|ORIENT IOWA TOURISM|
|Henry A. Wallace||Morman Trail|
Photo by Jessica Rohrig
Henry A. Wallace was a true pioneer. We are very proud of his accomplishments and thanks to Diane Weiland and the Henry A. Wallace Foundation, he is being honored in his hometown.
“When you think of the modest beginnings of the people like Henry A. Wallace, it’s really inspiring.” Says Diane Weiland of Greenfield.
Henry A. Wallace was the developer of commercial hybrid seed corn in 1926, editor of WAllaces Farmer magazine from 1921-33, USDA secretary from 1933-40, and U.S. Vice President from 1941-45. He left his mark on Iowa and the world.
Diane is the administrator of the Country Life Center, Which comprises the Henry A. Wallace birthplace and 40 acres.
His home was an extremely modest and basic tenant home. This home was probably build in the 1870’s. Henry A’s grandfather owned the house and this was one of his tenant farms. Wallace was born in the house, and his family lived there until 1890.
Local volunteers got the house and the 40 acres placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house and the land remained in private hands until October 1994, when the Henry A. Wallace Birthplace Foundation bought it.
The foundation raised some money locally. The Wallace family has been generous, and Pioneer Hi-Bred International provided the foundation with a grant.
Restoration of the property began in July 1995. Volunteers gutted the house before Greenfield carpenters Phil and Rich McIntosh began work.
Wallace House Before Restoration
Members of the Mormon movement to Salt Lake City via the Mormon Pioneer Trail entered Adair County June 4, 1846. Wayside exhibits in the community of Orient commemorate the Saints passing through the county. The Mormon migration across Iowa was a movement of families. Young people, from infants to teenagers, played an important part of day to day life along the trail. The journey was a delightful adventure for many children. They reveled in the beauty of Iowa prairies, energetically catching butterflies by day and fireflies by night. It was not all fun and games, however. Children had jobs to do, such as gathering fuel for campfires, helping to cook meals, driving the oxen, and helping with younger siblings - all crucial to the survival of the Mormon Pioneer Companies. Older teens were often expected to hold as much responsibility as the adults. An Interpretive Panel on one of Orient’s main streets tells of the Mormon trek through Adair County with emphasis on the children traveling the trail. A mural at "Bank of Memories" depicts the crossing through the Orient area, plus numerous historical books and items in the museum inventory. There is a D.A.R. Marker on a stone in front of the Orient-Macksburg School commemorating the Mormon Trail.
Henry A Wallace con't.
Enthusiastic volunteers tackled the job on the hottest day in 1995. Workers removed the aluminum siding. “It was like unwrapping a package,” Diane says. “It was wonderful.” The south and most of the east side of the house still had its original cedar siding,” she said. The aluminum siding covered two window openings on the west wall. Carpet covered the pine wood floors. About a third of the rough pine flooring appears to be original,” she says. “Henry A. could’ve crawled around on this floor here,” Weiland says. “Attempts to modernize the house with carpeting protected the floor,” says McIntosh.
“The house itself was pretty well built,” Diane says. However, the foundation was pretty rotted out from the water over the years. An old porch was removed on the northeast side and a wheelchair-accessible room was added in the back.
One of the things the Foundation demonstrates is the soil conservation practices Henry A. Wallace brought into farming. "Those were his ideas and he brought them into the national agenda when he was secretary of agriculture,'' Diane says. The Henry A. Wallace Center now has a reconstructed Iowa prairie, woodland, Community Supported Agriculture produce gardens, apple orchard and walking path.
In the late 1970's people in Adair County realized they really needed to acknowledge that this was his birthplace. A bronze plaque with Wallace's name and the year of his birth, "1888" rests on a concrete slab by the dirt road running south of the house. The Adair County Historical Society also erected a memorial in his honor at Lake Orient.
Visit the Henry A. Wallace Center web site.