Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Vanda Gradious Warner (1876-1949)

 From the Cresco Plain Dealer, January 4, 1910. 

  Acknowledged as a leading voice in Iowa agricultural circles during the early 20th century, Vanda Gradious Warner served as secretary-treasurer of both the Iowa Fleece Wool Growers Association and the Farm Loan Association for the counties of Davis and Appanoose. A  superintendent of the Iowa State Fair's poultry division for two decades, Warner also flitted with runs for political office, twice being a candidate for the Iowa House of Representatives and in 1926 was the Democratic nominee for Iowa State Secretary of Agriculture.
  A lifelong Iowa resident, Vanda Gradious "Van" Warner was born on August 1, 1876, in Van Buren County, the son of Franklin and Livinia (Denning) Warner. No information exists on why Warner was given the unusual names "Vanda Gradious", and he himself looks to have preferred going by his initials, as nearly all period sources record him as "V.G." or "Van" Warner. A graduate of the Southern Iowa Normal School, Warner also attended the Iowa state college at Ames. He married in Davis County on February 2, 1898, to Maude E. Fortune (1877-1955), and later had one daughter, Mabel (1914-1993).
   Soon after his marriage in 1898, Van Warner settled into overseeing a 300-acre farm in Van Buren County, Iowa. In the succeeding years, his name would gain prominence in Iowa poultry circles, raising several varieties of fowl at another farm in Bloomfield whilst also judging and exhibiting them at award shows and fairs. Among these varieties were the Partridge Wyandotte hen, pullet, and Cockrel, the Silver Laced Wyandotte, Silver Wyandotte, Golden Wyandotte, the Pekin Duck, the White Holland turkey, and the Buff Cochin Bantam. In addition to fowl, Warner was also a breeder of Percheron horses, Poland China hogs, Angus cattle, and Delaine sheep.

From "Greater Iowa", April 1918.

   By 1909 V.G. Warner took office as superintendent of the Iowa Pet Stock and Poultry Association and eight years later began a two-decade-long tenure as superintendent of the Iowa State Fair's poultry division, serving from 1917-37. A longstanding member of the Iowa Sheep Raisers and Wool Growers Association, Warner was elected as secretary of that group in January 1910 and would assume a similar post in the Iowa Fleece Wool Grower's Association beginning in 1920. 
  Warner made his first foray into state politics in 1912 when he entered into the Democratic primary race for state representative from Davis County. One of five men vying for the nomination, Warner polled fourth on primary election day in June, with 255 votes. In 1914 he again entered the Democratic primary race for state representative and was dealt another loss, this time polling third in a field of four candidates.
From the Davenport Democrat and Leader, October 26, 1926.

From the Davenport Democrat and Leader, October 26, 1926.

  In 1926 Warner returned to political life when he became the Democratic nominee for Iowa State Secretary of Agriculture. Described as a "recognized authority in Iowa's principal industry", Warner's lengthy background in agricultural matters gave him firm footing in his run against incumbent secretary Mark G. Thornburg (1882-1962), a Republican who had entered into office in 1924. Unfortunately for Warner, it was Thornburg who won out at the polls in November, polling impressive numbers in Lucas, Monroe, and other counties.
   Following his loss, Warner returned to raising poultry, later operating the Warner hatchery in Ottumwa, Iowa. He retired as superintendent of the Iowa Fair's poultry division in 1937 and late in his life served as secretary-treasurer for the Farm Loan Association of Davis and Appanoose County. Van G. Warner died aged 72 on April 15, 1949, at an Ottumwa hospital. He was survived by his wife of fifty years, Maud, and following her death in 1955 was interred at the Bloomfield IOOF Cemetery, the same resting place as that of her husband.

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