Source: News-Journal, February 5, 1940


Who remembers when the first farmer's institute was held in North Manchester? Even the old timers would probably guess wrong. It was March 16 and 17, 1892. The legislature the previous year had authorized holding farmer's institutes as part of a method to introduce better farming and animal husbandry among farmers. A county organization was formed in Wabash county and two institutes were held in 1892, one at Wabash, earlier in the year, and the other at North Manchester in March. E.W. Powell was elected president; Miss Alice Ridgeway, secretary; mark Crume, S.J. Coppock and J.M. Reed, executive committee. That was back in the days before money was a necessary adjunct of every organization, and there was no treasurer elected.

Bruce Wright, a farmer northwest of Wabash, in going through the personal effects of his father, the late O.W. Wright, found a copy of the program of the North Manchester institute and took it to the office of county Agent W.K. Deleplane. The program salutatory reads as follows:

"By act of the legislature of Indiana, an amount of money was set aside and provided for the encouragement of Farmers Institutes throughout the state, and in accordance with that statute the Farmers Institute of Wabash county was organized and the first session for this year was held at Wabash and the second session will be held at North Manchester on Wednesday and Thursday, March 16 and 17, 1892. Farmers of adjoining counties as well as our own county are cordially invited.

"No farmer or even business man, can afford to miss these meetings, as more can be learned here in two days from practical experience of farmers that could be got out of theory in months of reading."

The institute was held at the Hamilton Opera House, now the American Legion hall, and those having a part in the two day program included R.J. Parrett, E.W. Powell, W.S. Jordan,, John Hettler, E. Halderman, Dr. A. Miller, D.C. Ridgley, Mrs. Bessie Ridgley, Miss Kate McCarty, Miss Alice Ridgeway, John B. Schuler, Andrew Urschel, M.S. Maurer, J.D. Conner, Jr., Walter Irvin, James Arnold, D.W. Krisher and Miss Addie Wallace. Subjects included farming in general, disease of crops, reptiles and their value, milk and butter, friends and foes of garden, creamery interests, fruit culture, horses, state education, roads and our boys and girls on the farms.

Advertisers on the program were A.W. Bowman, implements; W.L. McIlroy, horse buyer; Ebbinghouse Brothers, boots and shoes; North Manchester Marble Works of which J.P. Noftzger was manager; Sheller's restaurant; and Lavey & son, jewelers.

From this beginning developed the township institutes that were held for many years, and are still held in many counties of the state. This year only one institute will be held in Wabash county, the one at Somerset for Waltz township. Other townships discontinued them several years ago. They served their day, but times change and modes of obtaining information. Today with the radio, fall farm shows, the various agriculture and animal husbandry clubs, etc., the need of the township institute was no longer felt. They had the effect of gradually raising the agricultural standard on Indiana farms, and the culture of the farmers. Some of the old time farmers will say there is too much culture and not enough agriculture among our farmers today, but that is a matter of private opinion.