Oliver Hudson Kelley

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Oliver Hudson Kelley

Oliver Hudson Kelley (January 7, 1826 – January 20, 1913) is one of the key founders of the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, a fraternal organization in the United States.


Kelley was born in Boston, moving to the Minnesota frontier in 1849, where he became a farmer. In 1864, he got a job as a clerk for the United States Bureau of Agriculture and traveled the Eastern and Southern United States following the American Civil War. He felt a great need to gather together farmers and their families to rebuild America as he once knew it, and thought an organization of fraternal strength would best serve the needs of the farm families.

As he traveled throughout the country, Kelley built partnerships that developed into the seven original founders of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry. On November 15, 1867, he laid the groundwork to build a new foundation for American agriculture through the organization of the Grange, of which he was the first secretary until he resigned in 1878.

The other founders of the Grange were William Saunders, Francis M. McDowell, John Trimble, Aaron B. Grosh, John R. Thompson, William M. Ireland, and Kelley's niece Caroline A. Hall.

Kelley was inducted into the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame on October 27, 2006. The Oliver H. Kelley Homestead in Elk River, Minnesota is maintained by the Minnesota Historical Society as a living history farm with interpreters giving people a taste of what Oliver Kelley's life was like on the farm in the 1850s frontier and giving a feel for modern Minnesota farming in a Farm Lab section since 2017.

In 1877, Kelley founded the town of Carrabelle, Florida, which he named for his niece.

Further reading[edit]

Gravesite of Kelley and his wife at Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, DC
  • Atkeson, Thomas Clark (1916). Semi-Centennial History of the Patrons of Husbandry. Orange Judd Company. oliver hudson kelley 1826. - See especially page 6 and pages 315 – 317.
  • Kelley, Oliver Hudson (1875). Origin and Progress of the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry in the United States; A History from 1866 to 1873. Philadelphia: J. A. Wagenseller.
  • Woods, Thomas A. (1991). Knights of the Plow: Oliver H. Kelley and the Origins of the Grange in Republican Ideology. Iowa State University Press.
  • Spafford Area Historical Society
  • The Founders of the Grange

External links[edit]