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Dudley W. Adams


Posted By: Shary Ferrall (email)
Date: 3/19/2006 at 19:06:16


The subject of this sketch was born at Winchester, Mass., on the 30th of November, 1831. Like many of the now prominent men of the nation, he passed his childhood and grew up to man's estate in a section where farming means the tillage of a soil never rich, and whose natural productions are rather rocks and stones than rank herbage and generous crops.

But if the soil of the New England States is not celebrated for its agricultural wealth, the constant labor necessary to gain daily bread has taught her sons lessons of persistent industry and self-reliance that are simply invaluable.

It is not those reared in the lap of luxury, and who take to, their studies as a fashionable dandy does to dress, as a mere superficial adornment, that furnish the country her statesmen or her master minds in trade and finance. On the contrary, it is those who thirst for knowledge; who incessantly employ the brain, whether at labor or actual study; who train their mind habitually, in working out ideas, to grasp, connectedly, whatever subject may present itself. Many of the brightest names and strongest characters in American history were self-made men; and such, if imbued with sympathy for their fellows, and a willingness to labor for their well-being, are the real noblemen of nature.

While working hard to improve his farm, Mr. Adams never lost sight of the necessity of organization for the promotion of agriculture.

At the age of twenty-two he was elected President of the Allamakee County Agricultural Society, one of the youngest incumbents on record in connection with such an office; and since that time he has been connected almost constantly with the Society in some capacity, either as Secretary, member of the Executive Committee, or other responsible position.

Mr. Adams was never a believer in the dogma that fruit could not be successfully grown in the West. After the terrible winter of 1856, he still had faith in the ultimate success of fruit culture. In spite of the discouragements of climate, and the still more discouraging advice of friends, he gave much of his time and energies to this engaging pursuit. It is not strange, therefore, that Mr. Adams now looks back with some pride to his efforts in this direction, as one of the useful labors' of his life.

At the age of thirty-six, Mr. Adams was chosen Secretary of the Iowa Horticultural Society, in a manner highly complimentary to himself, although other business prevented his attendance at that session of the Society. This position he held until the winter of 1872-3, when his other official duties made it necessary that he should decline a re-election.

That, the office was worthily bestowed and honorably gained is evidenced by the fact that, in 1871, Mr. Adams exhibited at the Iowa State Fair one hundred varieties of apples of his own growth, of such uniform beauty and excellence as to receive the highest award of the Society. This was in the same year that his State received so high commendations at the exhibition before the American Pomological Society.

The pioneer who makes a farm in the wilderness, with little save his own hands, must bear a skillful hand in various ways to keep the wolf from the door until something can be raised from the soil. Mr. Adams' previous education had made him conversant with the business of a surveyor; and, for years, in the intervals of farm labor, he carried a surveyor's compass in establishing corners, running lines, and laying off the farms of his pioneer neighbors, far and near.

For about ten years he served his neighbors, also, in the several offices of Assessor, President of the District School Board, Township Trustee, County Supervisor, Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors, and held various other public trusts of a local nature. At the age of thirty-two, Mr. Adams became the Republican candidate for the State Senate from his district, but was unsuccessful, the ticket being buried out of sight under the majority then given the entire Democratic ticket.

Two years later, the finances of his county having become almost hopelessly involved, he was elected a member of the Board of Supervisors for the county. This board consisted of eighteen, one from each township. Elected Chairman of the Board, he performed the duties of the office for three years, and then resigned. At the time of his election the county warrants were at a discount of fifty per cent. In two years, they were at par; and now the State of Iowa can proudly point to the fact that there is no State debt upon which the people pay taxes as interest -a fact most creditable to the exertions of her citizens in their several stations as public officers.

In the spring of 1873, the friends of Mr. Adams nominated him for governor of Iowa. This nomination was declined, not because the nominee was not as willing as heretofore to serve his fellow-citizens, but because he was at that time too deeply absorbed in the great work of his lifespreading the organization of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry. The tenets of the Order proclaim it to be nonpolitical. Had he acceeded to the wishes of his friends, the Order would have been immediately stigmatized as seeking political ends. Mr. Adams was willing to forego the prospect of gubernatorial honors, in order that he might still labor in the field of his choice, to promote the business and social welfare of the agricultural masses. These he represents as the chief executive officer of the National Grange; and truly it is a higher honor than to be a State governor.

Early in the year 1870, Mr. Adams and two of his neighbors, having heard of the Patrons of Husbandry, called together other neighbors, and organized Waukon Grange, No. 3, of the State.

Seven months later, they organized Frankville Grange, No. 4. Six months subsequently, or June 12, 1871, the State Grange was organized temporarily, and Mr. Adams was chosen Master. In December of the same year, a permanent organization was effected, and he was elected the Master for two years. This office he held until his election as Master of the National Grange, early in 1873. In 1871, when elected to the State Grange, there were less than a dozen Granges in the State. He left it with over eight hundred working organizations. Since this time the State has fully kept pace with its previous record, its present membership showing over one hundred thousand tillers of the soil, working as a unit for their social, moral, and industrial elevation among the great brotherhood of mankind.

Since his election to the Chief Executive of the National Grange, Mr. Adams has continued untiring in his efforts for the benefit of his brethren in toil, and the spread of the Order.

That he is doing more good than he possibly could have done as the governor of his State, there is no doubt; for now his field of labor is national. Those sterling patriots who have cast from them the glittering prizes of political preferment until the nation shall have become sufficiently purged of corruption, will not be forgotten by a grateful people when the political panderers of the present day shall be buried deep in oblivion, with none so mean as to do them reverence.


-source: "The Groundswell. A history of the origin, aims, and progress of the farmers' movement: embracing an authoritative account of farmers' clubs, granges, etc. ... together with sketches of the lives of prominent leaders, etc."; by Hon. Jonathan Periam; Cincinnati,, Chicago,: E. Hannaford & company;, Hannaford & Thompson;, 1874; Chapter XLIII; page 495-500


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