Source: Vincennes Sun-Commercial Sun 22 Feb 2015 by Tom Campbell -“First Family of Extension still educating”
A year before the Smith-Lever Act funded the nationwide Extension system in 1914, a skinny, bespectacled man named Ralph Alvin Chitty, Purdue Class of 1912, was hopscotching from farm to farm in Montgomery County, doling out advice as one of Indiana’s first county Extension Agents – the equivalent to today’s County Extension Educators. Now, the centennial celebration of the Smith-Lever Act provides a perfect opportunity to honor Extenion pioneers such as Chitty and those who follow in his footsteps, including Harriet Armstrong, an Extension educator educator who is Ralph Chitty’s granddaughter. A century after her grandfather, Ralph Chitty, helped start the Extension program in Indiana, Harriet Armstrong is following in hs footsteps as an Extension educator. I would love to be able to sit down with him and talk about the similarities and differences in Extension from then to now,” said Armstrong. Chitty worked as a county agent from 1913 until 1919 when he became a farmer in White County, just north of the Purdue campus. He may not have even realized the significance of what he helped start in Indiana. “Being on the front end of a movement is both exciting and challenging,” Armstrong said. “And it certainly is rewarding to see how those efforts continue to grow and flourish over the course of time. It makes me recognize what a great history I am part of. Not only understand that the Smith-Lever Act made 100 years of Extension possible, but how well it has not only continued but adapted to the changes of time over the past 100 years.” She was six years old when Chitty died in 1963, but memories of her grandfather are strong. “One of the fondest memories I have of my grandfather is that he always wanted to learn, even right up to the end of his life. He would always read to me,” Armstrong said. “He gave me my first picture Bible, which I still have.” Chitty took the train from Hope (population 2,100) to Purdue in 1908, blazing a trail that made it easy for family members to follow. “My uncle, mom, husband, daughter and I all went to Purdue,” said Armstrong, a health and hum science education since 2012. Bartholomew County is about 40 minutes south of Indianapolis and as fate would have it, the home county of her grandfather. “Occasionlly, I get a chance to go back to Hope to do programs or visits, Amstrong said – gives me a chance to see some of the areas where he actually grew up.” While their time together was short, Armstrong knows her desire to be a lifelong learner was passed to hear from Chitty. “My parents always encouraged me to learn,” she said. “I’m sure that was passed down from generation to generation to generation.” And she believes her grandfather would be proud that she has followed in his footsteps. “I know he would be excited,” she said. “It would be a validation pf what had been a new endeavor at the time he started in Extension, and it has proven to be important in helping to meet the needs of people in so many settings.”
Source: Lafayette Journal-Courier 11 Jan 1938 p 13
Ralph Chitty has been appointed a member of a County Loan Committee by Secretary of Agriculture Wallacxe, to assist in investigating applications for tenant loans.
Source: Lafayette Journal-Courier Mon 12 Feb 1923 p 2
Ralph Chitty has a sale advertised at his farm, southwest of town, Thursday Feb 15 – “Chalmers news”
Source: Columbus Herald Fri 1 March 1963 p 5
Funeral services were conducted in Brookstone Monday for Ralph A. Chitty, a native of Hope and the second man to be named a county Agricultural Agent in Indiana. He lived in White County. Mr. Chitty, 76, died Saturday at the Methodist Home in Franklin where he had been a residence since the death of his wife, Linda in 1960. He was the son of Logan T. and Louise Mehne Chitty, one of the early Moravian families in the Hope area. Mr. Chitty was born May 14, 1886. After his graduation from Purdue University he served two years in South Dakota as an Agricultural Agent and then taught for two years at Iowa State University. Returning to Indiana, he was named Agricultural Extension Agent to serve Montgomery County. He farmed in White County for many years until his retirement in 1960. Surviving are two sons, Richard A. Chitty of Chalmers and Ralph W. Chitty of Chalmers Route 1; two sisters, Mrs. Lessie Weinland of Hope and Mrs. Perry Davis of Columbus; two nephews, Dr. George Weinland and William P. Davis, both of Columbus; a niece, Mrs. Mary Weinland Hyndinaw of Philadelphia, Pa and two grandchildren.
NOTE: Bryan Overstreet told me that Montgomery county was the second to have an agent . Ralph Chitty Jan. 1 1913 , Parke County Harry James Reed Feb. 1 1913