Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

1937-1939, Nelson Kraschel


1937-1939, Nelson Kraschel



Nelson George Kraschel, Iowa's twenty-seventh governor, was born in Macon, Illinois on October 27, 1889. He was the son of Fred K. Kraschel, who farmed near Macon, Illinois, and Nancy Jane (Poe) Kraschel. Nelson Kraschel attended Macon High School and from the age of 17 to 20 farmed his sick father's farm. Then he moved to Harlan, Shelby County, Iowa, and became an auctioneerbetween 1910 and 1930 selling $50 million of purebred livestock. In 1913 he married Agnes Johnson, a Harlan schoolteacher. They had three sons and adopted a daughter. Kraschel entered Democratic politics. After being defeated for the state senate in 1922 and after losing the primary for U.S. senator in 1932, he ran successfully for lieutenant governor in 1932 and was re-elected in 1934. He was elected governor in 1936 by only 2, 431 votes out of more than a million votes cast. His greatest triumph was legislation for homestead tax relief. Kraschel urged that sales, personal, and corporation tax revenues should be applied to old age assistance and emergency poor relief, but most should go to homestead tax relief. That would give tax preference to those who lived in their own homes and farms, ""thereby increasing the attractiveness of home ownership which will contribute more than anything else that we can do to insure the stability of our society.""The legislature duly passed the Homestead Tax Exemption Act, which relieved the tax burden on homesteads up to $2, 500 valuation. In January 1937, citing the previous year's drought, Kraschel called for extending the 1933 and 1935 farm debt moratorium laws, which protected 13, 000 farms for their owners. On February 12 the governor issued a proclamation citing the continuing economic emergency that had necessitated the relief acts of 1933 and 1935 and ""a new emergency""the natural disasters of 1936as reasons for renewing the laws. The General Assembly extended three of the four measures, but the Republican Senate blocked the fourth, and the law expired. In 1938 Kraschel intervened in the Maytag Company's industrial dispute at Newton. The company had announced a wage cut and locked out its workers, who called a strike and staged a sit-down in the plant. Under the protection of the National Guard, Kraschel called on the strikers to return to work, the company not to impose the wage cuts, and negotiations to take place on all issues. The strikers returned to work, and eventually a settlement was reached. In 1938 Kraschel faced the same Republican opponent he had defeated by 2, 431 votes in 1936 and lost by nearly 60, 000 votes. Kraschel left office on January 12, 1939.He returned to farming and auctioneering, and made another unsuccessful bid for governor in 1942. Kraschel lost two sons in World War II. He worked as general agent for the Farm Credit Administration of Omaha (1943- 1949) and then returned to his auctioneering and his cattle. He served as an agent for the Farm Credit Administration from 1943 to 1949, and then retired to his farm in Harlan. Governor Nelson G. Kraschel died on March 15, 1957.


State Library of Iowa and State Historical Society of Iowa


1937; 1938; 1939;


Biographical Dictionary of Iowa, National Governor's Association


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