It all started on the wedding day of Meredith's founder, Edwin Thomas Meredith. His grandfather's nuptial gift was a fistful of $20 gold pieces that bought the controlling interest in his grandfather's newspaper, Farmer's Tribune. A note that said, "Sink or swim" was attached to the debt-laden balance sheet.
It's clear today that E.T. chose to swim. He turned around the fortune of the paper and sold it for a profit. With the proceeds, he decided to publish a journal that met his vision of what a helpful farm publication should be: a service magazine. In October 1902, the first issue of Successful Farming magazine was sold to 500 subscribers. By 1914, circulation was over the half-million mark.
In 1912, the 200-employee company moved into the core of the corporate headquarters building at 1716 Locust Street in Des Moines. Since then, seven additions have been made to the building, including a $40 million campus addition completed in 1998.
E.T. Meredith carved a niche for himself in both the publishing and civic arenas. He helped establish the 4-H Club and served on Woodrow Wilson's cabinet as Secretary of Agriculture. Early in 1928, he was considered as a Democratic nominee for president. Sadly, the publisher's health began to fail, and he died that year at age 51. His legacy continued, for E.T. Meredith's company became the well-respected corporation it is today.