Historical Markers
Daniel H. Hastings Historical Marker
Mouse over for marker text

Daniel H. Hastings

Valleys of the Susquehanna


Marker Location:
PA 64 at PA 477 NW of Salona

Dedication Date:
October 9, 1950

Behind the Marker

Fraudulent practices by large commercial dairies and fertilizer manufacturers, declining crop yields, and animal diseases communicable to people: these were but some of the major problems Pennsylvania farmers confronted in the late nineteenth century, problems that would be addressed by Daniel Hartman Hastings, who as governor of the Commonwealth between 1895
Flyer, Front and back cover, "The Complete Bone Phosphate" and "Feed the Soil," Allentown Mfg Co.  631.3
The Complete Bone Phosphate and Feed the Soil
and 1899 presided over the creation of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. The department has thrived over the decades and continues to perform many vital services for farmers and consumers alike.

Daniel H. Hastings was born in a log house on a farm near Salona in Clinton County on February 26, 1849, the son of William and Sarah Hastings. As a boy he worked on the family farm and attended local schools. At the age of fourteen, he became a teacher at the school and continued to help his father on the farm until 1867 when he became the principal of Bellefonte High School. In the meantime he studied the law, and in 1875 he was admitted to the Pennsylvania State Bar and soon joined the law office of markerMatthew S. Quay. Quay was then Secretary of the Commonwealth and a rising star in the Republican Party and in state and national politics.

Hastings, too, became involved in the Republican Party and state government. In 1880, he became a colonel in the Pennsylvania National Guard, for which he served as adjutant general from 1886 to 1890. Sent by Governor Beaver to assess the severity of the markerJohnstown flood in 1889, he personally directed relief efforts for the flood victims, then directed state-funded relief measures for the town. He was also involved in banking and coal mining.

When Hastings was elected governor of Pennsylvania in 1894, the nation was in the midst of one of the worst economic depressions in American history, and the nation's farmers were in dire straits.
Oil on canvas of Daniel H. Hasting.
Daniel H. Hastings, Governor of Pennsylvania, 1895-1899.
The millions of tons of grain and meat flooding east coast markets from the West had long since depressed agricultural prices, even as the costs of transportation, fertilizer, farm equipment, and other farm expenses continued to rise. For close to twenty years the national and markerPennsylvania Granges had fought for legislation for pure food laws to protect the public against adulterated and mislabeled products, increased funding for public education, funding for agricultural experiment stations and agricultural education, and for a state department of agriculture that would represent farmers" concerns at the highest levels of state government.
Farm Bureau, hybrid corn photograph

In 1895, responding to the needs of consumers and farmers, Governor Hastings presided over the creation of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and appointed Thomas Edge the state's first Secretary of Agriculture. (This new department had equal rank with other state agencies in his cabinet.) That same year, Pennsylvania became one of the first states in the nation to pass pure food laws and laws against adulteration and misbranding foodstuffs and other goods.

The new department played a vital role in the enforcement of these laws, sending samples of commercial feeds and fertilizers to the markerPennsylvania State College for testing. To educate farmers about better agricultural techniques and to help combat transmissible livestock diseases, the department conducted research and field demonstrations, and created "Farmers" Institutes" that held classes and lectures around the state to educate farmers about scientific agriculture and to provide its own bulletins and other literature from the United States Department of Agriculture. In 1900 about 50,000 attended the Farmers" Institutes.

Hastings died on January 9, 1903, but his legacy, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, lives on. In the century since his death, the department has relinquished much of its education and research activities to Penn State, but its work is by no means diminished. The Department of Agriculture works to prevent the spread of animal and plant diseases and pests through inspection of apiaries, livestock, and nurseries, the enforcement of quarantine, and other measures. It inspects agricultural products, meat processing and storage facilities; it tests the purity and viability of seeds offered for sale; it inspects and tests food for purity; it inspects and tests feeds, fertilizers, fungicides, and insecticides; it establishes and maintains standard grades for farm products and establishes standards for containers; it licenses dealers who handle farm products; it collects and disseminates information on market prices and conditions; assists farmers" cooperatives; collects and publishes statistics on crops and livestock and other aspects of agriculture in the state; and is also in charge of the markerPennsylvania Farm Show.
Back to Top