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Barrett, Charles Simon (1866-1935), agricultural leader  

Judy Barrett Litoff

Barrett, Charles Simon (28 January 1866–04 April 1935), agricultural leader, was born in Pike County, Georgia, the son of Thomas Jefferson Barrett, a prominent farmer and politician, and Minerva Slade. Attending local schools only during winter, he spent his early years working on the family farm, where he developed his lifelong devotion to agriculture. After attending normal schools in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Lebanon, Ohio, and Valparaiso, Indiana, Barrett returned to his childhood home in Georgia. In 1891 he married Alma Rucker, a schoolteacher. The newlyweds settled in Upson County, Georgia, and opened a “literary school” for local children. For the next fourteen years, the Barretts devoted themselves to teaching, farming, and raising six sons....


Carr, Elias (25 February 1839–22 July 1900), North Carolina governor, Farmers' Alliance leader, and planter  

Lala Carr Steelman

Carr, Elias (25 February 1839–22 July 1900), North Carolina governor, Farmers' Alliance leader, and planter, North Carolina governor, Farmers’ Alliance leader, and planter, was born at “Bracebridge,” the family plantation near Old Sparta, Edgecombe County, North Carolina, the son of Jonas Johnston Carr and Elizabeth Jane Hilliard, planters. Within four years both parents died, and with his sister Mary and brother William, Carr moved to Warren County to live with his mother’s sister, Temperance, and her husband, John Buxton Williams. Carr’s first education was at a school established by Williams. Later Carr attended the Bingham School in Orange County, spent two years at the University of North Carolina, and took courses at the University of Virginia, but he did not get a college degree. In 1857 he returned to Bracebridge, and in 1859 he married Eleanor Kearny; they had six children. In September 1861, after the Civil War had started, Carr enlisted as a private in Company G, Forty-first Regiment, North Carolina Troops, known as the Scotland Neck Mounted Riflemen. In June 1862 he left the army to supply the Confederacy with farm products....


Garey, Thomas Andrew (1830-1909), citriculturist and land developer  

Clark Davis

Garey, Thomas Andrew (07 July 1830–20 August 1909), citriculturist and land developer, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Samuel Garey, a physician, and Margaret Wringer. Little is known about his childhood, except that his family lived in Hagerstown, Maryland, for several years, eventually moving to Iowa in 1847. By age twenty Garey was living in Independence, Missouri, at which time he left with a group of travelers bound for California. In the fall of 1850, however, Garey abandoned the group in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when he met Louise Josephine Smith, whom he married on 27 October 1850. The couple had seven children who survived infancy....


Goss, Albert Simon (1882-1950), agricultural leader  

Edward L. Lach, Jr.

Goss, Albert Simon (14 October 1882–25 October 1950), agricultural leader, was born in Rochester, New York, the son of John Weaver Goss, a hardware merchant, and Flora M. Alling. When Goss was seven his family relocated to Spokane, Washington, and remained there for eight years before again relocating, this time to Portland, Oregon. With his father now established in the flour-milling business, Goss finished high school in Portland and completed his education at nearby Holmes Business College. He abandoned plans to become a bookkeeper and entered the milling business as a floor sweeper. In partnership with his brother he later bought and operated a mill in Walla Walla County, Washington, only to return home upon his father’s death in order to run his father’s business. While in Portland, Goss ran a country store in addition to his mill duties and in 1905 undertook his first effort at farming when he bought a small wheat farm. Shortly thereafter, he sold the farm and entered the telephone business, becoming the operator of the phone exchange in two small Oregon communities. He married Minnie E. Hand in December 1907; the couple had three children....


Gresham, Newt (1858-1906), labor organizer and editor  

Carol A. Lockwood

Gresham, Newt (20 February 1858–10 April 1906), labor organizer and editor, was born Isaac Newton Gresham in Lauderdale County, near Florence, Alabama, the son of Henry Gresham and Marcipia Narcissa Wilcoxon, tenant farmers. The family moved to Kaufman County, Texas, in 1859 (though some sources claim they moved after the Civil War). After his parents’ deaths in 1868, Gresham lived with his older brother Ben....


Kelley, Oliver Hudson (1826-1913), farmer and organizer of agricultural societies  

Thomas A. Woods

Kelley, Oliver Hudson (07 January 1826–20 January 1913), farmer and organizer of agricultural societies, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of William Robinson Kelley, a tailor, and Nancy Hancock. Educated at Chauncy Hall School in Boston, at the age of sixteen Kelley showed his precocious writing ability by composing, illustrating, and publishing a satirical book of cartoons published under the nom de plume Robert Tristee. He left Boston for Chicago on 3 May 1847. He spent six months in the city, where he briefly worked in a drug store and as a reporter for the ...


Lemke, William Frederick (1878-1950), agrarian leader, congressman, and presidential candidate  

David H. Bennett

Lemke, William Frederick (13 August 1878–30 May 1950), agrarian leader, congressman, and presidential candidate, was born in Albany, Minnesota, and raised in Towner County, North Dakota, the son of Fred Lemke and Julia Anna Klier, pioneer farmers who were successful enough to accumulate some 2,700 acres of land. The young Lemke worked long hours on the family farm, attending a common school for only three months in the summers. The family did, however, reserve enough money to send William to the University of North Dakota, where he was a superior student. Graduating in 1902, he stayed at the state university for the first year of law school but moved to Georgetown University, then to Yale, where he finished work on his law degree and won the praise of the dean....


Cover Lemke, William Frederick (1878-1950)
William Lemke Announcing his candidacy for president, 1936. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-95941).


Mayo, Mary Anne Bryant (1845-1903), farmer and Grange leader  

Donald B. Marti

Mayo, Mary Anne Bryant (25 May 1845–21 April 1903), farmer and Grange leader, was born to James Bryant and Ann Atmore on their pioneer farm near Battle Creek, Michigan, in Convis Township of Calhoun County. She spent her entire life in that immediate vicinity. After graduating from Battle Creek High School, she taught in a district school until 1865, when she married Perry Mayo, who had just returned from fighting the Civil War. The couple shared the work of farming in Marshall Township, reared two children, and also found time to continue their own studies, which was especially important to them after Mary Mayo encountered a high school classmate who “presumed, as I had married a farmer, about all I had to do . . . was to work hard and make lots of good butter.” Unwilling to accept that stereotypical limitation, the Mayos sought intellectual opportunities in neighborhood Farmers’ Institutes, the Grange, and a Chautauqua Reading Circle....


O’Neal, Edward Asbury, III (1875-1958), farm organization leader  

Don F. Hadwiger

O’Neal, Edward Asbury, III (26 October 1875–26 February 1958), farm organization leader, was born near Florence, Alabama, the son of Edward Asbury O’Neal II and Mary (maiden name unknown), plantation owners. O’Neal was raised on the plantation, located in the Tennessee Valley region of northern Alabama, which he managed following his graduation from Washington and Lee College in 1898. He married Julia Camper in 1904, and they had three children....


Peek, George Nelson (1873-1943), businessman, farm leader, and New Deal administrator  

Justus D. Doenecke

Peek, George Nelson (19 November 1873–17 December 1943), businessman, farm leader, and New Deal administrator, was born at Polo, a small village in northern Illinois, the son of Henry Clay Peek, a livestock merchant and local sheriff, and Adeline Chase. In 1885 the family moved to a farm near Oregon, Illinois. In 1891 Peek attended Northwestern University, remaining there one academic year. After briefly working as an office assistant for a furniture company, he was hired in January 1893 in Minneapolis by Deere and Webber, a branch of the John Deere Plow Company. He rose from credit manager and salesman to head of the collections department....


Polk, Leonidas LaFayette (24 April 1837–11 June 1892), farm editor and national president of the Farmers' Alliance  

Robert McMath

Polk, Leonidas LaFayette (24 April 1837–11 June 1892), farm editor and national president of the Farmers' Alliance, farm editor and national president of the Farmers’ Alliance, was born in Anson County, North Carolina, the son of Andrew Polk and Serena Autry, farmers. Although he would become a leader of the nation’s poor and militant farmers, Polk grew up in relatively affluent surroundings. His father’s ownership of 1,800 acres and thirty-two slaves placed him in the lower ranks of the planter class....


Reno, Milo (1866-1936), farm leader  

Lowell K. Dyson

Reno, Milo (05 January 1866–05 May 1936), farm leader, was born near Agency, Iowa, the son of John Reno and Elizabeth Barrice, farmers. He attended a one-room country school and then completed high school in Batavia, Iowa. In 1883 he married Christine Good. The couple had three children, but only one daughter survived to maturity. After drifting through a series of jobs from South Dakota to California, Reno studied for the ministry one winter. Although never ordained, he often delivered fiery sermons on social justice in country churches....


Townley, Arthur Charles (1880-1959), founder of the Nonpartisan League  

Carol A. Lockwood

Townley, Arthur Charles (30 December 1880–07 November 1959), founder of the Nonpartisan League, was born near Browns Valley in northwest Minnesota, the son of Fitch R. Townley and Esther J. Cross, farmers. He attended high school in Alexandria, Minnesota, and after graduation spent about two years teaching, but then he turned to his dream of owning land....


Ware, Harold (1890-1935), Communist agrarian specialist  

Lowell K. Dyson

Ware, Harold (19 August 1890–13 August 1935), Communist agrarian specialist, was born in Woodbury, New Jersey, the son of Lucien Bonaparte Ware, a secretary to the president of the Norfolk and Western Railroad, and his cousin, Ella Reeve ( Ella Reeve Bloor), who became a labor organizer and later a Communist functionary, commonly known as “Mother Bloor.” Ware spent a peripatetic youth, first following his father’s professional moves and, after his parents’ divorce, his mother’s organizing work. When Ware was fifteen he developed a temporary lung problem. He moved with his mother and younger siblings to the rural cooperative colony in Arden, Delaware. He became interested in gardening and soon had a small vegetable farm....