Transcribed by Debbie Clough Gerischer
While Iowa is one of the younger states of the
Republic, as compared with the Thirteen Colonies which won
independence from Great Britain through the War of the Revolution,
it has a history which may be traced with some degree of certainty
for a period of more than two hundred years. From the time of its
discovery in 1673, by Marquette and Joliet, investigation has
brought to the knowledge of civilized people many facts relating to
the prehistoric period during which it was occupied by the
aboriginal races who preserve no history. Through traditions handed
down from one generation to another by the Indidan tribes, and
recorded observations of the earliest explorers who ventured among
them, much of the history of the Red Men who made their homes in
Iowa has been gathered. The story of the first explorers of our
rivers who gave them names, is incomplete, and even the origin and
signification of the beautiful name of our State is involved in
obscurity and uncertainty.
No connected history of Iowa from the earliest
period down to the close of the Nineteenth Century is in existence
and the time has arrived when the growing prominence of our State
among the members of the Union would seem to justify the
presentation of a narrative of the important events of the past.
The approaching centennial anniversary of the acquisition of
Louisiana, a vast region west of the Mississippi River of which Iowa
is one of the greatest stares, renders it especially appropriate
that its written history should now be given to the public.
In preparing this work the utmost care has been
exercised in the investigation of authorities examined, and in all
cases of conflict the evidence has been sifted with the sole purpose
of discovering the truth. These conflicts of opinion, which are not
uncommon, compel the writer to act as a judge in the trial of
causes, giving due consideration to the preponderance of evidence
and credibility to witnesses.
Having been a citizen of Iowa for more than half a
century, and for a large protion of that period an active
participant in political and other conflicts as an editor and
legislator, I am well aware that it is difficult to exercise strict
impartiality in recording events which, in times of great excitement
during the Civil War and numerous heated political campaigns,
aroused the passions and prejudices of the active participants. But
the lapse of time and the cooler judgment coming with mature years
has, I trust, eliminated prejudice and enabled me to deal justly
Believing that one who has lived in the State during
the period of development from a frontier region of wild prairies,
stretching almost unbroken from the Mississippi to the Missouri,,
who has witnessed settlement from scattered log cabins along its
water courses and among its native groves, with a population of less
than two hundred thousand to more than two million two hundred
thousand, who has known personally most of the public men who have
framed its laws, founded its public institutions and shaped its
policy - can better tell the story of the "building of the State,"
than the profound scholar or deeply learned historian who has lived
apart from its life, struggles, and conflicts, through which growth
and development come to people or countries.
The pioneers who closely followed the retreating
Indians laid the first foundations upon which the fabric of our
commonwealth has been slowly reared. These rugged settlers led the
way through hardships and privations, creating from nature's
resources new homes where the rude log cabins crowded the vanishing
wigwams farther westward. They first ventured upon the unsheltered
prairies and turned over the sod of countless years' formation,
which carpeted with grass and flowers a soil of unsurpassed
fertility. They brought from distant states and countries habits,
customs, religions, prejudices, and virtues of widely separated
communities and nationalities. It was through compromising and
harmonizing these diverse elements that our first laws were evolved,
schools established, and churches organized.
Among the earliest educators and civilizers were the
pioneer newspapers which made their appearance soon after the first
civil government was extended over the land acquired by treaty with
the Indians. The files of the first weekly journal printed on Iowa
soil, before it became a separate Territory, bear unmistakable
evidence of the spirit of progress which even then characterized the
newspaper, long before the advent of regular mails, railroads, or
telegraphs. It was the leader in local enterprises, public opinion
and the policy of the earliest forms of government. The files of
early newspapers, wisely preserved by Theodore S. Parvin, and
Chandler Childs of Dubuque, and the State Historical Society of Iowa
City, contain much of the current history from 1836 to 1850 that
would otherwise have been lost. Many of these ancient Iowa
newspapers are now accessible to the public in the fireproof rooms
of the Historical Department at Des Moines. While newspaper history
is not always reliable, it leads the investigator to the fixing of
dates, examination of additional authorities and the resurrection of
many forgotten events which might have been lost to the historian.
The "Annals of Iowa," established in 1863 by the
State Historical Society, and now published by the Historical
Department, the "Historical Record" of Iowa City, the publication by
the State of the valuable papers and addresses of the "Pioneer
Lawmakers' Association" - furnished a large amount of material of
inestimable value which has been liberally drawn upon in the
preparation of this history.
Among the authorities consulted relating to the
earliest period of which any knowledge can be obtained of Iowa and
its ancient inhabitants may be mentioned "The Ice Age of North
America" by G. F. Wright; Foster's "Prehistoric Races of the United
States"; Geological Reports of Iowa by Owen, Hall, McGee, White and
Calvin; Monett's "History of the Mississippi Valley"; DeSoto's
Expedition, Parkman's Historical Works on the French occupation of
America; "Expedition of Marquette and Joliet"; Voyages and Travels
of La Salle and Hennepin in the Mississippi Valley; Reports of the
Expeditions of Captains Lewis and Clark, of Lieutenant Zebulon M.
Pike, of Major S. H. Long; "Notes on the Iowa District of Wisconsin
Territory" by Lieutenant Albert M. Lea; Gayarre's "History of
Louisiana"; Galland's "Iowa Emigrant of 1840"; Newhall's "Glimpse of
Iowa in 1846."
The history of Iowa Indians has been compiled from
the following works: Schoolcraft's "Indians of the United States,"
Catlin's "North American Indians," Thatcher's "Indian Biographies,"
Drake's "Indians of North America," Fulton's "Red Men of Iowa," the
"Life of Black Hawk" and writings of numerous pioneers.
The facts relating to the Sioux Indian hostilities
in northwestern Iowa, the causes leading thereto, the massacre at
the lakes, captivity of four young women, the march and sufferings
of the Relief Expedition have been gathered from "Historical
Sketches of Northwestern Iowa" by Major William Williams, "History
of the Spirit Massacre: by Abbie Gardner Sharp, one of the captives,
addresses by members of the Relief Expedition delivered at Webster
City upon the occasion of the erection of a tablet to the memory of
Captain Johnson's Hamilton County Company and R. A. Smith's "History
of Dickinson County."
Among the authorities used in the preparation of the
political and statistical records were the following: Hildreth's,
Bancroft's and Bryant's Histories of the United States; Appleton's
Cyclopedia Annuals; the Whig, Tribune and World Almanacs; the "Iowa
Political Register"; Cleveland's "Political Text Book"; Fairall's
"Manual of Iowa Politics"'; Official Registers of Iowa from 1886 to
1902; Official Registers of the United States from 1846 to 1901;
United States and Iowa Census Reports and hundreds of volumes of
The record of Iowa in the Civil War from 1861 to
1865, inclusive, has been gathered from nine volumes of the Reports
of Adjutant-General Nathaniel B. Baker; numerous histories of Iowa
regiments; Ingersoll's "Iowa and the Rebellion"; Stuart's "Iowa
Colonels and Regiments"; Lathrop's "Life and Times of Samuel J.
Kirkwood"; Greeley's "American Conflict"; Personal Memoirs of
Generals Grant and Sherman.
In compiling a history of the causes and events
leading to the Civil War the following authorities have been
consulted: Garrison and the Antislavery Movement"; Halloway's
"History of Kansas"; John Brown and His Men" by Hinton; Sanborn's
"Life and Letters of John Brown"; "Life of Abraham Lincoln" by
Nicholay and Hay.
The historical sketches of Iowa counties have been
gleaned from more than one hundred county histories: "Andrea's
Historical Atlas of Iowa"; Fulton's "Sketches of Iowa Counties" and
personal recollections of early settlers.
The biographical sketches have been prepared from
data procured from the subjects of the sketches, or from those who
knew them intimately where the facts desired could not be found in
some of the numerous biographical publications of notable Iowa men
A number of the illustrations in the several volumes
were obtained from the "Annals of Iowa," the "Iowa Geological
Survey," the "Midland Monthly," the "Overland Stage to California,"
by Root and the "Progressive Men of Iowa." These acknowledgments
are made here in preference to quoting authorities in foot notes
through the body of the work.
It will be observed that the general plan of this
history embraces the following distinctive features:
First.-A connected narrative of the most important
events relating to Iowa, shown by scientific investigations to have
transpired before the historic period.
Second.-Reasonable authenticated history of the
Indian tribes known to have occupied Iowa.
Third.-Brief records of the exploring expeditions
which discovered the Mississippi River and valley. The western
trend of settlements towards the prairie regions. The acquisition
of Louisiana, a country larger than the eries made by the various
exploring expeditions which examined portions of the Mississippi
Valley and Iowa from 1673 to 1836.
Fourth.-The first white adventurers and pioneer
settlers who entered the region which became Iowa. The evolution of
civil government from claim regulations to written constitutions.
Early political parties, nominating conventions and elections.
Fifth.-Progress of slavery agitation and legislation
leading to civil war and emancipation. The part taken by Iowa
citizens and lawmakers in these critical times.
Sixth.-Iowa statesmen, citizens and soldiers during
the Civil War. History of Iowa Volunteer Regiments.
Seventh.-The period of development in settlement,
education, transportation, labor-saving inventions, manufactures,
mining and civil government from the close of the war to the
beginning of the Twentieth Century.
Eighth.-Historical sketches of Iowa counties; the
naming and changing of boundaries; establishing of county-seats; the
first settlers, county officials and newspapers.
Ninth.-A complete Directory of Iowa public
officials, Territorial, State, and National from the establishment
of the first civil government over the "Black Hawk Purchase" to the
beginning of the Twentieth Century.
Tenth.-Biographical sketches of more than four
hundred notable Iowa men and women who were prominent in some work
of public interest during the Nineteenth Century.
It has been my purpose, so far as practicable in a
work of this size, to make it a cyclopedia of general information
pertaining to Iowa, that will render it indispensable as a work of
reference to all who are interested in the founding, development,
government, and resources of the foremost State of the Louisiana
Purchase as well as in the character and achievements of its people.
A distinguished citizen of Iowa has said, "Of all
that is good Iowa affords the best." I have endeavored to show in
these volumes wherein this claim has solid foundation and that this
classic phrase is not an extravagant statement as applied to the
progress made by our people in education, general intelligence, good
government, and exemplary citizenship
Des Moines, Iowa.
March Third, 1902
B. F. Gue