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William Dempster Hoard | Inducted 1914

16th Governor of Wisconsin, publisher/editor of Hoard's Dairyman and widely considered the father of the Wisconsin dairy industry.

1836-1918 | Artist: Robert Wadsworth Grafton (1876-1936); original portrait by Arvid Nyholm

Impact & Accomplishments

Widely considered the father of the Wisconsin dairy industry, William Dempster Hoard’s experience with dairy cattle began as a sixteen-year-old farm hand in his home state of New York. When his career as a music teacher was interrupted by Civil War service, Hoard settled in Wisconsin and began farming.

Convinced that dairying would be a more successful enterprise in his new state than growing wheat, he formed one of the first associations in the nation—the Wisconsin State Dairymen’s Association—in 1872. At this time, the state produced about 1,000,000 pounds of cheese. Hoard negotiated with Star Union Line railroad, to transport cheese on refrigerated cars to the Atlantic seaboard, enabling the state to become a competitive exporter. By 1913, Wisconsin cheese production had exceeded 190,000,000 pounds.

In 1885, William Hoard launched the first national dairy magazine in America, and Hoard’s Dairyman is published to this day. His leadership in agriculture, the state’s dominant industry, contributed to his election as governor of Wisconsin in 1888, for one term.

In 1904, he served as president of the state’s commission for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, and in 1907, he was elected President of the Board of Regents at the University of Wisconsin.

William Hoard’s portrait was the first to be added to the Club at the urging of the dairy industry, with the American Guernsey Cattle Club presenting it in 1914. He was honored by the National Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1984.

Did You Know?

The Hoard's Dairyman Farm was purchased in 1899 by Hoard. A major motivation to his purchase was to prove to university people throughout the north central and northeastern states that alfalfa was a practical and desirable forage crop for dairy cattle. Today the farm is home to the largest and longest continually registered Guernsey herd in the United States. Photo courtesy of Hoard's Dairyman magazine.

Hoard's Dairyman magazine originated from the pages of the Jefferson County Daily Union, a newspaper founded by William Dempster Hoard, the first editor of Hoard's Dairyman and Wisconsin's 16th Governor. In that initial issue in 1885, W.D. Hoard said that Hoard's Dairyman would strive to "Give the choicest original and selected dairy literature to be obtained." Today the magazine is still thriving and has a circulation of 54,000+.

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