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History of Iowa
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Local History Notes:
The 1854 Gazetteer of the United States by Thomas Baldwin shows:
IOWA, a newly formed state, W. of the Mississippi, is bounded N. by Minnesota Territory, E. by the Mississippi, which separates it from the states of Wisconsin and Illinois, S. by Missouri, and W. by Indian Territory and Minnesota, from the former of which it is separated by the Missouri, and from the latter by the Great Sioux river. It lies (with the exception of a small projection in the S. E. between the Des Moines and Mississippi rivers) between 40° 30' and 43° 30' N. lat., and between 90° and 97° W. lon., being about 300 miles in extreme length from E. to W., and about 208 in breadth, including an area of 50,914 square miles, or 32,584,960 acres, of which only 824,682 were improved in 1850.
Population: Iowa had 43,112 inhabitants in 1840, had 192,214 in 1850, of whom 100,885 were white males, 90,994 white females, 168 colored males, and 167 colored females. (By a state census in 1852, the population was 230,000.) This population was divided among 33,517 families, occupying 32,962 dwellings. Of the population of Iowa, 50,380 were born in the state, 120,240 in other states of the Union, 3785 in England, 4485 in Ireland, 1064 in Scotland and Wales, 1756 in British America, 7152 in Germany, 382 in France, 2208 in other countries, and 862 whose places of birth were unknown, making more than 10 per cent. of the population of Foreign birth. During the year ending June 1, 1850, 2044 deaths occurred, or about 10 in every 1000 persons: 135 paupers received support in the same period, of whom 35 were foreigners. In the same year there were 51 deaf and dumb, all white; 47 blind, do.; 40 idiotic, do.; and 93 insane, do.
Counties: There are in Iowa 49 organized counties, viz. Allomakee, Appanoose, (or Appanuse,) Benton, Black Hawk, Boone, Buchanan, Cedar, Clarke, Clayton, Clinton, Dallas, Davis, Decatur, Delaware, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fayette, Fremont, Henry, Iowa, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Jones, Keokuk, Lee, Linn, Louisa, Lucas, Madison, Mahaska, Marion, Marshall, Monroe, Muscatine, Page, Polk, Pottawatomie, Poweshiek, Scott, Tama, Taylor, Van Baron, Wapello, Warren, Washington, Wayne, and Winnishiek. Capital, Iowa City.
Cities and Towns: At the census of 1850, Burlington was the largest town in the state; population, 4081. Dubuque, Keokuk, Muscatine, and Davenport have populations varying from 2000 to 5000. Iowa City had a population of 1250.
Face of the Country: The surface of Iowa is generally composed of rolling prairies, having nothing within its limits which approaches a mountain in elevation, The highest ground in the state is a plateau in the N. W., called 'Coteau des Prairies.' which enters the state from Minnesota. A small portion in the N. E., on the Mississippi, is rugged and rocky, and Table Mound, a conical elevation with a flat summit, 3 or 4 miles from Dubuque, is, perhaps, 500 feet high. The state, however, may be generally described as a rolling prairie, crossed by rivers whose banks are skirted with wood. There are said to be some swamps in the N. W. portion of the state. The prairies, though sometimes 20 miles across, are rarely more than 5 or 10.
Geology: The great coalfield of Missouri and Iowa, occupying the centre and southern parts of the latter state, and extending out in the form of a semicircle, is surrounded on every side but the S. by a belt of upper carboniferous limestone. The Mississippi, on the S. E. of the state, has its channel in a bed of the lower carboniferous limestone. The great drift deposits from Minnesota enter the N. of Iowa. A narrow strip of the lead-bearing magnesian limestone lies on the Mississippi to the N. E., and is succeeded on the S. W. first by a broad belt of upper magnesian, and then by a second of limestone of the Devonian period. The coal veins of Iowa are not nearly so thick as those of Illinois, being seldom more than 4 or 5 feet. The prairies of this state are sprinkled over with boulders, some of them of immense size. One measured by Professor Owen was 50 feet in circumference, 12 feet high, and probably as many beneath the soil.
Minerals: Iowa is rich in mineral resources. A portion of the great lead region of Illinois and Wisconsin extends into this state. The ore is abundant, but lies deeper than on the E. side of the river. Lead mines have been opened in Dubuque and Clayton counties. Zinc and copper are also found in the same localities, and in connection with the lead. The great bituminous coalfield of Iowa and Missouri has an extent of near 200 miles from E. to W., and 140 from N. to S., within the former state, and occupying most of the central and southern portions. Copper has been recently discovered in Cedar county in considerable quantities.
Rivers: The rolling prairies of Iowa are furrowed by several important rivers, which cross it in a S. E. direction, and help to swell the volume of waters in the great Mississippi, into which they discharge themselves. The Des Moines, the most important of these, has its sources in Minnesota, and traversing the entire state, forms near its mouth a small portion of the S. E. boundary. Its length is about 450 miles, 250 of which are navigable for light steamboats at high water. The other rivers which flow into the Mississippi, proceeding in order northward, are the Skunk, Iowa, (the Red Cedar, a branch of the Iowa,) Wapsipinicon, Makoqueta, Turkey, and Upper Iowa. The Skunk is about 200, the Iowa 300, end the rivers last named from 100 to 200 miles in length. The Iowa is navigable for steamboats 110, and the Cedar river 60 miles. The Makoqueta and the Wapsipinicon have rapid currents, and furnish abundant water-power. The Missouri and its tributary, the Great Sioux, form the W. boundary. The Little Sioux, the next important tributary of the Missouri from Iowa., has a course of little more than 100 miles. There are a few small lakes in the N. and W. part of the state.
Objects of Interest to Tourists: The principal claim of this new, and as yet scarcely explored state, on the attention of travellers, must chiefly rest upon the beauty of its undulating prairies or its picturesque landscapes. There are, however, a few objects which may be classed among natural curiosities, of which the following are the most prominent. Numerous sinks, or circular depressions in the surface of the ground, from 10 to 20 feet across, are found in different places, and particularly on Turkey river, in the N. part of the state. Small mounds from 3 to 6 feet high, and sometimes 10 or 12 in a row, are found on the same stream, within 10 or 15 miles of its mouth. A cave several rods in extent exists in Jackson county, from which flows a stream large enough to turn a mill. The Upper Iowa and Makoqueta rivers have worn their channels through magnesian limestone rocks, leaving, on their southern banks, cliffs worn by the rain, frost, and winds into resemblances of castles, forts, &c.
Climate, Soil, and Productions: According to meteorological tables kept at Muscatine, in 1851, by T. S. Parvin, Esq., the maximum of January was 46°, the minimum, 16°; for February, max. 52°, min. 0°; March, max. 78°, min. 12°; April max. 70°,min. 24°; May, max. 82°, rain. 28°; June, max. 85, rain 44°; July, max 92°, min 44°; August, max. 85° min. 52°; September, max 91°, min. 30; October, max. 79°,min. 18°; November, max. 51°, min. 14; December, max. 56°; min. - 18°. Greatest heat, July 27th, 92°; greatest cold, December 16th,-18°; range, 110°. The Mississippi closed January 30th; opened February 21st. Last frost, May 24th; first in autumn, September 28th. Rainy days 101; 53 of which were in May, June, and July; 20 snowy days, 55 cloudy, 88 clear, and 212 variable. The amount of rain that fell during the entire year was 72.4 inches. A frost in May killed most of the fruit. The peach-tree blossoms in April, fall wheat ripens in July, spring ,wheat in August, and Indian corn in October. The rivers are frozen over from 2 to 3 months on an average each winter. The soil of Iowa is generally excellent and of easy cultivation, with prairie and woodland intermingled. The valleys of the Red Cedar, Iowa, and Des Moines, (we quote Owen's Geological Report,) as high as lat. 42° or 42° 31', presents a body of arable land, which, taken as a whole, for richness in organic elements, for amount of saline matter, and due admixture of earthy silicates, affords a combination that belongs only to the most fertile upland plains. After passing let. 42° 80' N., near the confines of the Cocteau des Prairies, a desolate, knobby country commences, the highlands being covered with gravel and supporting a scanty vegetation, while the low grounds are either wet or marshy, or filled with numerous ponds or lakes, and where the eye roves in vain in search of timber. North of 41° 80', and between the head waters of the Grand, Nodaway, and Nishnabotona rivers, the soil is inferior in quality to that S. of the same parallel. The staples of this state are Indian corn, wheat, and live stock, besides considerable quantities of oats, rye, buckwheat, barley, Irish potatoes, butter, cheese, hay, wool, maple sugar, beeswax and honey; and some rice, tobacco, beans, peas, sweet potatoes, orchard fruits, wine, grass-seeds, hops, flax, and silk are produced. There were 14,805 farms, including 824,682 acres of improved land in Iowa in 1850, producing 8,656,799 bushels of Indian corn; 1,530,581 of wheat; 1,524,345 of oats; 276,120 of Irish potatoes; 52,516 of buckwheat; 25,093 of barley; 19,916 of rye; value of live stock $3,689,275; 373,898 pounds of wool; 2,171,188 of butter; 206,849 of cheese; 89,055 tons of hay, and 78,407 pounds of maple sugar.
Forest Trees: Iowa is in many places destitute of timber; along the rivers, however, it is well wooded, except near their sources. On the intervals between the rivers there are often prairies of from 15 to 20 miles, without so much as a bush higher than the wild indigo and compass plant. The greatest scarcity of trees is N. of 42°. Ash, elm, sugar, and white maple grow in alluvion belts of from one-fourth to one mile ill width on the river banks. The other forest trees are poplar, various species of oak, black and white walnut, hickory, locust, ironwood, cottonwood, lime or basswood, and some pine in the northern parts of the state. Oak constitutes the larger part of the timber of the state. The peach grows too luxuriantly, and blooms too soon to admit of its being cultivated to advantage. The grape, gooseberry, and wild plum are indigenous.
Manufactures: As a newly settled state, Iowa can of course have made as yet but little progress in manufactures; though she has within her limits two important elements of manufacturing industry, viz. abundance of deal and water-power. In 1850 there were 482 establishments, producing each $500 or upwards annually; of these 3 were engaged in the manufacture of iron, employing $5500 capital, and 17 male hands, consuming raw material worth $2524, and producing castings, &c. worth $8500; 1 a woollen factory, employing $31,225 capital, and 7 male hands, consuming raw material worth $3500, and producing 14,000 yards of stuffs, valued at $13,000; and $19,000 invested in manufacturing malt and spirituous liquors, consuming 51,150 bushels of Indian corn, and 7200 of rye, and producing 160,000 gallons of whiskey, &c. Homemade manufactures were valued at $221,292.
Internal Improvements: Iowa has made little progress as yet in this direction, though she will doubtless not be behind her sisters, age and population considered, in her future advance in this particular. Only seven years a member of the confederacy, her energies have been necessarily directed to opening common roads and laying some plank-roads. Until her river borders have all been settled, she will scarcely need the aid of railways to carry her products to market. A railroad of 180 miles in length is projected from Dubuque to Keokuk.
Commerce: Iowa has no foreign trade, but is very favorably located for internal traffic, washed as it is by the Missouri on the west, the Mississippi on the east, and its interior traversed by the Des Moines, Iowa, Cedar, and other rivers. The principal articles of export are grain, flour, lead, and pork.
Education: All lands granted by Congress, all escheated estates, and whatever percentage Congress may allow on the public lands sold within the state, are to constitute a fund, the interest of which and the rent of unsold lands, together with military and court fines, are to form an appropriation for the support of public schools in Iowa, which are to be under the direction of a superintendent of public instruction, elected for three years by the people. Schools must be kept open at least three months of every year in each district. An appropriation is also made for the support of Iowa University, which is to be perpetual. The school fund in 1850 amounted to $250,230; annual expenditure, 41,693; volumes in school libraries, 287; and children in the state 64,336, of whom only 24,804 were in school.
Religions: There were 148 churches in Iowa in 1850, of which the Baptists owned 16; Christians, 8; Congregationalists, 14; Episcopalians, 4; Friends, 5; Lutherans, 4; Methodists, 50; Presbyterians, 24; and the Roman Catholics, 17. The rest were divided among German Reformed, Moravians, Unionists, and Universalists: See Table of Religions, APPENDIX. Number of persons to each church, 1298. Value of church property, $177,400.
Public Institutions: In 1850 there were five public libraries in Iowa, with an aggregate of 2660 volumes. There is a state prison at Fort Madison, on the Mississippi.
Government, Finances, Banks, &c: The governor of Iowa is chosen for four years, and receives $1000 per annum; the senate, composed of 19 members, for the same period and the house of representatives, of 39 members, for two years; all elected by popular vote. The sessions of the legislature are biennial. The members receive $2 per diem for the first fifty days of the session, but after that only $1 a day; $2 are allowed for every 20 miles travelled. The judiciary is composed: 1. Of a supreme court, presided over by one chief and two associate judges, receiving each $1000 per annum. 2. Of district courts, each presided over by a single judge, receiving $1000 per annum. The judges of the supreme court are elected by joint vote of the legislature for six years, and the district judges by the people of their respective districts for five years. The assessed value of property in Iowa in 1850 was $21,690,642; and public debt, $81,792, in December, 1852. There was but one bank in the state in June, 1852, with a capital of $200,000, circulation $100,000, and coin $50,000.
History: Iowa formed originally a part of the Louisiana purchase, then successively a part of Missouri, Wisconsin, and lastly of Iowa Territory. It became an independent member of the confederacy in 1845. Settlements were permanently commenced about 1833; the first at Burlington.
Swamp Land Grant
By an act of Congress, approved March 28, 1850, to enable Arkansas and other States to reclaim swampy lands within their limits, granted all the swamp and overflowed lands remaining unsold within their respective limits to the several States. Although the total amount claimed by Iowa under this act does not exceed 4,000,000 acres, it has, like the Des Moines River and some of the land grants, cost the State considerable trouble and expense, and required a deal of legislation. The State expended large sums of money in making the selections, securing proofs, etc., but the General Government appeared to be laboring under the impression that Iowa was not acting in good faith; that she had selected a large amount of lands under the swamp land grant, transferred her interest to counties, and counties to private speculators, and the General Land Office permitted contests as to the character of the lands already selected by the Agents of the State as "swamp lands." Congress, by joint resolution Dec. 18, 1856, and by act March 3, 1857, saved the State from the fatal result of this ruinous policy. Many of these lands were selected in 1854 and 1855, immediately after several remarkably wet seasons, and it was but natural that some portions of the selections would not appear swampy after a few dry seasons. Some time after these first selections were made, persons desired to enter parcels of the so-called swamp lands and offering to prove them to be dry. In such cases the General Land Office ordered hearing before the local land officers, and if they decided the land to be dry, it was permitted to be entered and the claim of the State rejected. Speculators took advantage of this. Affidavits were bought of irresponsible and reckless men, who, for a few dollars, would confidently testify to the character of lands they never saw. These applications multiplied until they covered 3,000,000 acres. It was necessary that Congress should confirm all these selections to the State, that this gigantic scheme of fraud and plunder might be stopped. The act of Congress of March 3, 1857, was designed to accomplish this purpose. But the Commissioner of the General Land Office held that it was only a qualified confirmation, and under this construction sought to sustain the action of the Department in rejecting the claim of the State, and certifying them under act of May 15, 1856, under which the railroad companies claimed all swamp land in odd numbered sections within the limits of their respective roads. This action led to serious complications. When the railroad grant was made, it was not intended nor was it understood that it included any of the swamp lands. These were already disposed of by previous grant. Nor did the companies expect to receive any of them, but under the decisions of the Department adverse to the State the way was opened, and they were not slow to enter their claims. March 4, 1862, the Attorney General of the State submitted to the General Assembly an opinion that the railroad companies were not entitled even to contest the right of the State to these lands, under the swamp land grant. A letter from the Acting Commissioner of the General Land Office expressed the same opinion, and the General Assembly by joint resolution, approved April 7, 1862, expressly repudiated the acts of the railroad companies, and disclaimed any intention to claim these lands under any other than the act of Congress of Sept. 28, 1850. A great deal of legislation has been found necessary in relation to these swamp lands.
A Short Biography of Francis Marion Drake
Francis Marion Drake, governor of Iowa, was born in Rushville, Schuyler county, Ill., Dec. 30, 1880; son of John Adams and Harriet J. (O'Niel) Drake, natives of North Carolina; grandson of Benjamin and Celia (Thayer) Drake of Nash county, N.C.; and great-grandson of James Drake of Virginia. In 1837 the family removed to Fort Madison in the territory of Wisconsin and in 1846 to Davis county, where John Adams Drake founded the town of Drakeville and where Francis Marion attended the district school and assisted his father, the principal business man of the place. He organized a wagon train in 1852 and crossed the plains to California, fighting his way through tribes of hostile Indians. He returned to Iowa in 1853, and in 1854 drove one hundred milch cows across the plains and mountains to California. This time he undertook to return by sea and was wrecked in the Yankee Blade when eight hundred lives were lost. With the other survivors he returned to San Francisco and made a safe passage to New York in the Golden Gate. He then engaged in business in Drakeville and in 1859 in Unionville. He was major in the Union army, 1861-62, under General Prentiss and repulsed General Price's army at St. Joseph, Mo. He was lieutenant-colonel of the 36th Iowa volunteers in the army of the Tennessee, 1862-64, commanded a detachment at Elkins's Ford in April, 1864, where he drove back General Marmaduke's division; and commanded a brigade at Marks's Mills, April 25, 1864. At the latter place he was defeated by six times his number under Maj.-Gen. J. F. Fagan. His regiment was captured and he was left on the field by the enemy, as mortally wounded. He rejoined his regiment at the end of six months and was brevetted brigadier-general of volunteers by President Lincoln. After leaving the service he practised law and engaged in the promotion of railroad enterprises in Iowa, Indiana and Illinois. He founded Drake university, Des Moines, Iowa, and was its principal benefactor. His first gift of $20,000 in 1880 was followed by liberal sums each year. In 1898 he gave to it over $25,000 and he liberally assisted other schools, churches and charitable institutions. He was a candidate for governor of Iowa before the Republican state convention of 1893, but did not receive the nomination. In 1895 he was nominated and elected. He refused a second term, as an accident resulting in injuries that threatened the reopening of the wound received at Marks's Mill, warned him of need of rest, and he retired from office, Jan. 1, 1898. He was married in 1855 to Mary Jane Lord. His son, Frank Ellsworth, took charge of his father's large interests at Centerville, Iowa, and his other son, John Adorns, became a lawyer in Chicago, Ill.
From: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans,
Johnson, Rossiter, editor
Walter Ingalls Hayes Biographical Sketch
Walter Ingalls Hayes, representative, was born in Marshall, Mich., Dec. 9, 1841; son of Dr. Andrew L. and Elmira Selden (Hart) Hayes; grandson of William and Abigail (Sanborn) Hayes and of Dr. L. N. and Sybil (Selden) Hart, and a descendant of John Hayes who settled in Dover, N. H. He was graduated at the University of Michigan, LL.B. in 1863, and practised in his native city. He was city attorney and U.S. commissioner for the eastern district of Michigan. He removed to Clinton, Iowa, in 1866; was U.S. commissioner for Iowa; city solicitor of Clinton; judge of the 7th judicial district of the state, 1875-87; and a Democratic representative in the 50th, 51st, 52d and 53d congresses, 1887-95. He was an advocate of tariff reform, opposed trusts and monopolies and favored fewer hours of labor. After leaving congress he resumed the practice of law. He was elected to the 1897 special session of the Iowa general assembly, called for the purpose of revising the laws of the state, and took an active part in the business before the session, serving on the committee on annotating, editing and publishing the new code.
From: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans,
Johnson, Rossiter, editor
Bernhart Henn Biography
Bernhart Henn, representative, was born in New York in 1817. His mother was Anna Hudson, a descendant of Henry Hudson. He was appointed register of the U.S. land office at Fairfield in the newly-organized state of Iowa by President Polk in 1845, and was a representative from that state in the 32d and 33d congresses, 1851-55, and as a member of the homestead committee made a notable speech on the Homestead bill, giving free homes to actual settlers. On retiring from congress he engaged as a banker and dealer in real estate in Fairfield, Iowa. He was married in 1842 at Burlington, Iowa, to Elizabeth Price, who was a granddaughter of Dr. Ealer, of Baltimore, Md. She was a founder of the Jefferson County library at Fairfield, Iowa, in 1853. Mr. Henn was a contributor to the Spirit of the Times. He died in Fairfield, Iowa, in 1865.
From: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans,
Johnson, Rossiter, editor
Robert Lucas - A Biography
Robert Lucas, governor of Iowa Territory, was born at Shepherdstown, Va., April 1, 1781; son of Capt. William (of the Revolutionary army) and Susannah Lucas, and a descendant of William Penn. He was taught mathematics and surveying, and removed with his parents in 1800 to Portsmouth, Scioto county, Ohio. He was appointed county surveyor in 1803 and justice of the peace for the town of Union in 1805. He was commissioned lieutenant in the state militia by Governor Tiffin in 1803, and was promoted through the successive grades to that of major-general in 1818. He was appointed captain in the regular army, March 14, 1812, and was assigned to the 19th infantry, July 6, 1812. He served on the frontier against the Indians and in Canada against the British, escaping capture at the surrender of General Hull to the British on Aug. 16, 1812. He returned to Ohio, resigned his commission as captain in the regular army, Jan. 2, 1813, and was offered the commission of lieutenant-colonel, Feb. 20, 1813, and that of colonel, subsequently, but declined both commissions. He was married, April 8, 1810, to Elizabeth Brown, who died Oct. 18, 1812, and secondly, on March 7, 1816, to Friendly A. Sumner, a native of Vermont. He served as state representative, 1808-09 and 1831-32, and as state senator for fourteen terms, 1814-30; and was speaker of the senate, 1829-30. He presided over the first Democratic national convention at Baltimore, May 21, 1832. He resided in Piketon, Pike county, 1816-38; was a presidential elector-at-large on the Jackson and Calhoun ticket in 1828, and governor of Ohio, 1832-36. He removed to Iowa Territory in 1838, having been appointed territorial governor by President Van Buren. During his term he succeeded in settling the boundary line controversy between Missouri and Iowa, organized the public-school system, and enforced the law against the sale of intoxicating liquors. He settled on his farm near Iowa City in 1841 and was a member of the first state constitutional convention in 1846. He died in Iowa City, Iowa, Feb. 7, 1853.
From: Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans,
Johnson, Rossiter, editor
ADDITIONAL BIOGRAPHIES AVAILABLE:
Lincoln Clark Biography
Biographical Sketch of Rush Clark
A Short Biography of Charles Durkee
A Biography of James Wilson Grimes
Biographical Sketch of Stephen Hempstead
A Biography of David Bremner Henderson
Ralph Phillips Lowe Biography
Leslie Mortier Shaw
Local History and Genealogy Links:
Bird: eastern goldfinch
Flower: wild rose
Nickname: Hawkeye State, Corn State
Motto: Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain
Area (sq. mi.): 56,290
Capitol: Des Moines
Admitted: 28 Dec 1846