Agricultural Societies
 Preliminary Meeting 
 Agricultural and Mechanical Society of Pike County 
 Another Ashley Society 
 Patrons of Husbandry 
 Pike County Agricultural Society of Louisiana 
 Agricultural Fairs



The first step ever taken in Pike county looking to the formation of an agricultural society is found in a call made for a meeting of farmers and others interested, to he held May 8,1841, at Ashley, for the purpose of forming such a society. In accordance with this announcement a meeting was held at Ashley at the time appointed. There was a very respectable attendance of citizens of both Pike and Lincoln counties. Capt. William Kerr was appointed chairman, and G. T. Hudson, secretary. Several resolutions were passed relative to the formation of an agricultural society, after which the meeting adjourned to meet on the second Saturday in June next. It was not, however, until August 26, 1841, that there is any record of a meeting.

Thomas Kerr, Esq., was called to the chair to act as president pro tem, and G. T. Hudson as secretary. A constitution was unanimously adopted. The society then elected officers to serve until the first Saturday in June, 1842, with the following result: Capt. William Kerr, president; Capt. William Bell and. S. P. Robinson, vice-presidents; G. T. Hudson, secretary; I. M. Wells, treasurer; managers: Henry Kissenger, S. C. Fielder, John W. Davis, Gen. F, J. Callis, William Settles, John W. Neff, Moses David son, Capt. Henry Early, Robert H. Allison.

The first annual meeting was ordered at Ashley, September 11, 1841: but its first annual fair was not held until the 15th of October, 1841; and then the second was ordered to be held at Paynesville, in October of 1842. At the first fair, B. Riggs took the first premium for best stallion, Henry Kissenger for second best; William Bell, first, sucking colt; George Wells, first, brood mare; William Bell, second brood mare, Gen. F. J. Callis, first, saddle horse; Abram McPike, best yearling mule; William Bell, first, sucking mule; William Kerr, second best sucking mule; E. Holliday, first, aged jack; A. McPike first yearling jack, H. Kissenger, first, sucking jack; William Settles, best bull (Durham), and also one year old bull (Durham); William Kerr, second, one year old bull.

The exhibition of cattle and hogs was said to be very fine. This list of premiums comprises only a part Of those reported by G. T Hudson, the secretary of the society.




It seems that the Pike County Agricultural Society was thoroughly, in earnest, for on the 4th of June, l842, a meeting was held in Bowling Green for the purpose of Organizing for the fair at Paynesville. A. H.. Buckner was requested to act secretary pro tem. Capt. William Bell was chosen president of the society for the ensuing year; Henry Porter and William Kerr, vice presidents; Lemuel M. Wells, treasurer; and A. H. Buckner, secretary, The constitution was so modified as to reduce the number of managers to five instead of nine. The five selected were H. Kessinger, William Settle, S. P. Robinson, Edmund L. Bryant, and John W. Neff.

The .following gentlemen were then selected as judges of stock for the year, viz.; on horses, mules, jacks, and jennies, G. Wells, G. Montjoy, and B. Riggs; on cattle, sheep, hogs and domestic manufactures, Lemuel M. Wells, Garland T. Hudson, and Andrew Forgey.

The third Friday and Saturday in October, 1842, was determined upon for the exhibition at Pavnesville.

The history of agricultural societies is necessarily fragmentary as they frequently either died or manifested so little life that the papers took no note of them. No mention is made of these societies from 1845 to 1852; and then the editor of the Louisiana Record repeatedly asks why there is no organization or the kind. A few years previous to the war they again sprang into newness of life and were quite active.




This society was organized after the war, as early as 1860, and received its charter from the county court in June, 1867. Each of its 150 members paid into the treasury $25. This money was invested in ten acres of land at Ashley for a fair ground. In 1868 the grounds were improved by setting out 200 ornamental shade trees of various kinds. A ring was also laid out, having a diameter of sixty yards, for the exhibition of stock. This was partly surrounded by seats and furnished accommodation for about 300 persons. There were, besides, erected several commodious buildings. One was two stories high, by fifty by thirty feet, and furnished quarters for the directors and secretary. The lower story was used for the exhibition of articles belonging to the ladies department. Another building, seventy-five by thirty feet, one story high, was used for he exhibition or coarse fabrics and garden products, etc. Stalls were built for 100 horses and cattle, and a few pens for sheep and hogs.

The following were the 150 stockholders mentioned elsewhere:

Abbott Samuel. Adams, John. Arnold, D. W, Bernard, James E. Bryant, Simeon A. Bell, P. B. Bowen, B. J. Boyd, W. S. Bell, Joseph M. Branstetter, J. F. Block, H. V. P. Burkholder, Alex. Branstetter, Fred. Basye, William M. Ball, Franklin Burks, William P. Bryant, Walter P. Bryant, Walter B. Bryant, William S. Butler, David. Barrett, F. E. Branstetter, B. F. Bell, .John P. Biggs, William K. Bankhead, Ben. F. Beauchamp, John. Brown, M. T. Childs, Frank. Clements, William. Corbitt, Sam. Chamberlain, J. M. B. Crow, Martin, Colvin, Samuel, Clifford, B. F. Caldwell, Harmon. Davis, Walker. Davis, Geo. W. Davidson, M. H. Draper, Henry C. Gillum, C. B. Hendrick, Moses. Hanna, James F. Humphrey, James House, W. H. H. Hodges, George. Hull, E. B. Harness, J. L. Holliday, Lewis. Henderson, Jack. Henderson, Steph. Henry, Walker Ingram, James L. Irvine, A. J. Irvine, John. Johnston, J. W. King, Willis J. Keith, James R. Kerr, W. G. Kern, James W Kerr, John. Kerr; William. Keith, William M. Kissinger, James H. King, Sam. S. Lattimer, John. Lowry, Andrew, Lattimer, Henry. Lovill, Isaac U. McPike, B F. McGinnis, K. H. McPike, H. C. Marzolf, W. H. McCum, J. J. McFarland, L. C. Melvan, John. Moore, Sam. W. McCormick, John. Poyser, Geo. F. Purse, W. H. Pollard, Samuel. Penix, William. Parker, John. Payne, Walter M. Purse, Theodore. Riggs, Barzel. Reid, Henry M. Roberts, Jos.. H. Reese, Jacob. Robinson, W. L. Riggs, A. D. Riggs, James W. Russel, Sam. S. Roberts, John 0. Strother, R. A. Smith Jesse R. Strother, E. R. Steel, Robert. Shepherd, Franklin. Strother, Jackson. Stark, T. G. Shepherd, Will. Ship, Merritt, Sisson, W. J. Strother, E. J. Steel, Jas. M. Shaw, John L. Staley, James. Sweet, A. J. South, Thom. D. Stark, William. Tinsley, James. Thomas, Sam. Taylor, D. E. S. Uptegrove, S. M. Vannoy, Nath. Davis, Chas.S. Matthews, E. F Van Horn, W. M. Emerson, E. D. Mitchell, Warren. Vernon, J. W. Varnon, J. W. Ellis, Duncan. McCune, Joseph. Walden, Chas. F. Farmer, Moses A. McPike, Aaron. Wilhoit, Benj. Forgey, W. A. Ocheltree, J. H. Warden, D. L. Farmer, J. F. M. Ocheltree, Thom. Wisdom, H. H. Fox, Richard P. O’Barron, J. Witten, R. D. Griggs, M. T. Orr; William D. Wright, J. F. Griffith, John N. Oden, Alfred. William, F. E. Greggs, Anderson. Parker, P. P. Woodson, J. T. Gourley, F. M. Poage, Josiah. Williams, Geo. Gourley, M. Prewett, R. E. Watts, B. H.

The third annual fair was held Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. the 22d, 23d, 24th and 25th days of September, at the town of Ashley.


Elijah J. Strothers, president
Henry M. Reed, vice-president
William H. Purse, secretary
Simon A. Bryant, treasurer.



E. L. Strother
D. E. S. Taylor
R. E. Prewitt
H. M. Reed
William K. Biggs
James E. Bernard
William Stark
William Basyes
J. H. Kissenger.



Article I. This society shall be styled the "Agricultural and Mechanical Society of Pike County, at Ashley."

Article II. The objects of the society are the development of agriculture and horticulture; the promotion of the mechanic arts in all their branches; the improvement of all useful and domestic animals: the general advancement of rural economy and household manufactures, and the dissemination of useful information on these subjects.

Article Ill. For the purpose or accomplishing the objects of this society, an annual fair shall be held, for the exhibition of such articles as may be determined upon, arid the award of premiums to such as upon fair and public competition, shall appear worthy to receive them.

Article IV. 

Section 1. The entire management of the affairs of this society except during the sessions of the society itself, shall be vested in a board of nine directors, who shall be elected from among the members of the society, annually, and shall hold their offices till their successors are elected and prepared to take charge thereof, and shall power to fill all vacancies in the board or other officers.

Section 2. The said board shall also make all needful rules and regulations for the proper management of the affairs of the society, and alter and amend the same; fix the time for holding fairs and meetings; determine the kind and the amount of premiums to be awarded, regulate the gate fees, fees for exhibition, etc.; appoint marshals, gate and ticket-office keepers, and all committees necessary to carry into successful operation the objects of the society; have a general supervision over the fair grounds and other property of the society; and it shall be the duty of the board to submit a report of their acts to the society at the annual meeting thereof A majority of said hoard shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

Section 3. Every board of directors shall assemble within twenty days after their election, and choose a president of their number, and some other persons as secretary, treasurer, and such other officers and agents as may be necessary. All proceedings of the board shall be pubic.

Section 4. The said board shall have power to make, ordain, and adopt a constitution and all necessary by-laws, rules, arid regulations for the government of the society, consistent with the laws of this state, and cause the same to be carried into effect.

Article V.

Section 1. Members shall consist of such persons as have paid the sum of twenty-five dollars to the proper officer, which shall constitute him, his heirs and assigns, a member forever.

Section 2. Members shall have free access to the grounds with such of their families as are under twenty-one years of age, and be entitled to a vote in the election for directors.

Section 3. Any number of members exceeding twenty shall constitute a quorum to transact business.

Article VI. The funds of the society shall consist of all moneys received from members, exhibitors, gate fees, licenses, rents, and other proceeds of fair grounds.

Article VII. An annual meeting of the society shall be held on the last day of the fair, for the election of officers, receiving the report of the board, and any other business that may be necessary to come before the society.

Article VIII. All fairs and public meetings shall be held at Ashley until otherwise ordered.

Article IX. Any alteration or amendment of this constitution must be submitted in writing at a regular annual meeting of the society, and receive a vote of two-third, of all the members present.



Receipts from organization to October 2,1868. ……..$11,948.80
Expenses from organization to October 2,1868 .……$12,312.28
Amount of indebtedness………………………............… $ 363.48


10 acres land ………………………………………………$ 1,000.00
Improvements valued at ……………………….…...………. 3,000.00
Total value …………………………………………..……...$ 4,000.00

Amount of premiums paid in 1868 ………………..………$ 2,034.50

The mechanical department was "represented as well as usual for a county fair, in the way of saddlery, harness, wagon, carriage, and plow work."

Such is the report of William H. Purse, the secretary of the society.

The Ashley fair of 1869 was quite a success, considering the unfavorable character of the weather.

Among those who took the more prominent premiums for cattle were: C. B. Gillum, S. Henderson, F. Shepherd, John McCormick, Richard Biggs, Wm. Pritchett, John Irvin, W. .M. Van Horn, J. M. Bell, and B. F. McPike.




A pamphlet is still extant containing the constitution and by-laws of the Ashley Pike County Agricultural and Mechanical Society, but advertising the "First Annual Fair,'' to be held at Ashley, commencing August 29 and ending September 2, 1871. From this it is inferred that the old society was defunct and that a new one was born.


David Stewart, president
W, S. Bryan, secretary
W. S. Bryant, treasurer
L. M. Wells, vice-president
A. Oden, assistant secretary
H. M. Reed, marshal



David Steward
D. E. S. Taylor
M. T. Brown
R. A. Strother
L. M. Wells
C. B. Gillum
Lewis Holliday
A. J. Irwin
Sam Uptegrove



R. A. Strother, David Stewart, James Ingram, W. S. Bryant Samuel Uptegrove, S. D. Orr, E. J. Strother, John McCormick, Frank Shepherd, John Harness, A. S. Irwin, H. M. Reed, Leroy P. Johnson ,M.T. Brown, John Stone, James Hughes, L. M. Wells, D. E. S. Taylor, Lewis Holliday, Alfred Oden, Jas. R. Tinsley, Barzel Hayden, C. B. Gillum. B. F. McPike, Warren Mitchell.

For several years the fair continued to be conducted under the auspices of the society but in 18-- the grounds and other property of the association was purchased by S. B Bryant and others and the business of holding the annual exposition was continued as a private enterprise. For several years the attendance was fair and the exhibitions creditable, butt as the Louisiana association, whose vital spark had fo a time seemed almost extinguished, now manifested some signs of returning life, the interest in the Ashley project gradually subsided until in 1881 the managers deemed it imprudent to longer perpetuate its existence and it was virtually abandoned. In this year the colored people of the western portion of the county leased the grounds for an exhibition of their own, and in the fall of 1881, and again in 1882, they conducted a very orderly and creditable exposition. It is probable that they will continue to exhibit here articles or their own production and Manufacture, which will tend very largely to encourage them in the prosecution of an agricultural and an industrious life.




For some years previous to the organization and establishment of the above named order, farmer's clubs had existed in various portions of Pile county, and from the discussion of important topics connected with the avocation and interests of the agriculturist much had been done to make the tiller of the soil satisfied with his condition in life and to encourage him in the prosecution of his noble and unselfish pursuits.

During the year 1873 the order of the Patrons of Husbandry first took its rise, and Missouri, which led in the number of its members, had no less than 2000 granges. Pike, imitating the example of Ray and some other counties in the state, soon began to organize, and as early as September 9, 1873 the grange at Bowling Green was instituted with W. C. Downing as master; W. H. Mitchell as overseer; E. Kinkland as Lecturer; Pentium, Stewart; Wm. Biggs, assistant Stewart; W. Basye, chaplain; W. C. H. Tburman; treasure; Chas. Sidwell, gate-keeper; Mrs. Kirkland, Ceres; Mrs Mitchell, Pomona; and Mrs. Thurman, Flora. This was the first grange organized in Cuivre township, and perhaps the first instituted in Pike county. The farmers' clubs gradually yielded to this new organization and soon the membership of the former was absorbed by the encroachments of the latter. The objects of this order were the elevation of the laboring classes; the education and cultivation of the masses; to lessen expenses by co-operation, encourage a neighborly feeling; to enhance the attractions of the farmers' homes; to avoid bickering and litigation among those who should be friends and to bind together more closely than ever before those who should be one in sympathy as they were one in a common purpose and a common interest. The principles upon which the order was founded were not born to die, and although, unfortunately for the farmer, the mechanic, and the citizen, ambitions and designing men thrust themselves into the organization and succeeded through fraud and deceit in perverting the purposes of the order from its own grand and legitimate work to their personal aggrandizement and political preferment, yet this banding together of the yeomanry of the land has taught the people their strength and caused the monopolies of the country to tremble lest the same great principles may yet culminate in the emancipation of the masses from financial thraldom and in forever breaking the power of those who have so ruthlessly oppressed them.

The failure of the patrons of husbandry to preserve their organization and to accomplish the great objects of its creation, resulted neither from want of correct principles nor from lack of numerical strength, for the desires and purposes of the association were sufficient to found an organization as enduring as time itself, while the number of patrons in tie state numbered their thousands. One evident cause of failure was the extreme to which the .organization pushed its antagonism to monopolies, arid the refusal to see in any corporation or association of capital any other purpose then an intention to oppress the farmer. To avoid one evil they rushed into another, and while endeavoring to beat down monopolies in general, they built up one of their own, and even more odious than any of which they had complained. To avoid paying merchant or middle man a per centum of profit upon the goods sold, they undertook to revolutionize all the known business principles and finally succeeded in so modifying the existing system as to appoint an agent of their own and to succeed the merchant's meagre per cent with the agents assured salary. To consummate their ideas of cooperation, which had become the rallying cry of the order, grange stores were thought to be essential. Under the management of men whose whole past business lives had been miserable failures, the money of the patrons was invested in a miscellaneous stock, embracing butter and blankets, cheese and chains; plows and peanuts, reapers and raisins, threshers and thread, and such other incongruous and heterogeneous mixtures as would impress the observer with the conviction that the proprietor had aspired to make his house the headquarters of the mythical Santa Claus, as well as the supply store for every farmer in all the land. But if these stores were to supply the wants of the farmer, they were also expected to purchase his surplus and to dispose of the wheat, corn, and other products of his farm. It was here that the friction of the business could be best observed. The patrons would purchase of no one except their agent, and as business interests and courtesies are mutual and reciprocal, the general merchant felt under no obligation to buy the produce of the farmer. At first, pride induced the patron to trust his produce to the judgment of his agent, but soon interest, which is even a stronger passion than pride, induced a change, and ere long the patrons' middle man had little to do other than to occasionally advise with the business committee, and, at stated intervals, to draw his salary. Not withstanding the monotonous character of his duties, it may be stated with the utmost degree of assurance, that the grangers' agent maintained a greater degree of composure than the patrons themselves, and seldom permitted himself to be annoyed by any relation of their losses. Indeed, the agent was the product of the system which created him, unlike anything that had ever been known before, and if the prayers of the mulcted patrons can ever be heard and answered, his like will never be seen on earth again.

Another mistake, and the one most fatal to the interests of the order, was the desire to control the legislation of the state in their own interest by the election of members of their organization to the state legislature. This not only encouraged the aspirations of men totally unfitted by nature and education for the duties of the lawmaker, but it also opened the door of the grange to the political hacks and mountebanks whose professions and promises were only equaled by their desire for office. Occasionally the grange candidate was elected, but the interests of the order was seldom advanced by his efforts in its behalf, while The organization was frequently made to blush for the folly and stupidity of its representative. But if the grange as a distinct organization, has proved a failure, no blame can be attached to the farmers of the county who sought its assistance for their own protection, and whose efforts to advance the intellectual and material interests of this large and respectable class of our fellow citizens have succeeded in a degree even beyond their own expectations. Although the organization had but a brief and transient existence, for in less than three years it rose, flourished, and faded into nothingness, still its principles survive and may in the near future give to the legislation of the country such shape and character as may yet prove a benefit to those great producing classes whose interests the order was first intended to subserve.




This society was organized with a view to holding its first annual fair at Louisiana, commencing September 28 arid closing October 2, 1869. Its constitution was substantially the same as that of the Ashley association.


R. C. Pew, president, Louisiana, Missouri
William Stark, vice-president, Louisiana, Missouri
R. E. Pleasants, secretary, Louisiana, Missouri
J. E. Carstarphen, treasurer. Louisiana, Missouri
Col. P. F. Lonergan, marshal, Bowling Green, Missouri
Richard P. Fox, assistant marshal, Bowling Green, Missouri
R. C. Pew and R. E. Pleasants, auditors, Louisiana, Missouri
P. H. Baird, architect, Louisiana, Missouri
C. A. Clinton, engineer, Louisiana, Missouri



R. C. Pew, Louisiana
W. C. Hardin, Louisiana
John H. Shaw, Louisiana
Maj. R. A. Campbell, Louisiana
Capt. P. P. Parker, Bowling Green
Frank Suda, Louisiana
William Stark, Louisiana
E. B. Stark, Louisiana
William Pritchett, Frankford



Class A, Cattle Department, W. H. Mitchell
Class B, Horses, jacks and mules, Abe Huff
Class C, Hogs and sheep, John B. Shannon
Class D. Farm, orchard and garden, Major A. Moore
Class E, Agricultural Implements, Capt. J. M. Gentry
Class F, Textile Fabrics, J. M. Johnston


The preparations for this fair were quite extensive and reflect much credit upon the managers of the enterprise.

The Louisiana silver cornet band was engaged to furnish music during the fair.

Capt. P. P. Parker, of Bowling Green, and James M. Weatherford, of Frankfort, were to be on the ground as auctioneers to sell all kinds or stock that owners might be willing to dispose of.


Messrs. Reid and Lamkin, proprietors of the Louisiana Journal, were to publish a daily paper on fair grounds during the fair, thus furnishing the programme for each days exhibition.

J. S. McCune, who was managing the Keokuk Packet Line, notified the secretary of the society, R. E. Pleasants, that, in relation to passage and freight to and from Louisiana during the fair, he was ready to make fair deductions, proposing to throw off one-third each way, both on passengers and freight.

The fair began as contemplated, and everything was rigidly executed that had been previously planned. The daily provided for was published as announced. From it the facts to follow were gleaned.

By the second day the weather was bright and clear and the interest at once began to grow. By eleven o'clock the seats of the amphitheater were filled to witness the execution of what was regarded as a very interesting programme.

The third day exceeded the second in interest The display in tie fine art hall and floral hall was described as magnificent As a result or good management and liberal patronage, the receipts were largely in excess or the premiums paid, the fees at the gate being over $4,000.

At a preliminary meeting held in April, preparations were made for the coming fair in September of 1870. Dr. W. C. Hardin having resigned the directorship, D. E. S. Taylor was elected in his stead. The following were to serve as superintendents of the various departments: Class A (cattle), M. R. K. Biggs; class B (horses, mules, etc.), Abe Haff; class C (hogs, sheep and poultry), Capt. W. H. Purse; Class F (textile fabrics), A B. Ayers.

Col. P F. Lonergan was appointed chief marshal, and W. R. Biggs, ring marshal. This fair commenced the 26th of September and lasted five days. being quite successful.

In 1872 the premium list amounted to $5,000 the attendance was large, the stock good, the racing spirited and the people well satisfied with the manner in which the association had conducted its business. Everything now gave promise of a brilliant future and the management .felt that success was actually assured and active preparations were made for the ensuing year. But alas! the veriest plans of mice and men gang aft aglee," and the hopes of the association were destined to be blasted. There were but few entries in any of the departments, foul racing led to foul language and bad weather to bad humor. The crowd which had thronged the amphitheater the year previous was notably conspicuous by its absence,'' and the management discussed the failure in language altogether too emphatic for historical record. Respecting the fair of 1874 the papers have said but little. In 1875 renewed efforts were made to make the fair a success, and both the managers and tie citizens of Louisiana did all in their power to induce competition from abroad and the attendance of the people.

For two days the attendance was creditable, but soon fell away as before. Each year succeeding the last mentioned, a like effort has been made, and prize baby shows and balloon ascensions have been advertised as special attractions, but all the babies could not get first premiums and none were willing to have their crowing youngsters ranked as number two, while the balloon acted even worst than the infants, as after inflation it snapped its moorings and sailed away without an occupant.

The association continued their agricultural and mechanical exhibitions with varying success, as late as the year 1881, which was the last held under the auspices of the fair company. In 1882 Mr. W. W. Anderson undertook its conduct on his own behalf and the fair was advertised to be run on the "go-as-you-please'' principle. A fair premium list was published and much energy was displayed in the effort to make it a success. Partial past failures and the late day at which it was undertaken, conspired to operate against it, and without being a total failure the fair could hardly be regarded as a pronounced success. As to the future action of the stock-holders, nothing is definitely known, but it is said that propositions to have the fair removed to Bowling Green and converted into a district fair have been made. and it is possible and even probable that such an arrangement may be ultimately consummated. One thing is evident, Pike county has material enough for a first-class exhibition and of such quality as to occasion little apprehension from the neighboring counties in a full, free, and fair competition of her splendid stock and the magnificent products of her fertile soil.