CHAPTER XXIV.
FAIRS-THE GRANGE AND OTHER AGRICULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS.

The Sullivan County Agricultural Society was organized at Carlisle in 1852, and the first fair was held in October. The principal officers at that time were W. D. Blackburn, James H. Reid and J. H. Paxton. In a few years Merom and Sullivan became rival claimants against Carlisle for the fair, but when the directors decided to let the fair be held at the place which contributed the most money, Carlisle retained the title by raising $326 and thus secured the fair meetings for the following five years. Some facts about the fourth annual fair, in 1855, are found in the Sullivan Democrat of that year. The grounds were located near the depot, on the east side of town. Races were the principal feature, and one of the events of this fair was a riding match between three ladies. The gate admission was ten cents, and the total receipts from this source were only fifty dollars. The premiums amounting to over three hundred dollars, the association's treasury was bankrupt.

The fairs were held at Carlisle for twelve successive years, but few were successful and the attractions were meager, and popular interest almost completely failed during the years of the war. In 1865 it was voted to move the fair to Sullivan, but no fair was held during that year, the first one at the county seat being in the fall of 1866. In 1868 the association leased the grounds from John Giles, on the west side of the Sullivan-Fairbanks road. The fairs were held with moderate success for a few years, but that of 1878 was pronounced a flat failure and nothing more was heard of the society until 1885, when C. P. Riggs was president and C. M. Stewart secretary. A very successful fair was held in 1886. In 1888 many improvements were made, a new track built, deep wells sunk on the grounds, and new amphitheater and floral hall. Since 1896 the annual county fair has ceased to be an institution.

In 1908 an association, of which C. D. Hunt was president, inaugurated a series of "People's Saturday Fairs," comprising varied attractions and events scheduled for each Saturday, beginning August 15 and closing October 31. These brought a large number of people into Sullivan and aroused much interest.

The Grange.

During the seventies the Grange movement was a strong influence in this and other counties of Indiana. For several years it was a force to be reckoned with in politics, and in many communities newspapers were established and devoted their columns principally to the promotion of the interests of the organization. The general organization took the name of Patrons of Husbandry and the local lodges were Granges. In a few states the order is still strong, though its activity is now almost entirely confined to the advancement of the economic and social welfare of the farmers through co-operation and organization and docs not appear as a political factor.

This order reached its height in Sullivan county between 1874 and 1876. Its essential purposes were thus defined:

To secure social and educational advantages.
To help in sickness, death and pecuniary misfortune.
Knowledge of farming.
Economics in purchasing.
Abolition of credit system.
Co-operation in trade.

The Granges reported as organized in this county in January, 1874, were the following: Buck Creek, William M. Moore, master; Cass Grange, J. S. Moss, master: Jefferson Grange, John Hume, master; Curry Grange, Ed Morgan, master; Turman Grange, T. K. Cushman, master; Oak Grange, John A. McKee, master; Turtle Creek Grange, George W. Hanchett, master; Fairbanks Grange, Eli Dix, master; Concord Grange, Elisha Chestnut, master; Union Grange. John Boles, master.

F. M. B. A.

The first lodge of the Farmers' Mutual Benefit Association organized in Sullivan county was at Pleasantville, July 24, 1889, with twenty-seven charter members. The objects of the association were to unite farmers in all matters pertaining to the interest of their calling, to improve the methods of agriculture, horticulture and stock raising, to devise and encourage such systems of concentration and co-operation as will diminish the cost of production, etc.

October 26, 1889, the county assembly of the F. M. B. A. was organized at Carlisle, composed of eighteen delegates, representing the twelve subordinate lodges of the county. James L. Nash, of the Paxton lodge, was elected president, and W. I. Long, of the Jefferson lodge, was elected secretary. In January, 1890, the reports of the county assembly showed the membership of the F. M. B. A. in the county to be 1,516.

The F. M. B. A. had some things in common with the Patrons of Husbandry, or Grange. It also, during the two or three years following its organization, had some of the characteristics of the Populist movement. It attempted to maintain a farmers' store, it also sought to secure legislation in behalf of the farmer and laborer, and the last record of its activity in the county, during the panicky days of 1893, was a resolution declaring for the free and unlimited coinage of silver. The association also endeavored to operate a milling plant and a grain and wool warehouse in the interests of its members. Among other principles and policies to which it declared allegiance were an income tax, the prohibition of alien ownership of land, reduction of salaries of county officials, opposition to the construction of gravel roads by taxation, etc. The F. M. B. A. was part of the great national movement that affected the politics and social life of the people of the United States during the early nineties, and with the passing of the crisis of that movement the history of the local organization seems to have come to an end.

Farmers' Institute.

The Farmers' Institute, held for the discussion of questions relating to agriculture and all departments of the farmer's life, has long been an important factor in the agricultural progress of this and other states. The first Farmers' Institute in Sullivan county was organized twenty years ago. The preliminary meeting was held in the court house in February, 1889, with Dan Herbert chairman and T. J. Wolfe secretary. When the organization was completed, February 16th, about sixty names were enrolled as members, and the following occupied official positions: John L. Shields, Samuel Nicholson, John Sisson, William Purcell, Ed Pearson, E. C. Gaskins, James Pounds, W. M. Moore, George Goodwin. The Institute has held meetings at different points in the county and the attendance has usually been large. Besides the discussions by the practical farmers and their wives, experts have been invited to the meetings, and one or more are usually present each time.




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