Frank Agnew was born in April 1866, in Stillman Valley, Illinois, and passed away October 13, 1939, just a few days after he had been selected as Eminent Farmer. Mr. Agnew was never married. Details of his life were furnished by John F. White, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a long-time friend of Mr. Agnew, and by numerous close friends in Bancroft, South Dakota, where Mr. Agnew farmed and was in business for 32 years.
Mr. Agnew was the youngest of four brothers and two sisters. When a young man, he went into the horse business in Rockford, Illinois, buying, breeding and selling high class driving and riding horses. Many of his customers were wealthy horse-lovers from Chicago.
An older brother had moved to Bancroft, South Dakota some years before where he operated two grain elevators, a coal business and was a large land-holder. In 1907, this brother persuaded Frank to go to Bancroft and become a partner. This brother died in 1925 and until the time of his death, Frank Agnew managed his brother’s estate in addition to his own. They controlled 3,000 acres of Kingsbury and Beadle County farms, and considerable other business.
All of the farms were well-improved but were not show places. The farms were operated on a partnership basis with the tenants joint partners with their landlord. The tenants stayed on their farms year after year.
Mr. Agnew engaged in a livestock buying business in Bancroft and maintained a purebred herd of Shorthorns on his farm two miles east of Bancroft. The herd was a source of good breeding stock for the community. Because of ill-health, he was dispersing this herd by sale the day of his death which came a few minutes before the sale was started. At the direction of his brother, Sam, who was present, the sale went on as usual.
Mr. Agnew was a quiet, retiring man of few words. He stood six-foot two-inches tall and in normal health weighing 260 pounds. He had been in failing health for several years before his death.
He worked constantly to improve crops and livestock of his community. For several years he was superintendent of the Livestock Department of the South Dakota State Fair.