Second largest participating religiious group, 2010


Map of the most and least religious counties in the United States
Communists" in and from the Great Plains
Robinson on North Dakota
Nordic Paths to Modernity (Berghan Books, 1012)
Kord on Jones bros. from N. Dakota
Kord: we had the better ideas, we acted, they reacted
Kraus-Simons with sherrif

the Pontiac Interviews
on migration from northern states, esp.
on hillbillies
on intermediate skills

milo reno, Iowa
Farmers' Holiday Association in Minnesota


The northern Plains witnessed the last great farm revolt in its history during the 1930s, when a flood of protest spilled across the region, fed by the springs of hard times and earlier insurgencies.

northwestern North Dakota and northeastern South Dakota, two sections with extended histories of agrarian activism. While most of the discussion is limited to the northern Plains, a number of the points have applicability to the study of the 1930s farm revolt elsewhere.

Such research leads the historian to re- formers who had links with earlier radical causes such as the Socialist Party (SP) and the Nonpartisan League (NPL), the most impor- tant twentieth-century agrarian political movement in the upper Midwest.

Many historians assume that the story of 1930s agrarianism is the story of the Farmers Holiday, which called for farm strikes, pick- eted roads leading to market centers, and attempted to prevent foreclosure sales. In reality, however, it includes the efforts of other groups, particularly the Communist-led United Farmers League (UFL). The Holiday did not appear in the Dakotas until the late summer of 1932, but the UFL had a presence in eastern Montana and western North Dakota before then. UFL speakers, including "Mother" Ella Reeve Bloor, appeared in many communities in the northwest counties of North Dakota, and UFL locals were formed in several towns.'

The farm revolt peaked on the northern Plains in 1933 and 1934, and the UFL dissolved in 1935, urging its members to join the Holiday association. This step was in accord with the popular front strategy em- braced by the Communist Party (CP) at the time. By the end of 1937, the Holiday itself closed up shop, merging into the Farmers Union.

Perhaps the most unusual antecedent to the Depression era farm revolt in this region was found in the Wilmot area of the same county. There, according to one report, former members of the Ku Klux Klan (organized in the 1920s) joined the CP in the 1930s. One native of northeast South Dakota recently quipped: "Farmers in Roberts County will try anything once or twice.":: The linkage of the farm revolt of the 1930s to this region's extended radical past is apparent in terms of both geography and personal biography.

At the time of the 1932 farm strike, it was not uncommon for local newspapers and business men to enlist as backers of the movement. Holiday leaders in the Dakotas sought business support, and numerous mer~ chants came forward. In \Y./ard and Williams Counties, North Dakota, for example, busi~ ness men ran ads endorsing the strike.= The left~wing U F L  a t t r a c t e d  b u s i n e s s s u p p o r t a s well. In 1v1ountrail County, the movement was spearheaded by the Husa clan, who ran the community store in the hamlet of Belden.:-1 W h i l e i t \ v a s u n u s u a l f o r shop~keepers t o assume such a leadership role, both the Producers News a n d t h e Farmers National Weekh featured advertisements paid for by a number of businesses.

The attitude of local authorities also was important. The popular image is that of embattled farmers facing armed sheriffs, and there are numerous such confrontations that are documented. On the other hand, some local lavv' enforcement officials acted in collu~ sion with Holiday activists and made them~ selves "unavailable" in crucial situations. In Adams County, North Dakota, the sheriff reportedly arranged for the protesters to grab the papers out of his hand, thus stopping the proceedings. Harry Lux of the Nebraska Holiday tells of a S50 contribution made to him by a sheriff and of the report about another in Colorado that he was going hunt~ ing at the time of a proposed farmers' action.:s
the Great Plains