As the New Year opened in 1891, Isaac Werner had struggled on his farm since 1878, and after a few years of good prices for crops, Isaac found himself overwhelmed by drought, debts with impossible interest rates, and prices for his crops inadequate to cover expenses. He had matured both his timber claim and his homestead, but he had found it necessary to sell his timber claim to his brother and his homestead was encumbered by mortgages that he could do no more than pay the interest to avoid foreclosure. He began studying the benefits of co-operative farming, and on January 13, 1891, he wrote in his journal: "Morning idealized over establishing Co-operative manufacturing [and farming] ...for our neighborhood."
Four days later he had organized a meeting at his home for nearby neighbors to discuss co-operative farming. He described the evening in his journal. "Eve had our preliminary Co-operative Meeting. C.G. Gereke and A.A. Shoop the only 2 present instead [of] the whole 6 or 7 selected as starting members." In fact, Isaac had also invited William Blanch, George Hall, S.J. Frazee, and W. Gouger. Despite the disappointing attendance, he wrote: "We spent a long and interesting evening, reading and expressing views with interest becoming the subject, preparatory before spring work may crowd. Many realizing the necessity of such steps, but difficult to get full attendance."
Early promotional posters by the railroads and land agents had emphasized the abundance of prairie farms and had made exaggerated claims for how quickly a homesteader or purchaser of railroad land could achieve success. Many immigrants and homesteaders had relied on those posters to leave their homes and establish farms on the prairie, and many had failed, either moving on West or returning to live with relatives in the East when farms failed and assets were exhausted. Those like Isaac who remained were willing to try whatever seemed reasonable just to survive.
On February 4, 1891, Isaac wrote in his journal: "Last evening W. Blanch & Frazee called to organize co-operative club. We had a literary time by ourselves till midnight--politics, reform and Shakespeare. Co-operative plans my main study now-a-days. Seeing the needs to establish an influential County Reform paper on a co-operative basis and then organize County Literary and Reform Club to work as auxiliary to said paper and furnish reform Library at County Seat for editors and club members."
Not all of Isaac's plans for co-operative ventures were realized; however, he did provide several acres on his farm for neighbors to plant, tend, and harvest potatoes. He believed that theirs was the first cooperative potato farming in Stafford County, Kansas.