William Hoard

BY: Howard E. Johnson

William HoardTHE dairy industry owes a great debt to William Dempster Hoard. An early champion of the specialized dairy cow and a crusader for sound and businesslike, dairy practices, his influence upon the industry is immeasurable.

Hoard was born in Munnsville. Madison county, New York, on October 10, 1836, and he died at his home at, Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, on November 22, 1918. It was largely thru the influence of his paternal grandfather, Enos Hoard, and of a boyhood neighbor, Waterman Simons, that he obtained his keen insight on dairy problems and the needs of dairymen.

Enos Hoard was one of the most progressive and best informed farmers in that section of the state and was a keen judge of dairy cows. Hoard spent, many of his boyhood days at his "grandfather's farm while his father was away carrying on the duties of circuit, rider. Mr. Simons, for whom Hoard worked several summers, was also one of New York's most successful dairymen.

It was in October, 1857, that, Hoard moved to Wisconsin but his dairy activities did not manifest themselves for another 11 years. His first, attempt at organizing dairymen was made in 1871 when the Jefferson County Dairymen's Association was started. Its field was limited and the following winter he succeeded in interesting several of the state's most, influential dairymen in the establishment, of a state-wide organization which would have enough power and influence to get results. Accordingly, on February 15, 1872, the Wisconsin Dairymen's Association was organized with 'William D. Hoard as secretary.

This association has been a most, potent factor in building up the dairying of the state. It, originated many practical and progressive movements and sponsored every dairy activity that was sound. Thru its efforts the Farmers' Institutes were started. Largely thru the demand created by it the Wisconsin College of Agriculture and the Wisconsin Dairy School, the first, in America, were started. It sponsored, fought, for, and pushed dairy legislation, notably the filled cheese and oleomargarine laws. Back of every movement was W. D. Hoard. He foresaw the need for these institutions and laws years ahead of most contemporaries. His energy, his enthusiasm, and his sound judgment, and irrefutable logic carried them to achievement.

It was thru his activities as a publisher that, William Dempster Hoard is best, known to the dairy industry. His first, venture was started in Lake Mills, Wisconsin, on March 17, 1870. It was a four-page weekly newspaper and named the Jefferson County Union, a name it still carries although its home was moved to Fort Atkinson in 1873. Finances were scarce and its start was made possible largely thru the confidence of the people in its founder and publisher.

His contact, with farming and dairying as a youth and his observations of the effects of one-crop farming in Wisconsin convinced him that dairying would mean the salvation of Wisconsin agriculture. Beginning with the first copy of the Jefferson County Union a department was carried where he could voice his opinions on this important subject. Later an insert devoted only to dairy and farm problems was added. But the scope and influence of a community newspaper is naturally limited and so with the encouragement of friends and fellow-workers and with many misgivings, lie embarked upon an uncharted publishing sea, that of a specialized dairy paper. At the, suggestion of friends, the new publication was named Hoard's Dairy-man., and its first issue as a separate publication appeared January 23, 1885.

Most great men demonstrate their wisdom thru their selection of associates and counselors. Hoard was no exception. He was in great demand as a speaker at farmers' institutes and dairymen's meetings in Wisconsin, in other parts of the country, and "in Canada. This necessitated help in his editorial duties, and Joseph Smith, a brother of Hiram Smith, Wisconsin's leading dairyman and a close friend, was selected as associate editor. Other associates during these years were General George W. Burchard, an early secretary of the Wisconsin Dairymen's Association, which position is now held by his son, Paul, who is one of the present editors of Hoard's Dairyman; Chester Hazen; D. W. Curtis; George McKerrow; C. F. Goodrich; W. A. Henry, first dean of the Wisconsin College of Agriculture; and Dr. S. M. Babcock, inventor of the test which bears his name.

The business end of Hoard's activities was largely conducted by his son, Frank. The two publications which Hoard started are still controlled and managed by him. In addition, his son, Arthur, operated the Hoard Creamery for many years and this creamery shares with the creamery of the late H. B. Gurler the distinction of being the first, to use the Babcock test as the basis of payment, for milk and cream.

Hoard's education was obtained largely thru his own efforts. He attended the little log school, built by his grandfather, until he was 14. In addition he received inspiration to read and study from his mother. After migrating to Wisconsin he studied theology and received permission to preach, but, because of differences with the presiding elder on certain church policies and attitudes, he burned his license and took up manual labor. The ensuing years were spent at, many different tasks. Among them was that of singing schoolmaster over a circuit of towns. He was a salesman, at different, times, of pumps, washing machines, and musical instruments. He was also a Union soldier in the Civil war.
All these experiences helped develop Hoard's keen under- standing of human nature which was demonstrated many times in his public life of later years. He spoke on dairying in practically every dairy section of the country and in addition made several trips across the United States borders. His kindly humor and his homely but effective illustrations added to the forcefulness of his. addresses and combined to drive home his message of dairying and sound dairy farm practices.

A lifelong admirer of Abraham Lincoln, Hoard exhibited many of the fine traits of the great, emancipator. He was a champion of the common people and of the right as he saw it. Class distinction and special privilege were attacked by him at every turn. He fought, for and secured lower rates on cheese shipments originating in Chicago, which gave great impetus to the development of dairying in the Midwest. His efforts brought the first refrigerator car to Wisconsin in 1873 for shipping cheese.

He, while governor of Wisconsin during 1889-90, established the Dairy and Food Commission, the first important, task of which was to attack the ''filled cheese" industry. This was the practice of skimming the milk, substituting coconut oil for the butterfat and then making the cheese, which was naturally a decidedly inferior product, but the difference could not be detected until the cheese was partially cured. The struggle for an honest, product lasted for many years and only thru the winning of the fight, was Wisconsin's cheese industry saved.
Some years later the oleomargarine industry, thru many questionable trade practices, threatened the very foundation of the dairy industry. Here, again, Hoard fought fearlessly. He attacked the practice from the platform, thru his publication, and in private interviews with politicians who were largely in control of legislation. He solicited help from even- angle and he was a leader in the battle to enact the legislation which is the foundation of our present, laws for the protection of the dairy industry. 

Other activities of the, governor, though less spectacular and of less general interest, were equally important because they were fundamental to a sound agriculture. Notable was the manner in which he boosted alfalfa even against the advice of the experiment stations. He said that it would grow in Wisconsin, that it was fundamental for an economical dairy ration, and he demonstrated the truth of his assertions on Hoard's Dairyman Farm.

He also was well aware of the differences in cows. Always a champion of the specialized dairy cow, he created intense, though friendly, rivalries with several contemporary editors. He also instituted a cow census covering sections of several states to determine the economic relations of the dairyman to his business. The first survey, carried on in a New York township in 1889 and covering more than 5,500 cows, showed an average yearly loss of $4.52 per cow. Something was wrong and the thinking farmers, when they learned this, blamed it on the unsuspected presence in their herds of what are now known as "boarder" cows. Other surveys were continued until 1908. These surveys were of great influence in the developing and popularizing of herd improvement, associations.

The tuberculin test was ardently advocated by the former governor and he did much to pave the way for the introduction of the test which is now widely practiced on the comprehensive area. test plan and which is greatly reducing the prevalence of the disease.
The silo, better barns, soil and farm management, lime for alfalfa, the better care of products, were all championed by him, and his efforts thru the press and on the platform helped these causes which are now accepted as sound and practical wherever the dairy cow is of importance.

Hoard was in politics or in contact with political movements throughout his active life. His political career is marked by his straightforward attitude and his alignment on all questions on the side of public good regardless of party expediency. In the spring of 1888 his name was suggested for the governorship and the idea spread rapidly, finally resulting in his election.

Outstanding in his achievements as governor was the enactment of the Bennett law which provided that all children between the ages of 7 and 14 should receive their instruction in the English language for a period of not less than twelve weeks during each year. These four words, "in the English language,'' brought mountains of criticism upon him and resulted in his defeat at the next election. Schools, especially parochial schools, in many sections of the state were conducted in German or other languages with the result that many native born Americans could neither read nor speak the tongue of their nation. Despite his defeat due to the organized opposition to this point of the law, it was only a few years later that the same groups saw their mistake and publicly apologized to him.

This law and his firm attitude concerning it serves as an excellent example of his ideas on Americanism to which many tributes were paid from every corner of the nation at his death. The World War, just closed at that time, had impressed the entire country with the soundness of his ideas advanced 20 years earlier.

Tributes to the man at his death attest to his greatness and the esteem in which lie was held by his contemporaries throughout the nation. But another tribute, given before his death, is even more significant. A feature of the Panama-Pacific Exposition held at San Francisco in 1915 was the conferring of honors on the most distinguished citizen of each western and middle-western state. Governor E. L. Phillip was asked to appoint a commission to make the selection for Wisconsin. Seven prominent, men from widely varied walks of life were appointed and the unanimous decision, reached in one short meeting, was that William Dempster Hoard was best qualified for that honor. Previous to this, in October, 1914, his portrait, was presented to the Saddle and Sirloin Club of Chicago, where it, hangs in the club's gallery with the portraits of other great agricultural leaders.

Agricultural organizations of national scope, worked together in the collection of funds for the erection of a memorial monument for the former governor. This was quickly accomplished, and Gutzon Borglum was selected to prepare the likeness in bronze. The statue was dedicated on February 3, 1922, and it, now stands in front of the agricultural hall on the campus of the University of Wisconsin.

Other activities of Hoard which attest to his varied abilities, the soundness of his ideas, and the esteem in which he was held by his contemporaries include the office of Commander of the Wisconsin Grand Army of the Republic, president of the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin, organizer and for many years executive head of the Northwestern Dairymen's Association, president of the Farmers' National Congress for two years, and first president of the National Dairy Union. Hoard was a pioneer, not in the establishment of farming areas in the primeval forest, but. in the formulation of new and sound ideas on dairy farming which still serve as landmarks of dairy thought and knowledge.

Howard E. Jam-won -was born and reared on one- of Wisconsin's oldest Guernsey farm. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and served 'for three years as a dairy extension, specialist at the University of Illinois, and for two years as associate editor of The Dairy Fanner. He is veil qualified to give us this interesting picture of the life of Governor Hoard.

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