This paper was first issued at Racine, Wisconsin, January 1, 1877, under the name of The Racine Agriculturalist. An introductory on the first page, signed by A. F. Sweetser, states that it is the object of the “proprietor” to benefit the farmers of the country “as much as possible in inserting in its columns such articles as will be of special interest to them in their business and by offering such suggestions as may lighten the labor of the farm.” It is frankly stated that the columns of the paper will be largely devoted to advertising, but only such articles would be presented as are known and proved to be first class. The proprietor says that as he believes “that all work and no play is not conducive to the healthy increase of the mental capacity of poor Jacob, such selections will at times be introduced as will provoke the good humor of all.” Much of the advertising was that of Fish Brothers & Company, and that the paper was really owned by this firm is shown in the second issue, in which the heading contains a portrait of A. C. Fish and the name is changed to The Racine Agriculturist. The original subscription price was fifty cents a year and the paper was issued monthly. The first number contained eight pages of nine by fourteen inches of type matter each. It had articles on fresh American beef in Europe, on the profitableness of farming, a story and some humorous matter, but not much of real agricultural value. The second issue, however, showed considerable improvement and contained an interesting communication from Professor C. D. Granger of the Wisconsin State University, besides some creditable agricultural and live stock matter. In the issue of September, 1878, the name of George S. Bliss appears as publisher and that of A. C. Fish as editor. Considerable improvement has been shown by this time. The leading article tells of numerous emphatic signs that farming in this country, especially in the great west, is taking a new departure. In the future grain is to be grown, even by the average farmer, more with a view to raising stock and the produce of stock. The farm, it is stated, will be made the feeding ground of beef and mutton. The editor says: “We are conjuring no illusion; we are stating the undeniable fact.” This issue shows that the paper now contained twice as many pages as the first issue, each issue having sixteen instead of eight, as formerly.
In July, 1883, the Agriculturist was purchased by the publishers of The Racine Manufacturer, a monthly which had been established in January of that year. The two papers were therefore issued as one publication under the name of The Racine Manufacturer and Agriculturist by the Manufacturers Publishing Company. Andrew Simonson was the editor. In 1885 the name “Manufacturer” was dropped and the paper became the Racine Agriculturist, only to be changed again in May, 1886, to The Racine Wisconsin Agriculturist.
In January, 1890, the publication was changed from monthly to a semimonthly, the subscription price remaining the same-fifty cents a year. It was now published by the Wisconsin Agriculturist Publishing Company, a corporation organized for the purpose of increasing the scope and usefulness of the paper, which had by this time become considerable. On February 1, 1892, it assumed its present name, “The Wisconsin Agriculturist,” by dropping the word “Racine” from the heading.
On January 1, 1897, The Wisconsin Agriculturist became a weekly and the next year the subscription price was increased to sixty cents a year. On January 1, 1907, it was advanced to seventy-five cents a year. In 1902 The Wisconsin Agriculturist absorbed the Farm, Field and Stockman of Winona, Minnesota, and in 1906 it took over the Farmers’ Sentinel, and in 1914 it absorbed The Lake Superior Farmer, which made it the only English general farm paper printed in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Agriculturist is now, as it has been for many years, owned by the Wisconsin Agriculturist Publishing Company. Andrew Simonson, who had been connected with the publication in various capacities since 1883, was the publisher until his death, June 6, 1907, when his son, Arthur W. Simonson, took charge, and Charles H. Everett has been the editor-in-chief for the last fifteen years. The paper’s weekly circulation of sixty-five thousand copies is practically all in the state of Wisconsin.
Source: Stone, Fanny S. Racine, Belle City of the lakes, and Racine County, Wisconsin : a record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement; Chicago: S. J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1916.