In the early 1900s a man could make a living as a rat catcher.

Iowa’s Most Wanted List In 1911

The rat, mice, and ground squirrel populations of Iowa were about to be drastically reduced if the state department of health commissioner had his way. In December 1911 Dr. Guilford Sumner issued a statement that was circulated throughout the state. He wanted to exterminate every rodent that potentially carried the bubonic plague, cholera or leprosy.

Wright County, Iowa, map from 1885

Iowa History: A Real Western Suffragette

In August 1910 the St. Louis Dispatch newspaper devoted a full page to a “Real Western Suffragette.” The reporter was writing about Carrie Vaughn Anderson, a former school teacher who was running for county recorder in Wright County, Iowa.

A corn field in Jasper County, Iowa is shown circa 1939.

Iowa History: State Fair of 1868: Gloomy, But Motivational

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. Visit her website at: www.cherylmullenbachink.com

The Iowa State Fair of 1868, the 15th annual, was a disappointment in some ways.

An American Red Cross nurse at a railroad station in St. Etienne, helping wounded soldiers in July 1918.

Iowa History: Iowa’s Gold Star Women

“There is a handsome bronze tablet in the Army and Navy building in Washington, memorializing the mules and horses who died in the war; but nowhere is there found a record of the women who died,” declared Helen C. Courtney, a member of the Women’s Overseas Service League. The organization led an effort to establish a memorial for women who died in World War I, including a list of 161 names of “gold star women.” Among the names were several Iowans.

Eugene Ely, photo circa 1911

Iowa History: Iowa’s World-Known Air King

“Eugene Ely Fatally Injured in Airship Accident.” In July 1910 newspaper headlines announced the death of the Iowa native. However, it turned out the reports were greatly exaggerated.

A postcard from around 1900 shows the Iowa Institution for the Education of the Blind in Vinton, Iowa.

Iowa History: Gov. Shaw Wants Salary Increase

Iowa’s Governor Leslie M. Shaw delivered his annual message to the legislature and the citizens of the state in January 1900. He had a number of items on his mind, and he wasn’t shy about making his ideas known. The text of his speech was splashed in newspapers throughout the state.

An 1898 print shows the "U.S.S. Merrimac", a cargo ship, under fire as it passes between fortifications at the entrance to Santiago de Cuba Bay, Cuba, during the Spanish-American War.

Iowa History: War Hero Not Trying to Get Kissed

I’m not going around trying to get kissed. I haven’t done anything brave. No one but a darned fool would have gone on that Merrimac trip.” Stuart, Iowa, native Osborn Warren Deignan was being modest when he claimed he hadn’t done anything brave. Most Americans in 1898 disagreed with the Spanish-American War hero when it came to his statement about bravery.

A 1908 Model T Ford is pictured.

Iowa History: Rubber Neck Jaunts In Eastern Iowa

In February 1910 a small group of individuals in Iowa City formed the Iowa City Automobile Club which allowed them the opportunity to enjoy the sights around the eastern part of the state. Their “rubber neck wagon jaunts” took them to various small communities where the sight of automobiles was not an everyday occurrence.