Professor Frederick Bloomfield Linfield

In 1874, my great-grandfather, Samuel Linfield (1839-1913), moved from his birthplace in Twillingate, Newfoundland to a farm on the outskirts of my hometown Goderich, Ontario. With him were his wife Rachel (Petten) and their four children, Frederick Bloomfield, Mary Jane Butler, “Eliza” Rhoda Elizabeth and my grandfather-to-be, John Petten. Shortly after settling on the land, Rachel gave birth to Samuel Jr. who died in infancy. Over the next five years, Harriet Grace and Alfred were born. Of the six living children, only my grandfather and his sister Eliza stayed on the farm. However, Eliza left the farm on January 3, 1914, moving to Bozeman, Montana to live with her eldest brother, Frederick, the principal subject of this story. Eliza died in Bozeman on December 2, 1916. Mary Jane married George Rice in 1892 and they moved to Guelph, Ontario. Mary Jane died in 1931. Harriet Grace, known as Grace, left the farm with her brother Alfred on August 18, 1908 to live with brother Frederick and family. Alfred worked at different jobs and soon had his own living accommodations. Grace continued to live with Frederick and family and was a great help to Frederick’s wife who was always ill with T.B.

Fred was born Frederick Bloomfield Linfield, in the year 1866 in Twillingate and is one of the most renowned descendants of Robert Linfield (1753-1836) of Marnhull, Dorset, England. I have tried, without success, to discover where the name “Bloomfield” came from. In 1887, at the age of 21, he enrolled in the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph, Ontario where he received his degree in 1891. In December, 1892, Fred married “Polly” Mary Ann Mahoney, with the wedding ceremony taking place in Guelph. Polly, born in Hamilton, Ontario, had spent most of her life, with her parents, in Guelph. Fred had sent her an engagement ring, by mail, on August 13, 1892. (She obviously accepted!) Fred and Polly left Guelph on July 26, 1893, for Logan, Utah, U.S.A. visiting the World’s Fair in Chicago along the way. Fred’s starting salary in Logan was $1,200 per annum. Their three children, Frederick Bertil, Rachael Azalea and Leila Mary were born in Logan. On October 23, 1902, Fred and family moved to Bozeman, Montana where he became Professor of Agriculture at the local College at a salary of $2,000 per year.

By 1911, his salary had increased to $3,600 per year. In 1914, he was promoted to Dean of Agriculture serving in that position until retirement in the late 1930s. He was also Director of the Montana Experimental Station. Books and other documents record that “He was the first to question the advisability of breaking up dry land marginal areas before soil surveys and tests had determined its productivity. Linfield also directed efforts to greater diversification and greater production of feed crops in this state (Montana) pointing to more certain farm income, rather than straight grain and livestock farming. He directed crop rotation tests out of which grew such crops as potatoes, sugar beets and alfalfa making it possible to build up production in irrigated areas without summer fallow.”1.

In community life, he was a charter member of the Bozeman Rotary Club, a director of the Bozeman Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the Methodist Episcopal church. In another article in a local newspaper, it was written “In F.B. Linfield, for nearly 30 years director of the Montana Experiment Station, and 20 years Dean of the College of Agriculture here, Montana has one who, when history is written, will loom large but who has not in all of his great work, received more than passing popular acclaim. As he wished, others under him or working with him have received recognition; he has sought none for himself. It has been one characteristic of his greatness to select those who could do the work that had to be done and to let them do it. In his hands the rein has been held lightly and gently, with only enough guidance to keep the entire team working and pulling toward the one objective – the greatest possible development of Montana’s livestock and crop resources to bring the greatest good to Montana people………Sound in his judgment, always to be depended upon in his defense of great principals, unswerving in his faith in, and his loyalty to, Montana and its people, a source of inspiration to those who work with him, a creator of visions and goals – these are things which his associates recognize and for which they honour him.” The last six weeks of his life were spent in Billings, Montana at the home of his daughter, Leila Mary Linfield Nye. His sister Grace provided nursing care. Frederick Bloomfield Linfield died in Billings in 1948 at the age of 82.

THE LIFE STORY:

My father was a sailor, captain of a small fishing vessel. I was born at Twillingate, Newfoundland, in July 1866. In 1874 the family moved to Ontario, Canada and settled on a farm some 5 miles north of Goderich, Huron County, Ontario. After he was 33 years old and had a family my father went through the usual farm steps as a farm labourer, a renter and then the owner of the farm. I attended a country school and in the fall of 1880 started to high school at Goderich, Ontario. With a few neighbor boys I walked to school 5 miles morning and evening all this first year. After the high school experience I worked on the home farm till I was 21. My first farm team was a yoke of oxen, which I drove for two years. The summer farm work was supplemented by getting out sawlogs and cutting cordwood in the winter and teaming both to market.

During the summer of 1887 I decided to go to the Ontario Agricultural College. Some young men living in the neighborhood who had been to this college were getting something out of their farming as a result, that looked good to me. No other calling seeming possible I decided that if I was going to be a farmer, then I wanted to learn all that I could about that business. Some few things helped to this decision. There was no pressing need of my services at home; The Ontario Government was trying to build up attendance at the Agricultural College and was offering two free scholarships to each county. I applied for and got one of them. Then I worked two months that season for some neighbors and had earned $36. I landed at the college at Guelph in October, 1887, with the $36 minus the railway fare. The means to continue in college had to be earned as I went along, but I graduated in 1891. The first job I applied for was in chemistry but another fellow beat me out. I was next offered a job in dairying which I accepted as I needed an income. The winter of 1891-1892 I was instructor on separater at the dairy school of the Ontario Agricultural College, and then lecturer at farmers institutes for a few weeks. Later in the winter attended the Wisconsin Dairymen’s Association, that year held at Oskosh, and also attended the Wisconsin Dairy Short Course. That trip to Wisconsin and the men met there made me an enthusiastic dairyman.

In the spring of 1892 I was started out with a travelling dairy outfit to give practical demonstrations over Western Ontario on dairying and farm butter making. It was a very valuable experience for me and I later learned that the farmers thought it was well worth while. During this summer I learned that President Sanborn of the Utah Agricultural College was looking for an assistant in live stock and dairying. In May 1893, I gave up the Ontario job and after several weeks cheesemaking experience, a stay at the World’s Fair at Chicago and a visit to some colleges on the way, I landed in Logan, Utah in September. My wife accompanied me. We were married in December 1892. Our three children, now with homes of there own were born in Utah. I concentrated on dairy work in Utah, teaching, experiment station work and farmers institutes. The evolution of events placed me at the head of the work in agriculture in the Utah College by 1900.

In early September 1902, a letter from Prof. Fortier, then Director of the Montana Agricultural College, asked if I would be interested in a job as agriculturist at that institution. The culmination of things brought me to this institution in October 1902. I was literally Professor of Agriculture with an assistant in Horticulture. There was a good irrigated farm but for the buildings, livestock and equipment I question if any person would have allowed a value of $5,000. We have made some progress since then. The story is told in the 25th annual report of the Montana Station and a later picture of finances is given in the 30th annual report.

Director Fortier left the institution in the spring of 1903 and I was placed in charge of the Experiment Station, which also gave me responsibility for the farmers institute work for which $2,000 was available. I retained the headship of the College work in Agriculture. In 1914 the position of Dean was established in the institution for heads of the various colleges and I became Dean of the College of Agriculture.

In these passing years Montana has grown agriculturally. A population of 243,300 in 1900 has become about 625,000 in 1925, the large proportion of these in the agricultural sections of the State. From $117,860,000 as a total value of all farm property in 1900, there is an increase to about $650,000,000 in 1925. We have had our depression but the tide has turned. The College of Agriculture through its teaching, its agricultural experiments, its agricultural extension and its other service work has been a considerable factor in shaping and helping forward this development. To have had a hand in directing the building up of these various divisions of the agricultural service in the State has been an interesting and worth while task.

Very truly yours

F.B. Linfield

Dean and Director

2 thoughts on “Professor Frederick Bloomfield Linfield”

  1. Received a call from Linfield College archivist. Curious, did my grandmother Margery ever tell you the connection with the college?

    1. ~Our information is that Fredk Bloomfield L was associated with Ontario Agricultural College 1891-3, Utah Agric Coll, Loga, 1893-1902, Montana State College 1902-13 as Professor of Agriculture and subsequently as Dean, and as Director Emeritus. Linfield College, Oregon was named for George Fisher Linfield (1846-1890), a minister, missionary and educator. See “Bricks Without Straw” by Jonas A Jonasson 1938 pp 100-109; also “The Wayland Story” by Alton E Wichman 1954. George Fisher Linfield was a descendant of William Linfield who appears in Braintee MA and appears to have held land there from 1668. We have yet to establish the origins of this family in the UK, if indeed that is where they came from, but any linkage with your branch would have to have occurred prior to the md 17th century in England. We can supply the genealogy of George Fisher Linfield if the College are interested and do not have it already.

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