In the spring of 1905, while attending a Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Bible study, a group of young men studying agriculture at the University of Missouri enjoyed one another’s fellowship so much that they decided to organize a club, rent a house and live together.
The original group numbered 11 men. Each had pledged to return in the fall and bring a roommate. This would fill the 22-man house that was rented at 107 Sixth Street in Columbia. However, when September arrived, only seven of the original group returned.
These seven men were – D. Howard Doane, Robert F. Howard, Claude B. Hutchison, Henry H. Krusekopf, Earl W. Rusk, Henry P. Rusk and Melvin E. Sherwin. They are the founding fathers of FarmHouse Fraternity.
Immediately the men were thrust into a situation of having to find boarders to fill the rooms and tables. And all but one of the men were working to pay part or all of their expenses.
Reflecting on the humble origins of the Fraternity, D. Howard Doane later wrote in this diary, “Many a night, this dear old bunch assembled with gravest doubts assailing them, and they wondered if it was all worthwhile. There seemed to be so many reasons for saying ‘no’ and only one for saying ‘yes’. That one yes was so big it always won. (For) an agreement had been made, (our) word had been pledged, it could not be broken. The spirit of honor, the sacredness of a pledge and a determination to ‘carry on’ that which was begun carried us over those first hard years.”
Given their agricultural background and rural upbringing, the house in which they resided began to be referred to as the farmer’s house, by other students in a derogatory or demeaning way. The men living in the house however felt the name was appropriate as they knew the farm home to be a welcoming place for people to gather, to enjoy each other’s fellowship, to share a meal together, after a hard day’s work. This same welcoming environment of a farm home could be offered on a college campus, for studious men majoring in agriculture who possessed a strong work ethic. And so the group proudly took on the name FARMHOUSE.
Since its modest beginning in April 1905, FARMHOUSE has flourished in the 110+ years since. With 48 chapters chartered across North America, from coast to coast, and 30,000 men becoming lifelong members through these chapters.
Today FARMHOUSE is proud of our agricultural heritage and celebrates our origins, but is so much more. Just as the face of agriculture has diversified, so has our membership, our programs, the majors of our students and the careers our alumni pursue.