Our Iowa Heritage: The 1890’s in Iowa City.

1897 – the first street paving project in Iowa City. The corner of Washington and Clinton across the street from University Square. Click here to read more about Clinton Street in the 1890’s.
Circa 1897 – Speedy Delivery!
(C-0049) Postmarked 6 PM –  February 17, 1893 in Iowa City, arrived in Chicago – Postmarked 10 AM – February 18, stamped “MAIL DELAYED – TRAIN LATE”
231a-1893
(C-0049)
These 1893 Columbian stamps were part of the very first US commemoratives celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of the New World.

(BH-114) The Iowa Columbian Commission issued a 438-page published report at the 1893 World’s Columbian Expedition in Chicago. Our hardcover volume is a very rare copy signed by S.H. Mallory, Commission Executive Committee.


The Iowa City – Shrader Connection – Charles C., Dr. John C., and William E.

(C-0050) Note the return address on this cover shows that Charles C. Shrader, Esq. of Iowa City was a “Stamp Collector.” This unique cover was postmarked in New York City – November 29, 1895 and the postmarked again upon its arrival in Iowa City – December 1, 1895. This cover is the first in a series of stamps & embossed envelopes commemorating the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of the New World. The stamp illustration shows Columbus sighting land. The embossed envelope features a bust of Columbus & Lady Liberty.

Charles C. Shrader was the youngest son (born 1860) of Dr. John C. Shrader. Records don’t indicate how old Charles was when he died, but we know he would have been 35 when he was a “stamp collector” in Iowa City, probably living in his parent’s home. Charles is buried in Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City.

(P-0212) 1897 – Come to the Johnson County Fair – August 23-26! – This unique advertising card was distributed to children in Iowa City to encourage them to bring parents, teachers, and “all your friends” to the 1897 Johnson County Fair, especially on Children’s Day – Tuesday, August 24 (free admission for “Scholars” under 15 years old!)

Dr. John Clinton Shrader – One of founders of the Department of Medicine for the State University of Iowa, Dr. Shrader specialized in medicine for women and children. He served as President of Iowa’s State Board of Health and he also served two terms in the state legislature.

Interestingly enough, our card comes from the Johnson County Fair President – Dr. J.C. Shrader. Dr. Shrader (1830-1906) was one of the founding doctors of the University of Iowa School of Medicine in 1870, and his oldest son, William Edwin Shrader (1858-1933) opened Shrader Drug Company in Iowa City in 1899 (see pics below). Both Dr. Shrader and William are buried in Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City, along with Charles.

266-267-1898 CR IC Davnpt
(C-0051) The letter is postmarked in Cedar Rapids on March 21, 1898 (Postmark 1 – US #266). Received in Iowa City on March 22 (Postmark 2) in Iowa City, but marked ‘unclaimed.’ The letter was sent back to The Dental Department.
266-267-1898 CR IC DavnptB
(C-0051) One month later, The Dental Department re-mailed the letter using a second stamp (US #267), postmarked in Iowa City on April 25 at both 8:30 am (Postmark 3) and 9 pm (Postmark 4). After 24 hours of hunting for Dr. Baker, the post office finally forwards the letter to him in Davenport, postmarking it on April 26 at 9 pm (Postmark 5). The letter finally arrives in Davenport on April 26 at midnight (Postmark 6)! Whew!
266-267-1898 CR IC DavnptA
(C-0051)
(C-0052) An interesting business letter, dated January 22, 1898, from P. J. Regan, Proprietor of Iowa City Nurseries (established in 1849) “The Oldest and Most Reliable in the State” to Frank O. Harrington of York Center, Iowa, stating an additional “fifty Ben Davis and fifty Willow Twig” (apple trees) will be added to his original order. York Center is in SW Iowa, in Pottawattamie County (Council Bluffs area).
(C-0052)

(P-0239) This colorful “business card” from the 1890’s featured the Charter Oak Stoves and Ranges sold exclusively in Iowa City at Maresh & Holubar.

Charter Oak Stove Company, of St. Louis, Missouri, came into business in 1885. Giles F. Filly, founder of the company, designed and invented wood stoves impressing the owners of the Excelsior Manufacturing Company, who saw great opportunities for expansion. The manufacturing company and equipment was turned over to Giles F. Filly, while the Fisher family (owners of Excelsior), relocated as a hardware business in Quincy, Illinois. Stoves, made in St. Louis, were then shipped to the Fisher’s up the Mississippi River, and from there Excelsior distributed the products throughout the country. 

Almost all households owned two wood stoves, one for cooking and one for heating, so the wood stove sales were thriving even in the smallest of towns. It was not uncommon in these times to see a boat going down the river with smoke coming from a wood stove to heat the occupants in the winter months. The Charter Oak Stove Company had many productive years until it finally closed its doors in 1949.


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

Iowa at the World’s Columbian Exposition – Chicago 1893, Iowa Columbian Commission

Antique Wood Burning Stoves, Firewood-For-Life.com

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