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Adams, Dudley Warren
(November 30, 1831–February 13, 1897)

–fruit grower and Grange leader—was born in Winchendon, Massachusetts. His family moved to a small farm when he was four. Educated at home and in the district school, he became a teacher in his native state, where his family had been eminent for nearly two centuries. At age 21, Adams became an early settler of Waukon, Allamakee County, Iowa, where he was a surveyor and held the elective office of County Assessor for a decade.

    In 1854 Adams became president of Allamakee County's new horticultural society. Two years later he started Iron Clad Nursery, where he soon had about 4,000 trees that produced a variety of apples. As secretary of the State Horticultural Society of Iowa and a participant in its exhibits, he showed 100 apple varieties in 1871 and 172 in 1879. He won the society's sweepstakes prize both years.

    In 1869 Adams helped to organize the Waukon Grange, a unit of the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry, which had been established in 1867. After Granges had been organized in Washington, D.C., and then in New York State, the Order came to the Midwest. There it flourished until the mid 1870s. Adams was elected the first Master of the Iowa State Grange in 1871, became lecturer of the National Grange in 1872, and early in 1873 began almost three years of service as National Grange Master.

    Adams's importance in Grange history included his fervent insistence that the Order should engage in political action. Replying to conservatives who wanted the Order to stay clear of politics, Adams asserted that it was "the duty of Patrons of Husbandry to take such action in politics as shall ensure the prosperity of agriculture."Grange political action focused on regulation of railroad rates. Efforts to secure federal regulation, including a bill that Adams helped to write, failed, but in the early 1870s Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin all passed regulatory laws.

    The Order, however, generally failed to take effective political action. Adams thought that it failed to do so because too many Grange members were "speculators, demagogues, small politicians," and other "leeches" rather than farmer Under his leadership, the National Grange tightened its membership requirements, demanding that members not only be "engaged in agricultural pursuits" but that they not have interests "in conflict with our purposes."The number of Grange members plummeted soon after standards were tightened.

    Adams ended his Grange service in early 1875, moved to Florida in December, and there planted orange and other fruit trees. He helped to found Florida's State Horticultural Society, and served as its president for the rest of his life.
Sources include E. O. Painter, "Adams, Dudley W.," in Cyclopedia of American Agriculture, ed. L. H. Bailey (1909); Charles M. Gardner, The Grange: Friend of the farmer (1949); Thomas A. Woods, Knights of the Plow (1991); Who Was Who in America (1963); and Dictionary of American Biography vol. 1 (1958).
Contributor: Donald Marti