Recent Stories

Early Twentieth Century Iowa Woman Goes from Cattle Buyer to Vaudeville Performer

How many Iowa women could claim they had made a living as a cattle buyer and vaudeville performer in the 1900s? At least one—Ollie Northlane. Northlane was described as petite with a head of golden hair, only a bit over five feet tall and around 100 pounds in weight. Her physique was a topic of conversation because she had a job that typically was performed by men. And while it required a sharp negotiator, the position usually was filled by men who weren’t averse to slogging around in a barnyard.

Early Twentieth Century Iowa Woman Explores Brazilian Jungle

“An eerie feeling came over me. Suddenly a piercing scream of a dying animal was heard. What it was we did not learn,” Elizabeth Steen, a Knoxville native, told a Des Moines Register Magazine writer in September 1927. Iowa History, a weekly column, appears at IowaWatch on Saturdays. Cheryl Mullenbach is the author of non-fiction books for young people.