Grown in Marin
University of California
Grown in Marin

Interview with James Marshall

From August 26, 1975. Excerpted from a transcript from The Marin County Free Library

Boissevain Ford
Interviewer: James Marshall was the grand-nephew of Mr. James Alexander Marshall, descendant of a proud pioneer family of Marin. The Marshall Family goes back to the 1850s in West Marin, and Marshall, the picturesque village on Tomales Bay, bears the name of this North Irish family. Five brothers came to Marin County: Hugh, James, Alexander, Samuel and David. The gentleman we will be interviewing today is the grandnephew of the above Marshalls, but let us have him tell his story.

James Marshall: We had a Farm Advisor, Mr. Merit Boissevain, our first County Agent. The Farm Advisor introduced cow testing, which improved the dairy herds, and then of course the elimination of Bangs disease and tuberculosis. It was a wonderful boon to the industry. A lot of people got upset over the program because they lost cows, but in the final analysis it was the best thing that ever happened.

When the Farm Advisor was put in Marin County, he came up with new ideas such as growing silage and building silos, testing cows to improve the herds and better pasture improvement. One of the slogans was during the depression was to “grow two blades of grass where one grew”, which was accomplished in Marin by fertilizing. Our Farm Advisor promoted all these things.

We attended meetings and Mr. Boissevain had speakers talk to the group. I remember one time we had a professor come over from Davis to give us a talk at the Tomales Farm Center. It happened to be a stormy night, and Mr. Boissevain drove a Model T Ford - and he always drove it “wide open”. The roads weren’t very good, and they were coming along down through Two Rock and a cow had gotten out in the road. Mr. Boissevain slammed on his brakes and the Model T swung around. It didn’t turn over, but skidded around and was going in the opposite direction. When the Professor got up and made his introductory remarks he said, “I’m truly very happy to be here.”

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