Hall - Otis Earle - Montgomery InGenWeb Project

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Hall - Otis Earle

Source: Pioneer Press, Martinsburg, West VA Sept 5, 1914 p 3

Revitilazation of rural villages and schools and the promotion of vocational education, constitutes the work which Otis Earle Hall assumed today when he began his labors in the rural education                   the division of college extensions at the Kansas State Agricultural College. Athletic activities in rural communities and two and three day classes in vocational subjects for rural teachers will be included on his department.           
As co-athor with Herbert Betts of "Better Rural Schools," Hall attracted national attention as County Superintendent in Montgomery County, Indiana where he put his theories into practice.    
August Feature Article –Montgomery Memories Magazine by Karen Bazzani Zach
For all of us, 4-H has always been around our area, and certainly, it has, indeed, been for quite some time.  In fact, a form of an agricultural fair in our county goes back to at least 1855 when Brown Township (perhaps others) farmers got together to form a helpful community organization.  Although the flux of the get-togethers was for horse racing, there was food and multiple competitions for young and old.  In 1880, County Surveyor McConnell laid out a “new fair ground.”  This was just west of the farthest railroad on Market Street and contained a bit over 62 acres.  The number one concern was the track, 60’ in width with each side 660’ and the curves at the ends tallying the same length.  It was purported to be second to none anywhere.  “The ampitheatre will be situated on a high place of ground making everything favorable for seeing the track.  Other necessary buildings would be on the rest of the ground with “accommodations for teams and wagons.”  Good well water would be easily accessible.  
4-H itself came around several decades later, having begun by county education superintendent, A.B. Graham in Springfield, Ohio, 1902, according to Purdue’s Indiana 4-H History.  These were known as Agricultural Clubs for boys and girls, focusing on gardening, soil testing, corn knowledge and accenting organized meetings for learning.  It was just two years later when Hamilton County set forth Indiana’s christening club.  However, it was boys only!  They did have an amazing turn out with near to 100 boys studying the process of planting, cultivating and harvesting corn.  Trivia tells us that the interest for what the boys were processing and showing in their corn show was much higher than even the Farmer’s Institute.
In 1907, the fist emblem came out, but it must have been 3-H then as only Head, Heart and Hands were represented.  It was four years later a fourth leaf for “hustle,” came about but later changed to what it has since been, Health.
About this time, the green emblem and flag were created with the four white H’s.  The white background of the flag represents purity and the green, nature, since green is the most common of the nature-colors.
For many years, Vocational teachers continued a large part in the program, and volunteer adult leaders is certainly a key to the continued success of the program.  JoAn Moser was my 4-H leader and know she was involved for a few years.  Others have headed-up 4-H clubs for decades, while various adults have served in such capacities as judge.  I was on the state committee that made the first Genealogy 4-H guide book.  It was so much fun; also served as a judge in several area counties and was the second chosen on the state level and served for about 15 years doing that.  Loved doing it until several of the counties started adding other projects I didn’t feel comfortable judging, plus health-wise, it was time to quit.  Still miss it, though.
Because of the flu epidemic in 1918-1919, youth in Indiana bypassed the regular Farmers Short Course that had been held to attend a “Roundup” of youth.  An amazing 1500 teens attended and Roundup continues today.  In the next few years, the state fair was the place to go, not only to take your projects but for fun, food and frolic.  Additional exhibits were added as time went by and by 1925, competitions included swine, calves, sheep, corn, potatoes, apples, canning, sewing and baking.  This year, there were 1718 exhibits.  Two years later, the first dress revue at the state level was viewed.  Many of the area towns had their own fairs at this time, in 1929, Waveland had a large one with many contests, men hog calling (first prize, $1.50) and women’s cow calling (same amount of the prizes).   Large list of flower prizes with ribbon and monetary compensations.  Besides adult competitions, the whole of the Brown Township 4-H group had competitions as well.  I remember going to the very large Russellville fair up until I think the 60s.  

One of the most exciting parts of the history of 4-H is that local man, Otis Hall from Darlington (graduate of Wabash College) who served as the superintendent of Schools in Montgomery County created the pledge, except the last three words were added in 1973.  “I pledge my Head to clearer thinking; my Heart to greater loyalty; My Hands to larger service; and my Health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world!”

Born December 20, 1878 in Darlington, Otis Earle Hall, besides accomplishing the above, was the first state 4-H Leader at the State Agricultural College in Manhattan, Kansas 1914-1920, was Professor of Rural Education at Kansas State Agricultural College and 4-H Leader, Hampden County, West Springfield, Massachusetts during the period of 1920-1929 and Director of the County Extension Service there until his death.  His brown hair, blue eyes, slender body and 5’11” height created an impressive image for Otis.  

During WWII, the Kansas 4-H Clubs were given the opportunity to name a Liberty Ship.  All hands down, they chose the name “Otis E. Hall” which was christened October 7, 1944 but scrapped 24 years later.    Otis and his wife, local gal, Mary Alice Demoret (born 2-23-1889 New Market died 7-17-1975; married the 25h of June in 1908) are buried in Hillcrest Cemetery, Springfield, Mass.
Junior 4-H leaders began to come on board in the early 1930s.  By 1940, there were 32,499 girls outnumbering the boys at almost 21,000.  Food For Freedom during WWII kept 4-Hers growing victory gardens, producing high quality food, learning to preserve properly, recycling scrap metal as well as other helpful happenings.  Sadly, the State Fair was cancelled 1942-1945, although there was a state 4-H Club Show with 84 of the 92 counties represented.  For several years, in our county the foods and clothing exhibits were all in CHS.  
Up until the 1950s, 4-H had essentially remained “rural” but in this time frame, a major effort was to reach out to those in the cities and suburbs.  Also in this time period, adult volunteers multiplied.  In 1955, 17 girls and 16 boys went on the first State Fair Achievement Trip to Washington, DC.  The next year the 4-H Key Award was started with 586 gold keys for members.  Fairly sure in 1955, locally, the Goldie Priebe Award began.  Other awards throughout the years have tallied and are: the family one, Mathews Award; Sowers; Legg; Farm Bureau and Mitchell, possibly others.  See County Connections for a special 1958 happening!

During the 1950s and 60s (and even up through today) our county brought home many state fair champions, including Susan Alexander in her darling outfit.  
During the next few years, Indiana ranked 6th in the nation with over 90,000 members.  Participation age had been 10-21 but in 1965, it changed slightly, 9-19.  At this point in time, horses were not really used for farming but now, were more for pleasure and the Horse and Pony entries were established which brought 6,000 members into the project, many from suburbs and the cities.  Also around this time, the Cooperative Extension created a Youth Agent for each county.  The 1968-69 4-H booklet had amazing and exciting things going on.  Monday: Horse & Pony Show(arena); Foods, Flowers, Gardening; Rabbits, Poultry and Crops; Dairy Show, later Goat Show in the Arena; 4-H Project judging, along with Sheep Trimming in the Sheep Barn; State Fair Balloon and 4-H Bake Sale, later the Fashion Review in the Women’s Building.  The whole week was just as full.  This was my time in 4-H, but remember I wasn’t overly active in it at a young age, much more so in the years to come.
A different influx was up in the 1970s, the difference being that there was more a personal drive for growth and development.  Programming became a major thrust with Windowsill Gardens and the like for urban areas.  It seems according to PU that the 1980s were extremely tough on 4-H.  Cuts in Federal Funding a big problem but there were some nifty projects added, Project LEAD, The Blue Sky Beneath My Feet program which highlighted science topics.  Dog shows became very popular on a local level with points awarded for various performances such as heeling on a leash (30 points), figure 8s (25 points), jumps, commands by hand signals and such.  These shows always amazed me, especially since our dogs had no discipline at all on a whole.  It was always fun to see all the advertisers for the show programs, Rock River Feed; Merriwags Kennel; Dog Depot and veterinarians.  
The 4-H Mission changed somewhat in this time frame, “to emphasize the development of youth through nonformal educational programs and projects, enabling them to become more responsible and productive citizens.”  Our daughter only took mini 4-H here but let me tell you her cookie recipe is still an all-time fav in our family:  No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookies – Boil: 1 C. Sugar and 1 C Karo Syrup.  Add 1 ½ C. Crunchy Peanut Butter.  Combine in a mixing bowl with 4 C. Rice Krispies – mix WELL (Suzie stirred until her little arm about broke off) then drop by Tablespoon onto wax paper and let cool. They are scrumptious!!  I wasn’t sure of a year on one of the brochures in the 4-H file at the Crawfordsville District Public Library but figured out by the advertisers (Just Rite, the Happening and Apple Grove that it had to be 1980 or 1981 (no Happening in 1979 no Apple Grove in 1982).   
The 1990s brought some good and necessary changes, one being that adult volunteers had a formal screening and the age requirements were turned into grades, third to twelfth.  Certainly, for me, 4-H has been an interesting and fun experience.  I’ve seen some of the most impressive work I could imagine (many from Montgomery County), met wonderful people and felt a part of one great organization.  Oddly, or perhaps not so oddly, the best week of newspapering to me is to view the 10-year-4-H-ers.  To stay involved at such a young age in something for a decade, to work so hard on projects, to show cattle like a pro or walk down the aisle presenting your sewing to so many viewers, it just amazes me!
Now, into the 2000s 4-H continues to thrive.  This year, according to Abby Sweet, Purdue Extension Office Montgomery County totaled 747 4-Hers with 60 Junior Leaders.  There were 130,713 in Indiana.  Although the 4-H motto is “To make the Best Better” there are some neat club slogans two of which I love: “Be your own best exhibit,” and “Plan your work; work your plan!”  Both sound like they are exceptional views for everyday life.  

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