CAMDEN – There’s a new historical marker on North Indiana 29, just over the Carroll County border.
In early August, dignitaries such as Gov. Eric Holcomb and U.S. Rep. Jim Baird, R-District 4, and farmers from around the country came to the Fouts Soyland Farm to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the creation of the American Soybean Association and unveil a marker.
On one side, the marker recognizes the founding of the American Soybean Association, and on the other recognizes the Fouts family, which helped start the association in 1920 and were also instrumental in making soybeans a viable crop.
The organization has grown into a national organization, based in St. Louis, that advocates and lobbies for water rights, overseas sales and other farmer concerns.
“It’s appropriate that we’re meeting on this exact soil,” Holcomb said.
The original intent of the Three Fouts brothers — Taylor, Finis and Noah — was to hold the “First Corn Belt Soybean Field Day” on Sept. 3, 1920, where about 1,000 farmers talked about marketing and selling this new kind of crop.
Representatives from the Purdue University Extension Service, Indiana Experiment Station and the U.S. Department of Agriculture were also there.
The meeting was such a success, the farmers decided to form the association, called National Soybean Growers Association until 1925, and Taylor Fouts became the first president.
The Fouts brothers were pioneers in soybean growing.
The three brothers had attended Purdue, and when they returned, their father, Solomon Fouts, gave each 160 acres, said Noah’s great-great-granddaughter Elisha Modisett Kemp.
People made fun of their “college ideas” and their planting soybeans, which originally had two uses, forage for livestock and nitrogen for corn.
However, when the brothers’ corn grew higher and greener than their neighbors’ crops, and their livestock each put on about 2 pounds more, the interest came.
The process wasn’t easy, though.
“It took them a good 10 to 15 years to make a go of it,” she said.
They had to make their own equipment, some of which is in the Smithsonian Museum.
The family is the land’s original settlers and is the farm is about 150 years old, Modisett Kemp said.
The original cabin is at Canal Park in Delphi; however, the original barns burned down in the 1940s, she said.
In the barn on Tuesday, the exhibits included a family photo of the Fouts around the start the soybean association and a panoramic photo of the 1920 gathering, as well as historic ads, Bibles, labels and equipment.
There were a few copies of the trade magazine, which began in 1940, the same year the association hired its first paid executive.
There were also modern touches at the program, including a table for “Movin’ the Pile,” a farming podcast.
Outside the barn, under a tent next to the speakers’ tent, were antique tractors, and in the field beyond that were heirloom soybean varieties that people toured.
Those heirloom seeds went as far back as the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, said Dave Blower, Indiana Soybean Alliance spokesman.
Modisett Kem said the Fouts Soyland Farm continues to grow soybeans today.