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1883 Tioga County PA History
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History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania

History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania, (W. W. Munsell & Co., New York : 1883), 
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Chapter Vlll

THE FARMING INTEREST---AGRICULTURAL SOCIETIES AND FAIRS----PRINCIPAL PRODUCTS.

The pioneer settlers of Tioga county came here for the purpose of securing themselves homes, and clearing up farms that would produce wheat, corn, buckwheat, oats, potatoes, beef, pork, butter, wool and flax sufficient for their own use and to leave surplus for marketing. This they soon accomplished; for the soil, which for ages had been receiving the falling foliage of the forest, was quick to respond to the tillage of the husbandman. Their implements of husbandry were simple and rude, but the alluvial soils of the valley under the culture of intelligent hands soon gave them a comfortable living and kept want from their doors. This condition of things continued for twenty years, when the spirit of public improvement pervaded the land. The great pines which skirted the rivers of the county and which had hitherto only been utilized for building purposes, now became a merchantable commodity; and when cut down, instead of being rolled into huge heaps for burning, they were drawn to the saw-mill--which if not already erected the pioneers caused to built--there manufactured into lumber of various kinds, made into rafts and floated to a southern market.

The settlers then had a double occupation , that of farmer and lumbermen. Ready money was what they needed.; this could be obtained by cultivating the soil in summer, lumbering in winter, and in the spring harvesting the fruit of the winter’s labor in the ports along the waters of the lower Susquehanna.

Later settlers purchased large tracts of timbered lands and gave their whole attention to lumbering, entirely neglecting the tillage of the soil. This of course created a home market for those who did produce grain, pork, mutton and butter. Railroad and mining operations about this time began to attract to the valley of the Tioga a large class of men engaged in these pursuits. A large portion of them came from countries beyond the seas, the Irish, Scotch and Welsh, who for a long time confined themselves to the building of railroads and mining coal in the Blossburg coal regions. This state of things existed for several years, until the home agricultural productions were not equal to the home consumption and many thousand dollars’ worth of grain and provisions was shipped into Tioga county from the adjoining counties in New York.

One would have supposed that with an excellent home market for everything produced on the farm the farmers would have stuck to their plows; but they did not . They caught the lumbering fever, neglected their farming, and in many instances purchased the provisions and grains which they could have raised. In their new occupation they handled more money, but that they saved more is very questionable.

In order to encourage farming a number of public spirited gentlemen residing in the various townships of the county organized

THE TIOGA COUNTY AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY

In the year 1854. We are unable to give the names of the first officers, but those for 1855 were William B. Clymer, president; Daniel L. Sherwood, George McLeod, B.C. Wickham, Ira Buckley and J.S. Kingsbury, vice-presidents; F.E. Smith, corresponding secretary; G.D. Smith, recording secretary; John F. Donaldson, treasurer; Robert G. White, A. E. Niles, H.M. Gerould, Lawson Copley, H.W. Calkins, L.D. Seeley, J.W. Guernsey, W.B. Metcalf, Henry Sherwood, Robert Campbell, John V. Swan, R. Toles, Nelson Whitney, D.S. Shore, C.H. House, Moses S. Baldwin, T.J. Soper, D .Ellis, E.T. Bentley, J. Riberolle, Chester Robinson, John Dickinson, Homer V. Elliot and James Leonard, executive committee. The society therefore was composed of many of the most prominent business men and farmers of the county, who desired that the agricultural interests of Tioga county should be fostered and encouraged. The amount received by the society from membership, dues, State appropriation etc. for the year 1854 was $450.47, and the amount of disbursements was $282.37, leaving a balance in the treasury of $168.10 Here then was a beginning. The society held a fair, which was moderately well attended . It had hitherto been believed that with the present temper of the people, whose minds were engaged with lumbering, mining, or railroad schemes, an agricultural society could not be sustained or a fair held. The next year the society held a fair, and the gross receipts showed a more lively interest. The receipts for 1855,with the balance from the year previous, aggregated $1,036.96, leaving a balance in the treasury of $300.20. The address before the society in 1854 was delivered by Dr. Murdock, and that in 1855 by Hon. F.E. Smith, of Tioga.

The third annual fair of the society was held on the 8th and 9th of October 1856, at Wellsboro, like the previous ones, and premiums to the amount of $700 was offered. It was a highly creditable exhibition of the productions of the county. Addresses were made by Julius Sherwood and S.F. Wilson, whose remarks were instructive and interesting. In 1857 a fair was also held, which was well attended. The society was instrumental in doing much good, by showing what the soil of the county would produce under proper cultivation. Fairs were continued up to the breaking out of Rebellion, when they were discontinued until 1866. In 1859 Horace Greeley delivered the annual address. After the address Charles G. Williams, in behalf of the ladies of Wellsboro, presented the speaker with a handsome basket of flowers, prefacing the same with a neat and appropriate speech. In 1875 Hon. John I. Mitchell, now United States senator, was secretary of the society, and in a communication to the writer he says that the annual fairs were revived in 1866, in which year some four thousand dollars were raised to put up buildings and grade a race-course. The money was expended at Wellsboro in grounds so ill adapted to the purpose that everybody condemned the selection, and that property was practically abandoned. Since that year, however , fair have been regularly held and made reasonably successful. The amount of premiums paid annually since the organization of the society has ranged from $300 to $1,500, latterly being greater than formerly. The annual expenses other than premiums have ranged from $300 to $500 for carrying on fairs. The society has no permanent office and the exact figures cannot be given. The lands occupied by the society are owned by private parties, and leased at a rental of $200.The property is worth about $10,000, and the buildings $3,000. The value of personal estate is less than the indebtedness. Hon. Harry White delivered the annual address before the society in 1870, ex-Governor Pollock in 1874 and Prof. F.A. Allen in 1875.

Mr. Mitchell remarks: “Want of means is the principle obstacle. With that want supplied a good show and great benefits may be secured any year. We have twice had a system of life membership, but the misfortunes of the society have compelled a change of organization after each, by which the pledges given were repudiated, and on this account some disaffection exists in the county. This has mostly subsided , and now there is no reason why, with good management, a good fair may not be had every year.”

The officers in 1875 were as follows: Hon. Stephen F. Wilson, president; Robert Campbell, vice-president; Walter Sherwood, treasurer; John I. Mitchell, secretary; executive committee---Jerome B. Potter, W.P. Shumway, Nelson Claus, John Karr, John M. Butler, John E. Smith, William Campbell and C.J. Humphrey; marshal, Lucius Truman; assistant marshals, A.B. Horton and A.W. Potter. The fairs of the society have since been held with varied success. In the summer of 1880 quite a large sum of money was raised by subscription in Wellsboro and vicinity and the grounds were put in excellent condition, and it is confidently anticipated that hereafter the fairs of the society will be well attended and the agricultural interest of the county developed and encouraged and strengthened.

The officers of the society for 1881 were: H.W. Williams, president; Henry Sherwood, vice-president; J.W. Mather, corresponding secretary; George C. Bowen, recording secretary; Walter Sherwood, treasurer; Directors---John W. Bailey, J.M. Butler; Charles Toles, Newell Campbell and George English.

The following officers were elected for 1882: President, H.W. Williams; vice-presidents, O.A. Smith, A. Close, W.D. Knox, John Davis, C.L. Pattison, M.F. Cass, M.S. Strait, G.T. Locey, A.J. Corwin, S.F. Richards, A. Pitts, C.M. More, H.J. Landrus; secretary, J.W. Mather; Corresponding secretary, J.H. Matson; trustees, C.

Toles, A. Kimball, J.S. Coles, N. Campbell, J.W. Bailey, Ira Johnson. The time fixed for holding the next annual exhibition of the society was September 20th to 23rd, inclusive, 1882. L.A. Gardner, I.M. Bodine and J.H. Matson were elected auditors to audit the accounts of the society for1881.

THE SMYTHE PARK ASSOCIATION.

Three years ago an organization was effected at Mansfield styled the Smythe Park Association, its object being to improve an island in the Tioga River at that place, by clearing it of the underbrush, erecting a hall, cottage and suitable stock pens on an eminence adjoining it, and finally preparing it for a fair ground, with trotting tracks, etc. The first fair held here, in September 1879,was a grand success, thousands attending it from the valley of the Tioga and the townships adjoining it on the east and west sides of the river. This encouraged the association to still further improve the grounds and make preparations on a grander scale for the next year. In 1880 the multitude attending the fall exhibition was still greater than the year before, and the second day of the fair over ten thousand people were present. The association is constantly improving the grounds. The fair in 1881 was also a success. These fairs have been the means of awakening a lively interest in agriculture, the mechanical arts and whatever conduces to the prosperity of the people in the eastern and southeastern portion of the county. Prominent among the citizens who were engaged lining up and conducting them were Prof. F.A. Allen, Mart King, C.S. Ross, John Murdaugh, Daniel Pitt, A.M. Pitts, Frederick Elliott, Bert Schrader, Phillip Williams, V.R. Pratt, B.R. Bailey, Thomas H. Bailey, Robert Crossley and Dr. C.V. Elliott. The Mansfield fairs marked an era in the history of agriculture in the county, for the incited the society holding its exhibitions at Wellsboro to make renewed efforts.

THE PRODUCTION OF THE COUNTY

Are wheat, corn, buckwheat, oats, barley, rye, potatoes and root crops; there has recently sprung up a disposition to cultivate tobacco, and in the valleys of the Tioga and Cowanesque Rivers and Crooked Creek and in other localities it has proven a remunerative crop. The dairy products are very large and the orchard products considerable, some of the very best apples raised in the State being produced here.

We append a statement of acreage and production, so far as we have been able to obtain them from the census authorities: Barley, 1,893 acres, 40,611 bushels; buckwheat, 10,633 acres,190,238 bushels; corn, 10,504 acres, 348,600 bushels; oats, 24, 243 acres, 744,394 bushels,; rye, 395 acres, 3,797 bushels; wheat,8,807 acres, 102,143 bushels; tobacco, 224 acres, 292,198 pounds. It will be recollected that the census was taken in 1880, and gives the production of 1879. The tobacco culture in 1879 was in its infancy in the county, and it has since largely developed.

As we have observed the dairy product of Tioga county is very large, and butter made here commands a high figure in the New York and other markets. The soil of the county is peculiarly adapted to the growing of the excellent quality of hay, and the pasture lands are not excelled by any in the State. Bradford county, lying in the same belt, first obtained an enviable reputation fir its excellent dairy butter , and for many years the butter made by our farmers in the townships of Union, Ward, Sullivan, Covington, and Richmond, and even Charleston and Delmar, was sold in Market as Bradford county butter. But Tioga county butter has established a reputation for itself and is the peer of any other brand in the market. The general absence of lime in the soil enables the Tioga county dairyman to make butter that when properly prepared for market is as fresh, rich and palatable when it is a year old as when first made. Dairymen in the limestone belts of this and other States are obliged to sell their butter when it is newly made, for the reason that the lime, which enters into its composition from the pasturage on which the cows feed, will in time transform it into an unpalatable and rancid substance, unfit for table use and ultimately purchased by the soap chandler.

The raising of fine horses and cattle is carried on extensively in the county, some of the finest horses and neat cattle reared in the State being raised in this locality. This is particularly true of fine horses. Nowhere in the State can better and purer stock be found than in Tioga county, as evidenced by the exhibitions at the county and other fairs and by examination of our stock and farm yards.

We have said that the culture of tobacco in the county is in its infancy, but enough has been raised already to demonstrate the adaptability of our soil to its culture. In the month of August 1880 the editor of the Blossburg Industrial Register visited the valleys of Crooked Creek and Tioga and Cowanesque Rivers, examined thoroughly the various growing crops in those regions, and gave the results in the issues of that paper dated August 5th and August 19th. These numbers he mailed to all the tobacco leaf buyers whose addresses he could obtain in New York city , Elmira, Syracuse, Lancaster, Baltimore, Philadelphia and other cities. The result was that a large number of buyers came into Tioga county, examined the various crops and purchased them. This introduced the tobacco of the county into the market of the country and gave it a good name. It was found that the leaf grown in this county was of a superior quality. The ready sale of the tobacco by the growers led them to go more extensively into the cultivation of it, and during the year 1881, a still larger acreage was cultivated, higher prices than in 1880 being already assured . In the valleys of Crooked Creek, Marsh Creek, Seeley Creek, and the Elkhorn, Tioga and Cowanesque, and even on our uplands and plateaus, it has been cultivated with success. Large packing and store houses have been erected in Corning and Elmira, designed to receive the crops of this county and Steuben and Chemung counties in New York. A sound and reliable firm has been organized at Tioga and Wellsboro to purchase the leaf and also manufacture cigars upon a large scale, about one hundred persons being employed at each of these places. Thus has the cultivation and trade in tobacco suddenly reached prominent proportions during the past few years. The amount of tobacco raised on an acre is from 1,500 to 2,500 pounds and at ten cents per pound it proves the most remunerative crop which the farmer can raise . Even if it does require a considerable amount if fertilizers, in the shape of barnyard and other manure, still the profit on the investment far exceeds that of any other crop raised in the country. Large preparations were made by the growers for the year 1882, with high prospects of continued success.

In the last few years more than formerly sheep-raising has attracted the attention of our farmers who occupy rolling lands and hillside farms. There is no section of the United States better adapted to the raising of sheep than Tioga county. The atmosphere is dry, the pasturage excellent, and the demand for mutton, wool and pelts is good. The farmer who raises sheep can always find a market at home for his early lambs, wool and mutton. The home butcher buys them gladly for cash, and disposes of them readily. There has been much interest manifested of late in relation to sheep-raising, and with climate, pasturage and market in favor of the producer there is no good reason why Tioga county shall not become a great sheep-raising district.
 
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