James Irvin’s 1855 Letter to the Pennsylvania State Agricultural Society

Bellefonte, February 22nd, 1855

To the Executive Committee of the Penna. State Agricultural Society

Gentlemen,

Feeling a deep interest in the early and efficient organization of the “Farmers High School of Pennsylvania,” I have observed with pleasure that the Legislature now in session have repealed the Act of April 13th 1854 and passed an Act of Incorporation more acceptable to the friends of Agricultural Science. But much yet remains to be done; Land, susceptible of a high state of cultivation is to be procured, suitable buildings erected, a library, apparatus, etc. provided. The surplus funds of the Pennsylvania State Agricultural Society, I fear will be inadequate to the object. Whilst I hope that the Legislature will not adjourn without making such reasonable appropriation, as the interests of this great Agricultural Commonwealth demand, I take this opportunity of proposing through you to the Trustees, to give the Institution a tract of improved land containing from two hundred to two hundred fifty acres (the land in good limestone clay soil, situate in Harris Township Centre County) provided the Farmers High School of Pennsylvania be located there.

The tract is pleasantly situated at the junction of Penns and Nittany Valleys near the geographical centre of the State, in a rich populous and healthy district and within twenty two miles of the Pennsylvania Rail Road at Spruce Creek.

Whilst such an institution will give an impetus to the Agricultural property of the state at large, it will prove especially beneficial to the particular district in which it shall be established, and I therefore desire its location in Centre County. If we would add dignity to manual labor, if we have it held in honor for the community, we must associate it with science, and if it would lessen the expense of acquiring scientific knowledge so as to bring the cost within the means of the farming community, we must connect its acquisition with manual labor. These as I understand are leading objects of the Farmers High School of Pennsylvania, and if, as had been suggested such an institution properly organized, with the aid of the surplus funds of your Society and a reasonable appropriation from the State, can afford to the young men of Pennsylvania, able and willing to work, (when work is required of all and esteemed honorable) a scientific, practical education, at an expense of less than seventy five dollars per annum, it will be productive of benefits to the community, the full extent of which time only can develope, and future operations only tell.

I remain very respectfully yours etc.

James Irvin