Our Iowa Heritage Index: 1846-1849.

As you can see, our growing website Our Iowa Heritage covers a lot of time (pre-1800 to the present) and a lot of people. We’ve written about famous people and the not-so-famous ones as well. Yet, despite a person’s prominence (or lack of it), everybody has a story. And as you read our posts, you’ll hopefully discover that everyone’s story is a good one. So, in order to better find these good stories and details surrounding them, we’ve added this INDEX of HISTORICAL ACCOUNTS to help you along the way. Enjoy your journey.

Our Iowa Heritage: An Introduction. We might suggest you start here! Here’s how & why I got started collecting stamps, coins, and other Iowa memorabilia.

1846 Iowa – A Field of Dreams. One historian writes: “The fertility of the soil in Iowa is unsurpassed—not merely by that of her kindred States — not merely in our Union – but throughout the world!And still the field is open – still the coffers of the earth are full, and he may help himself who will.” A Constitution is written and Iowa has now become the 29th State in that Union.

February 25, 1847 – SUI Begins With A Bang. Was it just a coincidence? Or was it a heavenly sign of holy confirmation? We report. You decide. On February 25, 1847, the Iowa Legislature, meeting in Iowa City, proclaimed that our state, only 59 days old at the time, would develop a university of higher learning, a place where doctors, lawyers, and other professionals would be trained for service to our state. Within a few hours of that proclamation, the heavens opened and the Marion Meteorite passed over Iowa City before striking the ground with a mighty boom. Let it be. S.U.I. Amen.

SUI – The Early Days 1847-1860.  On February 25, 1847 the State Legislature, meeting in the Old Stone Capitol in Iowa City, approved the recommendation that the State of Iowa sponsor a new University. While the idea might have sounded very lofty, making the dream into a reality was quite another story. Here’s some of the details behind those first 13 years when the State University of Iowa barely survived!

1847 – Go West, Young Doctor, Go West. When Iowa became the 29th State in the Union, it was the place young entrepreneurs back East dreamed of. Here is the fascinating story of one of those dreamers, a doctor from Massachusetts, who ended up coming to Lyons, Iowa, and serving as a surgeon during the Civil War.

1848 – Iowa City’s Hum-Dinger of A Bell Story. In the late summer of 1848, all hell broke loose in Iowa City as the recently-dismissed Rev. Michael Hummer climbed into the belfry of the Presbyterian Church, trying to “recover” the bell he believed to be his. While his efforts failed, it left one great story for bell-lovers, Iowa City historians and church-goers alike.

1849 – Show Me the Money. Jonas Wescoatt served as Clerk of the District Court in Monroe County, Iowa. In 1849, he wrote to Josiah H. Bonney, Iowa Secretary of State in Iowa City, asking for an $18.59 reimbursement for county expenses. Wescoatt and his brothers went on to become key settlers of both Lucas and Monroe Counties in southern Iowa, but in 1853, while still a county judge, he headed west, hoping to cash in on Gold Fever by bringing a herd of Iowa cattle to California.

An Evening At The Movies – St. Louis – 1849. Between 1846 and 1850, concert houses and opera halls across the country debuted “moving panoramas,” a creative precursor to motion pictures which featured a massive moving canvas as tall as 12-feet high and up to a half-mile long, depicting artistic vistas of the Mississippi River Valley. Henry Lewis, a self-taught artist and entrepreneur, developed one of the most impressive panoramas, debuting it in St. Louis in 1849 before taking it throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe over the next five years. Lewis’ thirteen scenes of Iowa provide iconic views of the Hawkeye State soon after Statehood.

Old Capitol’s Stairway To Heaven. While Iowa’s new capitol building opened for business in 1842, it took another seven years before the second floor was fully accessible. In 1849, a beautiful reverse-spiral staircase was finally completed and with it the most iconic building in Iowa gained not just a flight of stairs but an architectural classic that still amazes visitors today.


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