Gard, Robert Edward / My land, my home, my Wisconsin : the epic story of the Wisconsin farm and farm family from settlement days to the present
Of man in search of better ways, pp. 63-82 PDF (12.0 MB)
OF MAN IN SEARCH OF BETTER WAYS From our farm the young folks have always gone to be educated. Our family had this idea very deep: educa- tion for all. I know that many in our neighborhood didn't think a farmer needed to have any learning from books ... he had enough from the folkways, and what he learned on the land. But our folks insisted on all of us having education. We were here, after all, when they started the University of Wisconsin. Great-uncle Tom was one of the earliest to graduate. Great-grandmother had the first school anywhere around here in her cabin one winter. And her daughter-in-law, grandpa's wife, worked hard for the education of women and girls. Under the Morrill Act of 1862, the state was granted federal lands to establish agricultural and mechanical colleges. For four years nothing was done with the Wisconsin lands. Ripon College car- ried on a strong campaign to obtain them and to establish the new agricultural college there, but in 1866 the state legislature awarded the lands to the University of Wisconsin. Dane County furnished the money for an experimental farm. Because it was still in its formative years, the new agricultural college did not graduate its first stu- dent until 1878. William W. Daniells of Michigan became the first professor of agriculture after John W. Hoyt, editor of the Wisconsin Farmer, turned down the job. In 1880, William A. Henry was elected to the chair of agriculture. He immediately began to effect the relationships with farmers that made the college a vital institution. Henry became the agricul- tural dean in 1888. New York State men in Wisconsin were often the dynamic leaders who headed local movements for organizing the dairy industry. One of them was Hiram Smith of Sheboygan County, a chief supporter of the college for whom the first dairy building at the college was named. EDUCATION FOR FARMERS The success of the Wisconsin College of Agri- culture depended upon close association with actual working farmers. It had to be a "team" operation. To get new kinds of scientific information out to the farmers, a series of Farmers' Institutes was estab- lished in 1886 by the Wisconsin College of Agricul- ture. Sometimes an entire train would leave Madi- son loaded with exhibits and specialists to help farm- ers in their own territory. There were many new scientific discoveries. The Wisconsin farm was on the verge of an era of true self-realization. Early in Wisconsin educational history, Presi- dent Thomas Chamberlain of the university said: "A new ideal is rising-namely, that it is also the func- tion of a university to seek an all-pervasive influence upon its patron community. Our Farmers' Institutes are a more striking and effective instance than even the English movement." E. L. Luther told the story of the Farmers' Insti- tutes in Wisconsin Magazine of History: The year 1848 was a notable one in Wisconsin. [Beyond statehood], it is a matter of record that the Wisconsin Legis- lature that year established the University of Wisconsin. [Instruction did net begin until 1849.] In 1862, the Morrill Act was passed by Congress and signed by Lincoln. Dane County gave the University a farm in 1866. William W. Daniells, a chemist, was made director of the farm in 1868. In 1872 a group of dairymen, who were cheesemakers, organized the Wisconsin Dairymen's Associa- tion, which developed into one of the greatest boosts to agri- culture, as we shall see. Then in 1878 Hiram Smith . . . be- came the first farmer to be appointed to the University Board of Regents, and was promptly made chairman of the agricul- tural committee which looked after the farm. Things then began to pop. In 1880 the regents brought William A. Henry, botanist, to the faculty and made him director of the farm and three years later, in 1883 Governor Jerry Rusk, Hiram Smith, and 63
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