Norton Townshend, agriculture

Norton S. Townshend (1815-1895) was a professor of agriculture, director of the State Board of Agriculture of Ohio and the author of the Agricultural Survey of Lorain County (Townshend, 1867).  He was one of the first Trustees of the new Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. He resigned this position to become a member of the first faculty.

Townshend is noted for introducing field drainage tile to farmers in the Avon, Ohio area.  A firm believer in the value of agricultural experimentation for future economic success, he authored an undated letter to an editor (source not identified) titled “Theoretical farming vs. practical stupidity,” (clements.umich.edu), in which he argued that experimental farms, such as the one located at the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College in Columbus, were not designed to be economically self-supporting, but rather to provide proof-of-concept evidence for new agricultural techniques, methods and crops.

Townshend, a persuasive orator, went onto become a member of Congress in 1886.