Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at the origins and growth of the agriculture industry in Southeast Georgia and Bulloch County.
James C. Bonner’s article, entitled “Genesis of Agricultural Reform in the Cotton Belt,” was published in the “Journal of Southern History,” v.9, 1943. Bonner revealed that origin of the University of Georgia’s endowed chair of Agricultural Chemistry.
It was provided by North Carolinian William Terrell, one of the organizers of the Hancock (N.C.) Planters' Club. This became the first liberally endowed professorship of agriculture in the United States.
On Dec. 6, 1810, Georgia’s Governor David Mitchell signed Act #490, “To Incorporate the Agricultural Society of Georgia.” The signatories associated themselves to form a society to study all means of agriculture in practice in this state.
In 1876, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture published the book entitled “List of Agricultural Societies and Farmer’s Clubs Established to Promote the Agricultural, Horticultural, and Pomological Interests of the Farmer.”
The book listed Georgia’s first “Agricultural Clubs.” In Southeast Georgia, there were four early schools created, the first being the Effingham County Agricultural Assoc., in Springfield, formed in 1869 with 36 members.
The next two were formed in 1870: the Emanuel County Agricultural Assoc. with 53 members, in Swainsboro, and the Screven County Agricultural Assoc. with 22 members in Sylvania.
Chatham County’s first agricultural club was formed in 1871, as the Georgia Agricultural and Mechanical Association in Savannah with 27 members. Not long after, the Georgia State Agricultural Society held a convention on August 18, 1872.
Bulloch County sent delegates J. F. Brown and W. A. Hodges on behalf of Bulloch’s farmers. Atlanta’s Daily Herald issue of Aug. 16, 1874 reported on the next Agricultural Convention, held in Stone Mountain, Georgia on Aug. 14, 1874.
The Daily Herald listed agricultural club delegates from all around Georgia who were in attendance. Bulloch County’s “Pioneer Agricultural Club" was represented by J. Thorne, C.A. Sorrier and W.H. Cone.
Two decades later, the Bulloch Times issue of Nov. 8, 1894 reported that “Mr. T.B. Thorne, is reported to have gathered 70 bushels from his prize acre of corn this year. Mr. Thorne belongs to the Pioneer Agricultural Club of this county.”
It went on to reveal “members have succeeded in demonstrating what improved methods in farming will accomplish, and the Times would be... (to) report that one gentleman has gathered two bags of cotton from one acre.”
In the Feb. 1, 1901 issue of the Bulloch Herald, under the “Arlen Items” column, it reported, “The members of the Pioneer Agricultural Club in this district (are) already preparing exhibits of various kinds for the State Fair in Savannah next fall.”
And, “We trust the farmers not to be negligent in this, but exert every effort to make Bulloch the best county represented there by M.F. Hagan, a prudent member of the Pioneer Agricultural Club for 25 years.”
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at email@example.com.