Ohio History Journal

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11



The Carmichael Case: Animal Science At

The Ohio Agricultural Experiment

Station, 1905-1921




The late nineteenth century was an important period in Ohio because agri-

cultural education and science began to take shape then. Farmers had wel-

comed the Morrill Act of 1862, and the Ohio legislature translated it into in-

stitutional form by creating The Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College in

1870, which the Board of Trustees renamed The Ohio State University in

1878.1 Its creation, however, meant little for agricultural experimentation.

Norton Townshend, the agricultural professor, talked about the value of exper-

imentation, but by his own admission he was overwhelmed by teaching du-

ties and had little time to spare for research.2 The burdensome demands of in-

struction remained a complaint; as late as 1947 Howard Bevis bemoaned the

University's inability to conduct agricultural research because he could not di-

vert manpower and money from teaching students.3

What experiments the University conducted were oriented toward livestock,

a course which Townshend, who fancied himself a stockman, had charted dur-

ing the 1870s.4 In contrast, he manifested little enthusiasm for the plant sci-

ences. Although Townshend paid lip service to the importance of conducting

crop experiments, he annoyed farmers by allowing the College Farm to lan-

guish.5 Instead, he attempted to mollify farmers by pleading lack of man-

power and funds. Only between 1877 and 1881, when agronomist Charles E.

Thorne managed it, did anyone perform experiments with crops.

With the University committed to teaching and incidentally to livestock re-

search, the question of what institution would devote itself full time to agri-




Chris Cumo is a history instructor at Kent State University, Tuscarawas Campus.


1. For a convenient summary of these developments, see Robert E. Whitmoyer, The View

from the Towe; An Anecdotal History of the Wooster Campus at OARDC (Wooster, 1992), 4.

2. Proceedigs of the Forty-Second Annual Session of the Ohio State Agricultural Convention

(Columbus, 1887), 86.

3. Howard L. Bevis to E. C. Dix, 26 February 1947, The Ohio State University Archives,

Record Group 3/h/2/1, Columbus, Ohio.

4. Norton S. Townshend, "Lecture Before the Shorthorn Breeders Convention," in Thirty-

Fourth Annual Report of the Ohio State Board of Agriculture, 1879 (Columbus, 1880), 464-66.

5. Charles E. Thorne, "The Romance of Ohio Agriculture:  The Ohio Agricultural

Experiment Station Was Fifth Such Institution," Ohio Farmer, 16 April 1927, 6.