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Oliver H. Kelley Farm: The Grange & Early Farming in Minnesota

Tags: 1800s, farming, land

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Oliver H. Kelley Home, Sherburne County, 1937

The Oliver H. Kelley Farm was home to Oliver Hudson Kelley and his family.  Oliver Hudson Kelley was a farmer and founder of the first successful national farmers organization.  He moved from Boston to Minnesota Territory in 1849, establishing a homestead on the Mississippi River near present-day Elk River.  Kelley learned the latest farming techniques from agricultural journals and shared his knowledge and passion for experimentation and adapting advanced farming methods with other farmers.  In 1865 Oliver Kelley moved to Washington, D.C., where he took a job with the commisisoner of agriculture and later the post office department.  After the Civil War, Kelley toured the South, visiting many farms.

On December 4, 1867 Kelley and six others established the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry, better known as the Grange.  Kelley returned to Minnesota in early 1868.  He resumed farming and remained active in the Grange, working to develop Grange chapters in many Minnesota communities.  Two of Kelley's daughters returned to the farm and managed it during the summer of 1885.  The Kelleys owned the farm until 1901.

Today the Oliver H. Kelley Farm is a National Historic Landmark and a historic site owned and managed by the Minnesota Historical Society.  

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Tracey Baker
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Minnesota Historical Society Library • 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 • 651-259-3300