Muscatine County, Iowa
Muscatine Journal & News-Tribune
Centennial Edition
31 May 1940

Section 5 - Page 24, Submitted by Mary M. Elizabeth, August 1, 2012

I.B. Richman Contributed Valuable Writings To Literature An History

Photo of I. B. Richman ~ Irving B. Richman, a native-born citizen of Muscatine who died here Dec. 6, 1938, brought fame to this city as a result of his valuable contributions in the field of history and his career as a statesman and diplomat.

Mr. Richman, a keen student and fluent writer, was for many years one of Muscatine’s most prominent citizens. His historical works which delved mainly into the early background of New England and California brought him international recognition.

He was generally known as Iowa’s foremost historian, and the book that was probably his most widely-read contribution, “Ioway to Iowa,” was hailed by critics as an outstanding treatise of the founding and development of the state. Educated in the law, Mr. Richman achieved fame in an extensive field. He served as representative in the Iowa legislature for two terms and for five years served as the United States consul general to St. Gall, Switzerland.

Prominent in library work, he was active in the establishment of the P.M. Musser public library here and served on the library board of trustees as chair man of the book committee from July 13, 1903, up until the time of his death. He helped in the selection of the original collection of books for the library. The scholarly Mr. Richman also was active in the work of the Iowa association as served as president of the state organization.

He was born in Muscatine, Oct. 27, 1861, the son of DeWitt Clinton and Mary Berdine Richman. He was graduated from the University of Iowa in 1883 with a bachelor of arts degree and received his master’s degree from the state university in 1886. In recognition of his outstanding lifetime achievements, he was later presented with honorary degrees of Litt. D., from Brown university in 1904 and from Grinnell college in 1932.

Mr. Richman was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1885 and practiced his profession in Muscatine for a time. His marriage to Miss Elizabeth Green, daughter of Joseph A. Green, one of the pioneer citizens and bankers of Muscatine, took place on June 8, 1887.

Making his debut into politics, the Muscatine man was elected to the Iowa house of representatives in 1889 and again for a second term in 1891. He also served as temporary chairman of the Iowa state democratic convention that nominated Horace Boies for governor in 1889, and was democratic candidate for presidential elector in 1892. His career as a statesman began at the completion of his terms in the state legislature when he was named as the U.S. consul general at St. Gall, Switzerland. He served in this capacity for five years, from 1893 to 1989.

Two of his first books appeared during this time. They were “John Brown Among the Quakers and Other Sketches,” which was published in 1894, and “Appenzell – Pure Democracy and Pastoral Life in Inner Rhoden,” in 1895. The major portion of his writing came from his pen following the completion of his consulate service. His “Rhode Island – Its Making and Its Meaning,” with an introduction by James Viscount Bryce, noted English statesman and author, was published in 1902, and another book on the same state, “Rhode Island,” one of the American Commonwealth series, came out in 1905.

“California Under Spain and Mexico,” was published in 1911; “San Francisco Bay and California in 1776” for the John Carter Brown Library, in 1911; an article, “Rhode Island” in McLaughlin and Hart’s encyclopedia American Government, in 1914; “Spanish Conquerors,” one of the “Chronicles of America” series, in 1919; and “Ioway to Iowa,” in 1930.

Mr. Richman was a contributor to the “Dictionary of American Biography” and had been listed in “Who’s Who” both in America and abroad over a long period of years. He served as supervising editor of the History of Muscatine County which appeared in 1911.

* * * * * * *

Journal Editor Waxed Eloquent Over Festival
Hurrah! For the Fair.

With a spirit of deep enthusiasm the Muscatine Journal editor in the Aug. 31, 1855 issue, extolled the promises of the annual county festival. Here’s his story:

    If pride is ever justifiable the members of the agricultural Society may indulge freely in that weakness in view of the beautiful grounds and the conveniences thereon for the accommodation of the annual “Farmer’s Festival.” Many thought that the arrangements were as near perfect last year as could be expected in any county, but the experience of the past has taught the executive committee the possibility of still further improvements which are now being made.

    One of the prominent features of the grounds is the trotting course, which has been completely graded and very greatly improved, so if there are any fast horses, bring them to the fair and ‘g’lang.’ The circular fences or stalls inside of the carriage way are being moved to the outside of th4e same, adding much to the beauty of the grounds as well as convenience of all parties. The fruit tables will be protected in such a way that the exhibitors will not have to stand guard over them all the time to prevent thieving.

    A new gate is being erected for the entrance and exit of footmen. A new secretary’s office is being erected, convenient of access to committees and others having business in that department. In short, if you want to see the most beautiful, complete and systematic arrangements in the western county, come to the fair.

    We had not the pleasure of visiting the state fair last year, but have been informed that the institution falls far short of our own in both beauty and comfort. And by the way, so long as that system of determining the place of holding the state fair by taking a vote of the people en masse, neither the farmer not mothers in this part of the state can take any interest in it. If it is to be held in the same place two successive years without the citizens of that place giving one cent toward erecting buildings, etc., it ceases to be a sate institution according to the usage in other states, and the sooner it does out the better.

    * * *

    If the directors still follow the precedent of last year and leave it to the vote of the multitude it must forever remain in the immediate neighborhood of Fairfield. On this topic we may have a word to say at another time; at the present we have no doubt but the Muscatine County Fair will equal the state fair in any particular and surpass it in many.

    We understand that abundant provision has been made for supplying the creature comforts at the customary prices, to all who may need, and who will not when they see the abundance of the best eating in the world that will be furnished by J.A. Reuling and the ladies of the Presbyterian church. In order to accommodate the vast concourse of people the court house and other public buildings will be thrown open, and what hardy son of the soil, with a blanket or two cannot take a nap in such spacious dormitories. Unger’s Brass Band will be in attendance during the two days.

    Wm. Duane Wilson, Esq. editor of the Iowa Farmer, will deliver the address, and from his reputation, something good may be expected.

* * * * * * *

Favorite 85 Years Ago

Photo of old bicycle ~ Eighty-five years ago the odd-looking machine pictured above was the latest thing in bicycles and was considered by all who saw it as a marvel of mechanical perfection. Ernie Schaer, 510 East Ninth street, who owns the old-fashioned wheel, says that so far as he has been able to determine from old-timers, the bicycle when new must have cost around $225. Mr. Schear bought the wheel in Illinois.

The bicycle, a Pope-Hartford, is of the safety type and is propelled by means of a ratchet. It was called a safety because the arrangement of the gears makes it impossible for the little wheel at the rear to fly upward and over the big wheel as would otherwise occur in the event some obstacle was struck while the driver was pedaling at a good rate of speed. Such spills were frequent occurrences in the case of the simpler type of bicycles at that time in which they pedals were attached directly to the wheel and revolved with the wheel. The big wheel in the above bike will revolve in only one direction because of the operation of the safety device.

Standing 50 inches high, the rider finds himself in a high and precarious position when he attempts to drive the machine. The bicycle is believed to be at least 85 years old and possibly much older.

Several of the older residents of the city remember when this type was in vogue and some remember riding them. Despite its age, the bicycle is in excellent condition with the rubber tires and all except one or two of the spokes still intact.

* * * * * * *

Work of erecting the first church building of any denomination in Muscatine county, and the first Episcopal church in the state – The Trinity Episcopal – started. – May 6, 1841.

* * * * * * *

Two Muscatine companies of volunteers in the Civil War left for Keokuk where they were mustered into the U.S. Service on May 16, received arms and camp equipment May 18, moved to Camp Ellisworth near Keokuk on May 27, were transferred to Hannibal, MO., June 13 and to Macon City, Mo., June 20. At the latter place they lowered a Confederate flag atop the newspaper office and issued the first paper printed by northern soldiers on southern soil. It was named “Our Whole Union” and there was only one issue. – May 7, 1861.

* * * * * * *

Return to Centennial Table of Contents Page

Back to the Muscatine Co. IAGenWeb, Index Page

Page created August 4, 2012 by Lynn McCleary