Oliver Hudson Kelley

Photo of Oliver Kelley
Oliver Kelley

Quick Facts

Significance:
Agrarian and father of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry
Place of Birth:
Boston, MA
Date of Birth
January 7, 1826
Place of Death:
Washington, DC
Date of Death
January 20, 1913
Place of Burial:
Washington, DC
Cemetery Name
Rock Creek Cemetery

Oliver H. Kelley was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1826, the son of a tailor. He left Boston and eventually found his way to Itasca, Minnesota where he became a farmer. In 1864, Kelley served as a clerk for the United States Bureau of Agriculture and the following year he began a tour of the South, collecting facts to aid immigration and agricultural reconstruction.

During this tour, Kelley began to develop the idea of a farmers' organization, one which would bring men of the North and South closer together and rebuild the America he once knew. His concept became the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry (known commonly as simply the Grange), a fraternal organization that encouraged farm families to band together for their common well-being. Kelly served as the first secretary of the Grange from its founding in 1867 until 1878.