Field, Henry Ames–(1871-1949)–Shenandoah,
Iowa–was born in Page County, Iowa, December 6, 1871. He attended
Western Normal College, Shenandoah, Iowa from 1889 to 1891. He taught
for three winters in a country school and worked part-time as a surveyor
in Page County. It is said that as a five-year old, Henry was inspired
by the 1876 Vick’s Floral Guide, and gathered seed from his mother’s
garden and packaged them in homemade envelopes and sold them to his aunt.
At age nine he began selling self-harvested seeds. He continued this
business during his college years and the years spent as a teacher.
In the 1890s, he priced his own garden seed lower than Burpee and sold
and distributed them from horseback around Shenandoah, Iowa. In 1899
he produced a four-page catalog with his own hand press. In 1907,
he founded and incorporated, Henry Field Seed Co. in Shenandoah, Iowa.
He moved into the mail-order business, constructed a seedhouse, and sent
out a “folksy” catalog promoting “Seeds that Yield are Sold by Field.”
In 1924, he built a radio station, KFNF, on top of his seedhouse
and broadcast country entertainment. In 1930, the company became
known as the Henry Field Co., and in 1938 he retired from active management
of the company, although he retained the title of president until his death.
At the time of his death, he was doing $3,000,000 business annually with
over a million customers. He was the editor of Field’s Seed Sense
and a contributor to horticultural and agricultural publications.
He died in Shenandoah, Iowa, Oct. 17, 1949.
Sources: Tucker; NCAB;