History and Past Presidents

1914 to 1939

1930s tractor

Stanislaus County Farm Bureau (SCFB) was organized during 1914. Through the efforts of the old Stanislaus County Board of Trade, its president J.W. Davison, and its secretary, Geo T. McCabe, and other directors of that body, an appropriation was made by the Board of Supervisors for the expense of a Farm Advisor.

The first president of SCFB was Frank Robertson of Denair, who served during the last portion of 1915 until 1917. The first Farm Advisor was C.M. Conner who arrived in the county in August 1915 and served until November 1917 when he was succeeded by A.A. Jungerman. The first Assistant Farm Assistant Farm Advisor was W.A. Kent was assigned to the county in 1918.

The second president was Geo H. Sawyer of Waterford who served for four years, during the war and following the war period. During his administration Farm Bureau was instrumental in establishing hog auctions, wool pools, rural fire companies in various sections of the county, and with the Extension Service was instrumental in establishing the first county fire ordinance. Two grain elevators were sponsored and built by the Grain Department of Farm Bureau. The third Farm Loan Association in the United States, known as the Hickman Farm Loan Association, was organized by the Farm Bureau in Stanislaus County, largely through the efforts of Sawyer and the Extension Service.

W.A. Merriam of Hickman succeeded Sawyer in 1921 and served until the fall of 1923. His presidency saw Home Demonstration work firmly established under Mrs. Hope Baxter who began work in October 1921. Some of the men and women who were active in promoting Home Demonstration work in the early days of Farm Bureau in the county were and Mrs. H.O. Perry of Denair, and Mrs. Fred Parks of Hughson, Mrs. John Minto of Patterson, and Mrs. Paul Doty of Keyes, J.G. Berryhill of Fairview and R.W. Sweetland of Tegner. Mrs. Helen Doty of Keyes was chosen as the first county chairman of the home department. It was during Merriam's term of office that an attempt was made to maintain a paid Farm Bureau Secretary in the county and W.J. Norton was chosen for this position. The Tri-County Marketing Exchange, including Madera, Merced and Stanislaus County, organized firing Sawyer's administration, began operation during Merriam's term of office, but failed after six months operation, due to a sudden falling of prices. The FB Monthly, originally published as a four page leaflet by the Extension Service and containing no advertising matter, was taken over by the FB at this time. R.W. Sweetland was the first editor and encountered considerable financial difficulties. FB paid some of the bills and under the supervision of Norton, the magazine began to pay its way. Norton also established the FB Cal Slaughtering Service which rendered its members good returns until the price of calves dropped or itinerant calf buyers cut their prices to meet the competition. After the resignation of Norton, this service was given up and the price that farmers received for their calves dropped, showing the need of such a service.

W.A. Kent, first Assistant Farm Advisor, during 1918, resigned in November to enter the army. He was succeeded by Roy D. McCallum who came to the county as Assistant Farm Advisor in 1919 and was transferred to Placer County May 1, 1921. He was succeeded in Stanislaus County by D.M. Smith who remained until 1923. B.H. Hagglund followed Smith and Henry D. Sylvester replaced Hagglund in 1925. W.H. Brooks came as an additional assistant in 1923 and remained until January 1935. George A. Cross replaced Brooks. Albert G. Volz was appointed to the vacancy caused by the death of Sylvester in 1934. W.K. Hilliard began work July 1, 1936. J.W. Brem acted as Emergency Assistant Farm Advisor from July 1934 to July 1936. Margaret Todt became Home Demonstration Agent in September 1923, staying until December 1935 when she was sent to Los Angeles County and Dorothy Schreiner became Home Demonstration Agent in Stanislaus County.

An intensive dairy improvement campaign was sponsored by Extension Service and Farm Bureau under the leadership of Don Smith. Cow testing, better sires and batter feeding were stressed. Prizes were given for outstanding testing records. The Dairy Department of the FB was organized with Loren Hadly of Paradise as its first chairman in 1917.

In the fall of 1923, John T. Halford of Hughson was elected president. He served one year and during his term three new centers were organized in spite of the fact that an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in an adjoining county curtailed Farm Bureau work because the Board of Supervisors quarantined against meeting of any kind. During his administration a peach contest was establish which ran for many years.

Paul Granger was chosen president in 1924. It was during this year that the supervisors passed a county ordinance, sponsored by Farm Bureau, restricting the importation into this county of cows reacting to tuberculin test.

Curtis Lindley Jr. of Empire, was elected in 1925. It was during Lindley's administration that the first short course was held outside of Davis, in Modesto, with an enrollment of 226 farmers, far exceeding the expectations of those in charge. An irrigation field day attended by 650 farmers was another outstanding event of Lindley's efforts. This was held in June 1923.

Loraine Langstroth of Empire, the next president, was elected in 1926 and served one year, during his the Farm Bureau grew from 600 paid up members to about 850 paid-up members. J.S. Lowery was appointed executive secretary and publisher of the Farm Bureau Monthly. During this year the U.S. Weather Bureau Service was established in the county and has been in operation ever since during the frost period. The first Club Cam from Stanislaus County was held during 1926, and Farm Bureau contributed financially to its support. Langstroth is the only county president who has withdrawn from the occupation of farming, having moved to San Francisco and engaged in other activities.

Joe Hart of Paradise was elected in 1927 after serving as president of the county dairy department for two years. One of the activities of his term was the development of the Almond Blossom Festival at Oakdale which was initiated by Farm Bureau and Extension Service, and which has grown to an event that receives state wide recognition. Hart's interest in dairy work led later to his election as chairman of the dairy department of California Farm Bureau Federation, a position he still holds. Beginning in 1927 work was begun toward securing a permanent 4-H Club Camp site in Stanislaus Forest near Pinecrest, resulting in the present area known as Camp Henry Sylvester Extension Service Camp.

Fred L. Hogue of the Prescott district became president in 1929 and served until 1934, through the depression years. It was during this period that Farm Bureau secured the reclassification of black eye beans so that they would bear a tariff of 2.5 cents per pound instead of being admitted duty free as peas. The Production Credit Association was organized through the efforts of Farm Bureau. Additional ground was secured from the Forest Service for the use of 4-H Club Camp at Pine Crest

J.T. Townson of Paradise succeeded Hogue as president in 1934. 675 4-H Club member and 60 leaders, under the direction of Henry D. Sylvester, established a record exceeding all previous records both in county and state. Hospitalization was a subject of much interest. Farm Bureau advocated the admission of all citizens on the basis of actual cost. After his year as president, Townson served as state director for three years.

W.H. Brink followed Towson as president and served one year. Hospitalization continued as one of the main projects of the organization. Two delegates were sent to the national convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation in Chicago.

A.J. Sturtevant became president in 1936 and served two years. The two outstanding projects of his term were the purchase of property by the Farm Bureau on which it is hoped to build at some future date, and the holding of the State Convention of Farm Bureau in Modesto.

F.B. Potwin was elected in 1939 and is the incumbent at present.

Major Events

  • 1927 - Organized family camp in Pinecrest with the help of San Joaquin County. The camp was later named Camp Sylvester
  • 1946 - Bought out San Joaquin County Farm Bureau's share of Camp Sylvester
  • 1949 - Began publication of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau Monthly (actually 1921-23)
  • 1971 - Changed format of monthly publication and began weekly publication of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau News. Changed in 1980 to the Stanislaus Farm News, the publication is the only weekly county Farm Bureau publication in the nation.
  • 1975 - Changed from center concept to regional concept for the purpose of electing directors and gathering of members.
  • 1980 - Moved from 8th Street location to current site on the corner of 12th and L, which is incidentally, only a block from an earlier location
  • 1983 - Reached all time membership high of 5115 member families