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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

Scottish Jim

An old weathered farmer asks a young man in a finely tailored suit: “Where are you from?” To which the pompous Ivy League young man replies: “I come from a place where we do not end sentences with prepositions.” The farmer replies: “Okay— where are you from, jackass?”

The question of the day – Do you think it matters where you come from? It was Brian Tracy who said “It doesn’t matter where you are coming from. All that matters is where you are going.”

Jim was born in Ayrshire, Scotland, the first of 14 children. When he was 16 the family emigrated to the U.S., settling in Connecticut, but moved to a farm in Iowa in 1855. During his early years in Iowa, Jim attended a local college, began farming, married his sweetheart Esther in 1863, and began editing the local newspaper. It was at this time of editing that he became very interested in politics. He was elected to the Iowa legislature, then to three terms in the U. S. House of Representatives. In Congress he served on the Committee on Agriculture and the Rules Committee.

After his congressional career, Jim returned to farming, and wrote for the Iowa Homestead and other farm journals. In 1891 he was appointed Professor of Agriculture and Director of the Experiment Station at Iowa State College where he placed agricultural instruction on a scientific and practical basis. During his six years at Iowa State he established a very close relationship with George Washington Carver, often discussing the possibility of applying the principles of plant genetics to improving livestock.

From 1897 to 1913 he served as Secretary of Agriculture under three presidents (McKinley, Roosevelt, and Taft). During his supervision the department extended its activities, established experiment stations in all parts of the U.S., inaugurated farm demonstration work in the South, began cooperative extension work in agriculture and home economics, and sent experts and scientists all over the world to gather information for the promotion of agriculture. Also under his tenure, legislation dealing with plant and animal diseases, insect pests, forestry, irrigation, conservation, road building, and agricultural education was enacted.

So where was Jim from in Iowa? Well turns out where he came from in Iowa became a big part of his identity. For you see Jim was James Wilson who acquired the nickname “Tama Jim” to distinguish him from Senator James Falconer Wilson (“Jefferson Jim”) who was also from Iowa. James and his family lived on a farm near Traer in Tama County and the local paper that he edited was the Traer Star-Clipper.

Looks like little Tama County had a part in “Tama Jim” shaping our country. So being born and raised in Tama County, I would say, does matter as much as where you are going.


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