... a POWER HOUSE of Agriculture


•From the Civil War to the 1950's most of the agricultural machinery in the United States was built in Springfield at the East Street Shops. It was the Champion Reaper - Crop harvester machine pulled by horses that put Springfield on the map! Hundreds of thousands of the reapers were made in the downtown Champion plant where the Springfield Inn now stands.

•In 1855 it was William Whiteley who invented the mower. This was the beginning of many agricultural firms in Springfield. From History we know that Cyrus McCormick invented the reaper in 1831. It was his son who met Springfield native Benjamine Warder and they began to manufacture farm machinery in the building known as the Lagonda Agricultural Works. This union, with other mergers, became International Harvester.

•The Whiteleys, the Warders, the Bushnells and the Fooses challenged Chicago for primacy as farm equipment makers to the world! Phineas P. Mast built a fortune in farm implements, then bought a magazine to promote them - it grew into the Crowell-Collier empire.

•By 1880 Whiteley's two man shop had become a giant trust producing more farm machinery than all the factories in Chicago put together. Its great plant on East Street in Springfield was said to be the second biggest industrial facility under one roof in the world, surpassed only by the Krupp Munitions Works in Prussia. At a meeting of some of his rival reaper barons, one competitor asked how they could improve business and another answered tersely,"Kill Whiteley!"

•There were many other great machinery companies such as Oliver Superior - which somewhere in Clark County is probably planting wheat still today. Many can be also be seen in rural yards decorated with flowers.


Today Springfield has companies like Springfield Poultry and KFC, but many years ago many people raised their own chickens and eggs. In 1930 2087 farms reported having chickens - that was 91% of the Clark County farms -

•only 22% had a hard surface road

•only 28% had a tractor

•only 23% had a truck 

•only 64% had a telephone

•only 30% had water in the home

•only 36% had electric lights

but 91% had chickens. Chicken was important - Clark County farms were like everyone else and equipment was needed to raise chickens.

In 1928 the report by the Springfield City Manager stated that Springfield ranked first among cities of the world in ten manufactured items. TWO of those were: Incubators and Brooders and Commercial Thermometers. Buckeye Incubator and Ohio Thermometer were huge - thermometers were used in the chicken equipment - incubators and brooders.


•Springfield has had four nicknames - one of those was City of Roses

•By 1919 Springfield had 33 greenhouses and produced more roses than any other city in the world - 24 million plants shipped by mail, 9 1/2 million were roses in a peak year.

•That was one of the 1928 city manager's 10 manufactured items Springfield led the world in.


•Recently a bicentennial marker was unveiled in Springfield recognizing A.B. Graham. Today there is a 4-H program in 40 countries around the world involving 6 1/2 million youth a year.

•The 4-H movement began in Springfield, Ohio in 1902 at the corner of Limestone and Columbia Streets. There is a display in that building about Graham.
A.B. Graham was a genius.

◦He passed the teachers exam certifying him to teach at the age of 16.
◦He was one of only 5 rural school superintendents in Ohio.
◦Graham created the bookmobile pulled by horses.
◦He improved playgrounds
◦He was on the National Committee that created the Jr. High School concept.
◦At the USDA he pioneered trains across the U.S. to teach the latest research to farm families.
◦He was known as the Teacher of Teachers.
◦He is in the National Ag Hall of Fame and Great Ohioans Hall of Fame

•George Harris Shull produced the first Hybrid corn.