Iowa History, a weekly column by Cheryl Mullenbach exploring Iowa history, will appear on IowaWatch on Saturdays. 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.” Visit her website at http://www.cherylmullenbachink.com/.
In the 1850s little boys wanted to be stagecoach drivers when they grew up. Perched high on the seat, in control of a team of high-spirited horses, racing through the countryside—a stagecoach driver’s job looked pretty glamorous to the typical 10 year old.
“I never had a rude word from a soldier in my life. I’ve met rebuffs from steamboat captains and paymasters and that kind of fish, but never from one of the boys!” Aunt Becky Young told a reporter with the Chicago Tribune in 1888.
A good percentage of the 293 people living in Bristow, Iowa, in 1936 gathered at the Opera House on Tuesday, Sept. 29. The Mason City Globe Gazette covered the event honoring a hometown native son. Clayton Folkerts had just returned from several national air races where his plane, “Folkerts’ Special,” had captured some impressive prizes.
When former Iowa governor Leslie Shaw was chosen by President Theodore Roosevelt as his secretary of the treasury in 1902, Iowans were prepared to see his name in the national headlines. He grabbed headlines, but not always because of his actions as the treasury department head.
Farmers in the Charles City area threatened to take their business to neighboring towns if the Improvement Association removed the hitching posts in the city park. But the 45 women who had formed the new association in 1903 weren’t about to back down. Before long the hitching posts were gone and only a fading memory. The hitching post removal had been a hard-fought victory for the women, but it was only one of many improvements they planned for the town over the next ten years. Number one on the list was to beautify the city’s only public park.
In May 1862 a group of 12 men from Clear Lake traveled to Cedar Falls to enlist in the Union army. Among the group who were willing to join the fight to preserve the Union during the Civil War were two brothers, Winslow Casady (W.C.) Tompkins and Caleb Tompkins.
No, the Red Cross would never solicit donations through chain letters. And the public should immediately destroy any of those bogus letters they received in the mail. Conditions at Camp Dodge near Des Moines, where thousands of boys from across the Midwest were training as soldiers were better than at many other military camps around the country, despite rumors. And that woman from southern Iowa who had helped spread juicy bits of scandal about the camp was headed for an appearance in front of a federal grand jury. The country was at war in 1917, and military leaders were busy tamping down negative press.