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History Monday: Corn Growing Contest, 1911

By Mike Watson

Farming should never be far from the minds of those who like to eat. Agriculture has been the life's blood of this nation since the earliest days and will continue to be, for each of us, as long as we reside upon the top side of the sod. Our modern era has created a culture causing many to forget--or never to learn--where their sustenance originates. Urban living has created a multi-generational gap between the origins and the end products, packaged and on a shelf. Agriculture is at the heart of our survival.

From a contest publicized in the Adair County News, issue of 15 March 1911, the following teens were turning their hands to growing a superior produce:

"The Corn Contest--The following boys have entered the corn contest. This interesting plan of corn growing was gotten up by M.C. Rankin, Commissioner of Agriculture. The seed corn will be sent to N.H. Moss, County Judge of Adair County, and will be here for distribution in a short time.

Those participating:


  • Caleb Caldwell, age 14, Portland
  • Robert Caldwell, 15, Milltown
  • J.W. Bennett, 15, Columbia
  • C.M. Smith, 15, Columbia
  • Lesley Banks, 14, Cane Valley
  • Byron English, 15, Columbia
  • Bruce Grissom, 12, Bliss
  • Edgar Harris, 14, Columbia
  • J.D. Gowen, 13, Sparksville
  • Oley Roe, age 14, Sparksville
  • Otis England, 15, Sparksville
  • Sam Simpson, 12, Breeding
  • Henry Morgan, 15, Columbia
  • Buford Conover, 16, Columbia
  • Rollin Keltner, 15, Gradyville
  • Will Ed Hunter, 14, Gradyville
  • Almarine Sharp, 12, Gradyville
  • Garland Pickett, 15, Pyrus
  • Howard Russell, 15, Absher
  • Dock Burton, 15, Absher
  • Julian Stapp, 14, Roy
  • Tennie Cundiff, 14, Columbia
  • C.H. Rodgers, 15, Pickett
  • Dewey Kemp, 12, Pickett
  • Jenkins Pickett, 12, Pickett
  • Henry Wilson, 13, Columbia
  • Stewart Hutchison, 15, Columbia
  • Bascum Dohoney, 15, Columbia
  • Frank Hughes, 10, Columbia
  • Shreve Davis, 13, Columbia
  • Byron Dudley, 13, Glenville
  • Powell Marshall, 14, Glenville
  • John D. Lowe, Jr., 13, Columbia
  • Johnson Price, 13, Columbia
  • Henry Garnett, 10, Columbia
  • Edgar Sanders, 12, Columbia
  • Teddy Harper, 11, Gradyville
  • Asure Knifley, 12, Knifley
  • Dan Wolford, 15, Casey Creek
  • Vitis Monday, 12, Knifley
  • Roy Walker, 13, Casey Creek
  • Cleat Blair, 13, Parson
  • Willie Wilson, 13, Columbia
  • Demmon Keltner, 12, Gradyville
  • Lafe Bardon,10, Columbia
  • Hogard Campbell, 14, Sparksville
  • R.H. Whitlock, 14, Bliss
  • Ralph W. Willis, 11, Joppa
  • Estal Blair, 14, Parson
  • Everet T. Moore, 12, Montpelier
  • Bradford Parnell, 14, Pyrus
  • Harry Allen, 15, Columbia
  • Morrison Johnson, 10, Columbia
  • W.R. Nelson, 12, Joppa
  • Edgar Royse, 14, Garlin
  • Nathan Rice, 12, Cane Valley
  • George Page, 12, Cane Valley

[A total of 57 entrants appear on this list.]

The following prizes have been offered by Adair County people: Largest yield, $25; next largest yield, $15; largest yield at least expense, $10; ten largest and best ears, $12; etc.

No one to receive more than one prize. Each boy is to bring in exhibit of his corn to the 'corn show' in Columbia at a date to be fixed later."

A notice in the News of 8 February had stated the contest was 'a go' if at least fifty boys could be found to participate. The business people of Columbia and local farmers had secured enough money for prizes.

November 18, 1911 was designated as the Day for the Judging of the Corn Contest. According to a News article on 1 November, two men from each voting precinct had been selected to measure the ground, weigh the corn and send the results to Judge Moss. Each boy was expected to be in Columbia at the courthouse on the designated day with samples of his corn. Each was to show ten ears. The names of the men were:
  • C.O. Moss and J.A. Diddle, Gradyville
  • Jim Simpson and George Akin, Elroy
  • W.S. Pickett and W.H. Kemp, Keltner
  • Frank Dohoney and Will Hindman, Milltown
  • J.W. Sublett and Lige Hancock, Cane Valley
  • Minetree Monday and Emit Goode, Casey Creek
  • Cal Neal and Oscar Sinclair, Pellyton
  • Frank W. Miller and Tom Wheat, Little Cake
  • J.N. Murrell and Hirum Conover, White Oak
  • George Helm and Tom Epperson, Glenville
  • Ben Grant and Ben Robertson, Egypt
  • Anthus Loy and Cap Lewis, Harmony
  • R.A. Waggener and Melvin Conover, East Columbia
  • J.N. Coffey and Dolphus Murray, West Columbia

The Corn Contest drew a large crowd and competition was spirited according to the News issue of 22 November.

"The Adair County Boys Contest has proved all, or even more, than its most enthusiastic promoters and supporters had contemplated... In fact it proved...the beginning of a new era, new methods and surprising results. There were twenty-one exhibits and every one well worth considering...

The largest yield of corn was made by Bryan Royse, the ten best ears of the entire exhibit was produced by George Page. The combined weight of the two hundred and ten ears was 236 1/2 pounds. The twenty-one samples are now on exhibit in Judge Moss' office with the name of produced and the weight of each ten ears... The judges were: J.D. Todd, A.I. Hurt and S.H. Mitchell.

Results were given as: Quantity for half acre--
  • Bryan Royse, 41 bushels, 67 pounds
  • Edgar Harris, 10 bushels, 72 lbs
  • Sam Simpson, 16? bushels, 6? lbs
  • Dolph Wilson, 39 bushels, 53 lbs
  • Clay Smith, 39 bushels, 40 lbs
  • Paul Marshall, 37 bushels, 61 lbs
  • Edgar Royse, 29 bushels, 66 lbs
  • Henry Morgan, 25 bushels, 15 lbs
  • Tennie Cundiff, 22 bushels, 66 lbs

For the best ten years, excluding the above:
  • George Page, 1st
  • Bascom Dohoney, 2nd
  • Leslie Banks, 3rd
  • Clete Banks [Blair?], 4th
  • John D. Lowe, 5th
  • Shreve Davis, 6th
  • J.W. Bennett, 7th
  • Nathan Rice, 8th
  • Bryan Dudley, 9th
  • Otis England, 10th
  • Olie Rowe, 11th
  • Robert Caldwell, 12th

It was decided to have another contest for 1912, and several dollars were subscribed for that purpose. Judge N.H. Moss was elected President of the organization, Ray Montgomery, Secretary, and Tom Ed Jeffries, Treasurer."

Let us never forget where our food comes from, and never complain with your mouth full.


This story was posted on 2021-03-15 08:20:43
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