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(The Fair was held on Danforth Street, on what now are the grounds of the Ursuline Convent.)



Source: Alton Weekly Courier, May 29, 1856

We have been furnished by J. A. Miller, architect, of this city, who has been employed to lay off the grounds on which the next exhibition of the Illinois State Agricultural Society is to be held, with a statement of the arrangements which he has decided to submit to the parties having in charge the preparation of the Fair Grounds. The plan shows originality on the part of Mr. Miller, and a clear conception of the probable difficulties to be guarded against. The following is the plan as we understand it:


The carriage entrance to the fair grounds is about a mile from the foot of State street (the river), between the Farmer's Home and F. H. Hawley's place, entering from the east. Pedestrians will leave the main road at a point near A. L. Chouteau's residence, and enter the ground from the South. The ground enclosed measures twenty-five eighty-five one-hundredth acres, eleven of which are cleared, and the remainder comfortably shaded by trees.


Visitors in carriages, soon after entering the grounds, will pass the business office, twenty-five by sixty feet; thence by a curve, in the track, they reach the main exhibition building, having the form of a cross; the floral hall constitutes the north end, one hundred by forty feet - a vestibule twenty by forty feet on the east, and on the south, a hall for the exhibition of fruits one hundred by forty feet; on the west, the room for musical instruments and articles of that class, while the centre room is an octagon sixty feet in diameter, with a sky-light, for the exhibition of paintings, drawings, &c. The arrangement of this department is such that visitors will enter at one door, pass along and view all the objects in the various rooms, and pass out at another door. This building will represent the rural style of architecture.


Leaving this hall and passing along the main road, through a shaded portion of the grounds, the visitor arrives before a large refreshment hall on a pretty, level ridge, near the south side of the enclosure; passing on, he arrives at a point opposite the entrance and exit gates of pedestrians, west of which the stalls commence, being built against the enclosure. The first fifty stalls are close; next come two hundred open stalls, but with a roof. These stalls form the west side of the exhibition, along which the road passes toward the north. On this side is the large shed under which machines and a steam engine for driving them are placed.


Moving along the curve, the pens for sheep and swine are passed. Reaching the eastern end of the ground, the source of the track is changed westwardly and alongside the stalls for poultry. Following the same direction, the building where textile fabrics are exhibited comes next to view; which, when disposed of, is dismissed for an examination of the show circles, having a diameter of four hundred feet; passing around the western line of this circle, the path leads by the shed for the exhibition of various manufactures, as tools, stoves, cabinet ware, &c., &c.  Thence the road passes between the large circle and a tent forty-five by ninety feet for the exhibition of dairy and kitchen garden products - following the circle, the road passes by the west side of the main exhibition building - thence eastward through a shaded part of the ground, the road brings the visitor to the exit gate, a short distance from the entrance. Thus the visitor, by the carriage road, has traversed a line of one and three-fourth miles, without having crossed his track or touched the same point twice.


The carriages will be kept moving from the time of their entrance, and all on one track, so that there will be no confusion - no turning out or strife for precedence. All enter at one and the same gate, follow in their turn, the same track, and make their exit at another gate, and in the same order as they entered.


There will be on the grounds ten refreshment stands, one large refreshment hall, police office, business office, three gate offices, one main hall, three buildings for manufactures, one tent, fifty stalls, ten by twelve feet - two hundred stalls, eight by ten feet, one hundred pens eight by ten feet, eight hundred feet of two-story poultry houses, and six wells.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, July 31, 1856

The preparations for the State Fair are progressing rapidly. The grounds are now enclosed with the exception of the East side. Three wells have been dug, and there is a plentiful supply of water in them. Three more will be dug - one of them to be eight ft. in diameter. There is also on the ground a fine spring, so that there will be no lack of pure water. The lumber for the stalls and offices and stands is on the ground, and the workmen will commence in a few days to build them. The undergrowth is nearly cleared out, so that the grounds now afford the prettiest drive to be found in this vicinity. The manner in which the grounds have been laid off shows a capacity to combine convenience and beauty, which does great credit to Mr. Miller, to whom this delicate work has been assigned.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, August 21, 1856

Manifestations are abroad which indicate the approach of some unusual event. The corner walls have been gratuitously papered with figures of immense deeds of daring horsemanship; of brave poising on the slack rope, high from the surface of the earth; with all the other objects of gaping wonder, which a Barnum could conceive. Hotel keepers are fortifying with alacrity, their cellars and their lerders [sic], and the addition to the Alton House is progressing with a commendable rapidity. This House, when completed, will present from the river an imposing front, excelled by none upon its banks. Our hosts of the Alton, Franklin, Piasa, Miller, Waverly and other Houses, are exerting their large energies to have provided all the good things and good places, which their utmost limits will permit. The Gas Company, with its regiment of employees, is doing a wholesale business at pipe laying, and their subterranean researches are destined to throw a glaring light upon the subject of dark streets. We are pleased to observe that an effort is being made to obtain the exhibition of fireworks on each evening of the days of the Fair, in order to add to the gratification of our visitors; also that it is proposed to erect flagstaffs on the highest points of the two bluffs, and to extend from one to the other, a line of some one thousand six hundred feet in length, on which will be suspended at intervals, long streamers, which will float one hundred feet or more above the highest buildings, thus forming a grand, beautiful and heretofore unseen spectacle. These, with other projects, prove that our citizens are anxious to provide for their visitors a happy Fair.


Starting off, at the invitation of Mr. Miller, the Superintendent, to view the Fair Grounds, we observed, on reaching the Semple heights, a long red streamer gaily exhibiting its proportions above the trees, and that was for the time, our polar star. Upon a nearer approach, we discovered that a high and extended board fence enclosed an apparently impenetrable growth of trees; but on entering through a broad gateway, the enclosure, we found ourselves within a "love of a place."  Notwithstanding the thickness of the growth of trees, winding roads and paths brought every road of ground within close view. It would seem that nature formed this spot, in the gross, for the express purpose of holding Fairs, the hand of taste having given the finishing strokes, so as to conform to modern style.


We found the various buildings in process of erection, six wells dug, and containing in this extraordinary time of drouth, a goodly supply of water. Toward the western side of the enclosure the circular race track was found to be plowed and conditioned for its office.  The grounds are sufficiently undulating to remove monotony, but every point is easy of access, and when the arrangements and buildings are completed, no doubt the visitor will be unable to determine whether the Institution was made for the place, or the place for the Institution, so complete will be the combined whole.


We trust the weather will be at summer temperature, when the Fair occurs, so that the beauty and luxury of the grove may be duly appreciated, and we opine those visitors who make the tour of the grounds in carriages will be constrained to re-tour on foot, so as to court the umbrage of the little oaks.


We read that while Adam was yet in the Edenic garden, the beasts and fowls came together to him to receive their names. Then and there must have been a grand and beautiful exhibition. The next exhibition of a similar kind, in degree, will be that of the Fair, five thousand eight hundred and sixty years subsequent to the Adamic event; and we do not hesitate to assume that in perfection of getting up, both in the department of nature and of art, the Illinois State Show will suffer but small when compared with the great first exhibition.


The preparation of the grounds has involved a very large expense, and our citizens have given liberally, but more is yet needed, and if any have not been called upon for subscriptions, they may lend their aid by calling upon Capt. Post, who, we presume, is in possession of the lists. We believe the whole thing will be done up in a manner creditable to all whose liberality has placed and kept the object in motion.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, August 28, 1856

The time for holding the farmer's jubilee is fast approaching, and it is time that the notes of preparation should be heard from one end to the other of our noble prairie State. The approaching State Fair, unlike former ones, has been thrown open to competition from other States, and it is very important that the attainments of our own State, in agriculture, mechanics, manufactures, stock breeding, and everything that helps to constitute her wealth and her present and prospective greatness, should be fairly and fully represented.


As we are engaged in a political canvass unequaled in importance and excitement in the history of our country, there is danger that the State Fair may be overlooked and neglected by the editorial fraternity, and as a consequence, by the masses of the people throughout the State. We hope the press will at once utter a rallying cry, long and loud, for the State Fair. But six weeks of time remains for preparation, and what is done must be done quickly. The State Fair of last year was highly creditable to the State, but during the year great progress has been made in every department of business, and the exhibition of this year should make that progress apparent. The opportunity to make a fine show for the State was never better, in some respects, never equal to that of this year. A better field for an exhibition can hardly be found in the Union than that which has been selected. In the arrangement of the show ground, most excellent taste and judgment are manifest. The location of the Fair at Alton secures the best and most numerous facilities for access from the interior of this and surrounding States; and there is no reason why every department of industry should not be fully represented. No arrangement has ever been made so well calculated to show to the various sections of Illinois what she is in all the great industrial arts as the institution of the State Fair, and nothing contributes so much to stimulate her industry and develop her gigantic resources. Through this channel we can effectually secure the attention of men of enterprise and capital throughout the world to this garden of creation; and it is to emigration that we look with most anxiety for the muscle and the mind to unlock the untold treasures of our prairie soil. No field is more inviting to the emigrant in search of a productive field of labor than Illinois. To thousands upon thousands of unoccupied acres, the great arteries of commerce - lines of railroad - are already constructed, and Illinois today invites the established institutions of an old State to the grand inducement of a new State - unoccupied lands. It will be a great advantage to us, in the increase of State wealth and industrial strength, to have these lands improved. Let us, then, through our State Fair, show to the world that we are an enterprising agricultural people, and enterprising agricultural people from all parts of the world will make haste to join us, in accordance with the old maxim, "birds of a feather flock together." We hope the farmers of the State will wake up to the importance of being out in their strength to the State Fair, that they may not be surpassed by adjoining States. Every man can do something to add to aggregate stock on exhibition; if every mechanic should present a specimen of his handiwork, and the ladies can do very much to aid in the exhibition. If every department of industry in our State is fairly represented, we shall have an exhibition never before equaled in the Union.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, September 11, 1856

The time for the State Fair is fast approaching. But little more than three weeks remain for preparation. The Fair opens on the 30th inst. The signs of preparation are given at our hotels and boarding houses. Our people are to some extent awake to the fact that they will be called upon to entertain a large number of people, by far the largest number ever before congregated in the city. Politicians throughout the country are awake to the importance of the opportunity of driving their trade. The Fair Grounds are in a state of forwardness, but what is being done in our city and vicinity to secure for us a fair representation in agriculture, in horticulture, in stock growing, in manufactures, and in the mechanic arts? We hope our people will consider and act promptly in this matter. If Alton is well represented in her manufactures and other departments of labor, there need be no fear but our part of the great exhibition will be creditable to us, for though St. Louis and the whole country are invited to compete with us, we have this great advantage over all - the exhibition is within our own limits, and we have neither to travel or transport our goods to make up our part of the show. We have no reason to borrow trouble about our ability to accommodate visitors. This matter involves too many opportunities for money making to be overlooked. But there is danger that we shall, in the excitement of the occasion, neglect to prepare for a fair representation of our industry and enterprise. In the departments of agriculture and stock, we depend upon the surrounding counties to vindicate the energy and enterprise of the population in this part of the State. In this connection it gives us pleasure to state that Greene county is preparing to be fully represented in stock, and will come to the Fair with a strong expectation of carrying off a large number of cups and diplomas, and we have good reason to believe from what we have seen and heard of her stock, that her hard-handed yeomen will not be disappointed in their expectations. We expect, also, to hear from Jersey, Macoupin, Montgomery, St. Clair, and other counties in this region in this behalf.


In manufactures, much will depend upon our city to vindicate the skill and enterprise of this part of the State. We hope every foundry, machine shop, and manufactory will be fully represented. Alton should also show her hand in horticulture. Our artists, architects and mechanics of every class can do something. There will also be a department for the exhibition of the ladies' handiwork, and we hope to see a laudable emulation among the ladies of our city, to secure the honors to be awarded to their skill and industry. In short, let all classes of our citizens awake to the importance of placing on exhibition everything possible, that is creditable to the industry of our city, and we may be sure of honorable mention at least. Let every citizen ask himself what can I do to add to the credit of the city in this exhibition, and when he has solved the question, let him act upon the discovery as a sacred duty, which he owes to the public.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, September 19, 1856

On Wednesday last, at the State Fair grounds, one of these most pleasant of all social gatherings came off, and was attended by about four hundred persons, including children. The day was one of the finest; the ground for such a purpose unsurpassed, and the ladies who got it up and took the charge had omitted nothing that was calculated to make the occasion a delightful one to all present. The grounds are really beautiful, and when all the buildings are finished, will make the finest place for the holding of a fair there is in the country. This picnic was no select affair, merely got up to give lovers a long sitting in seclusion. The young, the middle aged and the old were there enjoying themselves, and one young gentleman, curious in such matters, counted fifty-two children, including one pair of twins, of which number twenty-seven were curly-heads, and the balance wore their hair straight - so he said. Previous to the dinner, the company enjoyed themselves viewing the different buildings and the arrangement of the ground. At three o'clock dinner was announced, and such a dinner! Everything was good and in great abundance, and was relished by all present. After dinner, the young folks were delighted to discover there was a good string band on hand, and forthwith they betook themselves to dancing on the platform, erected, upon which piano fortes for exhibition are to be placed. The others looked on, or scattered themselves in parties on the grounds.


During the afternoon, there was some good trotting and running on the track, while some of the boys imitated the performances of the last circus. Thus passed the afternoon. About half past six o'clock the signs betokened a shower. Those who had carriages on the ground took their departure, and those who remained looked up at the sky uneasily. The omnibuses had not arrived, and the aspect of the heavens looked more and more threatening. Presently a few large drops fell, and was followed by a simultaneous rush for the high road leading home. A panic had seized on all. A few more drops of rain, with a gust of wind, converted a rather orderly retreat into a rout, and as the rain fell faster, and the wind howled through the trees, the struggle to reach a shelter induced some of the best specimens of pedestrianism, both male and female, we ever saw. Thoroughly exhausted, the crowd finally reached a shed, put up by Mr. Wendt, into which they rushed. Several children were lost for a time, some new bonnets injured, and some dresses soiled, but no other damage done, excepting a slight injury to our handsome friend, the architect, who got his right eye hurt while endeavoring to prevent a young lady from being blowed [sic] away, the wind having completely inflated her dress, which she could not control on account of some monstrous hoops. The vehicles soon afterwards arrived, and all got home in safety.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, September 19, 1856

Messrs. Walters and Pratt have rented that portion of the State Fair Grounds, designated for a dining saloon, and are making all the necessary arrangements to render that point in very many respects the most attractive and desirable on the grounds. Everything good for food and drink, and not prohibited by the rules of the society, have been or will be laid in abundance; and the services of superior cooks have been secured, to prepare refreshments in such a manner as to render them wholesome and palatable. One prominent design of the proprietors of this saloon will be to furnish board for exhibitors and stock hands, who find it necessary to remain on the grounds. This movement shows enterprise, and we believe its projectors will reap a golden reward.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, September 19, 1856

The notes of preparation are more frequent as the time for holding the State Fair approaches. The dealers in provisions seem to regard it as the opportunity of the year, and every want of the expected masses is anticipated to the fullest extent. The opportunity for competition from other States in the exhibition is likely to be well improved. A manufacturer of machinery is now here from Philadelphia, and he states that others will be in attendance from that city and various portions of the East. St. Louis, we learn, will be largely represented, and other points of Missouri will enter the lists. Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, and other States will no doubt be represented. The number of awards of all kinds to be made on the occasion will not be less than twelve thousand. We are informed by men who have occasion to travel for the purpose of making arrangements for the Fair, that the people throughout the State are awake to the importance of this exhibition, and that they will be out in their strength.


The Executive Committee will open their office in the building on the corner of Belle and Third streets, west side, on the 15th, Monday next, from which time until arrangements are completed for exhibition, entries may be made. Several gentlemen are now in town with machines and various inventions, prospecting for a good chance at the Fair.


Nearly all the public halls in town have been engaged, to be occupied for lodging purposes during the Fair, and some of them have been, and are being already fitted up. The Illinois Farmer, an agricultural paper, published at Springfield, says: "Our friends at Alton will have their hospitality tried to the utmost to accommodate the vast crowds which will be in attendance, but we are assured that means will be provided to meet the demands of the occasion. Alton never was behind when a call was made upon her generosity or hospitality."  Let our people see to it, that the reputation so generously given is well sustained.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, September 19, 1856

Something more on this subject may not be amiss. Each fair of the Illinois State Agricultural Society has been better than the one preceding it. The fair at Chicago last year got up while the society was but three years old, and with an empty treasury, was equal to any State Fair ever held, while it far exceeded those of many older and wealthier societies. The Executive Board of our Society is determined that there shall be no going backward in the coming fair at Alton, which is intended to be a grand exposition of the products of Labor and Art; not only of Illinois, but of the whole Mississippi Valley. For, our liberal premium list of over $7,000 is open to all, and we may expect the competition of the farmers, stock-growers, mechanics, and artists of neighboring states with those of our own. The manufacturers of the two great cities, Chicago and St. Louis, will here be pitted against each other, and all will do their best; while Illinois stock-growers will turn out to support their well earned reputation. Preparations are made on a grand scale, for the proper exhibition of everything. The Fair Grounds, situated only one mile from the city and easy of access, comprise twenty-five acres of fine grove and open sod, abundantly watered by a good spring and six wells. These grounds have been laid out, and the structures erected, under the direction of Mr. J. A. Miller - the architect of the Alton committee - with great taste and judgment. The buildings are much larger and more commodious than usual; consisting, first, of an immense "Palace of Industry," built in the form of a cross, the center being a rotunda 80 feet in diameter, with glazed sky-lights (the artists will like this), and tasteful arrangements throughout, for the exhibition of the Fine Arts. The main body of the cross is 55 by 280 feet, including the rotunda, with the limbs large in proportion - the whole thus being equivalent to five ordinary structures of the kind. Besides this, there are two substantial buildings, each 100 feet long, for heavy implements, textile fabrics, &c.; and another building of the same length, for motive power and machinery, with the society's tent for kitchen, garden and dairy products. There are 250 stalls for cattle, horses, &c., of a much better character than usual, each being 81/2 feet; with 100 large pens for sheep and swine, and abundant accommodations for poultry, &c. There are also plenty of offices, a dining hall, 50 by 300 feet, with 12 refreshment stalls, &c.


Ample provision is made for the feeding and lodging of visitors to the Fair. The hotels of the city, besides their own excellent accommodations, have provided several large steamboats to be moored at the wharf in close proximity - the charges of all being fixed by agreement with the Society. And then the people of Alton will throw open their doors - while St. Louis is close at hand, and boats and railroad will take visitors down at night, and return them in the morning, at prices which competition will be sure to make moderate. Highly satisfactory arrangements have been made with the railroads. Visitors to the Fair are to be charged one way only, being passed back free, on having their railroad tickets stamped by the Recording Secretary on the Fair grounds. Animals and articles for exhibition go free both ways; in freight being charged, but again refunded on the return of articles, with our certificate. It is also understood that steamboats on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers will carry at greatly reduced rates - though I am not yet informed of the terms of agreement made with them, by our Vice President, Col. Ross.


Let all come to this Jubilee of Industry. Few, if any that do, will ever regret it. More can be learned here in four days of the productions and resources of our glorious Prairie State, and some of her sisters, than could be in a month spent in traveling.  John A. Kennicott, Cor. Sec. Ill. State Ag. Society.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, September 19, 1856

Welcome, welcome, with songs of joy,

Sweet music swells the breeze;

The loud hurrah for Illinois

Re-echoes from the trees.

Beside the river, rolling free,

Beneath the sky's bright blue,

We've met to let the people see

What Illinois can do!


The generous products of the fields,

Fair nature's bounty shows,

For benest labor surely yields,

Reward to him who sows.

While ripened harvest's golden hue,

Is seen on every hand;

Our hearts are turning, ever true

To peaceful homes beyond.


Away, away, the prairies green,

In boundless grandeur stretch;

No limit to the view is seen,

'Till earth and heaven are met.

Our cities, circled by the hills,

Stand firm in bright array;

And while with joy each besom thrills,

We hail this festal day.


America, proud freedom's home,

We fondly turn to thee;

And though in stranger lands we roam,

Our home thou still shalt be.

Long let thy peerless banner wave,

Above the billow's foam;

Long be the land of spirits, brave,

And long the freeman's home!




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, September 25, 1856

The arrangements for running the packets between this city and St. Louis during the State Fair will be found in the advertising column. Four boats, the Reindeer, Baltimore, Jennie Deans, and Winchester, will constitute the line, and each boat will make two trips per day to St. Louis and return. Meals will be furnished at all hours, on all these boats, and three of them will remain at our Levee over night, to furnish sleeping accommodation for such persons as may apply. A band of music will accompany each boat, and strangers will find the packets pleasant places for temporary abode.


We were on the Fair Grounds yesterday, a few minutes, and were impressed more than ever by their beauty and the ingenuity displayed, and the convenience secured in their arrangement. The plan for displaying as by a grand panorama, to assembled thousands, every article on the ground we believe has never been equaled in this country. The arrangements for the comfort of visitors to the grounds could not have been excelled. We noticed that two or three tracts set apart for refreshment stands are yet to be rented, and those who are fond of gathering nimble shillings should not delay to apply for them ere the opportunity passes. We also noticed that the road to the grounds, outside of the city limits, needs repairing in two or three places, to allow teams to pass with facility. A small sum, not exceeding $20, will remedy the difficulty, and we hope there is public spirit enough in our people in the city and vicinity to make the necessary repairs.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, October 1, 1856

The Chicago, Alton and St. Louis Railroad company will run a special train between Springfield and Alton during the State Fair, to accommodate more fully people living between and at these points. The train will commence on Tuesday morning from Springfield, and end on Saturday night up from Alton. It will leave Springfield at 6 o'clock and 15 minutes a.m., and reach this city at 9 o'clock and 40 minutes a.m. Returning, it will leave this city at 5 o'clock 15 minutes p.m., and reach Springfield at 8 o'clock and 45 minutes p.m. This arrangement will be a great convenience to the people on the line of the road, and entitles Mr. Moore, the gentlemanly Superintendent, to the gratitude of the farmers of Southern Illinois.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, October 1, 1856

Reporters - Classes A, B, C, D, E - John Trible, Jr.; Classes F and G - B. J. F. Hanna; Classes H and J - D. J. Baker, Jr.; Class L - Thomas Dimmock; Class K and M - George S. Kellenberger; Class N and O - F. J. Heslop.


Our reporters were on the fairgrounds yesterday, but were not able to get up anything like a full or connected account of what is on exhibition. Scarce more than half the animals and articles entered were on the ground at the time; the books were closed at noon yesterday, and those that were there were not yet properly arranged. Everything will probably be arranged and classified today, and by tomorrow our reports will assume a better shape.


Class A - Cattle

In this department there is a very large number of animals, many of which we think are for their ages the best beef and the most perfect in symmetry of any cattle we ever saw. Though in ages and size there is a great variety, yet in breeds there is scarcely any. With three or four exceptions, the whole of the large number is composed of Durhams. To me, one of the surprising features of the effort that is being made to perfect our breeds of cattle is the pains taken, and the assiduous attention given to the cleanliness and comfort of the animals; many of them are washed, combed and brushed regularly every day, and their bodies protected from the scorching rays of the sun and from the chilling blasts of an autumnal sky, by thick substantial covers. No one can deny that the stock on exhibition must convince the most skeptical of our farmers that more pains taken with stock than has heretofore been done would richly repay, and no one can deny but in point of docility, largeness of frame, and spatness to take on flesh, the Durham is infinitely the superior of our native cattle. A question, however, arises in our mind, whether for work oxen, a cross between the Durham and the native, or the Devon, would not be a great improvement. To us the Durham has always appeared slow and ungainly, and less hardy than the native ox. The Devon is a neat, trim animal, a fast traveler, and capable of great endurance, his flesh is more compact and finer grained; and we are told that in the Boston market, the beef of the Devon will command a cent a pound more than any other. This department, as well as nearly all others, is as yet incomplete. Numbers and ages of animals are not yet affixed to the several stalls, and when we sought information about an animal, we were frequently unable to find the owner, or any other facts concerning it. Tomorrow we expect to find matters very different, for a sufficiency of time will have elapsed to complete all necessary arrangements.


Class B - Horses, Jacks and Mules

In this class the entries are numerous; nearly every stall is occupied by an animal, and still new stalls are needed. We understand that the gentlemanly  Superintendent, C. W. Webster, Esq., has done all he possibly could to accommodate, without being able to satisfy the want. One gentleman in particular, who has brought his horse a distance of over two hundred miles, when we saw him was hauling lumber from town, at his own expense, to make a stall. This should, and doubtless will, be remedied as soon as it possible can be.


Class F - Farming Implements - No. 25 Plows

The department in the fairgrounds allotted to the exhibition of these articles is already pretty well filled, but all that are entered are not yet arrived. We took a look through those on exhibition yesterday, scarce any of which can be deemed second rate articles. Our descriptions of those we mention must of necessity be very brief. The first plow that attracted our attention was a large prairie-breaker, invented and manufactured first in July last, by Jesse Fry of Springfield, in this state. It can be used with two or four horses; it is constructed without any bar or landside; the mold board is composed of friction rollers that can be adjusted to throw the furrow in any manner desired. The bolster, also is moveable, enabling the driver to regulate the width of the furrow. There are two small rear wheels, both movable, so that the plow can be turned in a small space. The plow can be raised or lowered so as to cut to any depth desired, inside of six inches. The width of the cut, also, can be changed to any number of inches less than thirty-six. With four horses or mules, it will plow six acres per day. It will be sold at prices varying from $125 to $150 each. 


Mr. John Deere of Moline, Illinois has on exhibition a large assortment of very superior plows of every kind common in this country. Among them we noticed a prairie-breaker, which the proprietor informed us will, with two common horses, turn under two acres of prairie with great ease; it is supplied with a revolving cutter and guage-wheel to regulate the depth. We also noticed a one horse double-shovel for working corn, which is, we think, a very superior implement. Mr. Deere manufactures about twelve thousand plows yearly; they are for sale in Alton by Messrs. Root & Platt.


Mr. A. Bosworth has on exhibition a very fine deep-tiller plow, manufactured at Grand Detour, Illinois. The handles are so arranged to prevent clogging, and it turns under and covers all weeds and other rubbish. It is of very easy draught, and runs steady.


The next lot of plows we looked at were from the manufactory of Vaughan & Peck, Naperville, Illinois. Two of these are very finely finished - the iron and steel being polished, and some of the rods and bars plated with silver. These were, or course, made only for ornament, but the useful plows are the same shape, and we judge them to be excellent implements. Among them is a three-shovel cultivator, and a corn-scraper for weeding and hoeing corn. This cart is to us a new implement, the practical utility of which we do not exactly comprehend; it is worked by two horses and is said to clean twelve acres of corn a day.


The next plow we examined is something of a curiosity to us. It is a recent invention - patented in March last by Messrs. A. & T. S. Smith of Troy, in this county. It is worked by two or four horses, and is called a "Single or Gang Plow," for the reason that it can be used with any number of plows from one to four; it is adapted to any kind of plowing in any kind of ground. In turning in wheat or other small grain four plows are used; in common breaking two only are attached to the machine. It is well suited for soil and sub-soil breaking. It can be adjusted to turn up any depth of ground less than twenty inches. With four horses it can be made to break six to eight acres of common ground per day. It has two wheels before and one behind; two of them run in the furrow. The driver sits comfortable on top, and can adjust and re-adjust the machinery without moving from his seat. The price of this machine varies from forty to one hundred and fifty dollars.


The next plow we noticed was called the "Steel Clipper;" it is made of wrought iron, simple in construction, and never chokes. Beside it was a double corn plower, that can be arranged to throw the dirt either to or from the corn; its width can be regulated to any gauge desired inside of four feet. These two implements are from the manufactory of C. H. Dawson, Jacksonville, Illinois.


We next examined Whitehall's Improved Plow, for cultivating corn. It is drawn by two horses, the driver sits on the plow, and can work ten acres of corn a day. It is manufactured at Attica, Indiana.


Class H - Fruits, Flowers, &c.

Quite a large number of entries have been made, and there is a very creditable display, particularly in fruit trees, evergreens, and apples. The display of apples, both as to the number and varieties, we have seldom seen surpassed. As many of the articles in this interesting and important department, which includes all that is most pleasant to the taste, to the scent, and to the eye, have not as yet been properly arranged and labeled, we defer further comment.


Class I

In the "Mechanical Department," as in many other, we yesterday labored under difficulties in regard to reporting. This is owing to the confusion which always accompanies "the first day of the fair." One of the greatest attractions upon the fairgrounds is the stand upon which is exhibited a large variety of "sewing machines," of the patent of Grover & Baker. They are exhibited by the Western agent, Mr. C. W. Crosby of No. 43 Fourth Street, St. Louis. Attracted by the crowd that surrounded these celebrated labor saving machines, we drew near and were indeed surprised to find with what quickness, neatness and strength they did their work. Mr. C. W. Crosby exhibits machines of all sizes and shapes, and adapted to all manner of work from the simplest to the most complex. Our surprise was complete, when a small, neat work box was opened, and a machine disclosed that could do the work of twenty seamstresses. Verily, there is no further need of tailors!


Of vehicles, there is quite a respectable show. The first that we shall note is a large, two-horse wagon, manufactured by Bayden & Osfield of Urbana, Champaign county. It is strong, rather heavy, well made, with the best of walnut hubs, with workwork of seasoned oak and hickory, and is as smooth as polished glass.


Next to it stands a splendid light two-horse wagon, made by Morgan & Oberden of Paris, Illinois. It is distinguished for the beauty of its proportions, the excellency of its material and its finished appearance.


To Buckmaster and Wise of our city belongs the credit of having got up a wagon which is a credit to Alton and to the fair. Although it is substantial and looks as though it was made for hard work, yet it is most beautifully painted and ornamented.


Mr. J. B. Clark of Bunker Hill, Macoupin County, exhibits the most elegantly finished one-horse buggy. If he does not receive a premium, we are greatly at fault.


T. B. Edgar of St. Louis, Missouri competes for the greatest and best display of carriages and buggies. He had a large number on the grounds, among which we notice a highly finished open buggy, a light covered buggy with shifting top, a strong, substantial covered buggy, a beautiful barouche, and a new style of rockaway, hung on four elliptic springs. Indeed, Mr. Edgar's display of carriages and buggies are a credit to the manufacturers of St. Louis.


Class K - No. 48

As the fine cuts are invariably the last introductions into new counters, naturally enough the class indicated at the head of this article, consisting in musical instruments, &c., was but sparingly represented yesterday. Today will, we doubt not, more fully develop the capabilities and resources of our state in this important and interesting branch of industry and invention.


No. 49 had likewise but few exponents. The various kinds of photography, however, were well represented. First we noticed quite an abundance of Daguerreotypes. The best of these in our humble opinion were by Fitzgibbon of St. Louis, and our esteemed fellow-townsman, Cornwall. It would be a difficult matter to judge which of these were the better artist, as both excelled in their "trade." Cornwall exhibited portraits done of the life, color and all, of many of our most prominent citizens, among whom Schweppe's "fast" pointer, and Mitchell's "fast" nag were, undoubtedly, not the least attractive. The chief excellencies of these specimens seemed to be a certain boldness of delineation, by which the likeness appeared to stand out from the plate, giving an animated expression.


R. M. Cole of Peoria exhibited some excellent Ambrotypes, the chief excellence of which was in strong contrast of light and shade, which they presented. Our old friend, Williams, had some good Ambrotypes and Daguerreotypes also.


We also examined some good Electrotypes by Fitzgibbon. The life-size photographs of this artist, however, attracted unusual attention, and elicited the most admiration. We have a particular reverence for the good old oil painting, but the photograph must, we fear, superseded it.


Class N - Miscellenaous

Owing to the partial arrangement only of this department, we are unable to follow any system in the description of articles under this head. We have, however, ferretted out a few, as follows, and we shall continue to dodge round from day to day until we canvass the whole.


We noticed a very ingenuous contrivance called a universal joint, made in Charleston, Coles County, by Hinckley. It is patented for the peculiar construction of the joints or couplings to the shafts, which obviates the use of belt and gearing.


An excellent and highly finished safe by Charles Hoehen of Alton. The seeset lock, which cannot even by opened by the key without instructions from the maker, is its principal point of interest. It is constructed entirely of wrought iron and proof against fire or thieves.


D. Millen of Alton has some extra finishing picks, cutting and undermining. They display skill with the hammer.


There are a few carriage wheels, manufactured by Woodburn and Scott, St. Louis. These show well. They are made entirely by machinery.


By close observation we were enabled to pick out from among the multitude of "Fancy Fixings" a few articles of fancy work, marked miscellaneous: Regalias from A. Rienhold, St. Louis - these are beautiful. Near these, a Bible cushion, the work of Mrs. E. E. Mallory of Caseyville. This is greatly admired, and we were surprised to learn that the maker was a lady of sixty years. Lewis & Groshon of St. Louis have a neatly and artistically arranged case of hats, caps, &c.


Visitors should not fail to notice among the curiosities a buffalo's skull, found near Alton. Also a fossil, part of the leg of some huge monster which flourished in these parts long ago.


The receipts of the State Agricultural Society, up to three o'clock yesterday, were nearly equal to the entire days' receipts for the corresponding day of the last fair at Chicago.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, October 9, 1856


Class B

As we remarked yesterday, the entries in Class B are very numerous, but it strikes us that a very large proportion of the entries are of such horses as ought not to be exhibited, even at a county fair, for from what we know of Sucker horses, mules and jacks, we are convinced that many have been kept at home that are in every respect superior to a large majority of those on exhibition today. Though we characterize the majority as poor, yet there are on exhibition many beautiful horses. The quick, handy and intelligent Morgan horse is being introduced, and for activity and intelligence will much improve our present stock; perhaps no horse in the world is better adapted for the business in a large city of a retail grocer or butcher, but for draught on the road, for continual labor on the farm, or even for a first-rate race horse, we think them a little too light, and a cross with a heavier horse would be preferable. Our friends George Cory of Kane, Green County, and Boyd Lathy of Upper Alton, have two fine Morgans on the ground, which together with Live Oak George, owned by Mr. Frost of Jersey County, are the finest animals, particularly noticed of that breed. No one who paid attention to this department could help noticing near the carriage entrance, a very large black stallion, a cross between the French Canadian and the President. For his age, in many respects, he has no superior on the ground. His shoulders show him to be a powerful animal.


Old Britton, a large English draught horse, imported and owned by Mr. A. Slotts of Edgar County, in adaptedness to labor on the road, and for drayage in our cities, has no superior, and we may confidently say he has no equal on the ground. He weighs 1,762 pounds, is sixteen and a half hands high, and six years old. A Clay Bank colt owned by William Yule of De Witt County is a prodigy in size. He is only one year old, and now measures 15 hands and 1 inch in height. If it were possible, the citizens of De Witt County seem determined to carry away the premium for large horses, for John D. Slack of that county has a black stallion of the Blackhawk breed, 3 years old, that weighted, when 13 months old, 1,323 lbs. Among mules, Mr. Bonnell of Jerseyville and Nelson of Montgomery certainly stand good chances of making a good hand among the ribbons and medals.


Mr. Montgomery has some mules, four months old, that show old Madison is some among large animals, while Mr. Barnal's mule is not to be classed among the smallest. Just think, you who have not seen the animal, of a mule two years old measuring seventeen hands in height. But here we must rest with this class.


Class C

There are very few animals on exhibition in this department. The finest are some French merinoes from Fulton County. One buck gave a fleece of 27 lbs. This gentleman had some fifteen in the lot, and it is the finest lot on exhibition. The owners, Messrs. Stepp, Labourette & Company, deserve much praise for the exertions they have made in the improvement of the stocks of this country. A gentleman from Will county deserves also much praise for the pains he has taken in procuring good stock.


Some South Downers are in the pens, which present a very smutty appearance, and are very diminutive in size. They are noted for their hardiness and the fine texture of their flesh, but certainly we should feel it not a duty to recommend them to our sheep raisers. Some Cottswolds are fine looking animals, and a cross between them and the Merino would certainly be beneficial at present. At present, the whole attention of the state seems to be directed to fine cattle, in which no state has better succeeded, and by and by, doubtless, attention will be directed in other directions with equally beneficial results.


Class D

The display in this department is so large and the variety so great that we shall doubtless do involuntary injustice to many of the articles and their fair exhibitors. We regret this the more as the majority of articles in this class belong especially to the sphere of the ladies, who have done themselves much credit and deserve a better description than we are able to afford.


We are sorry, too, that the space allotted them on the ground is necessarily small, as with more room, the arrangement could have been much improved, and the articles themselves shown to much better advantage. As it is, however, the platform and stands seem to our uninitiated eyes to blaze with constellations of bed quilts and beadwork, embroidered mantles and woolen stockings, wreaths and ornaments of hair, worked ottomans and chairs, specimens of shell work, lace and worked collars, &c. &c., ad infinitum.  In noticing them, we must of course do so haphazard, any system is impossible.


The department of quilts is most strongly represented, and embraces every possible variety which imagination can conceive, or fingers execute. Two patchwork quilts, No. 181 and 190, are particularly noticeable for neatness of design. One of open work, No. 458, is also very neat, and a knit bedspread, No. 287, made by the inmates of the blind asylum, attracts much attention. In this connection we may mention a large case containing a fine variety of hair, clothes, flesh and horse brushes, also from the pupils of this institution, which would do credit to any manufactory in the country.  A silk quilt, No. 207, made, we understand by Mrs. Thomas Marshall of this county, is a fine specimen of taste and workmanship; but the crowning gems in this line are a pair from the hands of Mrs. Edward D. Baker of Springfield, one of which we believe has received the premium. The richness of the fabric is only equaled by the elegance of the design and beauty of execution. They are fit for the couch of an Emperor.


In hair work, No. 733, a wreath, deserves notice, and No. 734, a large one of the same material made by Miss Risk of Hillsboro, a young lady of 14, is the first we saw on exhibition. In worsted work, Mrs. Dr. Humbert of Upper Alton bears away the palm in our estimation. A jewel box worked after Landseer's painting of the Cavailer's Pets, attracted great attention, and was universally admired. This lady exhibits also a fire screen, which is unique and pretty.  No. 389, a wreath and group of flowers, can scarcely be excelled. No. 148, a superb Bible cushion, worked and embossed with gold thread upon silk crape, found many admirers and no equal.  W. T. Mahan, Esq., of this city, exhibits an embroidered chair which stands at the head in that department. No. 691, vases and candlesticks, is a fine specimen of shell work. Mrs. J. R. Woods cabinet of the same material surpasses everything of the kind, however, that we ever saw. The crowds of gazers around it was convincing evidence of its merit.


Class H - No. 36, Fruits &c.

The display of fruits is, with the exception of apples, by no means extensive. For evergreens and fruit trees, there is quite a large and interesting exhibition. Still, we fear that the Horticulturists and Orchardists have hardly done themselves full justice. The first array in this department that called our attention was that of John Sigerson & Bros. of St. Louis. This celebrated firm exhibits seventy-two varieties of apples, some beautiful specimens of orange quince, a large collection of fruit trees of one year's growth, and many varieties of everygreens, among which last we noticed several kinds of firs, pines and spruces.  Wallace and William Sigerson have a large collection of ornamental trees. William Stewart & Sousr of Quincy have on the fairgrounds some fifty kinds of fruit trees, eight varieties of evergreens, and sixty varieties of the most valuable apples, but to particularize which would require more space than we can spare.  Thomas Jones of Bethalto, Madison County, displays twenty-eight kinds of choice apple and several dishes of most beautiful apple quinces. Stephen Green, Jacksonville, exhibits several dozen plums of very tempting appearance. J. G. Back, of Alton, has entered twelve large and luscious peaches. These are the only peaches on exhibition. George Barry of Alton displayed several bottles of currant wine.


John Willie of Upper Alton exhibits six bottles of native wine, manufactured from grapes. J. R. Woods of Alton competes for the best twenty-five varieties of apples. Judging from the size and beauty of his specimens, we should say that he will be found no mean competitor. E. P. Souther of Alton claims that he has produced the best specimens of quinces to be found upon the grounds. H. D. Carr of Upper Alton exhibits six bottles of grape wine. Thomas Dunford of Alton has most temptingly arranged twenty-five or more varieties of the very best of apples. Charles Howard of Alton exhibits several fine specimens of the quince.  T. Bradburry of Pittsfield, Pike County, has entered twenty-five kinds of apples. W. A. Harvey of Monticello [Godfrey] displays a dozen bottles of cider. Aaron Smith, of Troy, Madison County, has several specimens of Autumn pears.


Willis Willard of Jonesboro, Union County, claims that he displays the best and greatest variety of apples, named and labeled. His apples show that modern Egypt is as distinguished for fruit as ancient Egypt was for corn and the many other good things that the earth brings forth. Tyler & McWharton, Millersburg, Mercer County, have on the grounds a splendid display of apples, embracing a hundred or more varieties, and them of the best and most useful kinds. In this collection we noticed several new specimens of fruit that have been but lately introduced into the state.


George W. Long, Alton, exhibits many varieties of the same delicious fruit. J. R. Woods, Alton, exhibits several beautiful clusters of Catawba grapes. B. F. Long of Alton has a large collection of rosy-cheeked and golden-colored apples, which he raised in his model orchard near this city. Smiley & Shepherd, Hennepin, Illinois, have at their stand a large supply of the most beautiful and luscious grapes of the Catawba and Isabella varieties. We understand that these gentlemen have been very successful in the cultivation of this delicious fruit.


Class K. - No. 49

Class K was fully opened and ready for inspection. Taking the public by the button, we will walk around and examine the various articles on exhibition. The first thing that attracted our attention was the peculiarly soft and melodious tones of a piano. Being but little of a musician, we shall, therefore, be as piano as possible in our critical comments, but hope we may be excused if we are somewhat forte in our expressions of admiration. This instrument was one of Chickering & Sons, a square rosewood of the Louis XIV pattern, seven octave, and with a peculiarly bell-like brilliancy of tone, combined with elegance and beauty of workmanship. Nothing could be said more in its favor, than that it was purchased by Captain Eaton of St. Louis, in ten minutes after its exhibition, at $525. Exhibited by Henry Lea, Esq., Chickerings, agent at this place.


Next we noticed a square piano of A. H. Gale & Co., of New York, likewise plain rosewood and seven octave, splendid instrument, valued at $500.


One of Innce's elegant, melodious discoursed sweet music to our ears, and close by to it, we observed one of Lemuel Gilbert's charming Boudoir pianos on exhibition by Mr. Trenchery of Alton. Both were the best of their kind.


Erbeek's Brass Band, of Alton, performed before the awarding committee, and soon drew a crowd. This band, we believe, took a premium and medal.


We were particularly pleased with some specimens of penmanship upon the Spencerian system, by P. R. Spencer of Boyant & Stratton's Mercantile College, Chicago. Also an assortment of Banking Manuscript Books of the same institution. The Penmanship was, undoubtedly, as regards the practical and ornamental, the best we have ever seen, and we have no hesitancy in pronouncing their institution at Chicago for the purpose of teaching bookkeeping one of the best in the country.  Other examples of Chirography, by James W. Lask of Quincy, and others deserve admiration.


Probably the finest crayon drawing was exhibited by a lady of Monticello [Godfrey], representing the bust of a little girl. The execution of this piece was truly artistic, and there was a healthy expression and freshness in the countenance, which rendered it pleasing to the eye. We will recur to crayons tomorrow.


Moody & Dean, lately established in Alton, displayed some Grecian Oil Paintings, which were quite admirable. These are lithographs, rendered into oil colors. The proprietors assured us the process was so simple, that even a child could understand it.


G. D. Sidway of Alton produced some specimens of portraits in oil. Of these, two of our citizens, Dr. McMaster and L. Mitchell, elicited much admiration. Faithfulness of expression and richness of coloring are Sidway's merits, and in these we think him hard to beat. He had a third portrait which we did not know, but which artistically surpassed either of the former. These pictures will undoubtedly secure a premium.


There were several examples of architectural drawings by J. A. Miller of Alton. One of these, St. Paul's Church, a gothic edifice, in course of erection at this place, is claimed to be the best building of its kind that can be constructed for $10,000.  Mr. Miller also exhibited a beautiful plan for a farm cottage.  The best architectural drawings, however, as also the best speciman of pencil drawing, were shown by C. F. Knechler of Springfield. Of the latter, we observed, likewise, two of three specimens by Miss Allen of this city, which were admirable for harmony of design and elegance of execution. There was a gracefulness of finish which was particularly pleasing. Pencil drawings were abundant, but all were more or less inferior to the above.


Class N

After another day spent in noticing the vastness of the fair, and especially the miscellaneous department, we find that it has neither beginning nor ending, and of course it is difficult to present or report in any systematic form - so we will note as we progress from point to point, whatever comes next.


In the center of the grounds is seen one of Lum's Patent Self-Acting Gates, manufactured by George Johnson of Alton. It is constructed so that the vehicle itself opens the gate and closes the same. G. L. Sanborn of Chicago has a Ruggles printing press in operation, small size, which throws off cards at the rate of 1800 per hour. It was busy today placing the heads of the prospective Presidential candidates on envelopes - these met with a ready sale.


Quite a large number of reapers and mowers are on exhibition. G. S. Randalls of Alton has a pendulum, raker, &c.; this runs to suit at three different speeds, is light and substantially built. Price $175.  Buckmaster & Wise of Alton, a grain, grass and hemp cutter, price $135.  Read of Alton, a reaper and mower.  I. S. Wright & Col of Chicago, one of Atkins' self-raking reaper and mower. Price of reaper, $175; reaper and mower combined, $200.  E. Danfords & Co. of Geneva, Illinois a double sickle, mower, and reaper. Price combined, $140; mower alone $120.  Seymour & Morgan of Brockfort, New York, a self-raking reaper and mower. Price of reaper and mower, $175. Reaper alone, $150. 


These we found marked N, and note accordingly:  Gage & Co. of St. Louis have one of their excellent circular saws on hand, which is admired greatly. One of Clark's bran dusters made by Calendene & Co., St. Louis, is exhibited without competition. A. Benham of Galesburgh has a machine for stuffing and blocking horse collars. Fairbanks & Co. have an excellent assortment of scales, counter and platform. One of their large platform scale has been erected in the center of the ground for the use of committee on stock.


We noticed a highly finished gun and case from the manufactory of C. & F. Wuerker of this city, which will defy competition. Also a riding bridle of peculiar workmanship in this same lot.


The inimitable Willard of our city is one hand with a new invention in the shape of a portable mosquito screen; the whole apparatus weighs but two pounds so that the visitors to the next State Fair may now provide themselves with an article, very acceptable. He has applied for a patent, and is bound to get it. There is an elegantly furnished case of instruments from Leslie's Dental Depot, St. Louis, which show to a very good advantage. Attention to the superiority of copper lightning conductors is claimed by Mr. M. L. Arnold, agent for Lyon's patent. Mrs. Roberts of No. 60 North Fourth Street, St. Louis, presents a very beautiful case of bonnets, caps and fancy head dresses. A case of fancy articles, mostly brushes, the work of the pupils of the Illinois Blind Institution, is attracting very great interest. The mechanical arrangement would be difficult to surpass.


In our travels we encountered a grey and white mouse, marked A. N. Crowder. We referred to the list of premiums, but saw no such arrival described among the stock. Supposed, therefore, that he was miscellaneous, and note it so. It is a curiosity.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, October 9, 1856

Class F - No. 25, Plows

In continuation of our report under this head, we yesterday examined the remainder of the plows on exhibition. We call particular attention to the following, all of which are entered in the name of William M. Plant & Co. of St. Louis, Missouri:  The Eagle steel plow, two sizes, one and two horse, for old ground, and especially adapted for deep tilling. The Eagle Steel Sod Ground Breaker, which cuts a furrow from twelve to fifteen inches wide; a very light draught two-horse plow. Dubaugh's Red Prairie Breaker, a two horse plow. The draught is on an iron rod instead of the beam of the plow; the rod is adjustable, by means of which the width and depth of the furrow can be gauged as desired. The coulter is adjustable, as is also the mold, which is composed of rods, and can be arranged to throw the furrow in any manner. They have on exhibition a sample of the same kind of plow, with an ordinary mold-board for turning under tame sod. The Eagle Steel Sub-Soil Plow is evidently a very superior implement. It has two plows attached to the same beam, the smaller one in front. It can be set to plow from twelve to fifteen inches deep. It is very useful, almost indispensable for making a good crop in a dry season. The Eagle Subsoil, for running behind another plow. It turns no furrow, merely loosening and stirring the ground.


No. 26

Under this head William M. Plant & Co. of St. Louis have entered several very superior revolving horse rakes. Also a horse hoe or cultivator with five teeth for working corn and garden vegetables.


No. 27

We observed among the articles exhibited by William M. Plant & Co., a very superior center-draught ox yoke; it works square and easy on the neck oft be animals. D. J. Millard of Clayville, N. Y. has entered some samples of manure and hay forks and scythes of all kinds and sizes, and of a very superior make and finish.


No. 28 - Drills, Corn Planters, &c.

The display of articles of this class is quite large, and very creditable. Each presents some peculiar points of excellence, and among so many superior machines, it is difficult to decide to which belongs the palm.  William M. Plant & Co. of St. Louis, Mo., have entered a large number of articles under this head, among which we took note of the following:  A hand broadcast seed sower for sowing clover and timothy seed only; with it one man can sow ten or twelve acres a day. It sells for $6.  Malone's hand corn planter, plants two rows at a time, and is so constructed that it cannot clog. It costs $10, and with it one man can plant eight to twelve acres a day. 


Emory's seed and corn planter, for planting all kinds of grain and seed in drills, and corn in hills or drills. It can be worked by hand or horse, and will put in eight to twelve acres a day.  Sander's check row corn planter - horse power. Price $15.  Sander's check row corn planter - horse power. Price $15.


We also examined Dickey's patent corn and seed planter for hill or drill planting. It is drawn by one horse, and can be arranged to plant corn in any kind of ground, drops grain in rows or hills at any required distance. It also covers the grain and smoothes the ground. It was manufactured at Dayton, Ohio, and is exhibited by C. S. Chisom.


We next examined Moore's patent seed drill, and grass seed sower, which is manufactured at several points in this state. It sows grass and clover seed, broadcast, and drills grain - can do both at the same time. It is very simple in construction, and is not liable to break or get out of order. It can be regulated to sow any required quantity per acre, from three pecks to three bushels of grain, and from one to seven quarts of clover or grass seed. It is drawn by two horses, sows from ten to fifteen acres a day, and can be used in any kind of ground.


The Illinois corn planter, manufactured at Galesburg, Illinois, requires two horses and two men, and can plant sixteen to twenty acres per day, in drills or check rows. Also, a broom corn planter, and a wheat drill, got up on the same principle. In these planters the ground is opened by sharp runners.


The next we came to was Steven's Seed Sower. It is drawn by one horse and is very light, weighing only 270 pounds; is said to sow thirty across a day, of any seed that is thrown broadcast. The seeds pass between two India Rubber Rollers. Can sow any quantity per acre, from one peck to three bushels. Made at Chicago; price $50. This machine is so constructed, the seeding part can be removed, leaving a very convenient farm cart.


We next looked at Well's Broadcast Sower for sowing any kind of grain or seed. It can be instantly regulated to sow at any rate desired; it sows twenty-five acres a day with two horses, and can be worked with one horse. It is manufactured at Henry and Magnolia in this state, and sells for $60.


Hughes' Hand Corn Planter is an implement with which one man can plow seven or eight acres a day in any kind of ground. It can be adjusted to drop any required number of grains in a hill. It is made at New London, Missouri and sold at $5 each.


Flavel & Lemon's Reverse Tooth Drill, for one or two horses, plants any kind of grain that is suitable for drilling, at the rate of ten or fifteen acres per day. The teeth point backwards, and the machine cannot, of course, be clogged.


W. M. Plant & Co. of St. Louis are exhibiting a specimen of Geiser's Thresher and Cleaner, with six horse power; it can thresh and clean from four to eight hundred bushels a day. Price, $335. The same firm are exhibiting Moffat's Thresher and Cleaner with four horse power; can thresh and clean two to four hundred bushels a day. Price $265. They have also entered a sample of Excelsior Two Horse Railroad Power, with Thresher and Separator attached; it can turn out 150 to 225 bushels per day; and sells for $200. They are also exhibiting Wheeler's Thresher and Cleaner, to attach to above power, to turn out the same quantity; price, $145.  The same gentlemen have entered a number of the Virginia Tumbling Shaft Four Horse lever power, for general use; very simple in its construction; price $120.  The same firm is exhibiting Felton's Corn Cob and Feex Mill. It grinds corn into fine meal at the rate of eight bushels per hour, corn and cobs mixed at the same rate; corn and oats for feed at fifteen bushels per hour, requires four horsepower; price $150.  They have also entered Rankin's farming mill for cleaning all kinds of grain.


A very superior sawmill for cutting wood and rigging fence timber from the same house is on the ground. Requires a two horsepower, and sells at $45.  They are also exhibiting samples of single and double hand corn shellers, which turn out 150 to 300 bushels per day. Also, the Missouri hand or horse power corn sheller; it can shell four to six hundred bushels a day.  They have also entered some fine specimens of thermometer and cylinder churns, cheese presses, cotton and flax wheels. The same firm have also entered one of Dederick's portable hay presses for horse power. It can bail six to eight tons a day with one horse and three hands. Price $125 to $225.


Class H  -  No. 37, Flowers

This is hardly the proper season of the year for a good display in this department. Still, we are disappointed at the exceedingly small number of entries made under this head, and cannot but think that the gardeners and floraculterists of this vicinity have failed to make any exertions for the occasion. We spent a short time among the flower pots and bouquets, and picked up the following items:


L. Ellsworth & Co., Naperville, Dupage County, display a large and beautiful collection of verbenas of various colors and kinds, and also two round bouquets composed of the brightest and richest flowers.


Orlando Ordway, Lawn Ridge, Marshall County, Illinois, exhibits an extensive and well-arranged assortment of dried plants, herbs and grapes, botanically named. The number of varieties in this collection, we have been unable to learn.


Sarah Gordon, Linnville, Morgan County, competes for the best and greatest variety of dried flowers. This collection is also botanically arranged and named, and shows the collector to be a lady both of good taste and industry.


F. T. Harrison has a fine assortment of native wild flowers in bloom.  J. R. Woods, Alton, displays a great variety of most beautiful and tastefully arranged wild flowers and coxcombs.  To John Thomas of St. Louis belongs the honor of making the largest, best and by far the most elegant display of cut flowers to be found on the fairgrounds. In his collection we noticed twenty-six varieties of dahlias, some of them most beautiful and rare; twenty kinds of monthly roses, six varieties of seedling verbenas and three very tastefully arranged pyramid bouquets.


Class J - No. 42, Vehicles &c.

We today find among the vehicles several articles not heretofore mentioned, that appear to be worthy of particular notice. Shirley & Pence of Collinsville exhibit a light and well-finished trotting buggy. W. M. Plant & Co. of St. Louis have on exhibition a strong and well-made wheelbarrow, designed for general farm and garden use. Many other buggies, wagons and carriages, particularly those entered by Charles Davis of Gavy, and G. Higby of White Hall, and L. S. Barrett of Collinsville, will be found worthy of inspection.


The light barouche and extension top carriage, manufactured by Buckmaster and Wise of this city, attract attention and are creditable both to the enterprising makers and to Alton.


Class J - No. 43, Cabinet Ware

There is but a slim show of articles under this head. Still, the furniture that is displayed is of a very superior quality. A. Olcott of Alton has a number of tastefully designed and highly finished bureaus and tables, and we would advise all who are fond of fine furniture to call and examine them.  Howe's Patent Elliptic spring-bed bottoms, exhibited by I. R. Bradstreet of Chicago, are quite an attraction. This bed bids defiance to all competition in the way of spring bottoms. We fear that it would, if generally used, present too great inducements to late sleeping.


Class J - No. 44, Cooper's Wares, &c.

Miles Scott, Alton, has elicited many encomiums for a number of beautifully made and finished flour barrels. C. W. Jervise, St. Louis, has a fine display of cedar ware, including iron and brass buckets, &c. Stewart & Nutter of Alton undoubtedly take a premium for a splendidly finished flour barrel.


Class J - No. 41, Stoves, &c.

M. Maguire of Alton has on exhibition a large and beautiful assortment of cooking and ornamental parlor stoves. We noticed among them many new and elegant patterns; the more noteworthy of which are the "Eugenia," "Young America," and "New Era Coal Cooking Stove."  A. B. Platt of Alton has entered a fine coal stove, and a well-arranged and well-made article of the cooking stove genus. Mr. Morris Pauley of St. Louis displays an iron fence and gate of the most exquisite pattern and beautiful finish. The design is rural and the imitation of trees and leaves inimitable.


Class K, No. 48

Fairground was this morning much crowded. Crowds were elbowing and jostling everywhere and in all directions, yet all seemed well pleased with themselves, their neighbors, the show, and the sunshine. The lot of the reporter is, in some respects, a pleasant one. Closely wrapped in a habit of shawl and tippet (for the morning was cool), and another habit of independence, which we got from our mother and have not yet laid aside, we move around among the crowd, returning a nod here and a smile there, and as happy as the rest. Many pretty things attract one's attention, and in fact, we are as perfectly bewildered as a bashful boy, who in a room full of pretty girls, is required to "kiss the prettiest." Now and then, catching an idea, we rush out to some favorite spot, and there develop in our notebook an item. some of these items we will make public.


The first thing that drew our notice was a Patent Adjustable Car Seat for day and night traveling; the most complete thing of the kind we ever beheld. The seat was so adjusted as to admit of being reversed like others, and also was adapted to sitting upright, or a reclining posture, at the traveler's option. It combined the advantages of ease and durability in a remarkable manner. C. P. Bailey & Co. of Zanesville, Ohio are the patentees.


Beside, there was a specimen of F. M. Ray's Patent Volute Car Springs and Buffers, possessing advantages over every other patent yet exhibited. These articles were exhibited by John B. LeBert, Patentee's agent at Chicago.


We saw some more specimens of Crayon Drawing, which we thought were remarkably fine, but did not ascertain the artists' names. Miss Everett of Quincy displayed several fine oil paintings of the landscape order. The best specimen of fancy painting in oil, however, was by Mrs. Robert Smith of Alton. It was a copy from an engraving, but the execution was inimitable. There were other examples of fancy oil painting, but we did not ascertain the artists' names.  Flower and fruit painting had no exponents worth noticing. The niches intended for statuary and sculpture were entirely vacant, but there were so many pretty faces present who occupy niches in our friendship, that we did not deplore the absence of all others.


Class M, No. 54

The collections of plants, fossils, monpeal, birds and shells were so few and so unworthy that we can shell out but few notes. We noticed one collection of plants which numbered over three hundred varieties, all named. Several other smaller lots, representing the botany of the prairies of our state, were on exhibition. The collections of animals representing the zoology of Illinois were few and rather poor. Reptiles were various and many, and were well worth examining. We will make more particular mention of this department tomorrow.


Class N

W. M. Plant and Co. of St. Louis have a variety of articles in this class. Their display of harrows is excellent. All sizes and descriptions. The point of interest about them is the hinge adjustment, and the property of expansion, so that the machine adapts itself to all kinds of surfaces. There is also a peculiar harrow from J. M. Eastwood of Girard, Illinois. It is made in three pieces, and two horsepower, designed for rough and ready use. A dog or sheep power, from Plant & Co., is a convenient contrivance, and we have no doubt will take well for light work.


Constable & Co. of St. Louis have two of their Fire Monarch Safes on exhibition, they have a Sub Treasury and Yale's patent lock to recommend them. Weight of large size, 2, 325 lbs. Price $210. Also a very finished and substantial brass lock, called the Numerical Bank lock. It has eleven wards, and can only be opened or closed by a peculiar arrangement of nine different numbers marked on the handle. It is a perfect mathematical puzzle, as well as an impenetrable lock. Price $150.


We saw some highly polished hay forks from D. J. Millard of Clayville, N. Y.  J. A. Weatherby of Rockford, Ill. had a patent broom handle. One of these will last many years, they are sold at $1 each, and to the farm who has broom corn at his command, they are the very thing. An excellent article of corn broom is here; the work of Edwin Caldwell, of the Illinois Blind Institution.


A model of Tut's Patent Portable Fence is on exhibition. This can be opened readily at any point in the enclosure. It stands upon the ground, and does not need post or post holes, and is furnished at the rate of seventy-eight cents per panel of twelve feet. Economists should notice this.


Some beautiful wire work was presented by E. R. Davis & Co. of St. Louis. A very neat and tasty fire screen, with design on it, called forth much praise. S. C. McDonough of Alton had certainly as fine a jar of brandy peaches as we ever saw displayed anywhere. Mrs. Fisher tempted the crowd with a magnificent candy pyramid. Miss E. S. Reigart of Alton, and Miss Molly Cooper of Upper Alton, have each executed some fancy leather work, which was very attractive.


At all corners and in all places we met with some strange specimens of skill in the arts and sciences. For some things we could find no names, and dared not to name them ourselves. So we passed them in silence. As yet nothing has been done in Class O. We shall be prepared, however, to note all transactions in this department tomorrow.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, October 9, 1856

Class F, No. 28, Drills, Corn Planters &c.

Pursuing our investigation of articles arranged in the above class, we yesterday examined Selby's Patent Grain and Grass Seed Sower; sows grass seed broadcast, and drills grain - can do both at once. It is drawn by two horses, and sows ten to twelve acres a day; it can be adjusted to sow any quantity from a peck to ten bushels per acres. It is manufactured at Peoria, Ill., by N. W. Jones.


Class F, No. 30, Threshers, Horse Powers, &c

Messrs. Roberts & Co., of Belleville, Illinois have on exhibition a sample of Cox & Roberts' Patent Thresher and Cleaner, four or six horse power, and very simple in its construction. It threshes and cleans three to four hundred bushels a day. Price $260.


Emery's Portable Thresher and Cleaner was the next we examined. It is worked by an endless chain two-horse power, and threshes and cleans two hundred bushels wheat, and four hundred bushels oats in a day. It is made in New York and sells for $275.


N. Hanson & Co., of our city, have on exhibition one of their celebrated Separators - Pitts' Patent. Of these, they have two varieties - one driven by band and the other by gearing. It is worked by eight horses, and cleans four hundred bushels a day on an average. The manufacturers have sold four hundred of these machines during the past season, at $300 each. The same firm entered an eight horse power, for general purposes; it is adapted for doing all kind of work, and is a very simple and superior machine.


We next paid attention to the famous little giant corn and cob crusher; it is being exhibited by J. B. Chadwick of St. Louis. We saw it work, and being satisfied of its superiority, unhesitatingly avow that it is the best machine of the kind we ever saw, so far as we are capable of judging. It attracted much attention from the farmers and stock raisers, most of whom are already familiarized with its qualities through their respective agricultural papers. The little giant improved, or double little giant, as exhibited by Mr. Chadwick, is certainly a great institution. It consists of three cones or cylinders, with grinding teeth or grooves, one of which moves between the other two, and by presenting a double grinding surface, does as much work as two ordinary mills. The ears of corn are thrown into the hopper and comes through ground into a superior quality of feed. It is claimed by many distinguished stock growers, that corn prepared for feed in this manner will go as far as double the quantity fed out on the cob. In view of these facts, we are not at all surprised that Mr. Chadwick and his little giant occupied a full share of attention on the fairgrounds.


There were quite a number of Fanning Mills on exhibition, all of them excellent machines, so far as we are capable of judging. Among them we noticed Goodrich's Patent Fanning Mill for cleaning and separating all kinds of grain and seeds. It is manufactured at Aurora, Ill., by H. N. Goodrich. The specimen on exhibition was made of fine walnut, and is a very pretty machine.


The Eagle Fan next attracted our attention. It is manufactured at Laporte, Indiana by Mr. Jervis & Co. It attracted the attention of the farmers on account of its simplicity, compactness, quality of its work as a seed and grain separator, and its cheapness. It separates by the blast mainly, and by an arrangement of iron planes, dispenses with the old-fashioned shoe in the back end. It is only 28 inches wide, allowing it to be taken easily through any ordinary door. It is for sale in Alton by Topping Brothers.


The next we looked at was Montgomery's Rockaway Grain Fan. In cleaning wheat, it removes everything except the pure grain and if there is any timothy seed in the wheat, it cleans and preserves it carefully. We are informed that it has cleaned 84 bushels of wheat in an hour when on trial before the committee. It is manufactured at Kane County, Illinois by Roach & Co. Price $27.50.


We next spent some time in examining a self-sacking corn sheller, exhibited by T. W. McFarland of Salem, Ohio. It is doubled-chuted, and works by either hand or horse power. Two men can shell and sack 200 bushels of corn in one day with it; three men, 300 bushels; two men and a horse, 400 bushels. It has a fan which cleans the corn as it passes through. It is one of the most complete and perfect machines we ever saw.


We next looked at the American Corn Sheller - J. J. Johnson's Patent - made at Alleghany City, Pennsylvania. It works by hand or horse power, and is remarkable for simplicity and speed. It can shell about 300 bushels of corn a day. Price $20.


We next examined Stockton's Self-Sharpener and Applier, for cutting straw and hay, exhibited by R. S. Hall of Abingdon, Ill. It works by hand and sharpens itself.  F. Thorp of Shelbyville, Illinois showed us a churn he has recently patented. He calls it an Adjustable Churn and Butter Worker. He says it will make butter in five minutes.  Root & Platt of Alton exhibited some fine samples of thermometrical and cylinder churns. Wisner's Patent Wash Tub and Rubber attracted much attention from the ladies. Our readers are already somewhat familiar with it, it having been advertised in our columns some months. It is said to do the work of six persons in washing. It is made at Lena, Ill. by Amrose & Col.  A Mr. Kenzie had on exhibition a filterer, which purifies soft water, no matter how foul it may be, making it clear as crystal. There should be one of these in every house.


Messrs. Root & Platt had on exhibition one of Hickox's celebrated cider mills - a very superior machine for grinding and pressing apples. It grinds a bushel of apples in a minute, and presses six to ten barrels of cider a day. We have seen this machine work, and we know it works well.


The display of agricultural implements is very extensive and creditable to the exhibitors. Particularly we would mention the firm of Mr. W. M. Plant & Co. of St. Louis, who had on the ground an immense number of farming and garden tools and implements. Their lot comprises a very large proportion of the articles of this class on exhibition, perhaps more than one-fourth.


Class G, Farm Products, &c.

We regret to have to announce that the display of articles of this class was rather meager, compared with other departments, and what articles were there were not arranged to show to advantage. Some of the products shown were excellent, but we are sure Illinois can do better any time. We saw some very good corn and fine pumpkins from the farm of Silas Hulburt, near our city. George Booth of Alton exhibited some very fine turnips. We saw a sample of white wheat from Union County - a very superior article. J. T. DeBaun of Godfrey showed us some honey in the comb which, we think, would take a premium almost anywhere. We also tasted a sample of peaches of last year's growth, which had been put up in cans by Mrs. Dorsey and Mrs. Mabee of Upper Alton. Several cans of very excellent butter were exhibited. We observed there some of the finest products of the eggplant we ever saw. There were also several barrels of superior flour from various mills. the handsomest articles we saw in this department were a sponge cake and a pound cake made by Mrs. Fisher of our city. There were a great many other specimens of farm products of various kinds, all very good, but we did not observe anything else that we thought worthy of a special notice. We are very sure that if the best of each kind that is grown in the state could have been on the ground, the display would have been infinitely superior to what it was.


Class J, No. 38, Engines, Machinery, &c.

Stigleman, Johnson & Co., Alton, have on exhibition in the building appropriated to articles in this department, a stationery steam engine of twenty-five horsepower in active operation. It is a finished piece of mechanism, is of the best workmanship, and has all the latest improvements, including Sudson's Patent Balance valve, and an improved governor. It has elicited much attention, and speaks volumes of commendation for the establishment by which it was manufactured.


Next we found one of Foreman's grinding and bolting flouring mills, and also his celebrated double action steel wire cloth flour bolt. A mill with two pair of burrs, 33 inches in diameter, conveyors, elevators and bolts, all ready for use, occupies space only 9 feet long, 7 feet wide and 9 feet high. It is adapted to any kind of grain, will grind and belt five hundred bushels per day, and yet weighs only five thousand pounds. It is manufactured by E. H. Pendleton & Co., Cincinnati, Ohio.


Topping Brothers, Alton, exhibit a beautiful writing machine, and also a collection of pumps for cisterns and wells for the farm and for general use. These pumps are well made substantial articles, and deserve the attention of every farmer in the state.


A large assortment of sewing machines of all sorts, kinds, sizes and patents are displayed upon the grounds, and seem to form quite an attractive feature of the fair. Entries of these machines have been made by C. W. Crosby, Edwin Dean and L. M. McDowell, all of St. Louis.


W. M. Perdee of St. Louis exhibits a superior article of grist mill.


C. R. Harrison of Alton has an improved machine for making tile and pipe drainer. The subject of drainage is very important to the agricultural interest and the development of the vast resources of Illinois. Everything new in this line is worthy of notice, and we hope that Mr. Harrison's improvement, which is both substantial and useful, will attract particular attention.


Another interesting article is the hydraulic apparatus, exhibited by S. D. Brown of Scott, Courtland County, New York. We should like to say more upon this subject, but time and space alike forbid.


Class L

In the rag carpet line there were some dozen specimens, all of which were good, and so far as we could see, of equal merit. A fine variety of knit hose was shown; a pair of stockings, No. 64, are especially worthy of mention. There was also an endless amount of lace and embroidered work in the shape of collars, chemisetts and other female paraphernalia, which gave evidence of much taste and skill, but about which we as bachelors are supposed to be, and indeed are personally ignorant. We noticed several mantillas very prettily embroidered in silk. But we must drop this branch, for the more we strive to say the better we are convinced that a lady's pen should have been called into requisition in this department. They, and they alone, can do justice to the superior elegances of a shawl or collar, the exquisite needlework upon a pineapple handkerchief, and the delicate texture and proportions of silken hose; the fineness of a domestic carpet, and the blended tints of a worsted landscape; the style of a robe de nuit and the splendors of bed quilts. We are utterly ignorant of their different excellencies, we can only gaze and wonder and admire.


A specimen of French merino wool, exhibited by Messrs. Stipp & Latouse of Canton, Illinois, attracted and deserved much attention from those interested in such matters. The weight of the fleece was twenty-seven pounds, and in fineness it was unequalled, and in the judgment of those who ought to know, could not be excelled anywhere.  No. 126, a south down fleece, and No. 198, Cotsworld, the best of their kinds, both exhibited by William B. Hundley, Esq., of this county.


Class M

Collections of shells were small and rather unsatisfactory. We noticed, however, two or three cabinets of shells, minerals, fossils, and various other curiosities which were very attractive. Among these, one of Mrs. J. R. Woods of Madison County, was peculiarly fine. We observed a large skull, said to be of a buffalo, found on Wood River. Specimens of Rockingham ware were excellent. This was manufactured at Upper Alton and exhibited various articles of culinary use. We have never seen any that was so neat in appearance and bore a polish so well as this.


Tera cotta was abundantly represented from Upper Alton and other places, and Warnack's stone and earthen ware from that place was excellently fine. Two or three stone jars of the capacity, we think, of a barrel, were much wondered at. Some very fine fire brick made, we did not learn where, were on exhibition. We seen five lots of mould candles, which were highly colored, and judged to be of a superior kind.


Messrs. J. Lock & Bros. of Alton exhibited specimens of lime, burnt at this place, which for qualities of purity and whiteness, we think cannot be surpassed. Beck, Vantilbays & Co. of St. Louis had some hydraulic cement of a superior kind. Other chemicals and products of chemical action were exhibited, many of which were excellent of their kind, but we have neither time nor space to mention more, however much our inclination may dispose us. A. J. Gillingham of St. Louis exhibited some specimen of marking fluid, which possessed peculiar advantages over others, and took a premium.


Class N

We have very little left to notice in this department. Perhaps we may be excused, however, for any deficiency in this report, from the fact that the dust so completely covered the most of the articles that we had to depend entirely upon the touch and not upon the sight for our description. One thing, however, was not easy hidden, namely a 3 year old Durham Bull, Kessuth, from Paris, Edgar County, belonging to Col. Blackburn. This is a magnificent animal, and was universally admired. From the want of pedigree with this animal, it failed to receive the first Premium, of which otherwise it was deemed worthy. A Diploma and $10 was awarded.


J. D. Bruner exhibited a Cider Mill and Feed Cutter combined, manufactured by Buckmaster & Wise. It will grind a bushel per hour, and is readily converted into a cheese or lard press. Such a combination of utilities cannot fail to merit a ready sale. Price, $50.


Class O

Considerable interest was manifested today by the competitors in this class, each entry had its particular friends anxious concerning the result. These were four teams. A Naperville, Ill., plough, Vaughan & Peck, makers, L. Babcock ploughman. A Moline, Ill. plough, John Deere, makers, Robert Stanley, ploughman. A plough made by C. H. Dawson, Jacksonville, and held by J. Howsley, Chesterfield, and a mule team belonging to Urial Mills, Salem, Ill., ploughed by Robert Mills without lines. The work was well done, all of it, but the strife appeared to be between Howsley and Mills, both went 8 inches deep. Howsley perhaps the deepest, but Mills' rather straighter furrow. The Committee are at a loss to whom to award the first premium.


There was only one entry for the $15 premium - boys of 14, &c. Edward Clance Mills, who executed his work with skill and dispatch; such exhibitions as these are of the greatest interest, and the beneficial results arising from them will be seen in the superiority of the corn which springs from well-plowed land, over that which is grown on land merely scraped.


Class H, Nos. 36 and 37, Fruits and Flowers

Another short walk through the hall devoted to the horticulturalists and floriculturists. Every time we pass through the array of fruits and flowers, we see something new, something superb, something either pleasant to the smell, or calculated to make the mouth water. Besides the vast array of delicious apples heretofore mentioned, we today came across several other assortments, no less extensive and no less choice. Charles Howard of Alton has seventy-three of the very best varieties. B. F. Child of Calhoun County, six varieites, and N. B. Lucas, Otter Creek, Jersey County, twenty-five varieties.


J. D. Burns of Alton exhibits several monstrous specimens of autumn pears. Gershom Flagg of Paddock's Grove has several bottles of current wine, almost as clear as crystal. A. G. Wolford and L. Hamlin prove by several bunches of Catawba grapes that this delicious fruit can be raised in Alton, and that too in bunches that are perfect mammoths for size.


Robert Kennicott of West Northfield, Cook County, has taken the premium, and well does he deserve it, for the best and greatest variety of dried plants and herbs, arranged and named botanically. His collection is valuable and deserves the attention and study of the botanist. 


Dr. Humbert of Upper Alton has a beautiful flat bouquet, most tastefully arranged and ornamented and embellished with a number of the rarest and most elegant dahlias.


A pair of flat hand bouquets, displayed by John Atwood of our city, contained many beautiful flowers, are are put together in good taste.


Class J, No. 39, Philosophical Instruments &c.

The display of articles in this department is very limited, and there is little or no competition. Still, in our wanderings, we found several instruments, and some apparatus, of fine workmanship, of the most beautiful model and highest finish. W. & L. E. Gurley, of Troy, N. Y., have on exhibition quite a large assortment of Engineers' and Surveyors' instruments of their own manufacture. We noticed Engineers' Transit and Leveling instruments, a Theodolite, two common Compasses, a Transit Compass, and a variety of pocket Compasses. These instruments are of the newest pattern and are warranted to be of the best construction and correct in all their parts.


W. Blackburn of Troy, N. Y. exhibits a Theodolite of beautiful workmanship, and warranted to be all that could be desired in such an instrument. A. M. Leslie of St. Louis displays, by far, the largest and best assortment of Dentist's instruments. Having teeth pulled with such instruments, as we see in this collection, must be almost a luxury.


M. L. Arnold, Amboy, Lee County, has an extensive assortment of Lyon's Copper Lightning Conductors. These conductors differ from others, by being composed of pure copper in a sheet form, thus presenting a large amount of surface to the electric atmosphere.


And now, last under this head, but by no means least, comes the electric telegraph apparatus. It is exhibited by J. J. S. Wilson of Ottawa, Ill., and was made by Caton & Doyle of the same place. It is silver plated, highly finished, contains all the latest improvements, and is said, by competent judges, to be the best apparatus now in use. The apparatus upon the fairgrounds is connected by wires with the telegraph office in Alton, and has, during the last few days, been in active operation.


No. 45, Saddlers' Products, &c.

The display of articles under this head is both large and creditable. We cannot mention everything, and where all are excellent, it is difficult to make distinctions. We will try to note some of the best.


Turner & Sidway, or our city, have, we understand, taken a number of premiums. They exhibit a strong, substantial wagon harness made for hard work and general use, a splendid silver mounted barouche harness, buggy and sulky harness of the most exquisite workmanship, traveling trunks that cannot be beat, and horse collars of all sorts, kinds and descriptions. Turner & Sidway have added new honors to their laurels.


J. J. Sugler of Springfield has by far the largest display of saddles. His gents spring saddle, ladies' saddle, and saddle for general use have won both premiums and praise. They are of the finest workmanship, and the ladies' saddle is the most exquisite thing of the kind that we have ever laid our eyes upon. Mr. Sugler also has a set of single harness of which we may say ditto.


T. B. Edgar, St. Louis, has a double set of carriage harness with heavy silver mountings and highly ornamented. Isaac Shrick, St. Louis, has a number of well made horse collars. S. F. Summers, of the same place, has several substantial trunks.  John Bryan of Rhodes Point, Macoupin, we think, took a premium for a gents riding saddle. C. Wuerker of Alton exhibited a beautiful adies' saddle. M. W. Carroll of Alton has on exhibition a fine assortment of substantial harness and saddlery.


We noticed a plow harness which has drawn a first premium, a set of double harness, horse collars, halters and a farmer's saddle for general use. All these articles are well put together, of the best material and intended for service and not merely for show.  S. B. W. Stewart & Co., Alton, have quite a display of boots, shoes, and ladies slippers. They are of the best quality, just such as they keep in their store on Third Street for sale.


No. 46, Bookbinders' Products, &c.

The entries in this category are few. The articles of this description which are exposed to view, though meager in number, are excellent in quality. G. T. Brown, Alton, exhibited many beautiful specimens of bookbinding. He has books bound in all styles, both plain and ornamental. The combinations of morocco, gilt, and frost work are exquisite, and indicate both good taste and skill. Indeed, beauty and substantiability seem to be the character of everything in this collection.


Gardener & White of Quincy also displayed a splendid suit of bound books of their own manufacture. This array embraces an imperial Bible, bound in different styles, and that, too, the most ornamental and elaborate known to the art.


Lewis & Groshon of St. Louis, and J. H. Adams of Springfield, have furnished for the Fair fur and silk hats, and cloth caps, of the newest and neatest patterns and of the finest finish. Finally, J. G. Stephens, of our city, has a supply of the best and most tastefully got up silk hats of the season. They are indeed unapproachable, real ornaments to the human head, and we advise all, both old and young, to call at their store and get a fit.


No. 47, Worked Metals, &c.

Under this head we note an assortment of axes of all sorts, sizes and makes, exhibited by Topping & Bros. of Alton, and a supply of superior bank locks by N. Constable of St. Louis, S. T. Hopson of Chesterfield, Illinois, and Morris Pawley of St. Louis. Of horseshoes, any quantity are exhibited, and that too of the best patterns and finish. Messrs. T. Richardson, T. Brown and D. Miller, of our city, are among the competitors in this line, but to whom the premium has been awarded, we have not as yet learned.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, October 9, 1856

Having closed our reports upon the animals and articles exhibited at our recent State Fair, we will simply remark that everything has passed off pleasantly, and so far as we know, to the entire satisfaction of all concerned. Although threatening to be showery during the first day or two, the weather has been quite as favorable as could have been expected and desired. The most disagreeable feature was in the dust, which rolled in every direction in immense heavy clouds, completely covering everything and everybody to almost entire obscurity, during the last two days. Various estimates have been made of the probable number of visitors in attendance, in the aggregate; we presume the number did not fall far short of fifty thousand, and perhaps exceeded that. There were estimated to be twenty-five thousand strangers in our city on Thursday. These strangers came, not only from all parts of our own and adjoining States, but from almost every State in the Union. It may be a matter of wonder to some how we fed and lodged this great multitude; all who were here know that it was done - that everyone who desired it was comfortably housed and provisioned - but they "can't exactly see the lick it was done with." Our hotel keepers exerted themselves to the utmost to entertain the greatest possible number, as did the Alton Packet Company, who had several of their boats lying at the wharf every night. In addition to this, almost every private house in town was opened, and crowded to its utmost capacity; and here we will suggest that an Illinois house possesses the faculty of elongation and expansion perfectly enigmatical to a stranger. We do not know of a single person having applied for lodging during the whole week, who did not get a comfortable place to sleep. With so large and so miscellaneous a crowd from so many different sections in attendance, it was to be expected that the pleasure and quiet of the occasion would be broken by disturbances, breaches of the peace, &c.  In view of this, our city police force was doubled and more thoroughly organized. We are happy to be able to say that they discharged their responsible duties with great promptness and fidelity; too much credit cannot be awarded to Sheriff Swain and his deputies, and Marshal Wissore and his assistants, for their faithfulness and efficiency during the fair. We saw but one demonstration towards a fight during the entire week, and believe there were fewer disturbances than in any gathering of its size we ever before saw. We are informed by the officers of the Society, that the display of goods was larger and better, and the receipts heavier than they expected. Much that is interesting in this regard we cannot get at until the officers of the Society make their report, when we will furnish our readers with a list of the premiums awarded, the amount of business done, with everything else connected with the exhibition that will be interesting to them.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, October 9, 1856

All unsettled bills against the Secretary may be handed over to Colonel S. A. Buckmaster. It is not known that there are any bills outstanding, the President having remained in the city until last every for the purpose of giving parties time to bring them in.  The plate and diplomas awarded are now ready for delivery by Col. Williams, the Treasurer, at Springfield. The medals are in course of preparation, and will soon be ready for delivery. Several articles were found on the grounds, which can be had by the proper owners, on application to J. A. Miller, Esq., at his office. A pocket book containing a large number of papers, supposed to belong to William P. Free of St. Clair County, has been left at this office.






Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 11, 1906

From the Carrollton (Ill.) Patriot - Dr. James Squire of this city [Carrollton] was a resident of Madison county for a number of years, and well remembers many of the early happenings in that county. He attended a state fair, held in Alton in September 1856, which was one of the first state fairs held. In describing some of the incidents connected with that fair, Dr. Squire said:


"Col. Samuel Buckmaster was the general superintendent. He was one of the leading men in that section, and was at that time warden of the penitentiary at Alton. He gave to my father, William Squire of Godfrey, the contract to supply all the feed necessary for the livestock on exhibition. This required about four loads of hay, of a ton each. Two loads were delivered in the forenoon and two loads in the afternoon. And it wasn't baled hay, either. I remember that my brother and I rode into the fair on the loads of loose hay. In addition to this, two loads of corn were delivered each day, and a load of oats, and that was all that was needed to feed the stock of all kinds on exhibition there. My mother, Mrs. Lydia Squire, received a medal as first premium on her entry of ten pounds of butter. My brother, Heber Squire of Godfrey, has the medal now to exhibit. Col. Buckmaster had the premium double team of horses, called Dobbin and Robbin. They were sorrels, and were considered quite speedy. The fastest time made by Robbin was 2:30 for a mile. He was the champion of the track, having been brought from Ohio by Col. Buckmaster. My brother, Frank, now of Godfrey, rode Robbin and took the first premium as the best boy rider in the state. My father bought the premium wagon, which was made at the penitentiary, for $125. Only four wagons were on exhibition. The premium for the best plow was awarded after a practical test of plowing a small patch on the fairgrounds. I held the plow handles during a part of the exhibition. Daniel Miller of Alton got the premium on his plow. One of the attractions, I remember, was a pair of calves yoked together and drawing a wooden sled around the quarter-mile track. The sled was loaded with boys. On the last afternoon of the fair all premium animals paraded around the ring. There were horses, cattle and sheep, and last of all was the team of calves with a blue ribbon tied to the yoke. There wasn't too much rush and hurry and noise and excitement as there is at the state fair these days, and there wasn't such a big crowd, but everybody visited everybody else and had a good time."




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 2, 1906

Just fifty years ago today the last day of the Illinois State Fair was held in the city of Alton. The city was thronged with people from all over the state, says H. G. McPike, who remembers it clearly. Mr. McPike says that the street near the old St. Charles hotel was lined with wagons and conveyances of every description, whose owners were shouting out the fact that they would haul you out to the state fair grounds for ten cents. Most of the wagons were farm wagons, with straw in them, and with boards placed across for seats. The fair was held on the Peter Wise tract of ground, now the Turner tract. Roadways had been marked off through the trees, and scores of little tents and other temporary coverings had been erected for the fair. The exhibits were mostly cattle, chickens and farm machinery. Many of the exhibits were under the trees in the grove separated by a rope being run around from tree to tree to make an enclosure. Mr. McPike says he remembers well the last day of the fair and the crowds that attended. Hundreds and hundreds of horses and buggies and teams were tied along the roadway on State street from the intersection of Main and State streets, out to North Alton. These were the outfits of people who had driven to Alton to see the fair, and many of them had driven no less than fifty or sixty miles, for railroads were not so many or convenient in that day. The principal speaker of the day was Stephen A. Douglas, who made an address at the fairgrounds. Mr. Samuel Pitts of the firm of Pitts & Hamill, says that he remembers well the last day of the fair, but that his father's hotel, the old St. Charles house, was doing such a rushing business that he could not find time to go out to the fairgrounds. Mr. Pitts remembers that many celebrated persons were here to attend the fair on that day, and that it must have been a sort of round up of the politicians, not at all unlike the political round ups at the state fair in this day. There are many of Alton's older citizens who say that they attended the fair on that day, but many do not remember any of the details.  This was the first and last time that Alton ever had the Illinois state fair. A fight had been made for several years to bring it here, and the fall of 1856 was Alton's turn. Joseph Brown was mayor of Alton at the time, and was busy with the duties of receiving the celebrated politicians and others of the state who came to the fair. To the younger generations of men who are promoting Alton's interests, this one event can be looked back upon as one of the times a long time ago when there was something doing in Alton, when all roads led toward Alton.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 3, 1906

Miss Wilhmina Trenchery has brought to J. H. Booth two silver medals, which are said to be the only relics of the old state fair held in Alton fifty years ago this week. The two silver medals were awarded to Miss Trenchery's father, the late Prof. Emil Trenchery, for the best exhibit of a piano and melodeon. The medals recite on them what they are awarded for and to whom awarded. Miss Trenchery also has a piano stool which was in that day one of the most expensive stools Mr. Trenchery had in his stock. It was used by Patti when she appeared in Alton. The medals and stool are to be exhibited in the show window of the Booth store.



Source: Alton Evening Telegraph Centennial Edition, January 15, 1936, by George Leighty

It has been 80 years now since the citizens of Alton surrendered themselves (with reservations to be sure, shrewd Northerners that they were) to the lure of a State Fair. In this now mellow period of the state's history, the assorted honorables in the state legislature were of the habit of selling the privilege of holding the annual State Fair to the city making the highest bid for that honor, and in the year 1856 our earnest forbears dug down deep into the pockets of their broadcloth pantaloons and brought the whole works, lock, stock and barrel, to Alton. And the moment the guardians of our political destiny said "go," the plans, which out city's fathers had hastily formed and hung out to dry on thin threads of hope, were snatched down from the line, washed out again, and put into execution. The lid was off! St. Louis would soon be a mere suburb of Alton, and they couldn't help it because some people had been simple-minded enough to put good money in Chicago real estate. All they ever had needed was a chance to do their stuff before the world, anyhow, and here it was.

Next to the spirit of panic, the most infectious mood in the world is that which descends upon the human race at the prospect of having a good time, and when such prospect is augmented by the desirable end of making a pretty penny for everybody concerned, the method in the madness of those people of 1856, who worked like troopers all that summer and fall, to make Alton's State Fair a success, can readily be seen. The spirit of the mardi gras could (and must!) be made to foam up and overflow the whole scene - elephants, Bengal tigers, and all the birds and beasts of the jungle, strange and rare, ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds, and calliopes, they could (and must!) have - but though bedlam would be allowed to wax thick on the surface, underneath the antics of the flying acrobats, the true lines of battle must be drawn, and never lost sight of - even for an instant.

If black-coated industrialists in the East were to be enticed here to exhibit their products, and ultimately locate their factories; if men of means and a mercantile flair were to come, see and smile upon our rugged hills; if hickory-shirted farmers were to be allowed to demonstrate beyond question the superior fertility of the Illinois soil; if steamboat men from New Orleans, Memphis, Louisville, were to behold in proper relief the convenient compatibility with which the Mississippi river had been graciously located at the lower terminal of three railroads; if, in short, the men who lived, worked and believed in Alton were to put a crease in its Sunday pants and pick the burrs out of it hair before Nov. 1, somebody had to get up and move. No amount of hand-clapping would product a good genii to transform on the instant the bluffs of the Mississippi into a tinseled Baghdad for the gratification of strangers.

The first meeting of the Alton citizens to form a Fair Association was held in April in the Alton fire house, on the corner of Market and Second streets. Among those present at this meeting were: Col. Buckmaster, superintendent of the penitentiary and local representative of the power of the state of Illinois; Capt. Bruner, steamboat man and designer of several of the fastest steamers ever to ply the Mississippi; L. A. Parks, one of the founders of the Telegraph; Dr. Hope, two-fisted ex-mayor; one Ezra Miller, a builder and contractor of marked talent; and many others too numerous to mention, but comprising to a man the leading property owners, business and professional men of the town.
When the meeting came to the nearest approach of order it every managed to attain, Col. Buckmaster, as much because of his dynamic personality, as because of is political significance, was placed in the chair. From this point, the colonel waved the stick over most of the performance that was about to befall. Under his booming leadership, sincere, albeit dreadfully wearisome, resolutions were proposed, adopted and communicated in due order to persons, organizations, corporations and companies, expressing an appeal for them, one and all, to attend the Alton State Fair. Manifestos were issued calling upon this or that excellency in Boston, Albany and other capitals, to come on out and take a ringside seat whilst the millennium began its descent upon the choicest portion of the Golden Rod state. And Ezra Miller, our builder, was elected superintendent of grounds and buildings. Upon his shoulders was placed the heavy task of bringing order out of chaos. Somebody would have to go out to the edge of the city, clear land, erect buildings suitable for the occasion, and otherwise see to it that no steam engine manufacturer arrived in Alton on the day of the fair, only to find that he would be unable to rent appropriate space and shelter wherein to demonstrate and exhibit his product. This task would be Mr. Miller's.

But the Fair Association chose well. Considering the trials and obstacles to be encountered by the man bearing the title, "superintendent of buildings and grounds," any one of which would have driven a less purposeful man to distraction - considering what Mr. Miller had "to do with," he will ever remain Alton's miracle man No. 1. He had to be his own landscape gardener, half the time he was compelled to design the buildings he laid out and erected, and many times, when it would be discovered that "another hundred" dollars was needed before the preparations for the fair could go on, the superintendent of grounds and buildings went boldly and grimly out and raised the money among the business men of the town.

The fairgrounds were on what was at that time known as the "Hawley tract" near Sempletown, between Alton and North Alton, near what is now Danforth street. This vicinity, at the time Mr. Miller and his associates arrived upon the scene, was virgin forest. The task of clearing the place meant a great deal more than merely cutting trees. Underbrush was as thick as grass and the whole mass - trees and underbrush - were knotted together with grapevines and old ivy. But by the last of September, with one month to go, except for the gathering up of a few loose ends, Mr. Miller had accomplished his purpose. All the underbrush and such of the large trees as suited his purpose had been removed. The whole place, one-quarter of a mile square, was intertwined with paths and roadways. A grand exhibition hall, 200 feet long and 50 feet wide, to house the farm products exhibit, had been build. Six wells had been dug at advantageous points over the grounds. Numerous individuals exhibition halls had been erected for the benefit of such manufacturers as might care to use them. A veritable forest of small stands for refreshment vendors had been built. Space had been provided for the great combination of three circuses that was to come. A half mile race track had been laid out, plowed and conditioned. Verily, Mr. Miller might now relax and await the advent of the opening day. But not this Mr. Miller. Work was yet to be done. Between two trees, above the gateway at the entrance of the fairgrounds, he suspended a huge red banner, 50 feet long and six feet wide. And not being satisfied with this comparatively mild sample of advertising technique, he went to the bluffs overlooking the river above the town, and erected two well-braced pillars 25 feet high, 1600 feet apart. Between these two pillars he suspended a wire (or cable, as it certainly must have been), and from this, to whet the imagination of approaching travelers, red, white and blue streamers were suspended. Mr. Miller was one of Alton's first advertising experts.

While all these things were being accomplished under the direction of Mr. Miller, it must not be supposed that other members of the Fair Association were inactive. Numerous other projects were simultaneously going on under the direction of others. Preparations were made and every night the fair was in progress. The road leading from the depots and the levee, out Belle street to the fairground, was graded and given a heavy coat of McAdam. Arrangements were made with various prospective exhibitors, and negotiations were carried on with the three circuses that were to combine their shows for this event. Those who had caught the spirit, and could find nothing better to do, were busy doing a fancy job of beating the tom-toms.

In the penitentiary, Col. Buckmaster's prisoners were bending over their part of the work. The carpenter shop inside the prison walls turned out chairs, tables, window frames, etc., the blacksmith shop turned out fancy iron gates, horseshoes, foot-scrapers, and the tailor shop produced a number of high grade garments - all to be placed on exhibition at the Fair, to increase the fame of Alton abroad.

The strictly private enterprises of the town too, fermented with preparatory activities. Our hosts, Mr. Pitts of the Franklin House, Mr. Corson of the Alton House, and others holding forth for the public's convenience at such respectable hostelries, as the Piasa House, expanded their brand of business activity to its utmost possibilities. The Franklin House was remodeled and on the day of the fair sported such innovations as a specially constructed ladies' entrance, a 10-by-10 lookout tower, from which point such steamboat races, as might occur between arriving boats, could be witnessed in ease and comfort, and approximately 175 feet of verandah, fitted out with "numerous elegantly upholstered chairs for the comfortable repose of guests." Delicious and monstrous supplies of food stuffs were laid into the larders of every inn, and history offers us no sign that might lead to believe that the colonels of Kentucky, who attended the fair, were compelled to slake their delicate thirsts with anything so mild as water - thanks again to our hosts.

During the Fair, special arrangements were made by the packet boats, running between St. Louis and Alton, to handle the crowds coming from points south and east. The steamers "Reindeer," "Baltimore," "Jennie Deans," and the "Winchester," (every boat of them quite as luxurious and as large as any steamer on the river in this day of electricity, 1936) each and all made two trips daily to and from St. Louis for the duration of the Fair. Meals were served on board these boats at all hours of the day and night, and "bands of music" accompanied each boat on every trip. While the Fair was in progress, three boats were tied up in the local harbor at nights, to provide sleeping accommodations for such visitors as might care to use them. All this required energetic preparation, as well as no small outlay of money.

The Alton Gas Co., then in its infancy, took unto itself a regiment of employees, and laid pipe to as many different points in the city as was possible, before the Fair was to open. Street lamps were provided at every corner of the business section and citizens, as well as visitors, as it was written at the time, "could move from place to place in our streets after dark with a facility hitherto peculiar only to daylight."

By the time the opening day had arrived, the town had gone Fair conscious. The roads leading to and from the fairgrounds had been graded and put into first class shape, and the business section was dressed in its holiday colors. The City Council had gone to the extremity of ordering the city marshal to enforce an ordinance that had been passed several years before making it a misdemeanor for one to "permit hogs to roam at large in the business portion of the city." What with Mr. Miller and his buildings and grounds, the private and public citizens, and their own individual contributions to the cause, the stage was set by Oct. 31, and many of the visitors were already lodged at the various hostelries.

The first of November found the show going full blast. Eight times that eventful day large "and commodious steamers" nosed up to the wharf and unloaded swarming human cargo. Three times the trains of the Alton & Sangamon Railroad (not counting the arrival of two specials) wheezed up to the depot and discharged an aggregation of men, women, and children. And over the roads leading from Calhoun, Jersey and Macoupin counties, came an almost endless stream of carriages, buggies and holt wagons. The Fair was on.

With the exception that the Fair buildings were constructed of wood, inch boards up and down over a wood frame, instead of chromium over a frame of steel; except that there was no sky ride and the Ferris wheel and the merry-go-rounds were moved with steam instead of electricity; except for a few of the extreme niceties of late modern life, it cannot be said that the Alton State Fair of 1856 was much different from fairs as they are held today ([1936]. The women had their jelly and jam exhibits, and displayed unanswerable testimony to their zeal at knitting, sewing, crocheting and other home arts, including the manufacture of butter. For men and women alike, there were the races. All races were by pacing horses, and at that time a horse that could make the stretch in two and a half minutes was due to have its portrait painted in oils, and hung in his owner's family gallery. There was the great combined circus, which was probably superior to most circuses of today [1936], the circus business having gone the way of horse-car and other creeping things. The shell game was undoubtedly worked, in the largely unsophisticated crowds, with greater success than it had been worked before. And the number of stands where one might try to win various objects of doubtful value, simply by throwing balls at them for a price, was great. There was no tractors or combines on exhibition, but factories all over the state sent their products of mowing, threshing, sewing and grain drying machines, to vie with each other for supremacy in the minds of prospective buyers. At this time, sewing machines were one of the main exhibits. Pianos were exhibited in a hall with a floor suitable for dancing, and this means of entertainment was one of the main sources of pleasure for the visitors at the fair. From which I might be concluded, that fairs do not change in tenor - they merely increase in volume.




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