Ohio History Journal

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Pioneering in Agriculture; One Hundred Years of American

Farming and Farm Leadership. By Thomas Clark Atkeson

and Mary Meek Atkeson. (New York, Orange Judd Pub-

lishing Co., Inc., 1937. 222p. $3.00.)

This is the autobiography of Thomas Clark Atkeson, of whom

it was said that "no man in his generation has done more for the

betterment of American agriculture." Atkeson was born in a log

house on the banks of the Great Kanawha River in Virginia (now

West Virginia) in 1852. His English ancestors had wandered to

northern Ireland, thence to the frontier of Pennsylvania, and

finally into the Kanawha Valley in 1827. Of considerable interest

are Atkeson's intimate descriptions of the early western com-

munity in which he was reared, detailed descriptions of his home,

its furnishings, his playmates, his schools, the slaves, and how his

father and their neighbors farmed.

He recalls that the Civil War virtually stopped the social life

of the community, although it saw the contending armies only in-

frequently. During the war he attended a private school for a

time where one of his companions was William H. Harvey, later

author of Coin's Financial School. War prices gave his father an

opportunity to clear the farm of debts. On the other hand, the

lack of slave labor forced many to curtail their farming opera-

tions considerably.

Youth, as Atkeson recalls it in the latter years of his life,

was a happy and romantic period. He reminisces upon his social

life with enthusiasm, and with considerable interest to the reader.

Horseback riding was the rule among young people of both sexes.

A popular pastime was for parties of young folk to make the trip

by steamboat to Cincinnati. Spelling-bees were one of the most

common diversions. Fishing parties, picnics arranged by the

churches and later by the Grange, and amateur theatricals and