Delaware County Agricultural Society - The Early Years 1833 - 1879

The earliest documented account of the organization of The Delaware County Agricultural Society is found in the Ohio State Gazette (now the Delaware Gazette) of June 28, 1833. This article reports: “At a meeting of the citizens of Delaware County, convened under an act of the Legislature of Ohio, to authorize and encourage the establishment of agricultural societies in the counties of this State, passed February 25, 1833, Dr. Noah Spalding was appointed Chairman, and F. Avery, Secretary.” A number of resolutions were adopted including, “That a society be formed called the Delaware County Agricultural Society” and another resolution requiring that “Each member pay 50 cents annually to the society.” Officers were elected with Milo D. Pettibone being elected as President, Wilder Joy elected as Vice President; Frederick Avery Secretary and William Little, Treasurer. The following individuals were elected to serve as managers on the Board of Managers; John Curtis, David Prince, James Carpenter, Hugh Lee, J. N. Cog. William S. Drake, Forrest Meeker, Amos Potter, A. Root Jr., and Robert Jameson. The President, Vice President and Secretary appointed a committee to prepare by-laws and a constitution. It was decided that the next meeting would be held the following year on July 4, 1834. Another meeting was scheduled to be held on the 4th of July 1834.

The Gazette reported the proceedings of the first regularly scheduled meeting as follows; At a meeting of the Managers of the Delaware County Agricultural Society, held on the 4th of July, 1834, said Board resolved that there be an exhibition and show of domestic animals and manufactures on the first Friday in October next (1834), and that premiums be awarded as follows:

Exhibition and Show of Domestic Animals and Manufactures

Any person offering any animal for premium must give satisfactory assurance to the Board that he is the actual owner of such animal, and that it is his intention to keep such animal in the county at least one year.

By order of the Board, F. Avory, Secretary

A meeting was held as set forth in the original announcement, on Friday, October 3, and David Gregory, H. J. L. Brown, Charles H. Pickett, Benjamin Powers and James Eaton were appointed as judges to decide all questions relating to premiums. After a deliberate and impartial examination of the various objects, premiums were awarded as follows:

Domestic Manufactures


The Gazette also reported...

“Being the first exhibition of the kind in this county, the Society did not anticipate so large an exhibition, nor so general an attendance, in both of which, we are pleased to state, they were agreeably disappointed. The show was creditable to the county, in quality and number of manufactured articles and animals offered for premiums as well as in the character of those who encouraged it by their presence and aid.”

In 1835 a second exhibition was held and many additions made, including “domestic manufactures, fruits, dairy and household productions.” The highest premium was $8, and the lowest 75 cents. To the advertisement and premium list, which was published in the Gazette, was affixed the name of Wilder Joy, as President of the Society, and Frederick Avery, Secretary. In 1836, a similar announcement appeared in the Gazette, of the “Third Annual Cattle Show and Exhibition of Domestic Manufactures,” being scheduled to take place in October next. Further additions were made to the premium list of stock, grain, seeds, fruit, farming implements, etc., with half a column of rules and regulations. The highest premium was $8, and the lowest $1. Nathan Dustin’s name is shown on the premium list as President, and G. W. Sharp, Secretary.

The farmers and businessmen of the county manifested considerable interest in the Society. The early meetings and exhibitions were held partly in the public square, with exhibitions of Domestic Manufactures taking place in the courthouse, and the show of animals occurring in an adjacent lot. The Society conducted these exhibitions for a number of years with no found mention of them in the early 1840’s. The Society was re-organized under a special act of the State Legislature passed during the session of 1847-48. In May 1848, a meeting of the Society was held, which elected the following officers: David Bush, President; Wilder Joy, Vice President: B. Powers, Treasurer; L. Glessner, Secretary. The following members were elected to serve as managers; H. P. Havens, Robert Faris, E. S. Mendenhall, James Carpenter, and Sabeers Main.

The meetings of the association were held first one place and then another, wherever circumstances favored, until 1854. In February of that year, seven acres were purchased from the heirs of M. D. Pettibone for $150 per acre by the Society. It was fenced and improvements were made to enable the Society to hold its next exhibition upon the newly acquired grounds. Those grounds continued to grow by additional land purchases, until they comprised nearly thirty acres. It was reported that by 1870 the grounds were substantially enclosed, and possessed comfortable and commodious buildings. Gazette reports from 1879 state that the grounds were beautifully situated on the east side of the river, a convenient distance from the city, and were well adapted for the purposes for which they were designed. The following were also reported as officers that year: John J. Fleming, President; L. P. McMaster, Vice President; C. M. James, Secretary, and C. D. Potter, Treasurer. The Board of Management was composed of James Dyer, Riley Graves, James Scott, R. K. Willis, Rufus Carpenter, John McCay, Stephen Thomas, Silas Rodefer, Al Shaffer, John Finch, A: Freshwater, N. T. Longwell, E. J. Healy, John Sanderson, Elias Cole, Seth Slack, J. S. Jones, and Samuel Shoup. The Gazette additionally stated that: At last report there are nearly 900 members of the Society. Its annual exhibitions have increased in importance since that first exhibition and cattle show held in 1834. At that meeting there were but twenty-seven premiums awarded; now it takes quite a pamphlet to contain the different classes, premiums and awards.