Monday, August 27, 2018

Clemmon Leander Granger (1850-1900)

Portrait from the History of Fort Dodge and Webster County, Vol. I.

  Although he lacked length of years (he died aged 50 in 1900), Clemmon Leander Granger rose to become a leading name in business and politics in Fort Dodge, Iowa, where he not only founded a successful farm implement company but was also elected to multiple terms as that city's mayor. Born in Mt. Clemens, Michigan on February 11, 1850 (or 1851, according to some sources), Clemmon Leander Granger was the son of Sylvester and Mary (Vernie) Granger. Early in his life, he removed to Crown Point, Indiana with his family, where his primary education occurred
  His father being a farmer, Clemmon Granger became interested in the development and sale of farming machinery and during his youth spent time on the Crown Point farm of George Willey, the man who would become his father-in-law in 1874. Granger first entered into the farm implement business in Effingham, Indiana and later was affiliated with the McCormick Manufacturing Co., which positioned him as its local representative in Belleville, Illinois. This post was followed by his transfer to the position of company general manager for Illinois, and in the late 1870s would serve as McCormick's general manager for Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware.
  Clemmon L. Granger married in Crown Point in October 1874 to Alice Willey (1854-1935). The couple were wed until Granger's death in 1900 and would remain childless. Desiring to make a name for himself in the farm implement field, Granger left the McCormick Co. in 1879 and soon resettled in Fort Dodge, Iowa, where he opened a seed and farm implement store. In 1880 he partnered with George Weisz to found the dealership of Granger and Weisz, which continued until 1883 when Weisz sold his interest in the business to Granger, who in that year took P.M. Mitchell as a partner. Their partnership extended until 1898, when Mitchell retired from the company, whereafter Granger continued operations with Charles Brown under the firm name C.L. Granger and Co.


  Following his partnership with Brown, Clemmon Granger began preparations for the construction of a four-story building in downtown Fort Dodge to house his business. In an extensive write-up on the building's construction, the Fort Dodge Semi-Weekly Chronicle detailed that:
"The first floor will be used for the storing of heavy implements and hardware, as in the present structure. The offices and main sales rooms will be found on the second story, where the carriage repository will also be located. The third and forth story will be used for warerooms for the immense quantity of farm implements that are constantly kept on hand for the wholesale trade, which at present is one of the most important deparments of the firm's business. The shipping rooms will also be located on these floors."
 In addition to his business successes, Granger was an active participant in a variety of Fort Dodge and Webster County affairs, including service as secretary of the Webster County Agricultural Society and was a distinguished club-man, being a Mason, Knight Templar and member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen. In the fall of 1884, Granger was elected to his first term as Mayor of Fort Dodge and entered into office at the start of 1885. He would serve a second term the following year, and in 1892 was returned to the mayor's office, serving consecutive terms from 1893-96. His multiple terms as mayor were later lauded in his Fort Dodge Evening Messenger obituary, which notes:
"It was during the years of Mr. Granger's incumbency in the mayor's chair that Fort Dodge began its impetus towards a metropolis. His energy and public spirit proved contagious, and many of the city's improvements can be traced to his enterprise and acumen."
  In the year prior to his death Granger's health began to fail, and after undergoing three operations at various times throughout 1899 and 1900, he died at the Passavant Hospital in Chicago on April 6, 1900, just a few months after his 50th birthday. Alice Willey Granger survived her husband by over thirty-five years, and following her death in December 1935 was interred with Clemmon in the Granger plot at the Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge.


Granger's obituary from the Fort Dodge Messenger, April 10, 1900.

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