Life in Trumbull County back in 1899 and 1900 was very different from the way we live today and how our ancestors made a living. About 60 to 70 percent of our population were farmers, and that would be what interested most of them.
Recently, May Raymond from Kinsman shared with me some interesting information she found when she was settling her sister's estate. May and her husband Glenn have a farm in northeastern Trumbull County. This information, found in three booklets that May's ancestors had saved, was called "Programme of the North Trumbull County Practical Farmers' Club." They had saved booklets from 1899, 1900 and 1915.
My first impression was that this group was well-organized and progressive in their thinking. They started in 1885, but the information doesn't say when they disbanded. Apparently, every year they had a booklet printed that listed the year's programs and who was responsible for what activity. They had a constitution and bylaws which suggested a lot of thought went into the organization. Cost of belonging to the club was 50 cents a year, quite a bit of money in 1900.
Topics they discussed
each year indicated they were not only interested in the farm, but also the home and community. In February of 1899, they talked about dairying, including "Will it pay farmers who make their own butter to buy a separator?" and "What is the best feed for a dairy cow in the winter months?" In March they discussed "What constitutes a successful farmer?" April was a change to "Revolution in house work in the kitchen" and "Do we as a class spend too much time in preparing pastry for the table?"
On through 1899, they talked about gardening, birds, drainage and farm barns. Then in October they discussed literature, including "Our best agricultural papers," "Advantages and necessities of newspapers and periodicals" and "What should be found in a farmer's library?" The last month of each year was always a social time.
Topics in 1900 were also varied. Included were farm co-operation, crop rotation, grasses, poultry houses, dairying and weeds. Late in the year they discussed "Which are the best breakfast foods, and how should they be prepared: cereals in various forms and other foods suitable for breakfast." In October, the topic was "Farm Economics including on the farm and in the home."
More variety could be seen in the 1915 program. Topics included what is an enterprising farmer and an enterprising woman, citizenship, refinement that included a discussion on "Is the daily paper a benefit or an injury to a child?" Further on in the year they were interested in "What is being neighborly," "Social functions in the country" and "Is the Telephone a benefit or a detriment as a social factor?"
Another interesting topic was "Why do we discuss the best way of earning money and not the best way of Spending it?" "Money Reveries" was the November topic including, "What is a spendthrift?" and "Why are so many of the rising generation spendthrifts?"
As you can see, this group was interested in a wide variety of topics. They were obviously a forward-thinking group for their time.
May Raymond had grandparents on both sides of her family that were members of this group. In 1915, the president was Dewitt Chubb, her grandfather on her mother's side of the family. He was the one that saved this information that has much historical value. E.C. Hoskins, another member, was May's great-great-grandfather. Many familiar names in the Mespotamia and Middlefield area are listed as members.
An old coin catalog was also in the information from May. It listed such interesting coins as half cents, two and three cent pieces and half dimes. Was that before we had nickels?
Many of us may have historical information that has been saved over the years. Future generations can benefit from studying our history and how our ancestors lived and what was of interest to them.
Parker grew up in Trumbull County, is retired from The Ohio State University and is an independent writer for the Tribune.