However, this essay was just too, too boring to read so I left 90% out. Mr. Beyer got $10 prize for writing it though! The Iowa State Agricultural Fair offered ribbons for the best essays on bees, sheep, hogs, butter dairy and flowers!
(While I could not find pictures of any vintage fair ribbons for agriculture, there are some wonderful 19th century ribbon photos online. Chickens seem to have had some elaborate ribbons - who knew?!)
$10 is worth about $145 in today's money if the online reference is correct.
FLOWERS AND THEIR CULTURE.
BY HUGO BEYER.
It is painful for the observer and the admirer of the beautiful to notice that the culture of flowers, which adds so greatly to the appearance and value of property, promote the enjoyment, health and happiness of a family, is so much neglected in the Western States.
Those who delight in the pleasant occupation of adorning the home, be it cottage or mansion, with the beautiful of nature, give proof that there dwells intellect, taste, and feeling.
The thoughtful parent will assign to their beloved ones, a place where to grow their own flowers and will derive much pleasure by seeing how, with busy hands and eager, childish hearts, they will watch the result. It will aid in shaping the mind for future usefulness. Children will be more obedient, performing other duties with more cheerfulness...
History tells us of many interesting incidents. ... Those beautiful things (flowers) sometimes produce surprising wonders upon minds, where least expected. I refer to a case of a most touching nature, which is, perhaps, not so generally known. It occurred during our late deplorable civil war. As the blood-thirsty guerrilla, Quantrell, was outraging humanity in the ill-fated town of Lawrence, in Kansas, neither sparing the aged nor the infants, ruthlessly destroying property, he came, in his wild career, to a residence surrounded with flowers of extraordinary beauty, effecting an impression so charming upon him, that he exclaimed: "This is too pretty to be destroyed" giving, at the same time, orders to leave everything undisturbed, nor have the inmates in the least molested. Flowers saved their lives and property.
Flowers occupy a no less high place in family ceremonies. Is not the snow-white myrtle blossom—the symbol of innocence and purity—wreathed in the bride's hair, more effective in solemnizing the event than costly jewels? And as a last tribute to our own departed friends, flowers follow to the grave.
1866 - Annual Report of the Iowa State Agricultural Society
Hugo Beyer picked up ribbons at the 1893 Iowa State Agricultural Fair as well. (Then, as now, firsts through thirds have cash awarded. I have a friend who aims to earn enough in prizes to pay for her family admission to the Woodstock Agricultural Fair...and she does, with change!)
- First half peck Red tomatoes, three dollars;
- second three Hubbard squashes, two dollars;
- first three Nutmeg melons, three dollars,
- Second display green beans, two dollars,
- First unnamed native plums not less than twelve specimens, eight dollars;
- first four bunches grapes, most promising new seedling,