Horse and mule clinic on the farm of H. P. Speed, ca. 1930, courtesy of the Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries.
The Cooperative Extension Service, now in its 100th year of service, has played an important role in improving the quality of life of the citizens of Franklin County.
Although home demonstration agents have helped rural women create more efficient and attractive homes and other staff members have provided educational opportunities for youth through the 4-H program, agricultural extension agents have had an especially significant impact on the economy of the county.
Personnel records preserved in the Special Collections Research Center at North Carolina State University reveal that in the early years, the turnover of agents was frequent and the county was not always represented by a resident agent.
Between 1914 and 1919, three men-T. J. Harris, John A. Boone, and C. H. Stanton-fulfilled this responsibility. Records list E. J. Morgan as the agent in 1934.
Beginning in the 1940s, the county's farmers benefitted from consistent service by agents who served for longer periods of time. Walter E. Fuller (1946) and C. T. Dean, Jr. (1954) headed the local office until 1986, when Cedric Jones assumed the role of head agent. Prior to the desegregation of the service, H. H. Price and Luther D. Baldwin assisted African American farmers.
Forward-thinking farmers in the county have worked closely not only with local agents, but also with those based at North Carolina State University.
As early as the 1920s, an extension forester, R. W. Graeber, gave advice to S. E. Wilson on the management of his loblolly pine trees. In June of 1931, Graeber and a vocational agriculture teacher at Gold Sand High School, Fred U. Wolfe, held a forestry meeting and thinning demonstration on the farm of M. M. Person.
The first terracing school conducted in North Carolina took place in 1926 on the Beasley farm near Louisburg.
A pasture specialist, S. J. Kirby, in 1928 spoke to twenty-eight farmers on the farm of M. R. Sykes near Bunn, after which they all enjoyed a barbecue dinner.
Livestock of various kinds has always been an important component of many farms in Franklin County, and the Cooperative Extension Service has been available to help farmers take care of their work animals and to improve production.
In the 1930s, farmers in the Gold Sand community attended a horse and mule clinic on the farm of H. P. Speed.
In 1951, Thomas A. Dean of Franklin County attended a short course on beef cattle production at North Carolina State College.
Farmers like J. D. Morris of Youngsville learned how to feed beef cattle economically in late summer and early fall by growing lespedeza.
In these and many other ways, the Cooperative Extension Service has enhanced the lives of many local farm families. Technology and farming techniques have constantly evolved, and the CES has helped farmers embrace change in an effort to make their farms efficient and profitable.
Published in The Franklin Times on June 26, 2014.
Maury York is director of the Tar River Center for History and Culture at Louisburg College. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.