelley of Newburyport.
1858 Dr. George B. Loring of Salem.
1859 Hon. James J. J. H. Gregory of Marblehead.
1860 Rev. John L. Russell of Salem.
1861 Hon. Alfred A. Abbott of South Danvers, now
1862 George J. L. Colby Esq. of Newburyport.
1863 Hon. Daniel Saunders Jr. of Lawrence.
1864 Hon. Darwin E. Ware of Marblehead.
1865 Dr. Nehemiah Cleaveland of Topsfield.
1866 Hon. Otis P. Lord of Salem.
1867 Rev. Raymond H. Seeley, D.D., of Haverhill.
1868 Dr. George B. Loring of Salem.
1869 Benjamin P. Ware Esq. of Marblehead.
1870 Hon. Benjamin F. Butler of Lowell.
1871 Hon. Joseph S. How of Methuen.
1872 Hon. William D. Northend of Salem.
1873 Rev. Charles B. Rice of Danvers.
1874 John L. Shorey Esq. of Lynn.
1875 Rev. Edwin C. Bolles, D.D., of Salem.
1876 Cyrus M. Tracy Esq. of Lynn.
1877 Rev. Oliver S. Butler of Georgetown.
1878 Thomas C. Thurlow Esq. of West Newbury.
1879 Dr. George B. Loring of Salem.
1880 David W. Low Esq. of Gloucester.
54 THE HISTORY OF THE
1881 Dr. James R. Nichols of Haverhill.
1882 Francis H. Appleton Esq. of Peabody.
1883 Hon. Charles P. Thompson of Gloucester.
1884 Hon. Asa T. Newhall of Lynn.
1885 Thomas Saunders Esq. of Haverhill.
1886 Rev. John D. Kingsbury of Bradford.
1887 Dr. William Cogswell of Bradford.
1888 Hon. Horatio Herrick of Lawrence.
1889 Charles J. Peabody Esq. of Topsfield.
1890 John W. Perkins, A.M., of Byfield.
1891 Hon. William H. Moody of Haverhill.
1892 Hon. Edwin P Dodge of Newburyport.
1893 Hon. Nathan M. Hawkes of Lynn.
1894 Hon. William S. Knox of Lawrence.
1895 Rev. Oscar T. Safford of Peabody.
1896 Robert S. Rantoul Esq. of Salem.
1897 Hon. George von L. Meyer of Hamilton.
1898 Francis H. Appleton Esq. of Peabody.
1899 Rev. J. M. Pullman, D.D., of Lynn.
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY
Places Where the Annual Exhibitions or Cattle
Shows Have Been Held.
No Cattle Show.
South Danvers, now
Andover, now North
Andover, now North
South Danvers, now
South Danvers, now
South Danvers, now
South Danvers, now
56 THE HISTORY OF THE ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY
1895 to 1910 Peabody.
1910 to 1918 Topsfield
Essex Agricultural Society
of Essex County
THE REMARKABLE GROWTH
In the Years from 1918 to 1923
Essex Agricultural Society
of Essex County
THE REMARKABLE GROWTH
In the Years from 1918 to 1923
PRINTED IN 1924
NBWCOMB & GAUSS
OFFICERS AND TRUSTEES FOR 1924
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY
FOUNDED IN 1818
I. H. Sa^vyer, Boxford
Edward Wigglesworth Topsfield
F. E. Appleton Ipswicla
E. K. Burnham
R. H. Gask
W. Chester Long, Topsfield
A. E. Little
John K. Sargent
J. W. Nichols
George R. Barker
George S. Curtis
Chester P. Dodge
G. F. Carleton
J, B. Sa^vyer
J. W. Appleton
W. G. Fancher
C. E. Stillings
H. H. Atherton
Thomas Cox, Jr.
Charles J. Peabody
C. A. Leach
L. G. Dodge, West Newbury
Trustees at Large
W. M, Wood
H, W. Mason
John S. Lawrence
A GENEROUS OFFER
After three years of incessant work, the old Essex
Agricultural Society has been very much revived, and
now owns its Fair Grounds, race track, and improve-
ments at Topsfield, Massachusetts, free from incum-
brance. Last year we spent for buildings and other im-
provements on the grounds between $23,000 and $24,000,
and our additional running expenses for the Fair were
sufficient to make a total of $47,000. Our receipts were
enough to cover this amount, lacking $10,000; which
leads us to believe that by not making any more improve-
ments than is necessary to run a successful four-day Fair
this year, September 17, 18, 19, 20, with favorable
weather, our receipts will be sufficient to put the Society
practically out of debt. This is what we intend to do,
while we need several new buildings and other improve-
We wish to increase our membership, which is a very
desirable source of revenue, as every increase in member-
ship naturally means an increase of interest in the Society
and Fair and larger attendance. Life Membership is
only $3.00 for men, women, and boys and girls over
twelve years of age. To make it interesting to the differ-
ent organizations in the county, we are offering a com-
mission of $1.00 for each membership secured. We feel
that there is not an organization in any town that cannot
add a nice sum to its treasury. Therefore, we are asking
you to appoint a suitable committee of your organization
to secure memberships for the Essex Agricultural So-
ciety at $3.00 for life membership with no assessments,
which means $100 in your treasury for every one hun-
dred members you secure. It is not necessary that these
members live in your town or county; you can solicit
them wherever you can get them. On another page are
some of the good reasons why people should become mem-
bers. We are also sending you some blanks on which to
write the names and addresses of the new members, and
additional blanks will be sent on request. Please return
the lists to the Essex Agricultural Society at Topsfield,
We hope you will take hold of this work earnestly and
secure results to our mutual satisfaction. Your kind
reply will oblige.
Essex Agricultural Society.
I. H. Sawyer, President.
A MEMBERSHIP CAMPAIGN
An effort is to be made to increase our membership
among the members of the following organizations of the
County, and prizes will be offered for work in this direc-
American Legion Masons
American Legion Auxiliary Odd Fellows
Boy and Girl Scouts Police Departments
Banks of County Red Cross
Chambers of Commerce Rotary Clubs
Churches Sunday Schools
Fire Departments Women's Clubs
Granges Y. M. C. A.
Kiwanis Clubs * * " '
Knights of Columbus
Any other organization interested.
A commission of One Dollar will be awarded for each new
member obtained, and an attractive Certificate of Membership
will be presented to each new member.
MONEY PRIZES TO BE OFFERED
It is proposed to present three prizes to the organiza-
tions in the County that secure the largest number of
members for the Essex Agricultural Society.
First Prize $15.00
Second Prize 10.00
Third Prize 5.00
WHY YOU SHOULD BE A MEMBER OF THE
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY
Because it is the oldest Agricultural Society in the
State holding an Annual Fair. Founded in 1818.
Because every town in Essex County is included in its
Because it owns the most beautiful one hundred acre
farm and Fair Grounds in the State, at Topsfield, on the
Newburyport Turnpike and Ipswich River, twenty miles
from Boston, clear of incumbrance.
Because it encourages agriculture, horticulture and
Because agriculture is the basis of all prosperity: for
the laboring man, the mechanic, the manufacturer, the
merchant, the banker, and the professional man.
Because if agriculture is not successful, farms will be
abandoned, and Essex County will become nothing but
a summer resort.
Because it holds one of the largest and most attractive
annual Fairs in the State, fast growing in popularity.
Because it provides once a year, to both young and old,
the most entertaining and instructive four-day attraction
in the county.
Because its beautiful grounds and improvements are
offered free of charge to the fraternal, industrial, finan-
cial and religious organizations of the county, for picnics'
Because it provides a County Community Playground.
Because it very much increases the county attractions,
for both residents and visitors, providing recreation and
increased enjoyment for all.
Because it v/ill provide more pleasure and recreation
and encourage young men and young women to remain
on the farms.
Because, during the summer, weekly dancing parties
are given at the grounds for the enjoyment of the mem-
Because we need your interest and co-operation to
make this the best Fair in the State.
Because the membership fee is so small and the benefit
to the whole county so large.
Because we need a fruit and vegetable building and a
flower building to make our Fair grounds practically-
Because we should perpetuate all the good things that
the fathers left us.
Because your membership and co-operation will help
us bring about all the above results.
Life Membership only $3.00 to Men and Women, Boys
and Girls over twelve years of age; no assessments.
WONDERFUL GROWTH OF THE SOCIETY
The observance of the centenary of the Society, which
is one of the oldest agricultural societies in Massachu-
setts, was to have been made the outstanding feature
of its Fair, scheduled for October 3, 4, and 5, 1918. An
attractive program had been arranged and interest in the
occasion ran high throughout the county. "Man pro-
poses, and God disposes." In consequence of the pre-
vailing epidemic of influenza in the early Fall, the agri-
cultural fairs in the state were cancelled, and no fitting
commemoration of the anniversary was held. During
the year, however, the Society published its history,
written by Rev. T. Franklin Waters of Ipswich. The
pamphlet contains a comprehensive record of the incep-
tion, growth and development of the Society during its
first hundred years.
In 1919, the 98th annual fair was held on September
26 and 27. The evening previous to the opening day a
terrific rain storm swept over the town, and the accom-
panying high wind blew down the main tent, and by
reason of the confusion resulting, the exhibits of fruits
and flowers were not displayed until about noon. The
exhibitors were few in number and the specimens of
fruits were of fair quality, but the attendance was most
Again, in 1920, the attendance dropped to low level.
The large tent was not erected for this fair, and every-
thing was conducted on a small scale. The pessimists
openly declared that the days of the Society were num-
bered. This gloomy view of affairs was evident at the
annual meeting. At that time a committee, consisting
of Joseph B. Poor, John S. Lawrence and Thomas E.
Proctor of Topsfield, and Isaac R. Thomas, Francis R.
Appleton and Herbert W. Mason of Ipswich, were ap-
pointed to consider and report on the proposition of con-
tinuing the fair. These gentlemen worked out a program
of development which not only rescued the Society from
threatening dissolution, but marked the beginning of
a return to its former successful operation of the fair.
But the fair of 1921! Never will the citizens of old
Essex weary of the story of the 100th fair of the So-
ciety. "A miniature Brockton show!" exclaimed an en-
thusiastic member of the Society to his companion, who
replied, "You have said something, and I have been at-
tending fairs for over forty years." The suggestion was
offered that a fund should be raised by public subscrip-
tion to discharge the existing indebtedness. Thereupon,
Isaac H. Sawyer, Josiah H. Gifford, Edward Wiggles-
worth, Herbert W. Mason and Ralph H. Gaskill volun-
teered to solicit and receive contributions, and a sub-
stantial sum was secured by them.
The permanent improvements during the year were:
an exhibition hall (50 by 100 feet), one-half mile race
track, stable (24 by 100 feet), grand stand, dance pavil-
ion (30 by 60 feet), and baseball grounds, and water
supply and electric lights were installed. A continuous
program was given by demonstrators and entertainers.
The race track was indeed an innovation for the staid
old Essex society. The horses showed their class before
an overflowing grand stand.
The most valuable service to the Society during the
year was that rendered by the President, I. H. Sawyer,
who negotiated with the Massachusetts General Hospital,
whereby it conveyed to the Society its interests in and
to the fair grounds and certain other lands devised con-
ditionally in 1856 by the will of Dr. John G. Treadwell
of Salem, and the Society released to the Hospital the
remaining parcels which it had under the will. The
Society now holds a good and clear record title to its
valuable and extensive plant covering one hundred acres,
which is delightfully located on the Newburyport Turn-
pike and within half a mile of the site of the famous
Topsfield Hotel, where it was organized in 1818.
The fair held September 21, 22 and 23, 1922, brought
out a record-breaking attendance, and was conceded to
be the equal of any in the State. Here was found the
traditional county fair with the addition of the best of
the modern requirements.
Congratulations are due to the management for the
unsurpassed exhibition of 1923. But attention is called
to the fact that the Society has added to its plant during
the past few months, — days, the contractor says, — new
buildings as follows: Poultry building (50 by 150 feet),
cattle barn (50 by 100 feet), horse barn (30 by 60 feet),
racing stable (28 by 80 feet), piggery (14 by 80 feet),
woman's building (30 by 60 feet) with rest and first-aid
rooms and children's nursery (the latter structure was
made possible by the generosity of the women of the
county), pump house, and ticket office as the first unit
of an administration building and exhibition hall. Sub-
stantial and attractive fences have been built around the
race track and outside the grounds. The new roadway
from Maple Street to the racing stables served to relieve
much of the usual traffic congestion at the main entrance
to the grounds. The progress of landscape architecture
is noted in the grading and setting out of shrubs and
trees. The track has been the training quarters of sev-
eral well known stables during the summer, and is con-
sidered to be from three to seven seconds faster than the
average race track in New England.
During the past three years women and boys and girls
over twelve years of age have been admitted to member-
ship, and a drive for an increase of membership has been
highly successful. But with the forward steps already
taken by the Society, it has only crossed the threshold in
developing its plans for a service of wide scope and great
value to the County and State.
INTERESTING STORY OF THE OLD BLOCK HOUSE
FORMERLY ON THE FAIR GROUNDS
In connection with the foregoing history of the work
of the Society, and as showing the wide interest it fosters
and supports, we wish to record the action of the Society
in the past year in voting to erect a monument near the
center of the Fair Grounds to mark the site of the old
Block House, erected in the early days of the town to
furnish a shelter and defense against Indian attacks.
This building was constructed previous to the Indian
attack on Haverhill, March 15th, 1697, when Hannah
Dustin was carried off by Indians but escaped from them.
At that time the alarm of an attack reached Topsfield,
and some of the inhabitants took refuge in the Block
House referred to. According to tradition, considered
authentic, the house was built of logs squared on one
side and mortised and pinned together at the corners and
covered with a heavy roof of logs and made tight with
an outer covering of boards laid lap-edged and pinned to
the logs. Loopholes were made in the side of the build-
ing, through which guns could be aimed at the approach-
ing foe. About forty feet from the sides of the house
a palisade of logs set close together in the ground and
from ten to twelve feet high, surrounded it on all sides.
Entrance was by a stout gate or wide door or framed
timber, fastened on the inside with bar and chain. Pro-
visions, consisting of two barrels of meal and one barrel
of salt pork, were kept constantly on hand. The meal
was changed often enough to keep it sweet and fit for
food. A spring in the cellar of the house supplied water
in case of an attack, without risk of going outside the
It is an interesting fact that the first water supply
secured by the Society was the very same spring which
long ago furnished water in time of need to the settlers
of the early days. The spot is now covered by the engine
house that supplies water to all parts of the grounds.
I attach to this description the narrative of old Mr. Esty,
given to the Town Clerk of Topsfield in 1895, of the fact
that his grandmother in a flight had to take the refuge I
have described. "His grandmother used to keep tied at
the door a horse for the purpose of using in fleeing to
the fort if Indians came. The fort was on the south east
part of Treadwell's Plain toward David Perkins. He
has ploughed up old dishes and pieces of brick where he
thinks the fort stood."
The story of the ride is also narrated by William Ho-
man, who was a neighbor of mine in my younger days,
and a relative and descendant of the Esty family. He
had knowledge of particulars not contained in the other
story. He said that Mrs. Esty left her house, situated
on what is now the T. W. Pierce estate, in the night,
carrying her baby in her arms, with another child on
the horse behind her. A company of other people, to
the number of twenty or more, also reached the protec-
tion of the Block House and remained for two days and
nights, when the danger seemed to have passed and they
returned to their homes.
Another incident of ancient days, the knowledge of
which should be preserved by the Society, is the fact that
when the troop that marched with Arnold on the cam-
paign against Ticonderoga and Quebec, returned from
the expedition, the company of Danvers, Middleton and
Topsfield men ate their last meal together under a great
pine tree that stood, up to fifty years ago, directly in
front of the house now owned by the Society, which house
was built by Dr. Richard Dexter, the first regular phy-
sician of Topsfield, in 1741.
Thus does the history of the Essex Agricultural So-
ciety, itself covering one hundred years, reach back
through the brave deeds and wise actions of other gener-
ations to that time when the foundations were laid on
which the Peace, Prosperity and Happiness have been
builded which are so abundantly shown on our beautiful
Fair Grounds, with spacious acres, convenient buildings,
and a united membership, eager to pass on the blessings
we have received to future years and to new enterprises
they will bring.
Charles J. Peabody.
CATTLE SHOW and FAIR
ESSEX AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY
SEPTEMBER 17, 18, 19 and 20