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He was ever the sincere friend of the New York State Agricultural Society-not alone because he here met with men of intelligence whose tastes and pursuits were the same as bis—but likewise because he saw in in it a most successful agent in the spread of knowledge related to agriculture, and in stimulating the farmer to improvement.
He was, too, the earnest friend of agricultural education. Like all well informed men, he appreciated the value of knowledge, and was desirous to see established in this State a college devoted to studies related to agriculture—an institution where farmers' sons could acquire, in addition to general culture, a knowledge of the sciences specially connected with their pursuits. He believed that the true, the only way to elevate the farmer mentally and socially, was to furnish a higher education to farmers' sons.
As a member of the Senate of the State, to which high office he was called by the people of his district, he earned a reputation which any man might envy. He was dignified, intelligent, laborious, courteous and honest, looking with disgust from his high moral elevation on the low arts of the corrupt men who crowded around the hall of legislation. His general knowledge, and his accurate habits of thought, fitted him for the duties of his position; and the opinions expressed by him had deservedly great weight with the Sepate. As a statesman he did not forget his devotion to agriculture. The most eloquent effort made by him in that body was an appeal in behalf of agricultural education. Those who had the gratification to hear him on that occasion, speak of it as an address of much power and eloquence: a Senator for a time, a farmer always.
At the close of his term of office he resolved to return to that life and to those pursuits he loved so well, and devote his remaining years to the pursuit of agriculture and farm husbandry. Alas! this was not to be. At this time the fearful tempest of rebellion broke in all its fury on our devoted land, putting in peril the very existence of the nation.
Moved by patriotic ardor he entered military life, and accepted an appointment on the staff of Gov. Morgan, stipulating only one condition on taking the office: that he was to have active service in the field. This was promised him, and ere long he was detailed to duty in connection with the army of the Potomac. Here, as everywhere, he was active, energetic and efficient, fulfilling his whole duty to his commander and his country. It was whilst thus engaged he contracted that disease, which, after a brief time, terminated in death.
The uniform courtesy of manner, the urbanity and true kindness which marked bis intercourse with men, won for him a degree of attachment on the part of his friends quite extraordinary. On my first acquaintance with him he at once won my respect, and soon my friendship; and, although the difference in our ages forbade that close intimacy which can only exist between men of similar age, yet I entertained for him something more than esteem: it was affection.
1 will say nothing of him in his home; he who was in every other relation of life so exemplary could not be otherwise than the idol of his own social circle.
There is one who mourns him that has our special sympathy—that aged father-one of the founders and early Presidents of this Society, whose name is never spoken within these walls but with profound respect, We can but say to him, you weep not alone.
Let us treasure the memory of our departed friend, emulate his example, and endeavor to leave behind us a record such as his. May our friends say of us, as we truly say of him: in him were combined the intelligent, refined and cultivated gentleman; the sagacious, experienced and successful farmer; the useful citizen, the ardent patriot, and the honest man.
I beg leave, sir, to move the following resolutions:
Resolved, That in the death of the Hon. Francis M. Rotch, late VicePresident of this Society, we have to mourn the loss of a most accomplished and sincere friend of agriculture. To natural abilities such as we seldom meet with, he united an extent of knowledge, the result of study, and a scope of observation which enabled him, though he had but just reached the prime of life, to contribute more to the development of our agricultural resources and the improvements of the animals of the farm than almost any man in our midst; while the purity of his character and the high toned principles which regulated his actions, the kindness of his heart and the urbanity of his manuers, will ever endear him to the memory of those who knew him best, in whose recollection he will ever stand forth as a true example of the American Country Gentleman.
Resolved, That in this hour of sad bereavement we would tender our heartfelt sympathy to the family of the deceased, and especially to his father, Francis Rotch, Esq, one of the founders and most efficient friends of this Society.
Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be forwarded by the Secretary of this Society to the family of the deceased, and that the same be published in the Transactions of the Society.
Hon. A. B. Conger said that the review of to-night was a mingled duty. Amidst its labors comes the sad voice of mourning for a cherished associate. It is the loss of one who so often met with us—who was dear to the farmer because he was one of the brotherhood. A graduate of Harvard, he laid the foundation of a science, which, had he but lived, would have been inestimably useful in solving the intricate questions of agriculture. Fitted for any profession, he willingly chose the life of a farmer, and turned to it with delight.
Summoned to the service of his country, he obeyed the call, and amidst the perils of that service his final hour came.
We can but feebly appreciate the full service he rendered as a farmer. He could elucidate the truth, at which others but groped their way. We pause where he has fallen. Appropriate it is to us to remember all he was-all he did for the encouragement of the young men who shall, like Col. Rotch, take the choice of a farmer, with full and undying purpose. The tribute we render is one of endeared affection. The record of his career is an example to all to press on with energy and cordiality, and full and unfaltering purpose.
Mr. Peters expressed the feeling which had rushed over his heart when he first received the news of the death of Col. Rotch-for the friendship which had been between them had been that almost of brotherhood. He
was the representative of a class of men to whom the older members of the Society might look with pride as their successors.
The President felt the grief of the hour almost too deeply to allow him to put the question on the resolutions, but it was his duty, and the resolutions were unanimously adopted.
The proceedings of the Executive Committee upon the death of the Hon. Eliakim Sherrill, formerly a distinguished member of the Society, were, on motion of the Hon. Mr. Cornell, read, and, on motion of the Hon. Mr. Kelly, approved and re-affirmed.
The President, E. G. Faile, delivered the annual address, which was listened to with great interest, and was of great practical importance.
On concluding, the President elect, James O. Sheldon, Esq., was introdaced, and, in taking the chair, expressed his gratitude for the honor, his confidence in the co-operation of the board, and his hopes that the coming year would add to the records of the Society's prosperity and success.
After a vote of thanks to ex-President Faile and the retiring officers, proposed by Hon. George Geddes, Mr. Butterfield, of Utica, acknowledged for himself and the citizens of that place the pleasure derived from the fair of 1863, the uniformly kind and honorable treatment received at the hands of the board, and the gratifying mention in the President's address of the exertions made there to comply with the Society's requirements and promote the objects of its exhibition.
A very animated and interesting discussion followed, upon the propriety of the Society's soliciting from the State a more liberal grant toward meeting its office expenses. The ground taken by the mover, Hon. George Geddes, himself an ex-Senator of the State, was, that the operations of the Society now constitute in reality a bureau of the State Government, so far as its rooms at Albany, its library and museum, and the services of its officers are concerned, and that the payment of salaries, stationery and similar expenses should therefore be met from the public treasury. A variety of opinions were expressed by Messrs. Cornell, Conger, Peters, Bogart, Tucker, Clarke and others; but the view was entertained by a small majority that at present the claims upon the State are too heavy to render it expedient in the midst of the unusual expenses and taxation involved in the war, to urge this movement until the dawning of quieter times.
Mr. Kelly offered the following resolutions:
Resolved, That the New York State Agricultural Society deplores the action of the last Legislature in bestowing upon a single institution, and that not the representative of the agricultural interests of the State, the whole of the vast land grant made by Congress for the promotion of agricultural and mechanical education; and this Society respectfully urges upon the present Legislature the repeal or modification of the said law, so that the New York State Agricultural College shall receive a full share of this noble grant; that thus the intention of Congress may be fulfilled, in the advancement of agricultural science.
Resolved, That a copy of the foregoing resolution be respectfully presented to his Excellency the Governor, and to the Honorable the Senate and Assembly of this State, by the Secretary of this Society—which were unanimously adopted.
DEATH OF ELIAKIM SHERR ILL. At a meeting of the Executive Committee, in August, 1863, the following proceedings were had:
The Secretary announced the death of Col. Eliakim Sherrill, late a member of the board.
Mr. Geddes offered the following resolutions, which were adopted:
Resolved, That the Executive Committee of the New York State Agricultural Society has learned with great sorrow of the death of a former member of this board, Eliakim Sherrill, of Geneva, who received a mortal wound at the battle of Gettysburg, on the 3d day of July last.
Resolved, That in the death of Col. Sherrill, the cause of agricultural improvement has lost one of its most active, intelligent and successful friends and promoters, and this Society one of its most useful members.
Resolved, That we deeply sympathize with the bereaved family, and that we tender them our most heartfelt condolence..
Resolved, That an obituary of Col. Sherrill be prepared for record in our Transactions, and that a copy of the same, and these resolutions, be sent to his family.
The President appointed Mr. Geddes, Mr. Huntington and Mr. Johnson, a committee under the above resolution.
Mr. Geddes, from the committee, reported the annexed obituary of Col. Sherrill, and the same was adopted:
Obituary of Col. Eliakim Sherrill. Since the last meeting of the executive board of the New York State Agricultural Society, an event has happened that calls for our consideration. One of the prominent members of our Society has fallen in the service of his country. Eliakim Sherrill was mortally wounded at the battle of Gettysburg, while leading a brigade in the desperate charge made at 6 o'clock in the afternoon of the 3d day of July; he died on the 4th, sending as his last message to his friends, these words: "Tell them I died at my post-I died doing my duty." Last year
Col. Sherrill was one of the committee to make the arrangements for the fair at Rochester, and was very active in the discharge of his duties, until the call of the country for 600,000 troops made it necessary that men like him should turn all their attention to raising volunteers. Public sentiment pointed to him as the proper man to command the regi. ment to be raised in his Congressional district, and he responded to the call. Such was the confidence of the people in his fitness for the place, that in three weeks the 126th regiment was on its way for the defence of the country. In five weeks from the day he took command he was in battle at Maryland Heights, where he was desperately wounded in the face, so that be was carried from the field where he had been in command, and where everything had gone well while he remained. By the cowardice or treachery, cr both, of men of higher rank, he and his regiment were surrendered and paroled. He returned to his home in Geneva to recover from his injuries. In due time the regiment was exchanged, and he again resumed command, though far from recovered. He felt that great injustice had been done to the brave men he commanded, and he anxiously sought a field to enable them to show their real qualities. Most industrionly did he drill and pre pare for the occasion, whenever it should come--and at Gettysburg their vindication was most full and complete. The few survivors of the 126th regiment deserve all honor, and the dead, everlasting remembrance for the service done our country on the field of their glory.
Col. Sherrill was born in Greeneville, Greene county, N. Y., February 16, 1813. He began active life at the age of 16, in Coxsackie, as a clerk in a store. In 1832 he removed to Salisbury, Herkimer county. Of this town he was supervisor for two years, while yet a very young man. About 1838 he removed to Shandakin, Ulster county, where he conducted an extensive tannery. In business he was successful; personally popular he could not help but be, for in him were so justly combined all the qualities of the highminded, gentlemanly business man, that men's admiration was spontaneous. In 1847 and '48 he was a member of Congress, and declined a renomination at the end of his term. In 1854, against his determined wishes, he was elected to the Senate of this State. About 1856 he retired from business, and removed to Brooklyn temporarily. In 1860 he removed to Geneva, Ontario county, where he had purchased one of the elegant farms that surround that pleasant village. Here, with that competence that his industry had acquired, he fondly proposed to spend the evening of life, surrounded by his family and accomplished society, in the ease and quiet that he had 80 fully earned. He took hold of a neglected farm, having dilapidated fences and buildings, and rapidly improved everything, until all around him became pleasing specimens of taste and fertility. When he became a farmer he connected himself with our Society, and very soon was elected a member of our board.
This was his situation when he responded to the call of duty, giving up home, wife, children and grand-children, and laying down his life for his country. Who has lived more nobly or died more gloriously? Though we feel that we cannot spare such men, we take to ourselves the consolation that it is such men that give the world the examples of that spirit of selfsacrifice that ennobles human nature.
With humility we submit to the decree of the Ruler of the Universe, when such a man is removed from the scenes of his usefulness, and pray that we may so live that, when the great change which awaits us all shall come, we may be fully prepared, by a well-spent life and God's mercy, to meet it. MEETING OF New BOARD.
FEBRUARY 12. Present-James O. Sheldon, President; George Geddes, E. Cornell, A. B. Conger, ex-Presidents; Herman Wendell, Samuel Thorne, T. L. Harison, H. T. E. Foster, Vice-Presidents; Stephen R. Pinckney, L. H. Tucker, B. P. Johnson.
On motion of ex-President Geo. Geddes, Mr. Johnson was designated as acting Secretary for the year, and salary and assistant as last year.
County committees as last year; vacancies, if any, to be filled by President and Secretary.
Location of fair postponed until next meeting of the Board. Secretary