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It all started when Ed & Frank Garee got Red Dress.

Shortly after the turn of the century my Father and I were operating a newly established nursery. A. H. Symcox, an ancestor of the present operators of the City National Bank, lived just south of Norman. About 1904, Mr. Symcox traded me a pure bred Duroc Jersey sow pig for $10.00 worth of fruit trees. We named and registered her “Red Dress”. She proved to be a good one and was the beginning of a considerable herd of Durocs which we operated for a number of years as a side issue to the nursery business. We added a few animals from time to time always from the top blood lines of the breed and in Sept. 1907 I drove into the show ring “Red Ranger” the first Grand Champion Duroc Jersey boar of the Oklahoma State Fair, of which Dad and I were charter members. We continued to exhibit Duroc hogs, honey and other products at the fair for a few years, always with a fair share of winnings. In the fall of 1909, brought home a case of hog cholera, but that gives rise to another story.

In the State Fair of Sept. 1908, I drove in the “summer up” for Grand Champion Duroc boar. We had won 1st in the 6 mos. to 1 yr. class. A Tattarax hog in the 12 to 18 mo. or the 18 to 24 mo. class, took 1st in that class here, and the judge asked his owner and me to drive out to show for champion. Tattarax had been Champion of the Kansas State Fair just before coming here. He looked back and forth between us several times before giving the purple to Tattarax. The Kansas hog had a slight fault in the way he stood on his front feet and I saw the judge checking that I thought I was going to win, but he evidently saw some fault in my hog that he considered worse: I never learned what.

One entry was sired by our Gold Tip Notcher, a sow [note: maybe he meant boar] of Tip Top Notcher, Worlds Champion, and his claim was Proud Perfection, our daughter of Perfection Chief, champion of the Chicago Worlds Fair. So, you see we were about as near the top as the average breeder could hope to get.

We kept our state champion Red Ranger and used him till he was 10 years old and sold him to a neighbor who used him more years that I know about, and there my story ends. — ca 1964, Ed Garee

A Duroc Sow

A simple search of Tip Top Notcher, the boar who sired Ed’s Gold Tip Notcher, reveals an interesting story.  As a result of the 1904 St. Louis Fair “Tip Top Notcher became so well known that farmers from all over were bringing their sows to Illinois to be bred to the famous boar. Mr. Seckman even had a special spring wagon built so that Tip Top Notcher could be comfortably transported. However, in 1906, Seckman received an offer he couldn’t refuse and sold the hog for $5,000. Tip Top Notcher continued to sire many grand champions. No one knows how many offspring he sired, but the number must have been in the thousands.”(2)  Visit 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair Hogs for photos of Tip Top Notcher as well as information on his grave marker.

Ed & Frank were quite involved in this ‘side issue’ of breeding & showing swine.  The October 10, 1907 Daily Oklahoman, noted that the an Oklahoma State Fair judge announced the swine winners, though the Duroc Jersey swine had not yet been judged.  I did not locate further announcements of winners in any subsequent newspapers.  However, for the following year, 1908, the winners were announced and Garee & Garee had several.

Click & Zoom

Ed & Frank’s hogs are registered and listed in the American Duroc-Jersey record, which has the hogs’ pedigree.  So, for example Gold Tip Notcher is 58237 and his parents were Tip Top Notcher 20729 & Gold Dust Pink 53846.  In the American-Duroc Jersey Record it indicates that Garee & Garee transferred Red Ranger 15717 on November 10, 1912 to T.R. Davis of Noble, Oklahoma. (7)  It’s all quite fascinating but I have enough work researching my own ancestors so I won’t be pursuing these further.

What about the cholera, Ed goes on…

An Indiana farmer Robert Ridgeway, by means of accident and observation, solved the hog cholera problem some years ahead of the scientific fellows. Early in the century, he had a scourge of cholera that took most all of his hogs. By some means, 2 of his brood sows recovered. As soon as he had “cleaned up” he restocked his farm and later had another round of cholera. At this time, he noticed that his 2 sows, each with a liter of pigs, all lived with the sick and dying hogs and never missed a feed or turned a hair. Here is the whole story. His 2 sows were immune. Their pigs were born immune and remained so as long as they took only the mother’s milk. As they begin to eat away from her, they begin to lose that immunity slowly, but because they were running with sick hogs, eating greedily and still nursing, they took cholera, but in such a light form that nobody knew it and that’s the secret. They became immune for life.

Mr. Ridgeway published and copyrighted a pamphlet setting up all these facts. Soon after the State Fair of 1909 when we brought home a case of cholera which took most of our pigs but from which we were able to save most of our older herd. I paid $10.00 for one of the Ridgeway books and a “farm right” to use it. His method was crude. We had to bury a cholera carcass to keep the virus till we needed it again, or drive to a sick herd and get one. I have done both ways.

The survivors of our State Fair herd made an excellent foundation and we began breeding Durocs in earnest. I think we made the first catalogue sale of guaranteed cholera immunes in the state.

When our liters were about 6 weeks old and eating greedily, we would put the raw virus in their slop and see that all ate some. By watching closely I could see a very slight bowel reaction that I never would have seen except that I was looking for it after 6 to 9 days.

About this time science stepped in and did a much better job of it. A serum was developed that gave temporary immunity and if the raw virus was also injected the immunity became permanent.

I had a lot of fun buying the virus alone from the serum plants. “You will kill all your pigs if you give them virus without serum.” However they never refused to sell me for 35¢, enough virus to kill all the hogs in the township. The serum was much more expensive.

I lost out on it once for a very definite season. After we had sold out the herd I had kept one immune sow for personal use. When her pigs were just right, I gave her pigs the virus. Within 4 or 5 days she developed the worse case of milk fever I ever saw. Her udder puffed up, tight as a toy balloon, and by the time for the pigs to react to their cholera exposure, she was totally dried up; not a drop of milk to protect the pigs. They all died. Had I seen it in time, it is possible that heavy injections of the serum would have saved them. It was then on the market and easily available.

All the happened around 50 years or more ago. I am quite sure that modern veterinary science has practically eradicated hog cholera, or at least has it so well under control that no up to date breeder has cause to fear a serious loss from it. — Ed Garee, ca 1964

Ed’s obituary says he was “Founder of Fair – In the early days of the nursery he was engaged in stock raising and farming.  At one time he was one of the largest growers of registered Duroc Jersey hogs in Oklahoma and, because of his interest in hogs, he was instrumental in establishing the State Fair of Oklahoma.  He was one of the original stockholders in the fair association and exhibited the first grand champion boar the first year of the fair.”

Garee & Garee of Noble, Oklahoma were involved in a variety of agricultural interests.  I’m sure I’ve only touched the surface of their involvement.  Google books search shows a long listing of relevant entries.

To read more of Ed’s life stories, visit my other website, My Tree House – Ed Garee’s Stories.

Bibliography

  1. 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair – Duroc Hog Show
  2. Tip Top Notcher
  3. American Duroc-Jersey swine record, vol 31 (1911)
  4. American Duroc-Jersey swine record, vol. 32
  5. American Duroc-Jersey swine record, vol. 33
  6. American Duroc-Jersey record, vol 36 (1920)
  7. American Duroc-Jersey record, vol.38 – 39
  8. American Duroc-Jersey record, vol 53 (1921)
  9. American Duroc-Jersey record, vol 55-56 (1922)
  10. Duroc-Jersey swine record, vol 25 (1907)
  11. Duroc-Jersey swine Record, vol 30 (1908)
  12. Duroc-Jersey swine record, vol. 35 (1910)
  13. Duroc-Jersey Swine Record Association, vol 63 (1919)
  14. Breeds of Livestock – Duroc — photos and information
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