Abstract

This article tells the story of musicians in rural Iowa who played on behalf of their county farm bureaus between 1921 and 1937. An examination of their family and kinship ties and their musical repertoires reveals that these performers brought community and a wide array of song styles to farm bureau events. Their stories highlight the difference between using an institution to enhance social and career opportunities, and promoting it and its leaders’ ideals.

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NOTES

1. “‘Boost the Farm Bureau’ Wins,” Wallaces’ Farmer 46, no. 17 (Apr. 29, 1921): 8; Seth Hedquist, “The Chronicles of Agrimusic” (master’s thesis, Iowa State University, 2015). The research conducted for this thesis informs much of this article.
2. Anne B. W. Effland, “When Rural Does Not Equal Agricultural,” Agricultural History 74, no. 2 (Spring 2000): 500.
3. Nancy K. Berlage, Farmers Helping Farmers: The Rise of the Farm and Home Bureaus, 1914–1935 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2016), 14; Nancy K. Berlage, “Organizing the Farm Bureau: Family, Community, and Professionals, 1914-1928,” Agricultural History 75, no. 4 (Fall 2001): 430; Hal Barron, Mixed Harvest: The Second Great Transformation in the Rural North, 1870–1930 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1997), 209; David Blanke, “Consumer Choice, Agency, and New Directions in Rural History,” Agricultural History 81, no. 2 (Spring 2007): 194.
4. Liberty Hyde Bailey, The Country-Life Movement in the United States (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1919), 97, 212–13; W. I. Griffith, “Annual Report: Radio Activities of Broadcasting Station WOI for Fiscal Year Beginning July 1, 1925 and Closing June 30, 1926,” Folder 1, Box 19, WOI Radio and Television Records, 1924–2005, Parks Library, Iowa State University; I. W. Dickerson, “What Farmers Want in Radio,” Wallaces’ Farmer 52, no. 31 (Aug. 5, 1927): 14.
5. “The Cooperation of the County Farm Bureau With the Iowa State College and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1922,” Folder 12, Box 43, MS 105, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Records, Parks Library, Iowa State University.
6. Mary Neth, Preserving the Family Farm: Women, Community, and the Foundations of Agribusiness in the Midwest, 1900–1940 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), 132–33; E. H. Cunningham, “A Personal Word to Members,” Iowa Farm Bureau Messenger 3, no. 2 (1921): 1.
7. “Wanted—A Farm Bureau Song,” Wallaces’ Farmer 46, no. 4 (Jan. 28, 1921): 11; M. C. Burritt, The County Agent and the Farm Bureau (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922), 123.
8. “Wanted—A Farm Bureau Song,” 11; Donald L. Winters, Henry Cantwell Wallace as Secretary of Agriculture, 1921–1924 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1970), 4–5.
9. “Wanted—A Farm Bureau Song,” 11; Holmes Cowper, “Suggestions from Dean Cowper,” Wallaces’ Farmer 46, no. 5 (Feb. 4, 1921): 12; Tolbert MacRae, “The Farm Bureau Song,” Wallaces’ Farmer 46, no. 6 (Feb. 11, 1921): 12.
10. “‘Boost the Farm Bureau’ Wins,” 8; “The Winner of the Contest,” Wallaces’ Farmer 46, no. 17 (Apr. 29, 1921): 8.
11. “‘Boost the Farm Bureau’ Wins,” plans for an “American Farm Bureau Songbook,” 8; “A Matter of Good Taste,” Wallaces’ Farmer 47, no. 31 (Aug. 4, 1922), 5.
12. “Narrative Annual Report, County Agricultural Agent, Clay County, Dec. 1, 1925 to Nov. 30, 1926 (no cover page),” in County Extension Agents Narrative Reports, 1917–1941, Microfilm S537 I59 Io8ad, 38–53, Parks Library, Iowa State University (hereafter, all county reports from County Extension Agents Narrative Reports will be cited as Narrative Report).
13. Robert L. Tontz, “Memberships of General Farmers’ Organizations, United States, 1874–1960,” Agricultural History 38, no. 3 (July 1964): 146–50; “Bremer County,” Narrative Report, 34.
14. Thomas J. Morain, Prairie Grass Roots: An Iowa Small Town in the Early Twentieth Century (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1988), 107; “Fayette County,” Narrative Report, 23, 65.
15. “Fayette County,” Narrative Report (1926), 45, 61–66.
16. “Farm Bureau Membership,” Wallaces’ Farmer 49, no. 2 (Jan. 11, 1924): 5.
17. “Lead In Radios,” Iowa Farm Bureau Messenger 7, no. 2 (Oct. 1925): 8; W. I. Griffith, “Annual Report: Radio Activities of Broadcasting Station WOI for Fiscal Year Beginning July 1, 1925 and Closing June 30, 1926,” p. 14; “Annual Report: Radio Activities of Broadcasting Station WOI for Fiscal Year Beginning July 1, 1927 and Closing June 30, 1928,” p. 6, Folder 5, Box 19, WOI Radio and Television Records, Park Library, Iowa State University, .
18. Griffith, “WOI Annual Report,” Folder 1, Box 19, WOI Radio and Television Records, Parks Library, Iowa State University, p. 17.
19. United States Census Bureau, 1920 United States Federal Census, Palermo, Grundy, Iowa, Roll T625__489, Enumeration District 58, p. 18b, George Robinson, Ancestry.com; Ibid., Beckman, p. 17b; Ibid., Metzgar, p. 10b.
20. “Grundy Center Local News,” Grundy County Dispatch, Dec. 18, 1918; “Miss Lois Galbraith will be employed in book-keeping work at the Grundy County National Bank,” Grundy Register, Nov. 6, 1930; David Warren Steel, “Lucius Parsons Warren obituary (1885–1967),” http://home.olemiss.edu/~mudws/family/lpwarren.html (Accessed May 16, 2017).
21. United States Census Bureau, 1920 United States Federal Census, Charles City, Floyd, Iowa; Roll: T625__490, p. 14b, Enumeration District 110, Robert Leach, p. 14b; “Bremer County,” Narrative Report, 34.
22. “Bremer County,” Narrative Report, 34; National Park Service, “Sturdivant Southwest Historic District of Waverly, Iowa,” National Register of Historic Places Registration Form (Washington DC: US Department of the Interior, 2016), 14, https://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/pdfs/16000248.pdf (Accessed Feb. 24, 2019).
23. Country Life Commission, Report of the Country Life Commission (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1909), 26–27.
24. Jennifer Ellen Barker, “Working for Farm and Home: The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Women’s Committee, 1921–1974” (master’s thesis, Iowa State University, 2003), 31–32; “Dallas County,” Narrative Report (1926), 3–6.
25. “Project Supplement” page in “Dallas County,” Annual Narrative (1926), n.p., information on Charlie Cadwell; “Historical Pageant of Dallas County: Building a County, 1842–1926,” in “Dallas County,” Narrative Report (1926).
26. Ibid., 7.
27. “Cadwell Orchestra Means Much to Farm Bureau,” Dallas County News, Dec. 3, 1941, 7b; United States Census Bureau, 1920 United States Federal Census, Adel, Dallas, Iowa, Roll: T625__486, Enumeration District 2; Image 35, p. 7b; Bailey, The Country-Life Movement, 212; “Dallas County,” Narrative Report, 17.
28. “Porter-Llewellyn,” Dallas County Record, Oct. 9, 1917, 8; “Celesta Peterson Obituary,” Des Moines Register, Dec. 13, 2016.
29. “News from Our Neighbors,” Dallas County Record, Sept. 18, 1917, 8; Floyd Hammond, “Waukee Department,” Dallas County News, May 12, 1937, 8; “Additional Local,” Dallas County News, Nov. 11, 1936, 9.
30. N. M. Leonard, “Waukee,” Dallas County Record, Oct. 24, 1928, 2; Agnes Stump, “Waukee Department,” Dallas County News, Jan. 28, 1928, 6; Agnes Stump, Dallas County News, Oct. 24, 1928, 7; “Regrets That More Children Are Not Taking up Study of Music,” Dallas County News, May 12, 1937, 5.
31. “Celebrate July 4th at Adel,” Dallas County News, July 1, 1936, 2; Gunther Schuller, The Swing Era: The Development of Jazz, 1930–1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 514–15; “12 Year Old Girl Song Writer,” Dallas County News, Oct. 14, 1931, 1; Floyd Hammond, “Waukee Department,” Dallas County News, May 20, 1936, 7.
32. “Thos. Mann is Busy Man During Harvest Season,” Dallas County News, Aug. 11, 1926, 1; Mary Neth, Preserving the Family Farm, 134–35; Benjamin Botkin, “Liner Notes,” AFS-L9, Audiocassette, Library of Congress, Music Division, p. 1, https://www.loc.gov/folklife/LP/PlayandDanceL9_opt.pdf (Accessed Mar. 4, 2019).
33. Vicki Anthofer, correspondence with Author, Apr. 12, 2014, 3; Botkin, “Liner Notes,” 1; Pucker Brush, “Literary News,” Dallas County Record, Jan. 29, 1918.
34. Charles Seeger to Sidney Robertson, July 9, 1937, Folder 12, Box 6, Field Work, Resettlement Administration, Correspondence, Etc., 1937 July–Sept, The Sidney Robertson Cowell Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC (hereafter cited as SRCC); Sidney Robertson to Grete Franke, Aug. 20, 1937, p. 2-5, Folder 12, Box 6, SRCC.
35. “Around the Town,” Dallas County News, Aug. 18, 1937, 1; Shelf list 3262 A1–3658 B3, Field Recordings (pre-1940), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress; Sidney Robertson, “Comments on the Thomas Mann Recordings,” American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/afccchtml/0156.html (Accessed Apr. 8, 2014).
36. “Services Held for Tom Mann,” Dallas County News, Apr. 6, 1955, 9.
37. David Danbom, The Resisted Revolution: Urban America and the Industrialization of Agriculture (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1979), 60; Botkin, “Liner Notes,” 1.
38. Botkin, “Liner Notes,” 1; Shelf list 3276 A1–3277 B3, Field Recordings (pre-1940), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress; “Around the Town,” Dallas County News, Aug. 18, 1937, 1.
39. Mary Neth, “Leisure and Generational Change: Farm Youths in the Midwest, 1910–1940,” Agricultural History 67, no. 2 (Spring 1993): 179; Bailey, The Country-Life Movement, 212–13; Shelf list 3262 A1–3658 B3, Field Recordings (pre-1940), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
40. Bailey, The Country-Life Movement, 212–13; Report of the Commission on Country Life, 116. The report noted that entertainment in the country should “be developed as far as possible from native sources rather than to be transplanted as a kind of theatricals from exotic sources,” 116. Shelf list 3262 A1–3658 B3, Field Recordings (pre-1940), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress; Kip Lornell, The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to American Folk (New York: The Berkeley Publishing Group, 2004), 24–25; Michael Remson, Septimus Winner: Two Lives in Music (Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2002), 62–70.
41. Remson, Septimus Winner, 162–64. “Little Brown Jug” was actually written by Septimus Winner’s younger brother Joseph. It was the one song Joseph wrote that eclipsed his brother’s songs in popularity. George T. Simon, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1974), 150–51, 161–62.
42. Paul Whiteman Orchestra, “Three O’ Clock in the Morning” (Camden, NJ: Victor Talking Machine Co., 1922), Library of Congress National Jukebox, http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/recordings/detail/id/8979/ (Accessed Sept. 16, 2015); Don Rayno, Paul Whiteman: Pioneer in American Music, Volume I: 1890–1930 (Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2003), 51; Waldorf Astoria Dance Orchestra, “Beautiful Ohio” (Camden, NJ: Victor Talking Machine Co., 1918), Library of Congress National Jukebox, http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/recordings/detail/id/6891/ (Accessed Sept. 16, 2015); Charles H. Hart and Lewis James, “Till We Meet Again” (Camden, NJ: Victor Talking Machine Co., 1918), Library of Congress National Jukebox, http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/recordings/detail/id/6949/ (Accessed Sept. 16, 2015); Botkin, “Liner Notes,” 1.
43. “Country Air,” Wallaces’ Farmer 54, no. 36 (Sept. 6, 1929): 43; “‘Boost the Farm Bureau’ Wins,” 8.