The first issue of Robert W. Furnas’s Nebraska Farmer was published in Brownville in October of 1859, eight years before Nebraska Territory became a state. Furnas (who had established the Nebraska Advertiser, also at Brownville, in 1856) included an appeal for submissions from the “Agricultural, Mechanical, and Educational interests.”
“Believing the time has arrived when the agricultural and mechanical interests of Nebraska demand the publication of a journal devoted exclusively to such interests, we have consented to publish the ‘Nebraska Farmer,’ and here present the first number. It is a project we have long desired to engage in, and will use every effort in our power to make a paper worthy of support. We have a liberal patronage promised us, and, if we receive it, shall hereafter throw all our energies into this channel.”
Furnas intended the Nebraska Farmer as a vehicle for the exchange of information not only on agriculture but on other topics as well: “We offer for the present, until there is a demand for a journal exclusively devoted to educational matters, the columns of the Farmer to be used for the advancement of education purposes. There is room at present, we think, for the Agricultural, Mechanical, and Educational interests all to be fostered and cared for through our columns. Hereafter we will have a special Department devoted to educational interests. Will the friends of education contribute?”
Aware that his prospective contributors in agriculture or the mechanical arts might not be accustomed to expressing themselves in writing, he urged: “We hope, now a medium is presented through which the farmers and mechanics of Nebraska can communicate the results of their efforts, there will be no backwardness on their part to make a proper use of the Farmer columns. Don’t conclude, because some of you cannot write as smooth a sentence as the experienced newspaper writer, that you will write nothing. While a well written article is always desirable, it is principally your ideas, and results of experiments, we want. We’ll agree to brighten up any articles that may seem rusty. Send them along.”
Furnas also invited women to participate: “A number of Nebraska ladies who understand the use of the pen, and are skilled in matters pertaining to the household department, have promised us regular contributions. To those with whom we enjoy a personal acquaintance, we have extended special invitations, and shall continue to do so as we form new acquaintances. We hereby, however, extend a general invitation to every lady in Nebraska and adjacent thereto, to contribute to the columns of the ‘Farmer.'”
Furnas in a separate article appealed to the readers of this first issue to subscribe to the new publication and encourage their friends to do so. “We send this number to every farmer and mechanic whose name we can obtain,” he wrote,” “and hope each will consider the importance of sustaining the paper, and not only immediately remit us the $1 [yearly subscription rate], but get as many of their neighbors to do so as possible. We think this plan of soliciting preferable to sending out agents with prospectuses. Let each and every one consider themselves as a regularly appointed agent, and act accordingly.”
Robert W. Furnas.
From Alfred T. Andreas, History of the State of Nebraska (1882).