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/.
It was about 1:30 in the morning on October 28, 1902, when Prairie City dentist, Dr. S. B. Gidford, woke up in his room across the street from the bank. As he stuck his head out a window, a “loaded 44-caliber Colt” was “presented to his face” by a stranger who told him his life was “worth less than 30 cents.”
“Aside from the overt criminal acts described and a too liberal use of profanity, my life has been approximately pure and correct,” Polk Wells said from his prison cell at Anamosa, Iowa. And he swore he never used liquor or tobacco.
Experts said Hope Glenn had a rarely beautiful contralto voice, a winsome face and a graceful physical presence, helping this Iowan become a celebrity in 19th century opera houses in America and Europe.
When Nixon “Nick” Denton died in January 1878, his friends in Manchester, Iowa, reminded people of a story Nick liked to tell about an encounter he had with a man who became president of the United States. Nick had been involved in the building of the Illinois Central Railroad (ICRR) through Iowa in the 1850s. He had been hired by the company to survey land, and he was superintendent of construction of the lines. He had a sterling reputation, and a newspaper described him as “one of the noblest looking men in the state.”
Iowa History, a weekly column, appears at IowaWatch on Saturdays. Cheryl Mullenbach is a former history teacher, newspaper editor, and public television project manager.
In an era of “entirely too much reckless driving,” Ripley’s “Believe it or Not” cited Eva Jordan for achieving an “enviable record of safety,” having driven a million miles—with no accidents. That’s only part of her story, though.
“I am hating war and the conditions which make it possible more as each day goes by, and I hated it strongly before I even left America.” Cedar Rapids Gazette editor Verne Marshall was writing from the front lines of France in 1916.
“I always know everyone is enjoying the dinner if nothing is said,” an Iowa homemaker said. “If it isn’t all right I hear about it.”
It would have been easy for an Iowa homemaker to become discouraged in 1924. After all, it was her responsibility to establish a home “which is loved by all its members” according to an Iowa State College publication called The Iowa Homemaker. Iowa History, a weekly column, appears at IowaWatch on Saturdays. Cheryl Mullenbach is a former history teacher, newspaper editor, and public television project manager.
“Go away from town and get the news,” Collier’s Magazine advised its readers in 1910. With that in mind, the magazine traveled to an Iowa farm to feature a farmer who had earned an annual income of $6,000 after expenses. Fred McCulloch of Poweshiek County had kept meticulous records related to the management of his 325-acre farm. His detailed charts and tables included information about the exact cost of planting, caring for and harvesting his grain, as well as the number of hours of labor expended by man and horses. He claimed many of his acres netted as high as $18.50 per acre, while his field of timothy made a loss of $3.06 per acre.
The residents of Eldon, Iowa, couldn’t believe what they were hearing. One of their most respected citizens had been arrested for the robbery of the local bank. But it had to be true; a detective with the famed Pinkerton Detective Agency had solved the mystery that gripped the community for months. In the early morning hours of February 1, 1897, nitroglycerin had been used to blow the brick vault in the bank to smithereens. When Pinkerton detective W.F. Forsee arrived on the scene, he determined that the red stains streaming down the bank walls were blood splatters; so he guessed one of the robbers had been injured.
The body of 10-year-old Minnie Bowers was found lodged in a pile of mud and debris. She was one of over 40 people who died in the flood of 1876 that swept through northeast Iowa wiping out the tiny hamlet of Rockdale near Dubuque.