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Iowa History Daily: November 1 - James Pierce & The Iowa Homestead

Iowa History Daily: On November 1, 1920, influential farm writer and publisher James M. Pierce died. Owner of “The Homestead,” Pierce publicly quarreled with the publication’s editor, Henry “Uncle Henry” Wallace, leading to a split when the editor struck out on his own to establish “Wallaces’ Farmer”.

In 1866, Pierce started his long career in journalism when he established the Star in Ashley, Ohio. After moving to northern Missouri to farm, a lost crop to grasshoppers sent Pierce back into publishing when he bought and edited the Grant City Star in 1870. After moving to southern Iowa in the 1880s, he published and edited the Taylor County Republican at Bedford and the Osceola Standard.

In March 1885, Pierce and a partner purchased “The Iowa Homestead” for $20,000, and he moved to Des Moines to serve as publisher. Pierce arrived at the paper where “Uncle” Henry Wallace already served as the editor. Battling over editorial policy in 1895, Wallace left to edit a rival weekly. “The Iowa Homestead’s” paid circulation increased from about 1,000 in 1885 to 111,784 by 1918, while the rival Wallaces' farmer only circulated 31,405 copies.

Dante Pierce inherited his father's position as publisher of “The Iowa Homestead”. In 1929 Dante Pierce sold the Iowa Homestead to the Wallace family. The last issue of the Homestead, dated October 19, 1929, did not mention the sale. Until the end of 1958, the merged paper carried the name “Wallaces' Farmer and Iowa Homestead”. Henry A. Wallace worked as editor of the merged paper, with Pierce's support, until Wallace became U.S. secretary of agriculture in 1933. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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