Monday, June 6, 2011

Corn Club in Hertford County, 1909

Seven members of the first officially recognized corn club in North Carolina attending the dedication of an historical marker commemorating their club 45 years later included Dr. Raleigh W. Parker, C.A. Worrell, E.C. Hill, Charles W. Parker, Henry T. Browne, J. Raynor Moore, and Troy Newsome. Fifth from the left is T.E. Browne, who, as superintendent of the Hertford County Schools, supported the first corn club. At the right is I.O. Schaub, who was state corn agent in 1909. Schaub was director of the Agricultural Extension Service. L. R. Harrill is also shown, far right. This photo was published in Harrill’s book Memories of 4-H by L.R. Harrill, which was printed by N.C. State University in 1967. This photo is copyrighted and part of “Green and Growing”, a collection maintained by the Special Collections Research Center at D.H. Hill Library, N.C. State University, Raleigh.

First Official Corn Club in North Carolina was in Ahoskie, Hertford County

“Better conditions in agriculture will be brought about as you boys study and apply yourselves to present day problems. The yield of corn in North Carolina is approximately fifteen bushels per acre. If you boys would like to do something about it, the Extension Service will help you organize a corn club and attempt to teach you how to increase the yield of corn.” With these words, spoken by I.O. Schaub to a group of Hertford County boys in May 1909, North Carolina’s first 4-H Club was born. Beginning in the 1890s and early 1900s, 4-H Clubs were sprouting around the country, particularly in the South. The clubs’ goal was to improve young people’s agricultural education. The Hertford County club, arranged in Ahoskie, began as a Corn Club with fifteen members. Corn Clubs originated in Mississippi with the purpose of increasing yields of corn.

On July 1, 1909, an agreement was made by North Carolina’s land grant colleges—
State College and North Carolina A&M—as well as the Bureau of Plant Industry and the Cooperative Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support the agricultural demonstration work of boys and girls clubs. Schaub was appointed the state’s first club agent. Jane McKimmon, North Carolina’s first home demonstration agent, started a Tomato Club in 1911 for girls. Also in 1911, Charles Parker, one of the Corn Club charter members produced a record-breaking twenty-five bushels of corn on one acre. The clubs became official 4-H clubs in 1918, and their focus expanded to embrace many areas of rural life including education about soil, farm animals, tools, housekeeping, and cookery. In 1919, Hertford County hosted the first joint 4-H boys and girls camp on the banks of the Chowan River at Winton. By 1939, there were 1,156 organized 4-H Clubs in the state and 2,280 in 1955.

Today, Hertford County 4-H works with young people in and outside of clubs. All programs work toward helping members develop and improve the 4-Hs: head, heart, health, and hand.

References for the article:
4-H Centennial web site:
Ahoskie Era of Hertford County (1939)
Franklin M. Reck, The 4-H Story: A History of 4-H Club Work (1951)
Hertford County Youth and 4-H web site:
L.R. Harrill, A Brief History and Summary of Thirty Years of 4-H Club Work in North Carolina (1939)
North Carolina Office of Archives and History

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