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Chapter VII

Before the Closes had prepared their pamphlet for distribution and before William B. Close had left for England, forty or fifty gentlemen, some with their families, had arrived at Le Mars on Mr. Close's recommendation, and not one of them had expressed dissatisfaction with northwestern Iowa "from a farmer's point of view." This fact was given plenty of publicity in England. (91) A large number of these first newcomers seem to have settled southeast of Le Mars, but all received an enthusiastic welcome, at least so far as the local press was concerned. In the autumn of 1879 one editor made the following announcement:

Last Thursday another installment of English capitalists reached Le Mars, and they are already on the look-out for lands. It is estimated that by the 1st of January one hundred others will sail for America, with Northwestern Iowa as their destination. And we most heartily welcome them. Those already here are gentlemen of culture, of fine social attainments, and they enter so heartily into the work of improving and building up this region that they set in motion others who have been given to croaking. By all means let the English and the French and the Germans and the Irish come to Northwestern Iowa and build homes for themselves and for others. (92)

And two weeks later the American inhabitants of Le Mars and vicinity were furnished with more glad tidings:

The Messrs. Close Brothers, Mr. Grahame, and the other English capitalists have decided to locate permanently in Le Mars, and will have their office in the basement of Dent's brick bank building, on Sixth Street. That this determination is a wise one for the gentlemen named we have no doubt, and Le Mars will be glad to have them remain with us. These gentlemen are improving vast quantities of land in this and adjacent counties; but what they have already done is only a small matter to what they will do in the future. They are giving employment to many worthy men ; making it an easy matter for poor men to secure good farms, encouraging emigration hitherward, and are in fact busy all the time doing something that advances the prosperity of Northwest Iowa. We repeat, we are gratified to have them locate in Le Mars. (93)

From time to time during the next few years, the Le Mars newspapers recorded the arrival of English people in "rafts" or "detachments of yeomanry", or else told of their being on the way. Thus, in December, 1879, twenty gentlemen with their families were reported to have set sail from England; in March, 1880, seventy more English friends of the Closes were expected to reach Le Mars in a few weeks ; and in April, 1880, scores of newcomers from the wealthy class of Manchester had arrived. (94) In order to cope with the invasion, and especially to cater to the peculiar wants of their fellow countrymen, Close Brothers and Company bought the Commercial Hotel and renamed it " Albion House". (95)

Although the Close project early received a welcome from Le Mars editors, some criticism was voiced at St. Paul because the firm encouraged only the immigration of the educated Englishman who commanded at least $2500 and preferably more to start with. A Le Mars newspaper answered by calling this attack "a pusillanimous spirit of men whose souls are too small to see others prosper". About one year later when corn huskers were sorely needed, a correspondent suggested the remedy : "If the Close Brothers were to use as much influence toward obtaining some of the laboring class from the manufacturing districts of England, or from some of the suffering counties of Ireland, they would bestow a greater blessing on the northwest than they do by bringing over capitalists, for capital can live anywhere", but labor was something the Northwest and especially Plymouth County could not do without. (96)

That the new life which had been instilled into the settlement of the region by, the energy and enterprise of these representatives of English capital was appreciated is sufficiently attested by observers of the time. A correspondent of an eastern agricultural journal, for instance, concluded his lengthy article on what the Close brothers were doing for Plymouth, Sioux, Lyon, and Osceola counties in the following words:

Many Englishmen are settling in Northwestern Iowa through this agency, purchasing and improving homesteads, in size and manner according to their tastes and means. We did not meet these gentlemen during our stay in these counties, but were informed by those who know, that they had been the means of bringing over $600,000 of money into this part of the state within the past two years, and were developing large stock farms, as individual investments, in Plymouth and Woodbury counties. Their average price is $6 per acre. Taxes are doubtless higher here than in the East, literally stated, but in fact they are much lower, when you estimate the difference in valuations - upon which, of course, the taxes are levied. (97)

The Close brothers also found personal admirers in the little city which had thus far been the center of the district on which they had expended their wealth to make it "blossom as the rose". To quote from a writer in the local press:

     The achievements of these gentlemen during the past two years in the way of improving and developing the country, stands without a parallel in the history of western civilization; and while the scope of their operations extends over several counties of Northwestern Iowa, the southern portion of Minnesota and Dakota, Lemars and Plymouth county have been so far, the greatest beneficiaries from the enterprise which they represent . . . . The business of the two firms (98) embraces the investment of English capital in lands, and the improvement of the same; that is transforming the broad prairies of the peerless northwest into improved farms. They have expended hundreds of thousands of dollars, and have hundreds of thousands more to be applied in the same direction. In order that the reader may gain a more comprehensive idea of the magnitude of their operations we submit a brief statement of last year's achievements in Plymouth, Woodbury, Sioux, Lyon and Osceola counties mostly in the three first named....
     Time and space forbid more lengthy reference to an enterprise that has done so much for town and country but we should have failed to perform our whole duty, if we were to leave the subject before us without according in behalf of Lemars and Plymouth county a meed of praise for the untiring energy displayed by the above firm in the interest of both city and country. Their business operations have contributed vastly to the prosperity of Northwestern Iowa, and in the future as in the past, Lemars should delight to do honor to an agency that has done so much to make the young city what it is -one of the most flourishing and prosperous in the State. (99)

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91 On pages 31 and 32 of Close's Farming in North-Western Iowa are given the following names of gentlemen in northwestern Iowa who could be communicated with in regard to the country by addressing them at Le Mars, Plymouth Co., Iowa

W. HYNDMAN WANN, Esq., of Belfast, Ireland
H. W. THOMPSON, Esq., of Belfast, Ireland
R. G. MAXTONE GRAHAM, Esq., of Battleby, Red Gorton, Perthshire, N. B.
W. ROYLANCE COURT, Jun., Esq., of Newton Manor, Middlewich, Cheshire
W. H. STATTER, Esq., of Whitefield, Manchester
GERALD GARNETT, Esq., of Wyreside, Lancaster
H. RICKARDS, Esq., Carleton Lodge, Whalley Range, Manchester
DAVID B. M'LAREN, Esq., Manchester
H. GREY DE PLEDGE, Esq., Gloucester
HARRY ELLER, Esq., Manchester
J. ELLER, Esq., Manchester
ALFRED SHAW, Esq., of Arrowe Park, Birkenhead
PHILIP NAIRN, Esq., of Lime House, Wetheral, Carlisle
J. H. GRAYSON, Esq., of Oakfield, Prince's Road, Liverpool
EDWARD T. WRIGHT, Esq., Rochester
F. HORSBURGH, Esq., Edinburgh
PERCY HEITLAND, Esq., The Priory, Shrewsbur
yGEORGE SMITH, Esq., Wymondham, Norfolk
H. CARTER, Esq., Yorkshire
W. SHARP, Esq., Whalley Range, Manchester
CECIL F. BENSON, Esq., Langtons, Alresford, Hants
W. WHITE MARSH, Esq., of Wethersfield, Braintree, Essex
JOHN WAKEFIELD, Esq., Sedgewick, Kendal
W. GASKELL, Esq., Kiddington Hall, Woodstock, Oxon
PERCY E. PRESCOTT, Esq., The Abbey, Carlisle
B. DEMPSEY, Esq., St. George's Mount, New Brighton
A. E. MARSH, Esq., Tuxford, Newark
JAMES H. SMYTH, Esq., Claremont, The Park, Birkenhead
W. S. SMYTH, Esq., Claremont, The Park, Birkenhead
HUGH C. P. CHIENE, Esq., Eastburn, Helensburgh
HARRY HILLYARD, Esq., Abbey Square, Chester
ARMIGEL W. WADE, Esq., Dunmow, Essex

92 The Iowa Liberal (Le Mars), November 5, 1879.

93 The Iowa Liberal (Le Mars), November 19, 1879.

94 The Iowa Liberal (Le Mars), December 3, 1879, January 21, March 24, and April 28, 1880.

95 The Iowa Liberal (Le Mars), February 18, 1880.

96 The St. Paul Pioneer Press, quoted in The Iowa Liberal (Le Mars), March 31, 1880, February 2, 1881.

97 The Rural New Yorker, quoted in The Lemars Sentinel, July 14, 1881.

98 The two firms at this time were Close Brothers and Company and the Iowa Land Company, of which the Closes were managers. This distinction is not always easy to follow in the newspapers of those years.

99 The Lemars Sentinel, February 2, 1882.

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