Agricultural History Series
Missouri State University
M. A. Miller at the Worlds Fair
M. A. Miller and one of his Champion Sows
Harold L. Miller has shared stories of his grandfather's success at the great World's Fair. M. A. Miller lived near Belleville, Illinois (just east of St. Louis). Here are excerpts from a letter written by Harold:
"M.A. Miller, Premier Champion Essex breeder at the fair, was my grandfather. It is his picture with the Essex Sow. Grandpa hauled his show herd to the fair by team and wagon and he lengthened a wagon and built an extra long bed which is still here, up on the rafters of one of our buildings. It originally had white oak sides with sassafras dividing gates. We still have the hand hurdle he used to show the boars.
I found it interesting that the single “expert” judging system was used at the start, since the large certificates or “diplomas” as they were called, read ‘The International Jury of Awards’ has conferred----.” The diplomas were issued in each class or “section” as they were called. They contained the hog’s registration number and name, the section, and the exhibitor’s name. Grandpa had the most prestigious ones framed and they were kept out in the barn and most didn’t survive. We do have the one for “Premier Champion Exhibitor.” We also have 8 others that are still rolled up separated by tissue. They are still in the original mailing tube in which they were mailed in from the fair. They are in good condition. The diplomas are about 20” x 24”.
We also have the ribbons; actually they are rosettes he won. He had a glass case made for them, which was by his bed by the east window. The sun was devastating to the Champion rosettes which hung in front but the ones that were protected fared much better.
My son has the Bronze Medallion in a case reading “Grand Prize Louisiana Purchase Exhibition.” We also have the original statement of premiums, which shows 21-1st place, 12-2nd, 8-3rd, 7-4th and 5th. We have one 6th place rosette, but no 6th shows on the statement which leads me to believe that there was no money paid for 6th place.
Getting back to the sections listed on the statement, they start at 1 and run to 44 with about 12 numbers omitted. We also have a large framed picture which I believe is the official picture of the major winners of each breed of hogs. On your page it lists Yorkshire-Tamworth, yet these breeds are not on the picture, but rather Hampshires which must have been substituted instead. This 13” x 15” picture shows the following winners. Duroc, S.F. Morton and Company Camden, Ohio. Poland China winner Mastin Mastin, Kansas. Berkshire (ribbon hanging over name) Nick Gentry, Sedalia, Missouri. Essex, M.A. Miller, Belleville, Illinois. Hampshire, John Goodwin, Jr., Potomac, Illinois. Chester White, E.P. and J.J. Hardin, Lima, Ohio. There are several other men on the picture, which I assume were judges or superintendents.
I showed Poland China hogs and Jersey cattle for over 50 years. The sections listed on the diploma show that the classes were consistent with the hog classes when we were still showing mature animals. The monies for the sections as listed on the statement varied a lot, going from $12.00 on 1st place to $100.00. The rosettes were well made, and a medal hog’s head on them, which was probably gold flake as they are still in good shape after 100 years.
Grandpa had a steam heated hog barn for the Essex which was heated by a wood fired boiler. Sometime after the fair an outbreak of cholera wiped out the herd with the exception of one boar, Parker, and one gilt. We have two framed pencil sketches signed by the artist L.A. Webster. One is of the Essex sow, Sweepstakes number 2822 and the boar, Model Jim number 1801.
My aunt told of having several trunks full of bunting after the fair, which had decorated the hog pens at the fair."
Below are some wonderful photos, ribbons and awards won by the Miller Essex hogs.
Thanks to Harold and his family for sharing this information. The digital pictures are compliments of Jennifer Feucht, (Great, Great Granddaughter of M. A. Miller). Medallion pictures courtesy of Scott Miller. Stories like this help readers to visualize the fair and understand some of the people who participated.
This page was designed and is maintained by Lyndon Irwin.
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