Cemetery at Rush Hill, Mo. is final resting place of MFA founder.
Rock Hill Cemetery near Rush Hill, Mo., is MFA organizer William Hirth’s final resting place. The remote cemetery is as peaceful as ever, but a little brighter thanks to a nearby farmer. With support from the MFA Charitable Foundation, local farmer Harry Riechers led an effort to replace an old woven-wire fence with a white three-rail ranch fence. The project was finished in late summer.
Hirth, who spent his youth near the cemetery, was a great leader of the cooperative movement in the Midwest. In 1908, Hirth started the Missouri Farmer and Breeder Magazine (which evolved over the years to become Today’s Farmer). Hirth saw the difficult times farms were going through in the early 20th Century and figured cooperative action the best way to bring farmers into the mainstream of “modern” life. He used his publication’s editorial platform to call for the formation of farm clubs. Eventually, he became the clearinghouse for farm clubs that were springing up around Missouri, collecting group orders and submitting them en masse to manufacturers for tremendous discounts. Those cooperative efforts were the beginnings of MFA. Until his death on Oct. 24, 1940, Hirth had been elected president of MFA every year from 1928, resigning only 18 months to run unsuccessfully for the Missouri governorship. The epitaph tomb stone reads, “He loved agriculture and all things beautiful.”