Our Iowa Heritage: The 1860’s in Iowa City.

1868 – A Bird’s Eye View of Iowa City by A. Ruger, Chicago Lithographing Co.
Click here for more early maps of Iowa City.
1-1866-pentacrest copy
1860 Wetherby photo. (Click here to read more about Issac Wetherby)
1860’s Clinton Street w/ fenced University Square on the left.
Click here to read more about Clinton Street in the 1860’s.
(C-0213) This rare 1860 cover is addressed to Caroline or Solomon Riley in Iowa City and includes the oldest US postage stamp in our collection (US #11a). The letter is postmarked August 11, 1860 in Chillicothe, Ohio and is, most likely, from family back home. Solomon H. Riley was born July 11, 1828 near Chillicothe (Ross County), Ohio and Caroline M. Welsh was born there on February 7, 1836. They were married in 1852 in Chillicothe. Below are both Solomon’s and Caroline’s obituaries, which give us a good amount of detail about these two early Iowa City pioneers and their lives together.
Interesting notes on Solomon Houseworth Riley: At age 22, Solomon came to Johnson County, walking here from central Ohio, and settling (September 20, 1850) on farmland, that is today, Coralville. Two years later (Spring 1852), he returned to Chillicothe to marry his bride, Caroline M. Welsh (age 16), only to immediately bring a wagon-load of belongings, settling in Madison Township (near North Liberty) and living there until 1882, when health issues made them relocate into Iowa City. Apparently there were two children, Josephine Melissa (Raper) (1853-1935), and an adopted son, Carl Hanson (dates unknown). Solomon died at age 72 on August 7, 1900.
Caroline M. (Welsh) Riley lived another 26 years after Solomon died (1900) passing on September 3, 1926, at age 90. From Caroline’s obit it appears that she returned to Ohio sometime between 1852 and 1857, most likely, to care for aging family. She returned to Iowa in 1857 where they spent the remainder of their time together in Johnson County. Suffice to say, both Solomon and Caroline were, as his obit states, “noble old pioneers who made the west, (both) of simple life and transparent character.
Solomon and Caroline Riley are buried in Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City.

(L-0005) Two-page excerpt from a 1861 publication – featuring Iowa City, Iowa
The Republican was one of the primary newspapers in Iowa City in the 1860’s.
1863 Etching of University Square.
1869 Wetherby photo
1869 Wetherby photo

Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.

Map – Bird’s Eye View of Iowa City, A. Ruger, Chicago Lithograph Co., 1868

Iowa As It Is – A Gazetteer for Citizens and Handbook for Immigrants, N. Howe Parker, 1855

Solomon H. Riley, Find-A-Grave

Caroline M. (Welsh) Riley, Find-A-Grave

Caroline M. (Welsh) Riley, My Heritage

Samuel J. Kirkwood, Wikipedia

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