110 Years Ago: Women Not Welcome

Early in 1906 a group of former Iowa residents living in New York City decided to form a club they named the Iowa Society of New York. It was described by the Des Moines Register as “a little Iowa oasis in the desert of the great metropolis.” Club members included insurance executives, railroad presidents and “plain millionaires,” as well as politicians, military and newspapermen. Iowa History, a weekly column, appears at IowaWatch on Saturdays. Cheryl Mullenbach is the author of non-fiction books for young people. Her work has been recognized by International Literacy Association, American Library Association, National Council for Social Studies, and FDR Presidential Library and Museum.

That Iowa Mansion You Thought You Owned in 1900? It Was Just A Mistake

Bert M. Bills, a Vinton jeweler, and his young wife got a very nice Christmas present in 1900. Bills had purchased a raffle ticket for a dollar and was rewarded with a luxurious mansion in Sioux City. Iowa History, a weekly column, appears at IowaWatch on Saturdays. Cheryl Mullenbach is the author of non-fiction books for young people. Her work has been recognized by International Literacy Association, American Library Association, National Council for Social Studies, and FDR Presidential Library and Museum. Visit her website at: www.cherylmullenbachink.com

Millionaire John Peirce was raffling off his palatial mansion at 29th and Jackson Streets in Sioux City.

Evans: Don’t Let Foolishness Get Us In Another War

A scab on the memories of lots of Americans was yanked off last week with the airing of the first segments of Ken Burns’ new documentary on the Vietnam war. The film brought to life the horrors and heartbreak of Vietnam and those events from 50 years ago that divided our nation like it has been divided few times in U.S. history. Randy Evans
STRAY THOUGHTS
Randy Evans is the executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. He is a former editorial page editor and assistant managing editor of The Des Moines Register. Visit the Iowa Freedom of Information Council website at: http://ifoic.org/

Each day’s installment of Burns’ history lesson — coupled with the headlines from that day’s news reports — had me reflecting on the current tensions with North Korea, on the rhetoric coming from our president and dictator Kim Jong-un, and on the potential for cataclysmic consequences from this nuclear age showdown.

The Prairie City Bank Robbery That Ended In An Iowa Cornfield

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.”

An Iowa Desperado’s Greatest Sorrow

“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.

Join Us At Our 2017 Banquet

The fifth annual Celebrating a Free Press and Open Government Banquet, titled “Government Transparency: Now More Than Ever,” will feature White House correspondent Jennifer Jacobs as its guest speaker on Thursday, Oct. 5, in Des Moines. The banquet, at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown and hosted by the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism — IowaWatch with the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and Iowa Newspaper Foundation, will follow a day of raising awareness about the importance of an open government and an unrestricted press to our democracy. The banquet will begin with a 5:30 p.m. reception, with serving beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Other events will include a public forum hosted by the Des Moines Register and Iowa Freedom of Information Council, titled, “Iowa’s Creeping Secrecy.” The forum will examine how each year brings more challenges that would erode Iowa’s long tradition of state and local government being open for scrutiny by the public. Speakers will explore this expanding secrecy – and arguments marshaled by various sides.