History of Wallaces Farmer

Wallaces Farmer’s originated in the 1850's, before the Civil War. It was a time when farmers made up two-thirds of the labor force in the United States, there was no U.S. Department of Agriculture, and sod houses were still common on the prairie. In this setting, two publications were born that later merged into each other.

One was called the Northwestern Farmer and Horticultural Journal, started in Dubuque. The other, started in Burlington, was the Iowa Farmer and Horticulturist.

In 1861 these two papers merged and were published in Des Moines as The Iowa Homestead and Northwestern Farmer. Over the next 20 years, there were more changes but the Iowa Homestead part of the name stuck.

The Wallace family came into the picture in 1883 when the first Henry Wallace, who was known as "Uncle Henry", became editor of The Iowa Homestead.

In 1885, James M. Pierce purchased the paper. Both Pierce and Wallace were strong characters. They worked together until 1895 when disagreements over the paper’s philosophy caused Wallace to leave. He joined his two sons who had been publishing The Farm and Dairy in Ames since 1893. The Wallace name was added in March 1895, the paper moved to Des Moines in 1896 and the name was shorted to Wallaces' Farmer in 1898. The Iowa Homestead and Wallaces' Farmer were bitter rivals and remained so until the Wallace family bought out The Iowa Homestead in October 1929.

Dire Financial Times

The first issue of the combined magazine, called Wallaces Farmer and Iowa Homestead, came out October 26, 1929 at the time of the stock market crash. The Wallaces were caught right in the middle of the drastic plummet, which began on October 24th. And things kept getting worse with the New York Stock Exchange having dropped $26 billion by December 1.

The Wallaces hung on until 1932, when Dante Pierce, son of James M. Pierce, and the principal creditor, came back as receiver. Henry Wallace continued as editor until he went to Washington as secretary of agriculture in 1933. In 1935, Pierce bought the paper at a sheriff's sale.

Dante Pierce died in 1955, and in 1957 Wallaces Farmer and Iowa Homestead, along with the Wisconsin Agriculturist (also owned by Pierce) were sold to Prairie Farmer. The Iowa Homestead part of the name was dropped and the magazine became known as Wallaces Farmer.

In 1959 ABC Broadcasting/Paramount Theaters bought the Farm Progress Group - Prairie Farmer, Wallaces Farmer and the Wisconsin Agriculturist. In 1986 ABC merged with Capital Cities and in 1996 the Disney Company purchased Capital Cities/ABC.

Rural Press Limited, Sydney, Australia, purchased the Farm Progress publications in 1997. Wallaces Farmer is one of almost two dozen of the company’s farm publications.

150 Years And Counting

1855Wisconsin and Iowa Farmer and Northwestern Cultivator started at Racine, Wisconsin

1856 – Moved to Dubuque. Name changed to Northwestern Farmer and Horticultural Journal.

1861 – Moved to Des Moines.

1862 – Name changed to The Iowa Homestead and Weekly Northwestern Farmer.

1883 – Henry Wallace became editor

1885 – James M. Pierce became publisher

1895Wallaces' Farmer began publication.

1929Wallaces' Farmer and Iowa Homestead combined.

1957Prairie Farmer Publishing Company purchases Wallaces Farmer and Iowa Homestead along with the Wisconsin Agriculturist.

1958 - Apostrophe following the "s" in Wallaces dropped.

1959 – "Iowa Homestead" dropped from logo.

1959 -- ABC Broadcasting/Paramount Theaters purchases Farm Progress. Group – Prairie Farmer, Wallaces Farmer and Wisconsin Agriculturist.

1986 – ABC merges with Capital Cities.

1987 Wallaces Farmer "downsizes" from tabloid publication to standard magazine size.

1996 – The Disney Company purchases Capital Cities/ABC.

1997 – Rural Press Limited, Sydney, Australia, purchases Farm Progress Publications.

2004Wallaces Farmer re-introduces new tabloid publication.