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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Warren County's First Fair Was Held In 1850

Dallas Bogan on 7 September 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

It is again fair time in Warren County and the writer will explore the beginnings of this prestigious affair.
The Ohio State Board of Agriculture was organized in 1846 with Ex-Governor Allen Trimble, of Highland County, as its first president.
Early fairs in the State were of a different nature in comparison to those of today. Racetracks, along with permanent buildings, were absent on the grounds. Exhibits of yesteryear were quite small in relationship to today's giant affairs. However, as years went by, improvements abounded.
The first Ohio State Fair was held at Camp Washington, Cincinnati, October 2, 3 and 4, 1850. It was originally set for September, but was postponed because of a cholera outbreak. The fair grounds contained but a few acres and the exhibitions would now be considered remarkably small. At any rate, attendance was quite large.
Warren County's Agricultural Society was organized December 1, 1849. Its first annual fair was held in Osborn's woods east of Lebanon on September 26 and 27, 1850. Admission was free to visitors the first two years of the occasion, but in 1852, an admission of 15 cents was charged. Memberships to the Society were one dollar per year. Premiums and expenses were paid out of this fund, along with a small amount received from the county treasurer. Barred by law from competing for premiums, the Shakers donated a sum of $25. As a means for improving farming and stock raising procedures, the fair set the standards, as many participants compared notes regarding his neighbor's methods.
The original Society had 214 members, which was one of the largest in the State. Ezra Carpenter, of Clarksville, the first president, disclosed that the first fair met the guidelines that had been set by the officers and members.
All live stock exhibitions were sizable and praiseworthy. The horses, cattle and swine exhibited all took first place at the state fair.
Carpenter said:
"We think that if our society should die now we have not lived in vain, for it has been the means of exciting and stimulating to improvement and inquiring minds that will not rest without attaining a more excellent way."
Farming statistics in Warren County, in 1850, found the county raising about 5,000 cattle annually. Some were bought for pasture purposes, fed one year, and sold to Scioto feeders, while others were sold to drovers. Carpenter said a few good Durhams were fed until four years old at an average of $50 per head.
Cheese was not made in abundance for home consumption. The ever-so-common huckster bought butter at 11 cents per pound and, of course, gained monetarily. Nevertheless, some farmers would market their butter and find it quite rewarding, getting from 16 to 25 cents per pound.
The Shakers at Union Village, in 1850, had about 280 high-grade shorthorns, which were the top of the line in the United States.
F.B. Howell owned a dairy of 180 cows along the Little Miami Railroad at Fort Ancient, and sent his milk to Cincinnati.
Pork producing in Warren County was second to none in the State. Hogs were customarily slaughtered and packed at different locations in the county and transported via railroad, or by canal at Lebanon and Franklin, to points beyond.
Also in 1850, threshing machines were now becoming common, thus replacing the horse's never ending chore. Wheat drills, as well as sub-soil plows, were rarely seen.
Introduction of harvesting machines were being used and improved. Field rollers were increasingly being used. Steel and wrought iron mould boards had almost entirely replaced castings.
Chief crops of the time were corn, wheat, oats, hay, potatoes and barley, the latter increasing yearly. Rye was scarce with no hemp or flax for fiber grown. Broom corn and tobacco were grown in small supplies.
Pumpkins were raised among the corn, from one to three wagon loads to the acre that served to feed the cattle and hogs.
On the farm of W.R. Collett, located 1 1/2 miles east of Lebanon, was harvested 36 bushels of wheat per acre. He hand- broadcasted the wheat on 11 acres of land, and with the grain valued at 67 cents per bushel, after costs, his profit was $10.55 per acre.
Jacob Pence, of Clearcreek, raised 82 bushels and 30 pounds of barley on one acre.
John Pauly, near Lebanon, raised 65 bushels of flax seed on 5 acres, about 12 bushels to the acre.
The season of 1850 was adverse for corn and no entries for fair premiums on the crop were made.
Seventy-five money premiums were presented to Warren County fair participant winners, along with numerous diplomas. The ten highest premiums were sums of $5.00.
John Iorns's horse, "Cadmus," and Jacob Egbert's mare, "Ann Stevens," were winners in the thoroughbred category.
A winner in the non-thoroughbred category was Jacob Egbert's, "Bellfounder." Other winners in this class were G. Coffeen, Jesse B. Corwin, A. Snook, A. Coleman, H. Corwin, Moses Steddom, John Roberts and Wm. Griffith.
Stephen Eldred won the matched horses winner award.
Jacob Egbert, Kelly & O'Neall, James Bowyer, W.T. Carpenter and Samuel Hollingsworth, all won the thoroughbred cattle entry. Winners of the native and grade cattle award were Asa Coleman, Jacob Egbert, J. Bowyer, Moses and Henry Steddom.
Winners of the swine awards were Moses and Henry Steddom, Austin McCreary, Amos Barr and D.B. Egbert.
Lewellyn Williams took the Merino sheep award, while Ezra Carpenter was winner in the Saxony category.
Warren Countians who received first-place awards the next week at the State fair were: Jacob Egbert, two premiums for his Durham cattle and two for his horses; John Iorns, first place for his horse, "Cadmus."
Henry Steddom won three premiums for his swine, while Jacob Egbert received one.
Abel I. Thomas placed first for the best lot of any breed of chickens, and Jacob Egbert received a premium for the best pair of white geese. Thomas also won the best wheat display. O. S Murray won a diploma for his display of pears and market wagon.

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This page created 7 September 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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