Iowa farm in late 1800s near Arion, Iowa, in the Boyer Valley.

All That Glitters Is Not Gold: An Iowa History Tale

Civic leaders in Iowa in 1869 were proud of their state. It offered some of the most fertile soils and flourishing towns and cities. Railroads snaked across the landscape north and south and east and west. It was believed there were inexhaustible amounts of coal beneath the earth’s surface in Iowa.

Silo on an Iowa farm.

Silos That Last For Generations

Some considered silos indispensable to profitable livestock raising and dairying. Not only were they practical, the structures were considered an ornament to any farm. The conical silo roof, with its curved walls was said to add a very pleasing enhancement to any farmstead.

Iowans used flatboats to transport goods.

Sea Of Grass Covered 1830’s Iowa

“Everybody came from somewhere, as nobody was born and raised here,” John F. Fish said in 1914 when the elderly Wapello County pioneer sat down to visit with a local newspaper reporter. John was reminiscing about Iowa in the 1830s—before statehood.

Money

When Tipping Was Illegal in Iowa, And How A U.S. President Broke That Law

Waiters in the state’s restaurants predicted unsatisfactory service for patrons starting in July 1915 after a new law was passed by the 36th General Assembly of Iowa. The Anti-Tipping Law came into effect on July 5 and promised a misdemeanor for employees of hotels, restaurants, barber shops or transportation establishments who accepted tips. Both the giver and the receiver were subject to arrest, a 10-day jail term and a fine of not less than $5 or more than $25. Iowa History, a weekly column, appears at IowaWatch on Saturdays. Cheryl Mullenbach is a former history teacher, newspaper editor, and public television project manager.

Drawing of fireman titled “American Fireman, Always Ready.”

Dollar-a-Call Boys Get New Truck: Iowa History

“Fire! Fire!”

Arlo Everling, a guest at the Saylor Hotel in Harlan, Iowa, staggered from his second floor room at 1:30 a.m. on February 21, 1949. Nearly overcome with smoke, he raised the alarm. Twenty other guests were routed from their beds as smoke filled the rooms.

Iowa History, a weekly column, appears at IowaWatch on Saturdays. Cheryl Mullenbach is a former history teacher, newspaper editor, and public television project manager.

Typical travel trunks

Matilda Fletcher Defies Baggage-Smashers: Iowa History

“Baggage, Baggage-smashing, and Baggage-Smashers”

A Kansas newspaper ran a lengthy story about the disastrous experiences of train passengers entrusting their bags to railroad baggage handlers in the late 1800s. Iowa History, a weekly column, appears at IowaWatch on Saturdays. Cheryl Mullenbach is a former history teacher, newspaper editor, and public television project manager. She is the author of four non-fiction books for young people. Double Victory was featured on C-SPAN’s “Book TV” and The Industrial Revolution for Kids was selected for “Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People.” Her most recent book, Women in Blue traces the evolution of women in policing.