Our Iowa Heritage: The 1870’s in Iowa City.

University Square – Circa 1870.
1875 iowa city map
1875 Map of Iowa City published by A.T. Andreas in his large atlas.
Click here for more early maps of Iowa City.
A.T. Andreas Plan of Iowa City, Johnson Co. (with) Plan of Marengo, Iowa Co. (with) Plan of Le Claire, Scott Co. Chas. Shober & Co., props., Chicago Lith. Co. (Published by the Andreas Atlas Co., Lakeside Building, Chicago, Ills. Engraved & printed by Chas. Shober & Co., Props. of Chicago Lithographing Co.) Click here for more early maps of Iowa City.
(C-0233) A beautiful embossed cover and 4-page letter to Mrs. Prudence M. Thompson of Oasis, Iowa in Johnson County – postmarked in Iowa City on March 3 (circa 1870-1871). The Oasis post office operated from 1864 until 1871, when its name was changed to Graham; however the name changed back later in 1871, and the post office was operational until 1920. Once a stop on the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern Railway, it is now part of the Iowa City metro area, and as of 2005, the town had a total population of 20!
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(C-0040) Matthew Cavanagh – Postmarked in Iowa City on Sept. 27 (circa 1870-1871)

Matthew Cavanagh (1832-1927), Iowa City Attorney/Mayor & The Cavanagh/Zetek House. This cover comes from the law office of Matthew Cavanagh (1832 – 1927) and is postmarked in Iowa City on Sept. 27 (circa 1870-1871). Cavanagh was the son of James Cavanagh (1806-1880), native of Ohio who moved to Iowa City in 1840; a farmer who was also involved in local politics. James Cavanagh built this home at 704 Reno Street in 1870 and after his death (1880), his wife Amy lived there until 1902. The house was then sold to Joseph Zetek and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.  Matthew Cavanagh, James’ son, engaged in the practice of law and real estate, and was born May 12, 1832 in Cass County, Michigan. He was married September 1858 to Mary Fellows of Lee County, Illinois. Matthew and Mary both graduated from Cornell College and Matthew was admitted to practice law in Iowa in 1861. He was Sheriff of Johnson County, Township Trustee, a member of the City Council (1862), Mayor of Iowa City (1878-1879) and a member of the Iowa City School Board and its President. He died October 13, 1927 at the age of 95 and is buried in Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City.

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(P-0008) 1873 1¢ Lady Liberty Postal Card postmarked in Iowa City on Sept. 18, 1873 
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(C-0041) Postmarked in Iowa City on November 12, 1877.
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(C-0042) Postmarked –  February 4, 1879 in Iowa City.
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(C-0042) Star Grocery – Willard J. Welch, Proprietor. Wholesale & Retail Grocery on Dubuque Street.
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(C-0042) The backside of our envelope obviously has a “shopping list” for groceries.

Other 1870’s Highlights…

On November 11, 1876, Harper’s Weekly featured a massive supplement edition highlighting displays from the Centennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia. On page 921, the State of Iowa Exhibit was highlighted with two engravings featuring the soils and products of Iowa.

The Centennial International Exhibition of 1876, the first official World’s Fair in the United States, was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from May 10 to November 10, 1876, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Officially named the International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures and Products of the Soil and Mine, it was held in Fairmount Park along the Schuylkill River on fairgrounds designed by Herman J. Schwarzmann. About 10 million visitors attended, equivalent to about 20% of the population of the United States at the time.


A.T. Andreas map of Iowa City, Andreas Atlas Company, 1875

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