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Chapter 11
The 16 National Masters

As striking in favorable effect on the progress of the Grange as were the decisions and follow-through of the Founders, have been the inspired, active, far-sighted administrations of the 16 Masters of the National Grange during its first 100 years.
Today's Master, Herschel D. Newsom, exemplifies the ability; fervor, deep religious and practical attributes which are rare, but seem to be the rule among Grange Masters.

These brief biographical sketches of the Masters prove the point and also compliment the membership and other Grange officials for their good judgment in the process of selection.

16. Herschel D. Newsom 1950-

Sixteenth Master of the National Grange, Mr. Newsom, elected in 1950, comes from an Indiana family of farmers for five generations. Mr. and Mrs. Newsom continue to maintain their farm home near Columbus, Indiana, in addition to their Washington residence. They have two sons, Jesse Richard and David H.

Mr. Newsom received his A.B. degree in Chemistry from Indiana University in 1926, and the University's Distinguished Alumni Award in 1960.

Like his ancestors, he is a member of the Society of Friends. He represents the third generation in the Newsom family to take an active part in Grange affairs, having first been elected Gatekeeper of his juvenile (now junior) Grange, as well as in public affairs, generally, especially as they influence rural life.

In 1963, he became the eighth president of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers, a federation of farm organizations from five continents founded in London in 1946, and was reelected in 1964. He is also Chairman of the Committee on World Food Crisis.

He is a member of the U. S. Food for Peace Council; Trustee of the American Freedom from Hunger Foundation; Director, United Nations Association of the U. S. A.; member, Transportation Council of the Department of Commerce; Trustee, Joint Council on Economic Education; a charter member of the Advisory Council of the International Movement for Atlantic Union, Inc.; and member, Inter-American Economic Policy Committee on Canadian-American Relations and Advisory Committee on Latin-American Relations.

He holds the following Presidential appointments: President's Advisory Committee on Trade Negotiations, Citizen's Commission on International Cooperation, President's Commission on the Employment of the Handicapped, President's Rural Safety Council, and Citizen's Committee for International Development. Mr. Newsom held similar appointments from President Truman, President Eisenhower, and President Kennedy.

He is also a member of the Advisory Committee on Agricultural Cooperatives to the Agency for International Development and some 25 other foundations, committees and boards, including the National Livestock and Meat Board, Foundation for American Agriculture, Agricultural Committee of the National Planning Association, the Farm Film Foundation, National Highway Users Conference, Committee on Rural Scouting, Boy Scouts of America, CARE, Agricultural Hall of Fame, American Institute of Cooperation, and Credit Union National Association.

He is a Director and Vice President of the Farmers and Traders Life Insurance Company, Syracuse, N. Y., and Director of the National Grange Mutual Insurance Company of Keene, N. H.

15. Henry D. Sherwood 1950

Master of the New York State Grange, and Overseer of the National Grange, Henry D. Sherwood was installed as National Master to fill the gap caused by the untimely death October 25, 1950 of National Master Albert S. Goss. Mr. Sherwood became National Master on the next day, and served until the installation of Herschel D. Newsom in November, 1950.

14. Albert S. Goss 1941-1950

Born in Rochester, N. Y., Mr. Goss was educated on the West Coast and as a young man engaged in milling and farming. For a time he conducted a telephone business and a country store.

His Grange career covered some 35 years beginning with the Finley Grange No. 414 in Washington. Its cooperative activities intrigued him and in 1920 he was made manager of the Grange Cooperative Wholesale, Seattle, and was then elected State Master, in 1922.

He experienced a steady rise in Grange leadership and attracted wide attention for his work to improve policies of the Federal Farm Loan Board. His prominence in land bank activities resulted in President Franklin D. Roosevelt naming him Land Bank Commissioner in the dark days of 1933.

He will always be greatly remembered by thousands of farmers who found him a friend indeed when they were in financial distress. He resigned as Land Bank Commissioner on June 16, 1940 preceding his election as National Master in November, 1941.
Recognized as one of the keenest students of economics and finance, he was an authority in the Federal Land Bank field and also helped to formulate a program of cooperative production credit which later became the model for the Farm Credit Administration. During World War II, he was prominently identified with numerous war activities and was often called in for consultation by the White House and government department heads. He was active also in helping to solve world agricultural problems, and assisted in the organization of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers.

13. Louis J. Taber 1923-1941

The second Ohio man to become National Master, Louis J. Taber of Mount Pleasant, Ohio, learned the underlying principles of a successful life in the "school of hard knocks" when he was 14 years old. The death of his father threw on his shoulders the full management of the family farm.

He became active in organizing Belmont Grange No. 889 at Barnesville, Ohio, and rose through the stations to State Master. He resigned to become State Director of Agriculture in 1921.

His outstanding Grange and public work resulted in his elevation to National Master in 1923. He was a dynamic, forceful speaker who inspired his audiences.

Mr. Taber was honored by the juvenile Granges of the nation in 1941 by creation of a living forest known as the "Louis J. Taber. Forest" in Wayne National Forest in Hocking County, Southeastern Ohio. A memorial park was also dedicated at Barnesville, Ohio, July 5, 1947 as another appreciation for services rendered to agriculture and rural life by Mr. Taber.

Following his retirement from the position of Master of the National Grange, Mr. Taber became president of the Farmers and Traders Life Insurance Company (a company organized as a result of action of the delegate body of the National Grange). He served as its president during a decade when the original plan was in jeopardy to mutualize this life insurance company which could only be organized under New York laws as a stock company originally. The mutualization was advanced very substantially during the period of time when Mr. Taber served as president.

12. Sherman J. Lowell 1919-1923

A rugged personality, vigorous and aggressive, characterized Mr. Lowell of Fredonia, N. Y., site of Fredonia Grange No. 1, first and oldest Subordinate in the U. S. He became an extensive fruit farmer and grape grower in the famed Chautauqua County vineyard area, being identified with various agricultural groups, and active in local banking circles. For 10 years he was manager of the Pomfret Fruit Company, largest fruit shipping concern at Fredonia.

After joining Fredonia Grange No. 1, he moved steadily through all the Subordinate, Pomona, and State Grange offices, serving as State Master until his elevation to National Master in November, 1919. After the death of Oliver Wilson, the 11th Master, in 1924, Mr. Lowell was elected Archon of the Assembly of Demeter, holding that position until 1929.

11. Oliver Wilson 1911-1919

Master for eight years after a hotly contested election campaign, the administration of Oliver Wilson, of Illinois, was a period noteworthy for complete unity and many advances. A record 3339 new Granges were established during his term of office. And, for the first time, Grange approval was given to equal suffrage for women by constitutional amendment. Federal aid for highway improvement was increasingly advocated; and endorsement was given to prohibition, to pure food legislation, and to better protection of national resources.

Mr. Wilson strongly emphasized the desirability of more recognition for farm women and greater emphasis on Home Economics work in the Grange.

It was during his administration that the Golden jubilee was celebrated with National Master Oliver Wilson presiding, and President Woodrow Wilson giving an able address on the opening day of the National Session held at Washington, D. C., in November, 1916.

10. Nahum J. Bachelder 1905-1911

Bringing to the Master's position .not only a long experience in Grange leadership, including six years as National Lecturer, Mr. Bachelder also brought a wide knowledge of public affairs. His service as a former governor of New Hampshire greatly enhanced the prestige of position of the National Master. This legislative background aided his standing as a spokesman for the American farmer and rural families.

Among public projects given impetus were the establishment of independent cooperative enterprises, particularly cooperative elevators, building and loan associations, warehouses, and Grange fire insurance. His attitude was that such enterprises, instead of being owned and administered directly by the National Grange, were best operated as individual agencies, but with the backing and active support of the Grange.

It was during Mr. Bachelder's administration that President Theodore Roosevelt's Country Life Commission was organized, and the Grange was commended for its assistance in arousing widespread interest throughout the country in the Commission and its purposes.

9. Aaron Jones 189'7-1905

A man of tremendous energy, great vigor, and a thorough believer in farm organization, Aaron Jones, of Indiana, as an extensive farmer, realized the handicaps under which fellow farmers were forced to operate,' as well as many injustices from which they were suffering.

His vigorous administration of eight years threw the full force of the Grange organization into the fight for farm equality. Among other accomplishments, he established good relations between the National Grange and the Federal Department of Agriculture.
The teaching of agriculture in the public schools, of which the Grange had been the first advocate, was given a decided boost by National Master Jones' insistence that such a subject be included in the curriculum.

Among practical legislative policies the Grange advocated in his time were those in favor of an effective parcel post system; against free railroad passes; favoring a standardized galvanized fence wire; and denouncing Congressional free seed distribution. Over several years Grange representatives fought for Congressional removal of the revenue tax from alcohol rendered unfit for beverage use. The result of this successful Grange agitation was to open up a substantial industry for the production of denatured alcohol-a cheap and safe fuel for light, power, and heat.

8. Joseph H. Brigham 1888-1897

Of forceful character and possessed of a fearlessness in action which stood him in good stead in this period of Grange history, Colonel Brigham, of Ohio, guided the Order in the midst of widespread agitation and many complications. Various national farm movements began to show themselves and Colonel Brigham's efforts kept the Grange "right side up."

Pure food legislation was claiming increasing interest, with the Grange taking a strong stand against adulteration and mislabeling. The long continued Grange agitation for rural mail delivery was bearing fruit and resulted in the establishment of R.F.D. routes in many states in 1896.

At the 25th anniversary observance in 1891 at Springfield, Ill., the Grange was reported to be apparently well headed on the upward climb of practical constructive service to agriculture. An anniversary proclamation was given wide publicity which urged universal support in behalf of further service to farm people.

7. James Draper 1888

On the untimely death in office of National Master Israel Putnam Darden, July 17, 1888, the Overseer of the National Grange, James Draper, Massachusetts State Master, stepped into the gap for the remaining months of 1888 until November, when Joseph H. Brigham was elected National Master.

6. Israel Putnam Darden 1885-1888

Identified with many civic movements in his own state of Mississippi, Mr. Darden was the second Southerner to be elected National Master.

He proved to be an earnest leader and helped the Grange weather a number of political situations which put the organization to a severe test. He challenged the members to become active in fighting for their rights. Even though the Grange was not to take a partisan position, the members and their organizations should accept their responsibility to work to protect their rights and interests. He urged Grangers, as responsible citizens, to use their ballots to send men to the legislatures and to Congress who would protect rather than exploit, farmers' interests.

5. Jonathan J. Woodman 1879-1885

Few Grange leaders ever faced a more serious task than did J. J. Woodman, of Michigan, when he took over the National Master's position in a period requiring reconstruction of Grange policies and operating procedures.

Mr. Woodman was a strong supporter of the educational program of the Grange, and he realized the farmer's need for progressive legislation affecting agriculture. He continued an energetic fight for an efficient Department of Agriculture with a seat in the President's Cabinet. He worked for laws to stop the spread of the contagious "cattle plague" which led to the establishment in 1895 of the Bureau of Animal Husbandry in the Department of Agriculture.
Under his wise management and during his third term, the Grange once more was on a sound financial and economic basis, and its prestige was growing.

4. Samuel E. Adams 1877-1879

Samuel E. Adams, of Minnesota, faced discouraging conditions, of which he was well aware, as he began his term as National Master. It was probably the low period of Grange history due to many national and other reasons that far-sighted and loyal Grange leaders were fighting to overcome. During his administration, a number of progressive programs were initiated, including the firs-t recorded action by any group advocating the teaching of agriculture in public schools, and the first definite appointment of a Grange Legislative Committee to bring to the attention of Congress the recommendations of the Grange on legislative matters.

3. John T. Jones 1875-1877

It was during the administration of John Thompson Jones, of Arkansas, that the Grange was incorporated on April 6, 1876, in the State of Kentucky.

In the middle of National Master Jones' administration was the hectic Hayes-Tilden presidential controversy which developed widespread bitterness, the Grange demonstrating its inherent strength and importance as "the friend of the farmer."
Grange leaders were realizing that trouble and failure could follow if the principles established by the Founders 10 years previously were not followed. It was during this period of growing troubles that the Grange leaders of that day realized that the vision of the Founders for a real fraternity of the countryside, with high ideals and humanistic aims, should be the basis of their activities.

2. Dudley W. Adams 1873-1875

First Master of the Iowa State Grange, Dudley W. Adams was a man of broad vision equally enthusiastic with Founder Oliver Kelley over prospects for mighty results, but far more cautious than Kelley. He was the first Master of a State Grange to attend a national session in Washington, D.C., and in January, 1872, was elected National Master.

During his administration the new Grange movement was sweeping across the country like wild-fire. Farmers were rallying to the Grange banner by the thousands. National Master Adams was the first to see the need for caution in restricting the membership to legitimate farm and rural families. Speculators, demagogues, small politicians, grain buyers, cotton factors, and lawyers suddenly discovered they were "interested in agricultural pursuits" and besieged Grange officers to admit them to membership.

His words of caution are equally important today in that there be wise discrimination in the admission of new members. He warned: ". . . keep our gates closed against those whose interest is what they can make out of us. To have such admitted to our councils can only result in evil, and sow seeds of internal strife."

His efforts and those of Grange leaders around him were not entirely successful, and this led to serious problems a few years later that rocked the very foundations of the Grange organization.

It was also during the Adams' administration that the "Granger Laws" were progressing steadily toward enactment and the power of organized farmers was rapidly being revealed. (See Chapter 6.)

The comprehensive Grange Declaration o f Purposes which so wisely defines the objectives of the Grange was developed under National Master Adams' guidance. It outlined a far-flung program designed to benefit producers and consumers alike, and set forth goals and objectives of such comprehensive worth that they have stood the test of time.

1. William Saunders 1867-1873

On the birthday of the Grange in William Saunders' office, on December 4, 1867, the seven Founders constituted themselves "The National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry" and elected Mr. Saunders as the first National Master. A native of Scotland, he had come to America and had won outstanding recognition as a landscape architect. Three generations of his paternal ancestors had been prominent gardeners, and he followed in their footsteps.

At that time, he was Superintendent of the Propagating Gardens in the Department of Agriculture, with an office in a small brick building' at the corner of Missouri Avenue and 4i/z Street, Washington, D. C. This provided a convenient meeting place for the Founders. There they set up the Constitution, perfected the ritual, elected the first officers, prepared promotional material and visualized a great family fraternity of the countryside which lives now into its second century.

Excellent judgment and thoughtfulness guided his decisions as National Master, and he became an excellent balance wheel for the impulsive "Father" Kelley who was so often animated by emotion. His wide acquaintance and influence in agricultural and horticultural circles were helpful to the early organizational efforts of the Grange. Following his five years as National Master, he served on the executive committee for three years, continuing his valuable counsel.

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