Benson John Lossing.

Harper's encyclopdia of United States history from 458 A.D. to 1905 (Volume 3) online

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number of their neighbors, about a dozen a financial basis as made the doing of

years ago, with the thought that an in- good work possible was Wisconsin, and

terchange of ideas might be beneficial, that State may be taken as a type of one

and that if some of those who had been form of institute management. There the

successful in certain lines, as in stock- money appropriated by the State is put

growing, for instance, could be persuaded into the hands of the State university,

to describe their methods, their brethren and is expended under the direction of

might adopt such as seemed fitted to their that institution.

special needs, thus making possible more A superintendent is employed, who con-
satisfactory results in that particular ducts all the correspondence, appoints
branch of agriculture. After a few such dates, employs speakers, and in general
gatherings, speakers of training and repu- exercises supervision. Localities desiring
tation were sought for, who could com- meetings must make their arrangement?
mand the confidence of their hearers and with him, agreeing to supply a hall foi
attract to the meetings the most intelli- the gathering and to attend to advertis-
gent and successful farmers. It seemed ing. A conductor is assigned to each meet
natural to turn to the State university ing, who takes entire charge, seeing thai
for trained men to fill this place on the the programme is presented as advertised
programme. and that interest in the proceedings is

Soon, however, the calls became so fre- kept up. Three or four speakers are
qucnt that a loss of time and money usually sent to each institute, local talent
resulted from the fact that the points being called upon to complete the pro-
asking assistance were located in widely gramme. Full discussion is not only per-
separated and distant parts of the State, initted, but encouraged, the questions and
Then arose the necessity of intrusting the their answers often consuming half the
arrangements for sending out speakers time or even more.

to one person, who should make the ap- Practical demonstrations are given of
pointments in series, so that a speaker go- improved methods wherever possible. For
ing to a distant part of the State might instance, a machine for showing the but-
reach several points in the course of one ter content of milk is used in the pres-
trip. There was developed a bureau for ence of the audience, and its value ex-
conducting the work of the institutes, to plained arid demonstrated by means of

312



FARMERS INSTITUTES

samples of milk brought in, upon request, there, asked him to tell how he had sue-
by farmers of the vicinity. The necessity ceeded in getting it to grow and flourish,
of knowing exactly what is the value of The man was German, writing and speak-
each individual in the dairy herd is thus ing English indifferently, but he finally
clearly shown. Charts are exhibited and consented to do his best to explain his
used as the basis of talks showing the cor- methods, some of which were unusual, the
rect types of the different breeds of ani- result of his own experience and pains-
ma] s. Under this system a number of taking investigation. Much interest was
institutes are kept going in various parts manifested in the subject, and a perfect
of the State during the greater part of volley of questions asked and answered,
the winter season. relating to every detail as to the prepa-

In Minnesota a different method pre- ration of the soil, sowing the seed, care

vails. The institutes are, practically, of the crop for the first and subsequent

schools, the superintendent and his corps years, and other similar practical mat-

of assistants going in one body, and re- ters. A year later, at the next annual

maining at each institute during the entire meeting of the institute, careful inquiry

session. Under this arrangement a smaller brought out the fact that at least 1,000

number of institutes can be held with a acres of this particular forage plant had

given amount of assistance, but the work been sown, with almost uniform success.

is undoubtedly more thorough. as a result of the information gained

The work in all the States may be said from this single discussion,
to be based on one or the other of these When the desirability of enlarging the

two plans, or on some modification of them, work has become apparent, no force has

If the sessions described, usually of been so ready to co-operate in doing so
two or three days duration, represented as the railroads, which have, in most
all of the institute work, there might be States, supplied transportation for speak-
good ground for the criticism that the ers.

service is insufficient, in that in so short There is no occupation in which sharp
a time little of lasting benefit could be competition and improved methods have
accomplished. But the result of a start made it so necessary to keep abreast or
in institute work at any point is almost even ahead of the times as farming,
invariably the organization of a local When it is discovered that certain sec-
body for holding more or less frequent tions are specially adapted to dairying,
meetings for regular discussions. Thus grazing, the growth of certain grain or
there is a constant exchange of ideas go- fruit crops, or any other specialty, the
ing on between the most progressive per- sooner accurate and improved practical
sons engaged in agricultural and horti- methods are introduced the sooner will
cultural pursuits. wealth flow towards that community. The

A single illustration may indicate the present condition of the dairy interest in

good that may come from such meetings the State of Wisconsin may be pointed

as this movement brings about. out as well illustrating this proposition.

In a certain county in one of the West- No State in the Union to-day has a

ern States there had been long search after higher standing as to the product of its

some forage plant which should prove dairies. As regards the volume of the in-

thoroughly adapted to the needs of the dustry, it is only necessary to state that

locality. The country was new, and the a single county has nearly 200 creameries

grasses which were common in other parts in successful operation, the important

of the State did not seem to succeed there, fact, as regards the subject, being that

while the fencing in of the wild pasturage no small amount of the credit for the

caused the indigenous grasses to disappear condition mentioned is frankly admitted

rapidly. Some of the most progressive by those most able to judge to be due

farmers organized an institute, and to the educational work of the Farmers

knowing of a man who had been success- Institutes.

ful in the growth of a certain species In disseminating accurate information

which was not generally supposed to be regarding the growth of the sugar beet, as

adapted to the conditions prevailing in many other directions, there is work

313



FARMERS INSTITUTES FARMING BY ELECTRICITY

enough to keep a corps of speakers active- on the various economic subjects relating
ly engaged in every State in the Union to the farm, are given on the estates, in
which is at all adapted to that or any order that the working people themselves
other of the industries that are to take may be reached and taught,
place among the practical and wealth- His Excellency N. A. Hamakoff, Direct-
making efforts of agriculture. And be- or of the Department of Agriculture in
sides the new industries to be introduced, Russia, expressed himself as particularly
there are always the improved methods interested in that line of work, and the
with which the successful farmer must interest in the dissemination of such
constantly familiarize himself. knowledge in other European countries is

The largest amount given by any one well known by those who have made any
State for Farmers Institutes is appro- study of the question. Count Leo Tol-
priated by Wisconsin, the sum being stoi, in the course of a conversation on the
$15,000. Other States give liberally, no- economic questions of the day as related
tably Minnesota, New York, and Ohio, to rural life, showed the deepest interest
while various sums are given by Pennsyl- in this particular method of spreading
vania, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, knowledge among the masses, and said
Nebraska, New Jersey, and a few others, that he thought it an eminently practical
More or less organized worK has also been way of giving such training as is sorely
done in Missouri, Arizona, California, required to those needing it.
South Dakota, Kansas, Colorado, Florida, The great interest that is everywhere
and, indeed, could the facts all be got to- manifested in the improvement of methods
gether, in almost every State in the Union, in agricultural work, not only in the
The provinces of Ontario and Manitoba United States, but in Europe, should sure-
have done some of the best work on the ly indicate what is necessary to be done
continent, both in volume and in quality, if we are to retain our position at the

In a number of States the funds are not head of agricultural countries. To assist
appropriated in a lump sum, but each in maintaining that place is the mission
county may, by vote, levy a tax for the of the Farmers Institute movement,
purpose of raising a sufficient sum to Farmer s Letters, THE, a series of let-
carry on one or more institutes, a portion ters, the first of which appeared in the
of the amount going towards the payment Pennsylvania Chronicle, Dec. 2, 1767, fol-
of the local expenses, and the rest going lowed by thirteen others in quick succes-
to the central organization, sometimes sion, all of which were written by John
under the control of the State Board of Dickinson, who had formulated a bill of
Agriculture, for the payment of the speak- rights in the Stamp Act Congress. This
ers and other necessary expenses con- series of letters resulted in the circular
nected with the general work of the State, letter of the general court of Massachu-

So far as known the Farmers Institutes setts, sent out Feb. 11, 1768, in which co-
have been kept, in every State, entirely operation was asked in resistance to the
out of politics. One of the fundamental English ministerial measures,
principles always insisted upon is that no Farming by Electricity. George Eth-
question of religion or politics must be elbert Walsh, who has given special atten-
permitted to be discussed on any consid- tion to the practical application of recent
eration. scientific discoveries, writes as follows:

In Europe something is done along the

same lines by means of lectures delivered In the light of the recent discoveries al-

by men sent out by the governments. most anything seems possible, if not prob-

In Russia, through some of the imperial able, in the application of this fluid,

societies, considerable progress has been Electric ploughs have been patented in

made in the way of bringing this sort of Vienna, and electric hay-rakes, reapers,

instruction directly to the people. In St. carts, and threshing machines have been

Petersburg is maintained a great agri- placed upon exhibition in the United

cultural museum, in which lectures are States, and their utility tested favorably,

given during the winter season ; and at Experimental farms have been established

other times regular courses of lectures, where nearly all the work has been per-

314



FARMING BY ELECTRICITY

formed by means of this powerful agent than those not thus supplied with the arti-

tields ploughed, harrowed, fertilized, and ficial stimulant. Lettuce, spinach, radishes,

rolled, seeds planted and covered with soil, and similar vegetables were brought to

plants fertilized and weeds killed, and maturity in almost half the time ordinarily

crops harvested and threshed. The power required. By applying the arc light direct

has been generated by erecting a large tur- to the plants their growth was so acceler-

bine-wheel on some stream where the cur- ated that many ran to seed before edible

rent could be depended upon to turn it. leaves were formed. Plants placed within

The cost of manufacturing the electricity 5 feet of the lamp died and wilted shortly

has been reduced to a comparatively small after being taken out of the soil,

sum in this way, and the prospects of con- The eft ect upon flowering plants was

ducting large farms in the future on an almost as startling. The plants were

electric basis seem alluring and attractive, made to shoot up rapidly, and under forced

But the most noticeable application of stimulation the stalks grew up tall, slen-

electricity to farming methods is that of der, and weak. The blooms were hastened

employing the current to stimulate the in their growth, and in the case of the

growth of the plants. While nothing very petunias they produced more flowers than

practical has yet been accomplished in by the old system. Verbenas, on the

this field, the reports of the experiment other hand, were uniformly injured when

farms and stations warrant one in be- placed near the electric lamp. Both the

lieving that something definite may yet leaves and the flowers were hastened in

come out of all the labor and trouble ex- their growth, but they were small and in-

pended. The electric garden may be a significant, while many of the lower

future novelty that will have for its chief clusters died before they had reached their

recommendation a real practical utility, full expansion. The effect of the electric

Many years ago several European scien- light upon colors was even more inter-
tists made experiments with electricity esting than upon the growth of the plants,
upon plant life. Lemstrom in Finland, The colors of the tulips were deepened
Spechneff in southern Russia, and Celi in and made more brilliant, while most of
France, worked independently along the the scarlet, dark red, blue, and pink flow-
same line, applying the electric current to ers were turned to a grayish white. Xear-
the seeds and the soil in which the plants ly all of the flowers artificially stimulated
were growing, and to the air immediately into beauty by the electric light soon lost
above the surface of the soil. Spechneff, by their brilliancy and faded much more quick-
applying the electric current to the seeds ly than those raised by nature s methods,
and afterwards to the soil, raised radishes An important part of the experiments
17 inches long and 5y 2 inches in diameter, that have been made along this line is
The colors of flowers were also intensified that the crops that were not injured by
or changed according to the power and the electric lights were nearly twice as
distance of the current, and the maturity large as those not exposed to the influ-
of the plants was greatly hastened. erice of the current. Lemstrom, in try-

The first attempts to experiment along ing to measure the influence of the current
the lines of Lemstrom in the United States upon growing wheat and vegetables, pro-
were made at Cornell University about cured 50 per cent, more grains from a
1890. Agricultural scientists had long small tract of ground that was planted
recognized the valuable part that atmos- with a small network of wires than from a
pberic electricity played in the life of similar plot of soil not thus stimulated,
vegetable growths, but the artificial ap- Experiments have been continued with
plication of it had never before been at- more or less regularity at Cornell since
tempted. In addition to the application these first discoveries, and it is probable
of electricity to the seeds of the plants, that we will yet be able to attain the
and to the soil, the experimenters at Cor- results long anticipated by agricultural
nell used the arc light at night. The scientists. Some plants have been found
plants receiving the bright electric rays to have such a fondness for the electric
at night, and the sunshine in the day light that they not only grow faster under
time, were found to grow much faster its influence, but incline their heads tow-

315



FARMING BY ELECTRICITY



aids the lamp. Others are injured rath- tained some results that are promising,
er than benefited, and they lose all of The French electric garden is more suc-
their valuable qualities after being ex- cessful than any established in the United
posed to the arc light for a few nights. States. An instrument is used to bring
The question of softening the light of the into play the electricity in the air, cheap-
lamps to suit the different plants has been ening the process of supplying the current
in the course of investigation, and now to the plants. At the present cost of
globes of " opal " glass are used to reduce generating electricity, it is doubtful if its
the power of the rays. An amber-colored use could be made more profitable upon
globe is usually employed at Cornell, many farms, even though it should great-
for the orange rays are supposed to be ly stimulate the growth and quality of
the most favorable to the growth of vege- fruits and vegetables. The French instru-
tation. The various effect of the differ- ment is supposed to reduce the cost of
ent colored rays of light upon the vegeta- generation so that every farmer could
tion is strange and interesting to those avail himself of it.

experimenting with the electric light. The system consists of laying a net-
It is doubted by many whether the arc work of wires in the garden where the
light can be made as efficacious as the plants are growing, and connecting them
electric current supplied through wires with a copper wire that runs to the top
to the soil. Lemstrom obtained his most of a pole some 40 or 50 feet high. This
wonderful results by this latter method, pole is surmounted by a collector, irisu-
and the plants wore injured less by it lated by a porcelain knob. The height of
than many that have been subjected
the electric lights.



to



the pole enables the collector to gather
the electricity in the atmosphere from a

In 1892 it was reported that a market wide area, and when transmitted to the
gardener named Rawson, living in the garden through the wires it produces bet-
town of Arlington, Mass., had used the ter results than the electricity generated
electric lights to profitable advantage. His from a dynamo. The atmospheric electric-
attention was called to the effect of elec- ity is not by any means as strong as that
trie light upon plants in 188!). when the from a dynamo, but its action is to stimu-
town of Arlington began to light the streets late the plants without injuring them,
with electricity. One of the powerful Gardens that have been stimulated by
lights was located near his garden so that the atmospheric electricity, gathered and
its rays fell directly upon a bed of flowers, distributed by the geomagnetifere, have
These plants, situated within the circuit increased their growth and products 50
of the light, immediately began to grow per cent. Vineyards have been experi-
rapidly and vigorously, outstripping all mented upon, and the grapes produced
others in the garden. Satisfying himself have not only been larger in size and quan-
that the cause of this was the electric tity, but richer in sugar and alcohol. The
light, the gardener had set up in his large flowers have attained a richer perfume,
hothouse a lamp of the same kind. After and more brilliant colors. The effect on
one or two seasons trial he found that the Avhole has been very satisfactory, and
he could raise more winter lettuce and it is hopefully expected by the French
radishes in a given space in much shorter scientists that the new method of apply-
time by using the arc lights, the incan- ing atmospheric electricity to plants will
descent burners not proving so suitable, greatly facilitate our plants in their fut-
while the quality was much superior. His ure growth. Nearly all of the garden
profits were estimated to have been in- vegetables grew with astonishing rapidity
creased 25 to 40 per cent, by introducing when stimulated by the electric current,
the arc lights into his greenhouse. applied first to the seeds, and subsequent-

This was but another confirmation of ly to the soil in which they germinated,
the tests made before that in Europe, and It is difficult to explain the reason why
later on at Cornell. Now it seems that the electric light or current so marvellous-
the French scientists have been working ly affects the growth of plants, but the
regularly and systematically on the ques- fact that such stimulation does occur cau
tion also, and they have recently ob- not be denied. One theory is that the

316



FARMING BY ELECTRICITY FARQUHAR

electricity helps the plants to take up some of the large farms are, eagerly

and assimilate certain valuable salts in watching the development of electric loco-

the earth, and another that it aids them motion, and, as soon as experiments jus-

in appropriating more nitrogen of the air. tify their actions, the steam plough, reap-

Atmospheric electricity supplied natural- er, thresher, and rakes will be supplanted

ly plays an important part in the economy by those run by electricity,

of plant growth, and it has been simply Farms. See AGRICULTURE.

through a desire to test its further effect Farnham, ELIZA WOOUSON, philan-

that scientists have been induced to make thropist; born in Rensselaerville, X. Y.,

the experiments. Now, however, it is pos- Nov. 17, 1815; wife of Thomas Jefferson

sible that a practical utility may be Farnham; was matron of the New York

derived from the tests conducted in the State Prison (female department) , at Sing

United States and other countries. Sing, in 1844-48, where she proved that

It would be difficult to conceive the the inmates could be controlled by kind-
ultimate effect upon our industrial and ness. Afterwards she was engaged in
economic life if electric gardens could be various philanthropic movements. Her
successfully established by farmers, and publications include California, Indoors
the yield increased 50 per cent. The and Out; Woman and Her Era, etc. She
product of our farms and gardens would died in New York City, Dec. 15, 1864.
thus be doubled, and the world s supply Farnham, THOMAS JEFFERSON, au-
of food-stuff be increased beyond the thor; born in Vermont in 1804; forsook
point of consumption, or the acreage the legal profession in 1839 and went
would rapidly decrease. The profits to across the continent to Oregon and later
the farmers would not by any means be to California, where he was influential in
doubled. The cost of installing an elec- obtaining the release of some American
trie garden would form an item of ex- and English prisoners who had been held
pense that they do not calculate with by the Mexican government. He is the
to-day. The cost of a dynamo or battery author of Travels in Oregon; Travels in
would be beyond their reach, but if the California; A Memoir of the Northwest
electricity of the atmosphere could be col- Boundary Line, etc. He died in California,
lected and distributed in the garden, there in September, 1848.

would be some hope of their securing the Farmim, JOHN EGBERT, military officer;

current necessary for all purposes. born in New Jersey, April 1, 1824; served

The use of electricity on the future in the war with Mexico; later was com-

model farm will be far greater than it is mander of the slaver Wanderer, which

to-day, and it is not impossible that the fact he ever after regretted. During the

horse will be crowded out of his legiti- Civil War he served in the National army,

mate work in this field, as he has been participating in the actions at Fredericks-

on the city car-lines. An experimental burg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, etc.;

farm to show the use of this power in and receiving the brevet of brigadier-gen-

cultivating the fields has been established eral of volunteers in recognition of his

in the West. The electricity is generated gallantry. He died in New York City,

by a turbine-wheel, which is turned by May 16, 1870.

the current of a small stream dammed up Farquhar, NORMAN VON HELDREICII,
for the purpose, and the cost of the power naval officer; born in Pottsville, Pa., April
is reduced to a minimum. Sufficient 11, 1840; graduated at the United States
power is generated by the wheel to light Naval Academy in 1859; served through-
the whole place, and to run the threshing out the Civil War, and was present
machines, plough the fields, harvest the at both attacks on Fort Fisher; was pro-
crops, and run motor bicycles or wagons moted rear-admiral, Dec. 25, 1898; ap-
anywhere within the limits of the farm, pointed commander of the North Atlantic



Online LibraryBenson John LossingHarper's encyclopdia of United States history from 458 A.D. to 1905 (Volume 3) → online text (page 49 of 76)