© 2024
Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Edwin F. Ladd


Born in 1850 in Maine, Edwin Fremont Ladd was originally planning on becoming a doctor when he took an offer from the New York Experiment Station, where he found his passion and worked first as assistant and then chief chemist. In 1890, Ladd moved to North Dakota, where he helped found and taught at the State Agricultural School and Experiment station, now NDSU. After a few years, he became Dean of the School of Chemistry and Pharmacy and chief chemist, and later, State Chemist.

As part of his duties, Ladd analyzed the components of products, such as food, drink, even fertilizer. His work led to a long line of food adulteration laws. In 1901, the legislature introduced, quote, “an act to prevent the adulteration, misbranding and selling of adulterated and unwholesome foods and beverages, prescribing a penalty for the violation, and charging the State’s Attorney with the enforcement hereof.”

Ladd also advocated for a law requiring fertilizer manufacturers to label their products with the name and proportion of each ingredient. He would later report that the fertilizer law was the only law he pushed for that ever passed without having to go through the court system.

He said, “For twenty years I never went to bed at night without … one to half a dozen lawsuits or injunctions hanging over me.”

Nevertheless, Ladd helped give the state a pure-food law, a strong drug and patent medicine law, what was said to be the best paint law in the country, a cold storage law, an honest advertising law and an effective sanitary inspection law—and, he enforced them.

Ladd was elected president of the school in 1916. Three years later, he was appointed state inspector of grades, weights and measures, a new office that gave him complete supervision of every stage in the marketing of grain in North Dakota. In 1920, he was elected US Senator for North Dakota. Unfortunately, on a trip back to North Dakota, he took ill, and developed neuritis. In 1925, he entered a hospital in Baltimore. Everyone thought he would get better; but his condition worsened, even more so when his friend Senator La Follette died on June 18.

On this date, alarm over his health was spreading across the state. The doctors in Baltimore wouldn’t talk about his condition, but it became common knowledge that his kidneys had failed. He passed away on June 22.

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker


The Cando Herald, Thursday, June 25, 1925

The New York Times, June 23, 1925

The Bismarck Tribune, June 20, 1925