Agricultural History Series
Missouri State University
1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair
David Rankin of Tarkio, Missouri
David Rankin was one of the most successful farmers in Missouri. He owned many thousands of acres of productive farmland so it is no surprise that his huge field of corn was selected as the subject of one of the huge murals in the Palace of Agriculture. Below is a scan of an old postcard, showing Mr. Rankin visiting one of his cornfields. This photo is similar to the mural at the fair. Al Rankin, a great great grandson of David Rankin, tells that Mr. Rankin often traveled up to 40 miles per day checking his crops and farms. The next photo is a close-up of Mr. Rankin.
The Rankin home place featured a beautiful home, but the most striking feature was the huge mule barn. The three story octagonal brick barn was definitely one of a kind and it resembled a large court house more than it resembled a barn. Many years later, the Rankin barn was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Al Rankin, tells that the barn caught fire in 1907 and the cupola was not replaced after that. The entire barn burned in 1989.
The David Rankin home place.
Above and below are real photo postcards of the Rankin place. Notice the cupola in place indicating that this was prior to the first fire.
The photo below was published in 1904 in the "State of Missouri" by Williams. Strangely, the cupola was apparently painted out in this early photo.
David Rankin was not a an official of the World's Fair. However, when he spent a week at the great fair in July, it was newsworthy enough that the Journal of Machinery made mention of it. Rankin also displayed his plows in his Midland Manufacturing booth in Block 4 of the Palace of Agriculture.
Al Rankin told that in 1903, David Rankin had let three neighbor boys whose father, C. Christian was disabled, grow corn on 540 acres of Rankin land. They boys were extremely successful. The Story of Missouri published for the World's Fair included this photo about that success:
This page was designed and maintained by Lyndon Irwin.
Photos from Irwin Collection.