In honor of next week’s Montgomery County Agricultural Fair (theme: “It’s Udderly Terrific!”), here’s an advertising banner used at a variety of fairs, exhibitions and livestock shows in the late 19th century.

The painted canvas banner measures 48″ x 29″, and has a number of nail (or rope) holes in each corner. The banner was folded in half for many years and some of the paint has rubbed off on the opposite side, making it a little hard to read: “Jersey Herd of ‘The Woodlands’ Farm. Clopper’s Post Office, Montgomery Co., Maryland. F. C. Hutton, Proprietor.” In very small letters near the bottom is added, “Economy Sign Co., Trenton N.J.”

Francis Clopper (Frank) Hutton (1863-1929) was the son of William Rich Hutton and Mary Augusta Clopper Hutton, and he lived most of his life at the family home, The Woodlands, in Clopper. The Woodlands has been featured on the blog before; to recap, the house – outside Gaithersburg, on Clopper Road in what is now Seneca Creek State Park – originally belonged to Francis Cassatt Clopper, whose daughter Mary Augusta married William Rich Hutton and inherited the house. The Huttons had five children who lived to adulthood: one daughter married and lived nearby; one daughter joined a convent; and two daughters and one son – Frank – never married, and stayed in their childhood home.

Frank’s obituary in the Montgomery County Sentinel tells us that he was a member of the Maryland State Roads Commission, but “although a civil engineer, he devoted most of his time to farming.” A history of the family, written by Frank’s great-niece Helen Caulfield Madine, summarizes his career: “Frank worked on the State Roads Commission and helped in the re-engineering of Route 240 from Rockville to Gaithersburg, and Rt. 117 from Gaithersburg to Clopper. He had a prize Jersey Herd and represented the state of Maryland at several National Agricultural Conventions. He once won second prize at a National Smoked Ham Competition.”

Among the many boxes of archival material donated by the Madines are several pamphlets on the care and feeding of cattle, evidently collected by Frank Hutton; a ledger book recording the Holstein-Friesian herd belonging to Germantown farmer Daniel W. Baker (which will probably appear on the blog sometime soon – once I figure out why the Huttons had Mr. Baker’s ledger); and this painted banner. Alas, we don’t have any photos of the banner in use (or of the Jersey Herd, for that matter), although similar painted banners can be seen in images of the Rockville (County) Fair from the 1920s. Mr. Hutton started exhibiting his cattle at the local fair in the late 1880s, when his farm was cited by a Washington Post reporter as one of those contributing to “the great advance taken by Montgomery County [in terms of cattle] during the past year or two. The quality of the animals has so improved during that time that a visitor viewing them would recognize but little relation between the breeds now exhibited and those brought to the fairgrounds formerly, and showed the effect of the introduction of imported and other thoroughbred cattle to the farms in this neighborhood” (September 6, 1889). However, a fire in January 1901 destroyed the Woodlands dairy buildings, and killed 27 Jersey cows; I haven’t yet discovered what happened to Hutton’s agricultural efforts after this, but his name no longer appeared amongst the prize winners at subsequent county fairs.

The County Extension Agent's booth at the Montgomery County (aka Rockville) Fair, 1922. Note the painted banner hanging from the tent. MCHS Library.

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