George J. Ormsby
Papers, 1911-1965, n.d.
Special Collections Department
|creator:||Ormsby, George J.|
|extent:||2.5 linear ft. (2 document boxes and 2 oversize boxes)|
|collection number:||MS 109|
|repository:||Special Collections Department, Iowa State University|
|access:||Open for research|
|publication rights:||Consult Head, Special Collections Department|
|preferred citation:||George J. Ormsby, MS 109, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.|
George J. Ormsby was a farmer in Tipton, Iowa. He was a friend of Paul Moore and J. W. Lenker, who were arrested because of their involvement in the eastern Iowa Cow War. As a member of the National Farmers Union, he participated in efforts to have Moore and Lenker released and pardoned by circulating petitions, raising money, and writing to state officials. In this the Union was successful with the parole of Moore and Lenker on August 16, 1934 and their pardon in the following year. Ormsby was also involved in the Farmers' Holiday movement.
Cow War (Eastern Iowa)
On September 21, 1931, state deputies escorted veterinarian Peter Malcolm to the farm of J. W. Lenker in an attempt to test cattle for tuberculosis. The group was met by a crowd of approximately 500 farmers and by means of rotten eggs, rocks, and clubs were driven from the farm. Resistance to such testing had wide support throughout eastern Iowa and had continued since 1929 with the legal imposition of compulsory testing. In 1931 farmers in eastern Iowa were organized by Milo Reno, Norman Baker, Paul Moore, and J. W. Lenker as the National Farmers Union. J. W. Lenker also created the Farmers Protective Organization. As a consequence of the incident at Lenker's farm, both he and Moore were arrested and martial law was declared. Governor Turner also called out the National Guard in Muscatine, Henry, and Des Moines counties where many farmers refused to submit their cattle for testing. By the end of 1931, testing was completed and the war ended.
Farm Holiday MovementThe Farmers' Holiday Association was organized in 1932 under the leadership of Milo Reno in response to the perception by farmers that low market prices prevented them from meeting mortgage and tax payments, forcing them to give up their homes and farms. Members of the Association, primarily Midwestern farmers, voted in goods until such time as parity was guaranteed and some form of relief provided for mortgage payments and taxes. Not only did farmers withhold produce, they picketed highways in an effort to stop other goods from reaching markets, intimidated prospective buyers at foreclosure and sheriff's sales, and exerted pressure on the courts and legislatures to adopt what they believed to be appropriate measures. Responding to these measures, authorities employed sheriffs, militia, and vigilante groups to control or prevent strike activities and ensure the continued transport of farm produce as well as the orderly disposal of farm property. Confrontations between the two groups were frequently violent and marked by a good deal of destruction, particularly in the Wisconsin Milk Strike. In Iowa the movement centered in the northwest region of the state, especially around Sioux City where railroad bridges were burned and brawls occurred frequently along highway picket lines. The most widely publicized event took place in Le Mars, Iowa, where Judge C. C. Bradley was dragged from his bench, physically and verbally abused, and threatened with lynching in an attempt to coerce him to agree to the constitutionality of the Debtor Relief Law. By 1934, the movement subsided.
The collection (1911-1965, n.d.) contains material collected by George J. Ormsby relating to the Cow War in eastern Iowa and the Farmers' Holiday Movement. The collection also contains a scrapbook in which Ormsby collected editorials written by Des Moines Register editor Harvey Ingham. The material relating to the Cow War and the Farmers' Holiday Movement consists mainly of newspaper clippings, but also includes correspondence, petitions, and printed material. The editorials by Harvey Ingham cover a wide range of subjects, including World War II, farm policy, political figures, political disputes, and social issues. With the exception of the scrapbook of Harvey Ingham editorials, the original materials are restricted, and photocopies are available for use.Additional material related to the Farmers' Holiday Movement may be found in MS 461.
|The collection is organized into three series:
Description of series
|Series 1||Farm Holiday Movement||1931-1963, n.d.|
|description:||This series contains a scrapbook, newspaper clippings about Milo Reno, and George Ormsby's strike records. The scrapbook contains news clippings collected by George Ormsby relating to the National Farmers' Holiday Association and the State Associations of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas. The strike records include correspondence with National Farmers' Holiday Association officials Milo Reno and John Chalmers, Association by-laws, an announcement and notifications of the farm strike, and petitions for withholding farm products.|
|1||1-4||Scrapbook: Newspaper clippings||1931-1963, n.d.|
|1||5||George Ormsby's strike records||1933-1934|
|1||6||Newspaper clippings about Milo Reno||1932-1935, n.d.|
|4||Original materials. Restricted--use photocopies in 1/1-6|
Description of series
|Series 2||Cow War--Tuberculine Testing in Iowa||1911-1965, n.d.|
|description:||This series contains scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, government publications about tubercular infection and testing, and a copy of a 1959 issue of The Iowan with an article on the Cow War ("Times of Trouble: The Cow War") with manuscript annotations in an unknown handwriting.. The collection also includes correspondence related to efforts to have J. W. Lenker and Paul Moore released from prison and pardoned, as well as legal depositions and petitions related to the issue.|
|1||7-9||Scrapbook: Newspaper clippings, correspondence, legal depositions concerning testing notification and results, and court records||1931-1939, n.d.|
|2||1||Scrapbook: Newspaper clippings documenting resistance to bovine tuberculosis testing||1931-1962, n.d.|
|2||2-3||Newspapers: Clippings about cattle testing, arrest of J. W. Lenker, and imposition of martial law||1931-1965|
|2||4||Photocopies: Newspaper stories copied by George Ormsby concerning the Cow War, also notice of court hearing||1931, n.d.|
|2||5||Publications: Government publications (United States, Iowa, Illinois) about tubercular infection and testing and April-May 1959 issue of The Iowan with article about the Cow War||1911-1959|
|2||6||Correspondence related to efforts to have J. W. Lenker and Paul Moore released from prison and pardoned, also includes legal depositions and petitions||1931-1935, n.d.|
|4||Original materials. Restricted--use photocopies in 1/7-2/6|
Description of series
|Series 3||Harvey Ingham Scrapbook||1939-1943|
|extent:||1 oversize box|
|description:||This series contains a scrapbook kept by George Ormsby with copies of Des Moines Register editorials by Harvey Ingham. The editorials cover a wide range of issues including World War II, farm policy, political figures, political disputes, and social issues.|
|3||1||Scrapbook of Harvey Ingham editorials (111 pages)||1939-1943|
Iowa State University Library, Ames, IA 50011