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Farmer's Educational And Cooperative Union Of America, Putnam County, Number 43, minutes

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 2018-0017

Content Description

Putnam County’s New Salem Agricultural Wheel No. 1448 began with its first meeting on March 2, 1889. It was an outreach of a National program, which originated in Arkansas in 1882, then spread across the South. The purpose of the union was to educate the farmer in scientific methods, find ways to make farming more profitable, and use political interests, voting, and committees to help sway the government to help local farmers vs Big Business. Twenty-four men and six women attended the first meeting of what was to become the New Salem Agricultural Wheel . R. R. Brown, Deputy for the State Agricultural Wheel, was there to see about starting a local branch in the area. The response was immediate, with J.E. Nickolas being elected President, W. E. Huddleston first Vice President, and D. D. Huddleston second Vice President. They adopted bylaws, appointed committees, and had new members join. The first few years was mainly given to gaining and keeping members, forming committees, and dealing with political issues. December 7, 1889, they became the New Salem Union no. 694 by joining The Farmers & Laborers Union. On February 15, 1890, they voted to “…Draw up resolutions to send to our representative in Congress instructing him to vote for an appropriagent (sic) to ascertain what percent of the farmers of the United States own their own farms & what percent of the farmers are mortgaged & what percent of the value of the same are mortgaged.” They dealt with members who lapsed on paying their dues, ones who died, and ones who potentially meant the group harm such as the instance of J.E. Nicholas in (year): “J.E. Nicholas was indefinitely suspended for contempt and other things injurious to our Union, believing that the quicker we get rid of such the better.” Volumes 2 and 3 are the minutes of the County Union known as the Farmer’s Educational and Cooperative Union of America Putnam County No. 43. They first came together on October 25, 1911, and were made up originally of the local groups of Salem, Bethel, Pleasant Valley, Boiling Springs, and Samaria. Eventually Sycamore, Algood, Rockey Point, Box Town, Small Change, Oak Grove, Caney Fork, and Holladay joined “the good works” of the union. The Union tried to find many ways to save farmers money. At the first meeting of the new Union, the instructed local farmers to buy products such as flour, oil, and salt through the Union’s state business agent. This was a theme repeated to all other groups throughout the region. Another idea the Union tried was to find mills to contract for their flour, such as in January of 1912, they voted to pursue a contract with Cookeville Roller Mills. In working to find even more ways, one M.E. Whitson put forth the motion to divide the county into, “Three Business Divisions, with a Supply House in each Division, with a Manager & Board of Directors for each Division.” It was voted into being in December 1913. They were busy on the Political front as well. In February 1918, a committee was appointed to draft a Road Bill to be presented to the State Legislature. (Vol. 2 Page 39) They held annual County Rallies, such as the one in Algood on July 25 (1914) (Vol. 2 Page 25) and hosted the State Rally in Cookeville in 1915. The main entry to note in Volume 3 is on page 1: “…made Short Talk on the importance of closer organization, and the Important Part the Farmers are expected to play in this world war, and especially During the reconstruction period after the war.” Connie L. Lester, “Agricultural Wheel.” Tennessee Encyclopedia, last modified March 1, 2018. Minutes of the two groups that were basically the forerunners of the Putnam County Co-operative Association. The first group began as sort of farmer's "union" in Arkansas, then the movement quickly spread. The idea was if farmers banded together to fix prices for both buying raw materials AND the finished goods, the farmers could then cut out the cost of the "middle man", and save money. This was the idea the next group also was based upon, at a sightly later date. Each group was made up of different farmers in slightly different areas of this region, who slowly joined forces. The minutes contain membership rosters, rules for membership, minutes of the meetings, and financial books.

Acquisition Type


Restrictions Apply



  • 1889-03-02 - 1922-09-10



3 Volumes