[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

[image ALT: link to previous section]
Chapter 13

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Ioway to Iowa

Irving Berdine Richman

published by
The State Historical Society of Iowa

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


[image ALT: link to next section]
Chapter 15

This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

 p235  Corn

[image ALT: A corn cob dressed up in the royal robes of a medieval king, with a crowned human head and a sceptre. It is hideous.]

King Corn

The State of Iowa was represented at the Sesquicentennial in Philadelphia in 1926 by a group of Iowa Corn Folk designed by Bertha M. H. Shambaugh.

Corn Mystical
Corn Practical
Epic of the Towns

 p237  Corn Mystical

The first man emerged from the water with an ear of red maize in his hand. — Legend of the Enk‑ka-sa‑ba band of the Honga-sha‑no section of the Omaha nation of Indians.

I do not know what Iowa's coat-of‑arms is, but it should be a well-filled ear of corn. What the pomegranate or bread-tree is to some countries, that and much more is the maize plant to Iowa.​163

Again the White Tide

Iowa by 1856 contained 517,875 inhabitants, and by 1860 there were 674,913. Up to 1850 there were in Iowa few native New Englanders, some 5535 — three in the hundred. Native Virginians alone were more numerous than native New Englanders; and so were native Kentuckians. Taking the native Southerners as a whole (30,954), they outnumbered the New Englanders almost six to one.164

But in 1856 (the year in which Iowa attained its population of 517,875) how stood its Southern and Northern elements then? The native Northern element (New England) had gained by nearly 13,000; but the native Southern element had gained by nearly  p238 24,000 leaving the Southern element still ahead of the Northern in the ratio of three to one. In 1854 when James W. Grimes, a New Englander, was chosen Governor of Iowa, James Harlan, a native of Illinois, was sent to the United States Senate. As late, however, as 1856, and even 1857, the Southern element in Iowa was strong.

Whether from North or from South, Iowans in 1856 were native Americans — with but eleven per cent (20,969) made up of Norwegians, Danes, Sedes, Hollanders, and Germans, with a few Hungarians. What is more, they all fed on maize, that is to say Indian Corn.165

The Blood Sacrifice

In 1838 in the Platte River Valley in Nebraska there dwelt the Pawnee nation, or rather confederacy, of Indians. Among these was the sub-tribe Skidi or Wolf. The Pawnees were not Siouan, as were the Otoes and the Ioways, but Kiddoan; and with the Sioux proper they were at war.

It was February. The Pawnees had captured Haxta, a Sioux girl about fourteen years old. The Wolf Pawnees had a custom of great age, strength, and sanctity that demanded the sacrifice upon the altar of maidens captured in war. Haxta, the Sioux maiden, was treated well. At each Pawnee lodge she was  p239 feasted and at each she received presents. Unconscious of her fate she was on April 22nd conducted to the place of sacrifice — an open-sky platform between two trees. Underneath it a fire was built. Two warriors then raised the victim, placing her directly above the flames. In this position she was held till she swooned, the village thronging around to view the spectacle. The warriors now discharged their arrows into her body, and when she was dead they withdrew the arrows, cut her warm flesh from the bones, and placed the pieces in baskets.

What next did the Wolf tribe do? They bore the baskets to a field newly planted with corn. The head priest then took from a basket a piece of flesh and squeezed from it on the kernels of a single hill of corn a drop of blood. Other hills were thus anointed, and the sacrifice was complete.166

The Pawnees held in awe the stars. There were two in particular: Red Morning Star (Tirawa), beneath whom they trembled; and White Evening Star (Atira), mother of all things — Mother of Corn. When the Wolf Pawnee sacrificed a maiden taken in war, he sacrificed her as a symbol of the First Mother, a symbol of Corn. In Ioway there dwelt no Indians of the Star cult, but peoples dwelt there who celebrated the planting and the ripening of corn.​167 The Sauks at least celebrated the planting of corn and  p240 its ripening. 'Our women', says Black Hawk, 'plant the corn, and as soon as they are done we make a feast, at which we dance the crane dance in which they join us, dressed in their most gaudy attire, and decorated with feathers. . . . When our corn is getting ripe, our young people watch with anxiety for the signal to pull roasting ears, as none dare touch them until the proper time. When the corn is fit for use another great ceremony takes place, with feasting and returning thanks to the Great Spirit [Mystery] for giving us corn'.

With regard to the Indians who dwelt between the Des Moines and the Missouri — the Ioways, Otoes, and a few Omahas — their celebration of corn (for they, too, celebrated it) suggests the fertilization by blood. The Ioways and the Omahas each held sacred the red corn. According to the Omahas the first man emerged from the water with an ear of red maize in husk; and as for the Ioways (Aruhkwa gens) they grew a red corn which was planted and tended by the medicine men. The Siouan tribes in general were wont to place red kernels with their seed corn to insure fertilization.168

 p241  Corn Practical

O hasten!


With four roots I stand.

Behold me!

O hasten!


With one leaf I stand.

Behold me!

O hasten!


With one joint I stand.

Behold me!

O hasten!


With yellow hair I stand.

Behold me!

O hasten!


With fruit enshrined I stand.

Behold me!

Green corn harvest was charmingly idyllic. 'Roasting ear time' it was called. 'From all directions came squaws staggering under masses of fagots and leading ponies likewise laden down. With the fagots huge  p242 fires were built. Then from out the corn patches poured children bearing unhusked ears. The fires were allowed to sink to red-hot embers and on the embers were thrown the ears in the husks. The atmosphere was everywhere saturated with the appetizing odor of roasting corn'.

The way of the pioneer with green corn was that of the Indian. 'Julys, Augusts, and Septembers of the first few years', writes a Des Moines Valley settler, 'found the grain supply very low. . . . So at the maturing of that first crop of corn I shall never forget with what satisfaction father was met when he came in with the first arm load of "roasting ears". . . . The milky ears were stripped out of their husks, these tied back, and the silks removed, and all strung on the jerk-stick over the fire: hot, crisp, and brown we munched it off without stopping for seasoning'.

When the Indian made corn into mal, he did so by pounding the kernels in a wooden mortar or by breaking them between two stones. The pioneer took his ripened corn to mill. But if the season were winter he would perhaps be forced to grind on his own account. He might own a hand mill, like the mills of Judea of old: two circular stones with a staff let into the upper stone, the top of the staff pivoting in a joist or board overhead.

 p243  But in Iowa the more usual home contrivance for grinding was the common coffee mill. 'The grinding of the flinty corn in the coffee mill', says a settler, 'was a slow process and hard work'. The mill had to be set so as to grind coarsely the first time, and when set closer the grist was run through a second time before it was fine enough to use. The time required to grind a one-meal grist for a family of four was three-quarters of an hour, and the head of the family was glad the family wasn't larger. In default of a mill an inverted carpenter's plane could be made to serve as a grater; or there might be pressed into service a perforated tin pan.

Corn bread and corn mush! Corn mush and corn bread! Corn bread and corn mush! Morning, noon, and night — corn bread and corn mush! Day in and day out, week in and week out, corn bread and corn mush!

'Be still, my Muse', exclaims the Burlington Hawk-Eye in the late eighteen thirties, 'be still and hush, Apollo tunes his lyre to Mush!' Wheat bread was a luxury; the flour, costing seven, eight, or ten dollars a sack, was indulged in only when the preacher or some other company came. 'It was longed for by the children'. And not only so. The Indians themselves longed for it, sometimes refusing to accept in its stead the all prevailing corn meal or corn bread.

 p244  Corn and the Iowa Northwest

Parts of Iowa were utterly naked. The settler in them dwelt literally nowhere. To chart himself, he must point to the stars. To reach him, one had need of the mariner's compass. These parts were in general northward of 42° and westward of the rivers Blue Earth and Des Moines. Perhaps the most definite index to this region (Iowa plains region, it may be called) was the sod house with fuel of corn or twisted grass.169

Prairie Iowa was lonely enough. 'I would sit', says a grandam, 'before the door and look out over the prairies and think that somewhere past the horizon there were other people. But the Plains! A young woman writes, 'My grandfather came from Michigan to Clay County [Iowa] in 1870. The journey was accomplished by rail as far as Storm Lake and thence by team forty-nine miles across a trackless space. "I think", said her husband, "we'll name our farm Paradise." They did so. In three years they added to the name one word — Lost'.

Northwest Iowa was lakeland. Calhoun County and vicinity in 1845 was charted 'a thousand lakes'. About these lakes grasses grew tall. Wild rye and panic or upland grass might attain three and a half feet; fine slough grass measured seven and a half feet; while coarse slough grass and iron weed grew to seven  p245 and eight feet. 'A man riding on horseback amid these tall grasses could in the low places knot them over his head and ride forth from under the knot'. The low places with the tall grasses were the nursery of fires — fires, the tossings of an Aztec host.

The Sioux

An Iowan of the Northwest feared the fires, but there was something he feared yet more — the Sioux.​170 These Sioux were Yanktons, and they ranged sharply down along the Des Moines River into what had been the country of the Ioways. Sioux we beheld at Prairie du Chien in 1825 when the Neutral Line (Iowa's 'Finger') was projected. The Sioux referred to were Mille Lacs tribes.

But the Yankton Sioux, just how close at hand have we seen a Yankton? There was a sterling example at the Prairie. This was Waneta, who said: 'I am the youngest here — You see my cloathing this is the way I have been raised — I live furthest off of any nation — I am from the plains'. This Yankton (or Yanktonai) thus youthful, thus naïf, thus engaging, one wonders about him, how deep was his red? May he not have been of a red that had been clarified? Sioux of this kind there were. 'Like most of his people', says Parkman of a certain Sioux of the plains, 'he was nearly six feet high; lithely and gracefully, yet strongly  p246 proportioned; and with a skin singularly clear and delicate'. With him was his daughter and she, too, 'had a light clear complexion', albeit 'enlivened by a spot of vermilion on each cheek'.


Certain Sioux (not Yanktons) who frequented northwestern Iowa were of a red deep enough. Sidominadota ('Red All Over' or 'Two Fingers'), led one band; and Inkpaduta or 'Scarlet Point' led another. In 1857, on March 7th, Inkpaduta with ten lodges of some fifty or sixty souls appeared in Iowa on the shores of Lake Okoboji. He came by the valley of the Rock (In-Yan-Yanke) or by that of the Little Sioux River — probably from South Dakota.

Loveliest of Iowa lakes is West Okoboji — 'Place of Rest'. Since November, 1856, there had been settled about this lake, and about Spirit Lake and Lake East Okoboji, six family groups: a Gardner-Luce group, and the family groups of James H. Mattock, Joel Howe, Alvin Noble, Joseph M. Thatcher, and William Marble — in all thirty-two persons. Between dawn of Saturday, March 8th, and eve of Sunday, March 9th, Inkpaduta, a savage of between fifty and sixty years of age, tall and lusty with 'deep-sunken and sparkling eyes', pock-marked and generally repulsive, killed every settler on the lakes, with wife and children, excepting  p247 the wife of Noble, the wife of Thatcher, the wife of Marble, and Abigail Gardner (daughter of Rowland Gardner), thirteen years old. These the Indians carried away with them.

To Heron Lake, Minnesota; to the Red Pipestone land; to the Big Sioux near Flandreau, South Dakota; across the Big Sioux to the far horizon; thither amid grass, grass; amid birds, wild fowl, bison, antelope; thither Inkpaduta bore Abigail Gardner. At the Big Sioux the wife of Thatcher was got rid of by drowning. Thirty miles west of the river, Marble's wife was bought by two Wahpetons. Near the river James the wife of Noble was killed with a club by Inkpaduta's reputed son Roaring Cloud.

At the James were the Yanktons (Waneta's people), one hundred and ninety lodges of them, clad in buffalo hides and carrying bow and arrow and club. 'I was', says Abigail, 'probably the first white person these Yanktons had ever seen. . . . They not only gathered around the door of the teepe where I was, but came in and looked me over, wondering and commenting on my flaxen hair, blue eyes, and still light though terribly tanned complexion. Some of my original captors would roll up my sleeves showing my untanned arms, and then explain that when they found me my face and hands were as white as that'.

 p248  Abigail Gardner was rescued by purchase. The price paid was two horses, twelve blankets, two kegs of powder, twenty pounds of tobacco, thirty-two yards of blue squaw cloth, thirty-seven and a half yards of calico and ribbon, and some small articles. Her deliverance was complete with the public bestowal upon her by a Yankton, who as escort had accompanied her from the James River to St. Paul, of a Sioux war bonnet — a cluster of painted eagle feathers rising above a close fitting cap of white weasel fur.171


For a dozen years after 1857, Inkpaduta, the 'demon of the lakes' became, it is said, the demon of the whole Northwest — the associate of the youthful Sitting Bull and the youthful Gall. His last appearance was probably in 1876 at the Custer overthrow on the Little Big Horn in eastern Montana. On the morning of that day General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Custer made his ride upon the Indian camp, Inkpaduta, then seventy-five years old and stone blind, was sitting on the banks of the Little Big Horn east of the encampment with two of his grandsons, and the three were fishing in the stream. The little boys were the first to see Major Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Reno's command as it came riding up the valley to hold the Indians on the south while Custer should come upon them from the north. They ran as fast as they could,  p249 encumbered with their blind and decrepit grandsire, and gave the alarm in time for Gall and Grass to come down and drive back Reno and then hasten back and exterminate Custer and his force.

At this time, and for ten years before, Inkpaduta had been blind and no longer regarded as a leader, for he could not walk without a guide. He and his two surviving sons fled with Sitting Bull to Canada, finally locating in southwestern Manitoba. Here in 1894 Charles Eastman found the descendants of Inkpaduta. The bloody-minded old savage himself had died miserably some years before and gone to 'his own place'.172

The moons of the Iowa Northwest were sickles for the wheat. 'Wheat', says a pioneer of Cherokee County, 'was the main crop early in the county history', and the statement is repeated by a pioneer of Clay County; while an O'Brien County pioneer says: 'Up to as late as 1880 it was discussed by our own people whether the country was a corn country'.​173 As early, however, as 1856, and in each of the years 1860, 1865, 1867, 1870, 1873, and 1880, both by acreage and for the most part by the bushel, Iowa grew more corn than wheat.​174 So predestined to corn was Iowa that the more the settlers of any section thought they were growing wheat, the more were they growing corn.

The State by 1860 ranked in quantity production  p250 of corn seventh among the ten leading States, Illinois ranking first. By 1870 Iowa had risen to second place (which it still held in 1880), and by 1890 had gained first place, distancing Illinois. In 1900 and 1910, Iowa receded to its old place of second in corn to Illinois; but it is to be noted that on the basis of the production per capita (the tell-tale basis) Iowa, as early as 1880 took first place with Illinois fourth.​175 First place, furthermore, Iowa occupies to‑day.

 p251  Epic of the Towns


The eighteen fifties saw Iowa's settlements on the Mississippi become towns — 'little capitals'. In 1840 these towns ranked in population in this order: Keokuk, about 150; Montrose, 200; Fort Madison, 700; Burlington, 1300; Bloomington (Muscatine), 600; Iowa City, 700; Davenport, 817; and Dubuque, 1300. By the mid-fifties the count differed. Keokuk had advanced to 5044; Fort Madison, to 1500 or more; Burlington, to 7310; Muscatine, to 3693; Iowa City, to 2570; Davenport, to 5203; Dubuque, to 6634. Then, too, on the Mississippi, there had risen Lyons with 163 souls; Maquoketa, with 300; while north of Dubuque there were stirrings at McGregor. As for the Missouri (bare of towns in 1840) it, in 1855, could boast of Council Bluffs with a population of nearly a thousand,​176 and of Sioux City with a population of perhaps five hundred.

Of Dubuque, Harper's Magazine wrote in 1853: 'It is charmingly situated', an opinion echoed in 1856 by the Des Moines Valley Whig. 'The bluffs', said the Whig, 'are the most magnificent we have observed. Dubuque bluff [burial spot of Julien Dubuque] is very  p252 high, perhaps 300 feet or more'. Charm, too, attached to Davenport. 'There are more fine mansions and beautiful grounds upon the Davenport bluffs', said a visitor of 1856, 'than I have yet observed anywhere West, not excepting that most delightful town in Illinois — Quincy'.

With regard to Burlington, Fort Madison, and Keokuk — they mirrored the South. In 1840 the Bloomington Herald observed: 'We prefer Burlington to any town . . . on the Mississippi, not excepting Davenport. . . . The style of the buildings is decidedly southern; one would suppose that the citizens were chiefly from the South. The houses are mostly painted white; almost every house has its plaza and porticos; and many of them, a gallery above looking toward the river with large windows. . . . The white houses give the city a striking effect as seen from the river, the bluffs forming a large amphitheatre and the houses rising one above another'.

But Keokuk! Keokuk!

'Away off west', the Rochester Daily Democrat (New York) wrote in 1856, 'where the twinkling of the Star of Empire can be seen by any far-reaching eye, perched upon the farther bluff of the graceful Mississippi two hundred miles above St. Louis, is one of the most attractive and progressive little cities this  p253 wonderful age has reared. . . . The levee with twelve steamers at the same time loading or unloading; wharf literally piled high with freight of all descriptions — wheat, corn, oats, potatoes; and intermediate spaces crowded with steam engines, boilers, plows, threshing machines, furniture, bar iron, hardware, hogsheads and barrels, sugar and molasses; movers — forty or fifty in a group — with their plunder. Scores of drays and wagons; streets in front of business houses lined with wagons in still greater number than on Main Street, loading out pork and produce and loading in groceries, salt, iron, etc., etc., for merchants in the southern and central parts of the State'.

As early as 1852 Keokuk had seen the erection of a group of business houses, one by the future Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Samuel F. Miller. Then, too, in the same year there had been founded a 'Library Association' to which a newly arisen book store stood ready to purvey Washington and His Generals; Central America — Chiapas and Yucatan; Don Quixote, illustrated; Prescott's Ferdinand and Isabella; Bibles; Presbyterian and Methodist hymnals. Already (in 1851) there had come from St. Louis the 'Amphitheatre Troupe with brilliant Drummond Light at evening performances'; and in 1852 Spaulding and Rogers' Floating Palace, equipped with 'a vast acquatic amphitheatre . . . with eleven hundred arm chairs,  p254 five hundred cushioned settees, and nine hundred gallery seats . . . involving an expenditure of a Princely Fortune'. Not yet did the Palace sport the Calliope; that came about 1857.

Business and gayety! Yea, and cholera! Houses! houses! was the cry. A plan of a house 'to cost $275, ready made in Cincinnati', was exhibited, which 'could be shipped in one week and put up in a few days'.

Keokuk in the fifties garnished its counters with Don Quixote and Ferdinand and Isabella; but even so the note of the West — the note of the future — was heard. Three there were who sounded it: Henry Clay Dean, Samuel L. Clemens, and Abraham Lincoln.

The Gate

In 1855 the Des Moines Valley Whig aroused St. Louis and Chicago by emphasizing for Keokuk the sobriquet (locally in use before 1850) 'Gate City'. The town, said the Rochester Daily Democrat in 1856, goes by the name of 'Gate City' — a designation doubly apt since the erection of the Keokuk Power Dam with gates rivaling the Gates of Gatun.


A gate city it was, and steamboats made it so. On the upper Mississippi above Keokuk there plied in the fifties not less than 350 steamboats, and if to these  p255 there be added steamboats on the rivers Illinois, Des Moines, Iowa, Cedar, Wisconsin, Minnesota, St. Croix, and Chippewa (all northern tributaries of the Mississippi), we have a grand total of not less than 500. Of these craft, Pennsylvania furnished at least 102 and Ohio 39. Iowa itself built six boats — one at each of the towns Augusta, Bellevue, McGregor, Burlington, Le Claire, and perhaps Davenport.177

In 1827 steamers were plying between St. Louis and Fever River (Galena) — thirteen boats. In 1842 there was formed the St. Louis and Keokuk Packet Line — a line of three boats. A trip to Keokuk was made in the autumn of 1842, and by the spring of 1843 the Line was running boats to Keokuk daily, except Sundays. Still the Keokuk Line did not operate above Keokuk; it did not send boats above the lower rapids — the stretch between Keokuk and Montrose. This part of the upper Mississippi (the distinctively Iowa part) was yet in 1850, as it had been in 1823, in the hands of independent steamboat owners — owners of boats such as the Virginia, the Mandan, the Red Rover, the Warrior, the Burlington, the Maid of Iowa, the Ione. The first regular company to attempt the conquest of the river above Keokuk was the Minnesota Packet Company, organized in 1847 or 1848, which ran boats from Galena to St. Paul. This company in 1857 coalesced with a rival company, organized  p256 at Dubuque in 1856, and, absorbing other companies, ran boats north from Galena and Dubuque as the Galena, Dubuque, Dunleith, Prairie du Chien, Hudson, and St. Paul Packet Company,​178 until 1863 when it became the North Western Packet Company.

Verily, Keokuk in the mid-fifties was the gate town — a town evoked by steamboats. 'No point on the river above St. Louis', writes a river captain of the latter city, 'exhibited [in these years] half the life that Keokuk did, especially during the low water [lightering] season'. 'My first impression of Keokuk', wrote in 1856 the editor of the Zanesville Gazette (Ohio), 'was that the citizens ought to quit everything else and build a mammoth insane asylum and all move in. . . . But up the river, down the river, back from the river . . . the city is stretching out. You would think the slave of Aladdin's lamp had turned city contractor. . . . The city grows because it can't help it! Virtually the Mississippi ends at this point. Hence, downward, there is free communication with the Far East; the Far West; with the Gulf of Mexico; with the world'.

Meanwhile Burlington, with a population of about 6000, led Keokuk by 2000. 'Figures', said the Burlington Gazette, 'can't lie'. 'If', retorted Keokuk, 'figures can't lie, the editor of the Gazette can'. Burlington — ex-capital of Wisconsin Territory; ex-capital of Iowa Territory; home of the Dodge Dynasty (Governor  p257 Henry Dodge and his son, Augustus Caesar Dodge) — Burlington, crowned with apple blooms, garnished with the rose, was undeniably smug. 'Ere Keokuk was, I am', said Burlington.

And Davenport! The town in Iowa, which by 1856 was the town of the future, was Davenport. Its population was 5203. The populations of Burlington and Dubuque were greater; but by 1860 Burlington had fallen behind Davenport and so had clamorous Keokuk. Davenport was confident. It stood squarely between the East and the setting sun, and knew the fact. 'Davenport', it said of itself in 1855, 'being directly in the line of the great backbone railroad of America connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific, and at the only point where for many years the Mississippi will be spanned, greater inducements are held out by Davenport than by any city in the State'.

Grimacing, each at other, the towns of Iowa fell a‑laughing. 'Burlington', laughed the Hawk-Eye, 'is the greatest city in ancient or modern times — it will be the geographical center of the world. Strangers who buy lots are warranted to double their money every thirty days or no sale. It is very probable that the National Capital will be removed here by the next Congress'. 'Muscatine', laughed the Journal, 'is a much greater city than Burlington and, of course, eclipses New York, London, or Davenport. It is situated  p258 on the Great Trunk Railroad reaching from San Francisco round the world both ways. The tunnelling of the Atlantic and the Pacific has already been contracted. [Meantime] from the Pacific coast our manufactures will be towed across the oceans by vessels of peculiar construction and with amazing velocity by whales in harness and returning will bring to our market the rich products of India'.

A House of Usher

'A man from Maine' wrote of Muscatine in 1853: 'There is a surplus of two things here which you find in most places — dry goods and lawyers'. Among the lawyers was William G. Woodward, from Boston. About 1852 Woodward took a partner, 'General' John C. B. Warde. Warde was 'tall, of good form, well educated and well dressed'. Withal he was 'singular'; 'the most singular man', says a pioneer, 'that ever visited our city'. The 'General' bought Muscatine town lots, two of which topped a headland over­looking the Mississippi — a site, Warde said, 'mete for a mansion'.

The mansion grew. Skilled masons and carpenters (western towns in the fifties abounded in them) laid the solid walls, wrought the shapely windows, shaped the stately chambers. The mistress of such a house (was there to be a mistress?) would be, could but be,  p259 noblesse. She would put up guests, hold assemblies, give balls. Down the first floor extended a hall and on the right there opened a reception room and a dining room. But the great room was on the left — a drawing room (it could be cleared for dancing) nearly forty feet long and over eighteen feet wide.

The house had features that were special. The roof was surmounted by a cupola whence might be scanned not only the Mississippi River​179 but Muscatine Island flat and far lying, proving ground for prairie fires. And there was a portico. The front door gave upon a porch reached by flowing steps, and above this rose four tall columns, columns crowned by voluptuous capitals and supporting a brow-like pediment.

Just as the house was finished so as to be under roof, its builder and owner, the 'General', disappeared. He had incurred debt. Whither he was gone, no one knew — no one unless it were his partner Woodward; and Woodward did not tell. To this day in Muscatine it is asked what befell the man who built the mansion on the hill. And who was to have been mistress there?

Perchance a moneyed widow?

Perchance a moneyed maid?

Mistress of the true House of Usher was the Lady Madeline. Would the mistress of the Warde mansion  p260 have been a Lady Madeline? Years fled. The mansion had as master a worthy man ('General', too, by the way), but for mistress no Lady Madeline. Then the eighteen seventies! Weary of waiting the 'House' asserted itself. To it there came its Lady Madeline. And the Lady having come to the House, the House came to the Lady. The basement stirred; the dining room flashed; the long drawing room gave audience. Audience to votaries: votaries of the voice; of the romance tongues; of the bow and strings; of the pipe; of the footlights. Audience, too, the room gave to public characters: elderly barons of predaceous wealth; governors of western States; deputies to European capitals; authors (Iowan) who did valiantly their own stuff: Girdle Round the Earth; The Bishop's Vagabond; Sherman's March to the Sea.

Muscatiners there have been (votaries of the Occult) bold to say that the Madeline of the seventies was in truth none other than the Madeline of the fifties — the Lady Warde reincarnate to possess her own.

General J. C. B. Warde

This fellow, like a bird of prey, mysteriously lit down in San Antonio about the first of January last, assuming the character and profession of a lawyer. With the voracity of a vulture, the greediness of a buzzard and the cunning of a hawk, he managed to secure the confidence of a number  p261 of our citizens and commenced his nefarious plan of fraud and deception. By a species of swindle he succeeded in pushing himself into the Ledger office and became the editor of this paper, giving obligation for the payment of the purchase money in a note at sixty days from date, signing the name of the present proprietor of the Ledger to such note, without his knowledge or consent. He made no provision for payment of such note when due and sought by every possible means to collect whatever accounts he could find, left in our office for collection, and appropriated the proceeds to his private purposes. After Warde's ejection from this establishment and after his connection with this paper had ceased entirely, he had the unblushing impudence and temerity to visit Austin and made collections (by his own acknowledgment) of a large sum of money which he kept and wholly refused to account for in any way whatever. We esteem it our duty to place the public in possession of the facts connected with his history in this city. He is a tall, slender, sallow-complexioned fellow, with a countenance indicative of crime, though he attempts to put on a dignified air, and convince the people by his careless impudence, that he is honest and trustworthy. We caution the public to beware. — From the San Antonio Ledger, May 19, 1853.

Steamboats Again

The cupola of the Warde Mansion dominated the Mississippi from an altitude of a hundred and seventy-seven feet. The tomb of Julien Dubuque dominated it from an altitude of more than two hundred feet.

 p262  Racing

The prevailing opinion is that racing on the [Mississippi] river is dangerous. The movies generally show an explosion of boilers as a natural feature of a steamboat race. This is all wrong. . . . The engineer, firemen, mate, and watchman are awake and alert on the main deck. The pilot is taking pains to do his very best steering. . . . I have never known a boat to explode her boilers or have any serious accident while racing. — Captain Walter A. Blair in A Raft Pilot's Log.

A famous race to St. Paul was run in August, 1858, by the boats Grey Eagle and Itasca — the one from Dunleith (East Dubuque) the other from Prairie du Chien. The object of the race was delivery of England's salutation to America on the completion of the laying of the Atlantic cable. 'Europe and America are united by telegraph. Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and good will toward men'. The time of the Grey Eagle to St. Paul (265 miles) was twenty-four hours and forty minutes — ten and three-fourths miles per hour. That of the Itasca from Prairie du Chien (205 miles) was eight and one-third miles per hour. Thus, the Grey Eagle established a new upstream record.​180 Of the salutation itself, the Keokuk Gate  p263 City said: 'Canst thou send the lightnings that they may go and say unto thee "Here we are"?'

Up to 1857 the fastest time to Keokuk from St. Louis (not in racing) fell to the steamboat Jeanie Deans — 'seventeen hours and thirty-five minutes', with three stops. But in 1858 this speed was exceeded. An early race above Keokuk (the earliest perhaps of outstanding length) was run in 1852 by the Nominee from Galena to St. Paul and return — 'seven hundred miles' — at an average speed per hour, stops included, of 'twelve and a half miles'.

In 1857 the boat J. McKee did the run from Oquawka, Illinois, to Muscatine, Iowa, (40 miles) in 'one hour and fifty minutes' — a ringing achievement, as 'a twenty mile clip' upstream was equal to anything ever done. But the course covered by the J. McKee was extremely short.

The Key City of the Minnesota Packet Company was a fast boat accustomed to lashing the broom of victory to the finial of the pilot house. Once, so it was said, she was so hard pressed in a contest with a lower river boat that 'flames burst from the tops of the tall chimneys of both craft'.

Show Boat

Spaulding and Rogers with their Floating Palace were at Keokuk in August, 1852. In May, 1855, another  p264 boat of the 'show' type — the Banjo — visited Mississippi points as far up as St. Paul.

Bring out de banjo, plunk-plank-plink!

The Floating Palace carried a stock company and was prepared to put on any play from Hamlet to Ten Nights in a Bar Room — the latter play just out. The Banjo carried a 'nigger show'. 'Great barges without power, the floating theatres were towed by steamers containing a lower deck for whites; a "nigger heaven" that was that in fact; a stage and dressing rooms which were also state rooms for the members of the acting troupe. The towing steamer contained the galley, company mess hall, laundry and crew's quarters'.

'The horn of a boat', writes an early Mississippi traveler, 'was echoed from both shores . . . with fine effect'. Later came the orchestra. 'The boat [Des Moines]', observed the Keokuk Gate City in June, 1857, 'came in last night with colors and good music. . . . A large company of citizens accepted the invitation of the Captain for an excursion to Hannibal and Quincy and shipped on board with music'.

The river music (the far echo of it) brings even yet to a daughter of Muscatine a memory. William G. Woodward, one time law partner of 'General' Warde, owned a house on the shore of the Mississippi. The  p265 house had a veranda. And to its ample floor, as boats of evenings drew into or out of port (boats with bands yearning forth this waltz or that), the youth of the neighbor hood gathered.


On February 21, 1925, the New Yorker announced that 'it is not edited for the old lady in Dubuque'.

After 1850 Burlington could proclaim a population of 4082 against Dubuque's 3108 and Keokuk's 2478. By 1856 Dubuque and Keokuk had doubled in population; but so had Burlington. Between 1854 and 1860 Burlington lost heavily and Davenport doubled; but so did Dubuque, though Keokuk did not. Indeed, in 1860 Dubuque led all Iowa towns — led Davenport by nearly 2000 and Keokuk by nearly 5000. For Keokuk, the sun of glory was going down.

The  Chicago Tribune in 1858 called Keokuk 'the deadest, dullest place ever beheld or heard of. . . . The first question asked on landing was "What time does the packet leave?" ' 'Keep a stiff upper lip', Keokuk adjured itself, and danced; danced, curled its hair, and spoke French.181

The Key City

Of Iowa towns Dubuque lay beyond the pale — the  p266 pale of moderate temperatures. In February, 1843, the thermometer was reported to have reached 40 degrees below zero. Yes, Dubuque was cold — cold and remote. Dubuque's aspiration (mania, it may be called) was to be a capital — preferably capital of Iowa; but, failing that, of almost anything. Had not the Dubuque Visitor said in 1836: 'We may with propriety anticipate that the day is not far distant when the town of Dubuque will be the seat of government for a new State to be formed West of the Mississippi and North of the State of Missouri'. And had it not said again in the same year, 'We should not think of Dubuque as it now is, but as it promises to be . . . when the lofty spires of the State House and churches shall glitter in the early rays of the sun, and the glossy bosom of the fair Mississippi shall swell beneath the weight of commerce'.

People, said the energetic John Plumbe of Dubuque in 1839, 'forget, or are not aware, that a continuous line of steam boats now runs from Du Buque, via New Orleans and New York, to Liverpool and Bristol, in England; besides another, from Du Buque to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where it connects with the great chain of Rail Roads and Canals across the State to the sea board. . . . I shall not be at all surprised if parties of pleasure should, this summer, be seen at the Falls of Saint Anthony, which will have come  p267 all the way from the city of London by steam! . . . Our climate is much more favorable . . . than some think who think we are almost at the North Pole'.182

Dubuque Resurgent

Iowa as a State was to extend north to the St. Peter's River. Up to 1845 this was fixed fact. In an Iowa thus narrow, Dubuque would not be uncentral. Hope for Dubuque! But for Dubuque disappointment! In 1846 Iowa was admitted into the Union with the understanding that the existing capital, Iowa City, was to be sacrificed to the city rising at the Raccoon Fork of the Des Moines River. On June 8, 1846, Augustus Caesar Dodge, delegate in Congress from Iowa, said: 'A very large portion of the people of Iowa believe and desire their ultimate seat of government to be upon the Des Moines'.183

Dubuque's chagrin was deep. Down and out! No, not quite. Manifestly the town was down, but it might avoid being out by not staying in Iowa. In 1844, at the Constitutional Convention held at Iowa City, Mr. Edward Langworthy had moved to amend the north boundary of Iowa so that it 'should run up the Mississippi to where the 45th parallel of North latitude crossed the same'. This motion, had it succeeded, would have made the position of Dubuque in Iowa central — commandingly so. Iowa would not only  p268 have reached the St. Peter's River but would have ranged beyond, grasping the Falls of St. Anthony. But the motion had not succeeded. What then? Why, let the Iowa north line be drawn a little to the southward of Dubuque's own limits and so give the latter a chance to become capital in a wholly new and different State — Minnesota.

Verily the mania of Dubuque to be capital of something was the mania of the American politician to be President. Save only that Dubuque went the politician one better. No Presidential aspirant had ever been willing to quit the country in order to be President elsewhere. At that, the actual Presidency once almost caught Dubuque up. In 1888 the office was ripe to fall to the town in the person of William B. Allison, and would have so fallen but for the anti-Iowa attitude of the Eastern magnate, Chauncey M. Depew.184

Dubuque the Kingdom

Arrived at Dunleith, opposite the kingdom of Dubuque. — Phelix Munchausen

Though not at the North Pole, Dubuque was yet Polar. It coquetted with the 'tremulous Aurora', with the path to the Western Sea, with the Fur Empire of the Sioux. Among other things Dubuque was a Mississippi River terminal.

 p269  Identified with it were steamboat captains: Orrin Smith, Joseph Throckmorton, Hiram Bersie, D. B. Morehouse. Said the Muscatine Journal in June, 1854: 'While the steamer Galena was descending the rapids above Dubuque, on a return trip from Minnesota, Miss Sarah, beautiful and accomplished daughter of Capt. D. B. Morehouse, took charge of the wheel and guided the boat under full head of steam for a distance of eleven miles. What would some of our dawdling effeminate would‑be belles of fashion say to that? Miss Morehouse can take our hat'. At this time the Journal was edited by Orion Clemens, brother of Samuel. Did Orion phrase the appreciation?

Lumber and Logs

Dubuque looked to the North. Timber was scarce in Iowa, and the North had timber. On September 3, 1836, Governor Henry Dodge of Wisconsin Territory purchased 'all of the most valuable part of the country owned by the Menomonees lying on the Fox, Wolf, Menomonee, and Wisconsin Rivers . . . upwards of four millions of acres of land'. 'The valley of the Mississippi', said the Missouri Argus in 1837, 'is [yet] supplied with pine lumber from New York and Pennsylvania'.

Rafts for Iowaland down the Hudson, down the Susquehanna, down the Delaware! Ho for a raft down  p270 the Mississippi! Not more than three years have elapsed, said the Bloomington Herald in June, 1842, 'since lumber was brought from the Alleghenies for the finish of our houses — now we see almost daily rafts of logs and excellent pine lumber floating down in search of a market'.

The Keokuk Gate City tells us in 1858 that 'the largest raft ever floated on the upper Mississippi passed La Crosse that year on the way from Black River to St. Louis. It was the greatest sight ever seen on these waters. The raft was manned by twenty-four Red Shirts, every man at his oar and every oar doing its work. The raft was five hundred sixty feet long by two hundred feet wide and the amount of lumber it contained was fully one million feet together with two hundred fifty thousand lath and two hundred fifty thousand shingles. There were two good-sized houses erected on board and the whole crew and officers consisted of a captain, twenty-four oarsmen, two cooks, one clerk and a bottle washer, a black bear and a bull dog'.185

'A great raft would come without a sound down the long Le Claire reach, drifting through the bronze, crimson, and dark-green without disturbing them by a single ripple' and then, of a sudden, there would float over the water the sounds of a fiddle, or maybe an accordion . . .


[image ALT: A musical quotation — instrumental.]

and we could easily make out the crew sitting in a semicircle rapt upon the solitary musician'.​186

Dubuque of the fifties was largely Dubuque the Irish. At a celebration of St. Patrick's Day in 1838 there were present: Quigley, Russell, Moore, Larkin, Gorman, Dougherty, Mullen, McCarty, Mullady, Foley, O'Hagan, O'Hare, Langton, O'Sullivan, Fanning, Shannon, Cahon, Tranor, Blake, Nightingale, O'Shea, Barry, Egan, Dunn, Corkey, Dorgan, Curran, Anarn, Newman — all of whom, though not on the program, responded to toasts.

However, the leading citizen of Dubuque in the eighteen fifties was not an Irishman but a Welshman — none other than George Wallace Jones, sponsor for Iowa in 1838. Since 1848, when Jones became first a General (Surveyor-General) and then a United States Senator, he had made Dubuque his home. There till 1896, when at the age of ninety-two he died, he was, says Charles Aldrich, 'as fastidious regarding the polish of his boots, the twist of his mustache, and the ringlets in his hair' as when 'gliding about the floor  p272 of the U. S. Senate in 1852, and throwing salutations to the beauties in the gallery'. Then, too, in the fifties, Dubuque was the diocesan headquarters of a notable primate, the Rt. Rev. Mathias Loras​187 — 'A bishop and a general!'

Dubuque (its French Bishop and its Welsh General aside) long carried an Irish impress. In 1854 the Miners' Express proposed for it the honorary name of 'Key City'. Why not, said the Burlington Telegraph, 'apply to "key" the Spanish prefix "Don"? or, better still the Irish prefix "Mon"?' Long yet ere Dubuque was to come into the honorary name of 'Old Lady'.

Thus far the epic of the Iowa towns celebrates not all the towns; only those of the Great River. When by reason of railroads the river lost its primacy, another group of towns (Cedar Rapids, Marshalltown, Waterloo) gained importance — communities which, flanking the river towns, did business eastward (with Chicago) over their heads and behind their backs.

The Railroad

At the end of May, 1855, there was in Iowa 'not a mile of railroad in operation, scarcely a rail laid, and not a locomotive'. But April 21, 1856, and with it the cry: 'We're over! We've crossed the Mississippi in a railroad car!'

 p273  With bated breath had the steps of advance been set down. Eighteen fifty-one (November), the Joliet Signal: 'The work on this section of the Rock Island Railroad progresses rapidly — 200 men and 60 teams are engaged between Joliet and Blue Island; it will be a thousand men by the middle of the month'. Eighteen fifty-two (early), the Galena Gazette: 'Great spirit is manifested by the directors of the Rock Island Road — so much so as to lead us sometimes to question whether the Mississippi at Rock Island will not be the first point reached by a railroad from the East'. Eighteen fifty-three (June), the Muscatine Journal: 'The Rock Island Railroad is graded nearly all the way from Peruº to Rock Island. Nine ship loads of iron are on the way from England — enough to complete the road. . . . It is expected that cars from Chicago will enter Rock Island by December 1, 1853'.

The actual date proved to be 1854, February 22nd. Not until June, 1855, did the Illinois Central reach Dunleith opposite Dubuque. Not until 1865 was Mississippi spanned to Clinton; and not until August, 1868, was it spanned to Burlington.

By July 19, 1855, the date of the coming to Iowa (by flat boat) of its first locomotive, the Antoine Le Claire, rails had been laid in Iowa, two and one-half miles west from Davenport; and by October twelve hundred, six miles north from Muscatine. Out and back over  p274 these six miles there was run, on the date last named, a train, the departure of which was proclaimed by 'shouts and waving of handkerchiefs'. Later (on November 20th) Muscatine celebrated a greater event.

A train of six cars drawn by a new engine, Muscatine, and bearing the national flag, passed over the road (to Muscatine), then fully completed. Guests had gathered from Davenport and Chicago. 'We celebrate', said the mayor Muscatine, 'the nuptials of Chicago and Muscatine. In the evening there was a supper: a mammoth cake five feet high and three feet in diameter; twenty kinds of meat; all varieties of game; pineapples, jellies, ice cream, peaches, and pears. The number fed was six hundred men, women, and children.​188 Noteworthy, in particular, was the presence from Rock Island of a man (Dr. P. Gregg) who had attended the first railroad celebration in England in 1825, and of an Indian (Rev. James [John!] Tanner) with six chiefs of the Chippewa tribe. Of Dr. Gregg a newspaper said: 'He plunged many years ago into western wilds and now the railroad has caught up with him. . . . He will doubtless live to see the first excursion train that will leave our great bridge — the gateway of the West — for the valley of the Sacramento and the Golden Gate'.

 p275  St. Louis vs. Chicago: River vs. Rail

Iowa — Apple of Discord

By 1840 there was beginning to be a food surplus in Iowa. 'Numerous covered flat boats', the Burlington Hawk-Eye announced, 'are going down stream daily laden with all kinds of produce. About one hundred . . . from Iowa alone have already passed here. Several have been built, laden, and sent off from Burlington'.

One Universal Squeal

Hogs were winning mention by 1840, and by 1856 it was observed that 'Iowa would bear the palm for hogs'. The roads were alive with them on their way to market. In fact, there was 'one universal squeal all along the Mississippi'. Wheat to be profitable required mills; corn required merely hogs. What, anyway, was a hog but 'fifteen or twenty bushels of corn on four legs'?

The population of Iowa in 1840 was about 43,000 souls. Of corn that year the total product was 1,406,000 bushels; of wheat 154,700 bushels; of cattle (for this item was becoming considerable) the total was about 38,000 head; and of swine about 105,000 head.​189 How much of this was 'surplus' we do not know, but what paid for the surplus was goods from St. Louis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and New Orleans.

 p276  'Satins, cassimeres, canton flannels, pink-plaid ginghams, fancy prints, French and English merinos, tambered Swiss capes and pelerines, bombazetts, Fairmount ticking and cotton carpeting, Mackinaw colored blankets, gray "bang‑up" coats, cloth, hunting frocks, blue and brown dress coats, brown, blue and satinette striped pantaloons, buckskin pantaloons, brown and green cloth vests, men's camblet coats, fancy stocks and shirt collars, fur capes and caps, besides steel, brass and polished snuffers, brass and iron candlesticks, Britania tea and coffee pots, straw-knives, spades, shovels and pot metals' — these items went to Dubuque.

Calicoes dark and light,

Shirtings bleached and brown,

Silks from black to white,

Cheap for money down

Knives and Forks and Files,

Wood-saws and Norfolk Latches,

Candle Sticks and Coffee Mills,

Halter Chains and Friction Matches

— these items went to Burlington.

By 1840 the corn crop of Iowa was 1,406,000 bushels, and the crop of hogs 105,000 head. By the end of the forties corn was 8,600,000 bushels, and hogs had mounted to 323,000 head. Wheat, it may be  p277 noted, had (quantitatively) fallen distinctly below corn, reaching but 1,500,000 bushes.​190 Wheat none the less was important. But why dwell on wheat? Corn was king! Corn in terms of hogs! And such luscious hogs! A survey of the whole United States was said to show only three towns ahead of Keokuk as Porkopolis.

St. Louis and the South

St. Louis swayed an empire. This empire in growing measure was Iowa, and the entrée was by Keokuk and the Des Moines River.​191 On the Des Moines, throughout the eighteen fifties, there were in operation to the advantage of Keokuk and St. Louis not less than forty steamboats. These boats were sternwheelers, mostly of light draft. So tiny indeed were some of the Des Moines River craft that they begat mirth. The Michigan, a very small boat, so the story runs, landed in 1856 at Keosauqua. 'How long is your boat to lie here?' the Captain was asked. 'About two hours', was the reply. 'Well, now, look here', said the questioner, 'my wife has never seen a steamboat and she is sick in bed. Can't you let me put your boat on my wagon, take it up to my house and show it to her? I promise to be back with it in two hours'.

Tiny as the Des Moines steamers were, they bore  p278 much freight. In the late thirties they carried to Iowa's interior flour ($18 a bushel), pork ($18 to $30 a hundred), corn meal ($2 a bushel), besides groceries, dry goods, and whiskey. From Iowa they took corn and pork. The market was St. Louis.

Chicago and the East

Iowa derived its supplies (a few bulky articles such as coffee, sugar, molasses, excepted) from the East: from New York, Philadelphia, Boston, even Liverpool and Havre. St. Louis booked the orders, but St. Louis must reorder from New Orleans, and New Orleans from the East — a long circuitous 'three thousand miles or more'.

But Chicago! In 1840 its population was scarce 4500 souls and in 1850 but 29,960. The population of St. Louis in 1850 was 77,860, and that of New Orleans 116,375. What built Chicago was railroads. Many came and oft. In 1848 the Galena and Chicago, a local line, came. In 1852 the Michigan Southern, an eastern line, came. The same year came the Michigan Central. In 1853 the Illinois Central came, and in 1854 the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific. 'By 1861 thirteen important lines with a combined length of 4,500 miles centered in Chicago'. Meanwhile in the Iowa region — Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri — and in Texas, Kansas, Nebraska,  p279 and Dakota, there were in 1850 but 131 miles of railroad; and in Iowa itself, up to the end of February, 1855, there was no railroad mileage whatever.192

The Rock Island Bridge

Railroad control in Iowa depended on one thing — the bridge over the Mississippi at Rock Island. In 1851 an Iowa rhymester had sung

I dreamt that I dwelt in Muscatine,

And of all the great cities she was the queen;

That Davenport's light was dim.

And I dreamt that a bridge of a single span

O'er the wide Mississippi was made.

And I also dreamt like an insane man

That the railroad there was laid.

But Davenport's light had not proved dim. It was Davenport to which the railroad had been laid, and this over a ridge not of 'a single span' but of five spans and 'a draw'.

What the 'five spans' stood for was the future — the locomotive. The 'draw' stood for the past — the steamboat. What then? Why, that a steamboat in May, 1856, enacting the rôle of the past, rammed the bridge (by accident or by design) and partly demolished it. The particular boat was the Effie Afton bound from St. Louis for St. Paul — a new craft worth  p280 $40,000 or $50,000. As the bridge fell by the impact of the Effie Afton, other boats — those in dock at Rock Island and Davenport — rejoiced aloud, turning loose whistle and bell.193

Rock Island, Ill., July 19, 1928 [Special] — The bell which heralded the approach on the Mississippi of the steamboat Effie Afton three-quarters of a century ago has been recovered from the bottom of the river. The Effie Afton sank on May 6, 1856, after striking the first railroad bridge to join Illinois and Iowa here.

Thereupon law suits — suits against the bridge. 'St. Louis', said Abraham Lincoln, speaking for the bridge, 'may desire that this bridge should not stand, as it is adverse to her commerce, diverting a portion of it from the river. Perhaps that city supposes that if the bridge is removed, the products of Iowa will necessarily be sent to St. Louis'.194

Corn, Iowa's foremost product, took enduring value from the bridge. Nothing, said Lincoln, could displease him more than the blocking of the Mississippi extending from where it never freezes to where it almost never thaws; but the demands of traffic from East to West were not less important. Such traffic  p281 was building up new countries with a rapidity never before seen in the history of the world. Look at Illinois, look at Iowa!

Before the day of the Rock Island bridge, and of Iowa corn at its apogee, the Burlington Hawk-Eye sang:

Carrots, parsnips, beets, and things like these

Are like to grow to the antipodes;

And Chinese thieves, if fame says true,

To rob our gardens, may pull them through.

But after Bridge Day what have we from the Iowa press? 'A farmer [in 1859], not far from Lee County, was absent from home Tuesday to Friday and found that his corn had grown twenty-four inches during that time. . . . Another gentleman avers that his corn has grown six inches in one day'. Later: 'Stalks of corn 16 feet, 2 inches high, grew in a garden in Keokuk in sixty-three days'. Later still: 'A stalk of corn was exhibited at this [newspaper] office measuring 17 feet. The owner has five acres of corn averaging nearly that height. . . . Iowa is famous for tall corn'. Little wonder the spontaneous tasseling of Iowa's lyric genius in its song about corn in 1912:

[image ALT: A musical quotation; the lyrics are 'That's where the tall corn grows'.]

The Author's Notes:

163 The Rev. Dr. M. Cohen Stuart, a Hollander, in Zes Maanden [six months] in Amerika, 1873.

In 1809, on August 28th, John H. Latrobe, architect for the Capitol at Washington, wrote to President Jefferson: 'I have packed up and sent to Richmond to be forwarded to Monticello, a box containing the model of the capital of the column of the lower vestibule of the Senatorial department of the North Wing of the Capitol, which is composed of ears of maize. . . . These capitals (p434)during the summer season obtained me more applause from members of Congress than all the works of magnitude or difficulty that surround them. They christened them "the corn cob capital".' These columns, Latrobe goes on to say, were modeled by an Italian workman, Giuseppiº Franzone.

In 1887 Sioux City reared a corn palace, a fantastic Moorish structure wrought into relief with colored corn and other grains. 'A wax figure of Ceres, clad in a robe of satin husks and baring a corn stalk scepter, stood upon a stairway of yellow corn'.

[decorative delimiter]

164 Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. VII, pp463, 464; F. I. Herriott's Did Emigrants from New England First Settle Iowa? pp30, 46.

[decorative delimiter]

165 Cardinal Goodwin's The American Occupation of Iowa, 1833 to 1860 in The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XVII, pp96 et seq.; Marcus L. Hansen's Official Encouragement of Emigration to Iowa in The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XIX, pp160 et seq.; Dan E. Clark's The Westward Movement in the Upper Mississippi Valley during the Fifties in the Proceedings of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Vol. VII, pp214 et seq.

As showing the rapid gain of Northerners upon Southerners in Iowa from 1850 to 1856, it is of interest to note that in 1850 the Southern element still led the Northern (New Englanders plus New Yorkers); not, however, in the ratio of six to one, but of two and a half to one. Coming to 1856, the gain of Northerners upon Southerners is so pronounced that the two elements virtually offset each other — Northerners (New Yorkers included), 53,521, and Southerners, 54,942.

[decorative delimiter]

166 Annals of Iowa, Vol. VIII, pp297 et seq.; Thwaites's Western Travels, Vol. XV, pp151‑154, vol. XXVII, p210, note 83.

[decorative delimiter]

167 Corn as a star and blood cult is discussed by G. F. Will and G. E. Hyde in Corn Among the Indians of the Upper Missouri (Little Histories of North American Indians, No. 5).

According to Mr. Charles Reuben Keyes, Iowa archaeologist, the Kiddoan culture, to which the Skidi Pawnee practitioners of the blood (p435)sacrifice belonged, was itself at one time probably represented in Iowa on the Missouri slope.

[decorative delimiter]

168 Red kernels are discussed by Will and Hyde in Corn Among the Indians of the Upper Missouri.

[decorative delimiter]


He twisted this hay-twisted twist with his fist

The wrist twisting, fist twisting, hay-twisted twist;

He twisted so hard by his jerks — you big liar —

He twisted that hay stack right into the fire.

[decorative delimiter]

170 On February 21, 1835, Dirty-Faced Bear, a Sioux chief, boasted that the Indians would cultivate corn as low down as the Little Sioux and did not thank the Government for surveying their lands. 'An Indian', writes a certain surveyor, 'hates a surveyor worse than he does even a settler or even a soldier. When the surveyor has passed over the land, measuring it off into parcels guided by his shining instruments, setting his monuments at the intersections of his trails the Indian feels a superstitious dread to step inside those bounds. The figures and letters on the post and surrounding trees, the chisseling on the stone, the hasty notes and scrawling diagrams . . . form a combination which the imagination of the Indian magnifies into some misterious "bad medicine".' J. L. Ingalsbe's Northwestern Iowa in 1855 in The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XVIII, pp275, 276.

[decorative delimiter]

171 Abbie Gardner-Sharp's History of the Spirit Lake Massacre and Captivity of Miss Abbie Gardner; Thomas Teakle's The Spirit Lake Massacre; Harvey Ingham's Ink-pa-du-tah's Revenge in The Midland Monthly, Vol. IV, pp269 et seq.; William Folwell's A History of Minnesota, Vol. II, Appendix 10, pp400 et seq.

[decorative delimiter]

172 Doane Robinson in the South Dakota Collections, Vol. II, pp237, 346, 390. Some of the conclusions of Robinson are questioned in Minnesota in Three Centuries Vol. III, pp266‑268.

[decorative delimiter]

173 By 1860, indeed, Iowa as a whole had won a place among the ten leading States foremost in wheat, ranking eighth of the list; and by 1870 it had advanced to second place. This, although in 1880 it receded to sixth place, and thenceforth, to 1910, appears but once (1899) among the ten leading wheat States, standing tenth. — (p436)Louis B. Schmidt's The Westward Movement of the Wheat Growing Industry in the United States in The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XVIII, pp396 et seq.

[decorative delimiter]

174 Iowa Historical and Comparative Census 1836‑1880, pp278‑295.

[decorative delimiter]

175 Louis B. Schmidt's The Westward Movement of the Corn Growing Industry in the United States in The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XXI, pp112 et seq.

[decorative delimiter]

176 Iowa Historical and Comparative Census 1836‑1880.

[decorative delimiter]

177 A descriptive list of boats plying on the Mississippi River and certain of its tributary streams between the years 1823 and 1861 was compiled (1928) by Captain Fred A. Bill. The list is largely based on information furnished by Pilot George B. Merrick. See also Merrick's Old Times on the Upper Mississippi, Appendix; Tacitus Hussey's History of Steamboating on the Des Moines River, from 1837 to 1862 in Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. IV, pp323 et seq.; Merrick and Tibbals's Genesis of Steam Navigation on Western Rivers in the Proceedings of the Wisconsin Historical Society, Vol. 59, pp97 et seq.

William J. Petersen, who has made a special study of steamboats plying on the upper Mississippi (to St. Paul) between 1823 and 1848, finds the total number (to the lead district) about 365. — The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. XVII, pp81 et seq.

[decorative delimiter]

178 E. W. Gould's Fifty Years on the Mississippi, pp513 et seq., 582 et seq.; Merrick's Old Times on the Upper Mississippi; Dayton's Steamboat Days, p357; Quick's Mississippi Steamboatin', Ch. VI. The History of Dubuque County, Iowa (Goodspeed Historical Association), p204, gives a chronology of boating and river commerce.

[decorative delimiter]

179 The Mississippi and the Rhine. — 'The river Rhine — famed in song and story — flows through a land that speaks of the past. Our own great river flows through fields, that to modern civilization, is yet new. It waters a virgin soil. The past of the Mississippi goes no further back than the sway of the dusky race, who have for the most part left its shores. . . . The songs of the Rhine are of beauty and of the past — there is a mournfulness in their tone, for they  p437 speak of glory grown dim, and of might that is not now. The songs of the Mississippi, if a fitting poet should arise and sing them, would speak of the present. Their burden would be living, active power in the process of gigantic growth; and noblest of all, they would tell of the might of labor and the triumph of science'. — H. D. La Cossit (Editor) in the Muscatine Democratic Enquirer, March 9, 1854.

[decorative delimiter]

180 Time made by steamboats in racing is at the best a matter of some uncertainty. The dimensions of the Grey Eagle as given by Charles E. Russell in A‑Rafting on the Mississip', p74, were 250 feet length, 35 feet beam, 5 feet depth of hold; she had four boilers, 42 inches diameter, with cylinders of 22 inches diameter, and 7 feet stroke. See also Petersen's Captain Daniel Smith Harris in The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. XXVIII, pp505 et seq.; Merrick's Old Times on the Upper Mississippi, pp144‑148, 272.

[decorative delimiter]

181 'Having received all the new and fashionable dances from New York and Philadelphia, Mr. and Mrs. Rogers are prepared to teach the art of dancing in all its various branches.' — Keokuk Gate City, December 11, 1857.

'Cream for hair of gentlemen and ladies: "Woodland Cream" highly perfumed and superior to any French article imported and for half the price. Causes gentlemen's hair to curl in most natural manner. "Balm of a Thousand Flowers".' — Keokuk Gate City, December 3, 1857.

'Classes in French by Madame Ducoste; for children $3 per month; for young ladies, $12 for term of three months, three times a week. Gentlemen's classes by F. Limet, $12 a course of three months, three per week. Classes open July 14, 1856'. — Keokuk Gate City, July 26, 1856.

[decorative delimiter]

182 Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. XIV, p600.

[decorative delimiter]

183 Pelzer's Augustus Caesar Dodge, Ch. VIII.

[decorative delimiter]

184 The Palimpsest, Vol. VI, pp265 et seq.

[decorative delimiter]

185 Marie E. Meyer's Rafting on the Mississippi in The Palimpsest, Vol. VIII, pp121 et seq.

It is Captain Blair's declaration that the largest lumber raft brought down the river from 1865 to 1915, when rafting ceased, was 270 (p438)feet wide by 1450 feet long. With the top load (lath, shingles, etc.) it contained nine million feet of timber. The largest log raft (1896) was 270 feet wide and 1550 feet long and contained about two and one quarter million feet. — Walter A. Blair's A Raft Pilot's Log — A History of the Great Rafting Industry on the Upper Mississippi, 1840‑1915, p203.

[decorative delimiter]

186 C. E. Russell's A‑Rafting on the Mississip', pp206, 213.

Of the perennial Iowa sunset Mr. Russell writes (p285): 'I do not believe there are such sunsets elsewhere in northern latitudes, not even on the Bay of Naples. Their only peers within my knowledge have been in the South Seas. The mirror of the river held the sky's burning and gorgeous colors, the unutterable bronzes and imperious reds, along with the Courbet green of the bluffs or of the willows on the tow heads, and there was an almost unearthly quiet abroad, a kind of competent and pervading self-sense of exaltation in so much beauty'.

[decorative delimiter]

187 Bishop John F. Kempker's History of the Catholic Church in Iowa, Part I, pp22, 23, 40‑58; B. C. Lenehan's Rt. Rev. Mathias Loras, D. D., First Bishop of Dubuque in the Annals of Iowa (Third Series), Vol. III, pp577 et seq.

[decorative delimiter]

188 Muscatine Journal, November 23, 1855.

[decorative delimiter]

189 Iowa Historical and Comparative Census 1836‑1880.

[decorative delimiter]

190 Iowa Historical and Comparative Census 1836‑1880.

[decorative delimiter]

191 'At Keokuk', said the Muscatine Democratic Enquirer in 1851, 'some of the people are selfish enough to wish that the lower rapids of the Mississippi may never be improved. If their wishes were gratified, navigation would terminate just above Keokuk'. Opposed to improvement of the Mississippi, what Keokuk urged was improvement of the river Des Moines. 'They think', said the Enquirer, 'that if the Mississippi rapids are not improved the whole upper country will become tributary to their power — subservient to their will'.

[decorative delimiter]

192 The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. X, pp260 et seq.

[decorative delimiter]

193 John C. Parish's The First Mississippi Bridge in The Palimpsest, (p439)Vol. III, pp133 et seq.; F. J. Nevins's (valuation engineer, C. R. I. & P. R. R.) Seventy Years of Service in the Rock Island Magazine, 1922, anniversary number.

[decorative delimiter]

194 John W. Starr's Lincoln and the Railroads, Ch. XI; Albert J. Beveridge's Abraham Lincoln 1809‑1858, Vol. II, pp301 et seq.; B. B. Brayton's The Crossing of the River: The Turning Point for the Railroad and the West in the Davenport Democrat and Leader, October 22, 1905.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 1 Feb 11