The first settlers who came to Iowa land,
before it had been bought by the United States, were mostly
French Canadians. That is, people of French descent who had
been living in Canada. Not many such settlers came, however,
and no permanent settlements were made by them.
OUR EARLY SETTLERS
Following the French Canadians, settlers came
to Iowa from Missouri, Kentucky, and other southern states.
These people settled mainly in the southeastern and southern
part of the state. A number of early settlers also came from
New England and the Middle Atlantic states.
Among those who came from New England were
several groups of Friends, or "Quakers" as they are sometimes
called. One Friends' settlement was near Salem. Here the
settlers took an active part in the anti-slavery movement by
providing a station for runaway slaves on the underground
Many people came directly from European
countries to Iowa. Often a few, whom we call pioneers,
settled in Iowa from a certain locality in Europe. When they
saw the wonderful opportunities that were here, they wrote to
their friends and relatives back home and urged them to come.
Many did so and the result was that Iowa's cheap farm land
was quickly taken up and its population increased rapidly.
Iowa has many citizens today who are
descendants of immigrants from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.
Several families of Norwegians settled in Lee
county as early as 1840. They came from Missouri.
From 1849 to 1860 the Norwegian immigration
was directed to northern Iowa and southern Minnesota. The
first settler from Norway in this section came to Clayton
county in 1846. Others soon settled in Fayette, Allamakee and
Luther College was established at Decorah in
1862 and that city soon became widely known as a center for
Norwegian interest and culture. Few immigrants have come from
Norway since 1890.
The first Swedish settlement in Iowa was at
Bush Creek - later New Sweden - in Jefferson county in the
fall of 1845. Other settlements were soon made in Henry and
Wapello counties and by 1850 tow hundred fifty immigrants from
Sweden had located in Burlington.
The counties of Boone, Hamilton, and Webster
had many early Swedish settlements. Madrid, in Boone county,
was first named Swede Point.
In 1847 about seven hundred Hollanders arrived
in St. Louis, looking for a new home. A committee that was
sent out to look for a suitable location chose a place in
Marion county, Iowa, where they founded the town of Pella.
The first winter many of the Dutch settlers
had to live in dugouts with straw-thatched roofs. But they
were a hard-working people who saved their money and soon were
able to build fine homes, schools, and churches.
Later many Dutch people settled in Sioux
Some wealthy Englishmen, the Close brothers,
bought 30,000 acres of land in Plymouth county. Others from
England bought more land. Young Englishmen of "noble" birth
came to work on the farms and to build up an estate. In some
cases, wealthy parents sent irresponsible sons with the hope
that they might become useful citizens. About six hundred
English people settled near Le Mars but many later moved away.
IRISH AND GERMANS
Two countries from which many immigrants came
were Ireland and Germany. More came from Germany than from
any other European country. Davenport was an early
headquarters for Germans. Before a railroad had been built
across Illinois, many of these immigrants came to New Orleans
and hence up the Mississippi to various points in Iowa along
that river. Later German settlements sprang up in many
sections of Iowa.
Not many immigrants Not many immigrants who
came to Iowa failed to stay. Most of them built permanent
homes and the influence of their rugged and sturdy lives is
still left. There was one exception. A group of Hungarians
who were driven from their own country after an unsuccessful
revolution, settled in Decatur county in 1850. The winters
were too cold for them and most of them soon moved to Texas.
Since Iowa has become settled it has received
many immigrants from Italy and Greece. Most of these people
live in the cities and towns. Their European training and
background are not such as would lead them to farming in a
state like Iowa