It’s hard to think of it now, but at the turn of the 20th century the area of Des Moines just southwest of Drake University was a largely open field. And on 10 acres at 38th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, where Grace United Methodist Church now stands, the roots of an agricultural and scientific revolution began to take hold.
The land once was the home of Henry C. Wallace, the founder, with his father, “Uncle Henry” Wallace, of the influential Wallace’s Farmer magazine. Henry C.’s son, Henry Agard Wallace, was 13 when the family moved to the location, according to the definitive Henry A. Wallace biography, “American Dreamer.”
Henry A., of course, went on to become secretary of agriculture, vice president and secretary of commerce. He also founded the hybrid seed corn company that today is the giant DuPont Pioneer in Johnston.
The seed empire’s embryo was formed on that Des Moines acreage. Now a local committee wants to recognize the location’s significance.