Iowa History Timeline: Text Version

 


B.C.E. = Before Common Era
C.E. = Common Era
1840:
Iowa Event

Iowa's population: 43,112

The land that became Iowa was counted in the 1836 and 1838 Wisconsin territorial censuses. Iowa had 10,531 people in 1836 and 22,859 in 1838. Doubling population every two years demonstrates the rapid growth of the new area. It doubled again by the time of the first census was conducted by the U.S.government. This rapid growth of population continued until the end of the 19th century.

Find out more about the people of Iowa.

1840:
Iowa Event

Winnebagos Move into "Neutral Ground"

The United States government began the process of moving the Winnebago out of Wisconsin to free more land for European settlement. The Winnebago had been forced to sign a treaty on September 15, 1832, giving up their land east of the Mississippi and south of the Wisconsin rivers, and agreeing to move west in 1839. They had not done so and the army began moving them into the Neutral Ground in 1840. They were still being moved by the army in 1843.

Find out more about Indian removal in Iowa.

1840:
Iowa Event

Iowa Becomes a State


1840s:
U.S. Event

Machines Impact Housewives

The invention of the sewing machine and cook stove eased the lives of housewives. Less time was spent making clothes because they didn't have to weave their cloth. And the sewing machine speeded up the process of making clothing. Cooking was easier with the new cast iron stoves.

Find out more about Housewives' work.

1840s:
Iowa Event

Coal Mining in Iowa

Coal mining was a major industry in southeastern Iowa.

Find out more about coal mining in Iowa.

1841:
Iowa Event

Fort Atkinson Built

Fort Atkinson was built to house the army, whose function was to keep the Winnebago from returning to Wisconsin, and also to protect them from attacks by Sioux and Sauk. It is often referred to as the only fort ever built by the United States government to protect one tribe of Indians from another.

Find out about Iowa's early wars.

1842:
Iowa Event

Government Buys Cheap Land

Because the Sauk and Mesquakie tribes were in debt, they were forced to sell their land in the region that became central Iowa for 11 cents an acre.

Find out more about buying Native American land.

1843:
Iowa Event

Fort Des Moines Established

Fort Des Moines was established where the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers merged.

Find out more about Iowa communities.

1843:
Iowa Event

Additional Land Opened to European Settlement

Additional land was opened to European settlement, and Native American Indians were forced farther and farther west. With this purchase, a line of demarcation was established between Indian land and land open for settlement. It was called the "Red Rock Line" and extended from the Neutral Ground to the Missouri border running through Marion, Lucas and Wayne counties.

Find out more about Indian removal in Iowa.

1844:
Iowa Event

Iowa Constitution Drafted

A constitutional convention convened in Iowa City and a constitution is drafted. This was a preliminary step to application for statehood. It was introduced into the United State Senate and House of Representatives that year, but too late for a vote to be taken.

Find out more about Iowa's path to statehood.

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1845:
Iowa Event

Statehood Approved by Congress; Rejected by Iowans

The bill for Iowa statehood was passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President John Tyler, but created different boundaries than those drawn by the constitutional convention. A popular vote of Iowans rejected the congressional bill because of the boundaries. Governor John Chambers recommended calling a new constitutional convention, but the Legislative Assembly voted to re-submit to the people the same constitution as had been written in 1844, so the governor vetoed the bill. The Legislative Assembly passed the bill over the veto of the governor, and the same constitution was re-submitted to the voters, where it was rejected by popular vote.

Find out more about Iowa's path to statehood.

1845:
Iowa Event

The Final Sac and Fox Cession Takes Place

The third and last "Sac and Fox" cession opened a vast area of central and southern Iowa to white settlement and removed the Sauk and Mesquakie from Iowa land.

Find out more about Indian removal in Iowa.

1846:
Iowa Event

State of Iowa Admitted to United States

Ansel Briggs was elected the first governor of the state of Iowa on October 26, 1846, before Iowa had been admitted to the Union. The newly elected General Assembly of the state of Iowa met on November 30, 1846, also before Iowa had been admitted to the Union. The statehood bill was passed by the House of Representatives on December 12, 1846; by the Senate on December 24, 1846; and was signed into law on December 28, 1846.

Find out more about Iowa's path to statehood.

1846:
Iowa Event

Pottawatomi Cession Opens Land to Settlement

The Pottawattami Cession removed Native American Indian title to a vast slice of land in western Iowa and led to the removal of more Indians to reservations in Kansas and later in Oklahoma.

Find out more about Indian removal in Iowa.

1846-48:
U.S. Event

Mexican War

Mexico and the United States went to war over the boundary between Texas and Mexico. Mexico would not recognize the U.S. annexation of Texas. And the United States wanted to buy New Mexico and California, but Mexico wouldn't sell. But the United States ended up with all the land under dispute.


1846:
Iowa Event

Mormons Begin Trek Across Iowa

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly referred to as Mormons, started across the frozen Mississippi River from Nauvoo, Illinois, in February. Nearly 20,000 people began the trek across southern Iowa. They established their first permanent camp site at Sugar Creek in Lee County, the second at Garden Grove in Decatur County, their third at Mount Pisgah in Union County, and their fourth at Kanesville in Pottawattamie County. Except for those who remained at the first three camps, the majority spent the winter at Kanesville and at Winter Quarters, across the Missouri River in Nebraska. During the years 1846 through 1852 the Mormons continued to travel across southern Iowa and then on to the valley of the Great Salt Lake. This trek was under the leadership of Brigham Young, and the trail has been marked by the church, by private associations, and by the National Park Service.

Find out more about religion in Iowa.

1846:
Iowa Event

Birth of "Buffalo Bill"

William F. Cody's birth was claimed by the Iowa cities of McCausland and LeClaire. He lived in both places. William F. Cody, known as "Buffalo Bill," was born in Scott County.

Find out more about the people of Iowa.

1846:
Iowa Event

Some Native Americans Leave, Others Stay

The Mesquakie and Sauk tribes were forced to move to Kansas, but a few Mesquakie stayed in Iowa. Their descendents live in Iowa today.

Find out more about Native Americans in Iowa.

1847:
Iowa Event

Dutch Emigrants Arrive at Pella

A religious group of Dutch settlers led by Dominie Hendrik Peter Scholte settled in the area that became Pella, Iowa.

Find out more about Dutch settlers in Iowa.

1847:
U.S. Event

The Mormon Trek

Mormons left their homes in Nauvoo, Illinois, to settle in Utah. They travelled across the Midwest by foot and wagons toward their new homes in the West. They were led by Brigham Young.


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1847:
Iowa Event

State University of Iowa Chartered in Iowa City

Although a state university was created with a board of trustees, no classes were held until 1855. The university would eventually be renamed the University of Iowa.

Find out more about higher education in Iowa.

1847:
Iowa Event

Great Seal of the State of Iowa Adopted

The Great Seal of the State of Iowa is used on official documents, such as bills that become law, and on proclamations of governors. The description of the seal has not been changed since it was adopted by the General Assembly in February, 1847. The seal reads: "Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain."

Find out more about government in Iowa.

1848:
Iowa Event

Infantry Left Fort Atkinson

Fort Atkinson had been built in 1840 and federal troops housed there were charged with protecting the Winnebago Indians who lived on the Neutral Ground near the fort. In 1847 the Winnebagos surrendered their rights to land in the Neutral Ground and agreed to move to a reservation north of the Minnesota River within one year. The troops left Fort Atkinson in 1849.

Find out about Fort Atkinson's role in the Mexican War.

1849:
U.S. Event

Department of Interior Started

The U.S. Department of Interior was created.


1849:
U.S. Event

California Gold Rush

People flocked to California to seek their fortunes when gold was discovered there.




Questions to Consider:
When viewing information in the timeline, consider the following questions:

  • What time in history did this event occur? What else was happening at that time?
  • What events led to this event? What events followed it? Does this event begin or end something? Is this event part of a sequence of other events?
  • How did this event influence the present? How might it influence our future?


 

Sources:
Several entries for this timeline were adapted from Prairie Voices Iowa Heritage Curriculum, Annotated Iowa History Timeline, State Historical Society of Iowa, 1995. Used with permission.

Additional Sources:

  • Agriculture in the Classroom: Growing a Nation: The Story of American Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture.
  • Discovering Historic Iowa Transportation Milestones, Iowa Department of Transportation, 2000.
  • Downey, Mathew T. American History 1 and 2. Chicago: McGraw-Hill, 2006.
  • History and Life: The World and Its People. Glenview, Illinois: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1980.
  • Keenan, Sheila. Scholastic Encyclopedia of Women in the United States. New York: Scholastic Reference, 1996.
  • National Standards for History, UCLA National Center for History in the Schools, 1996.
  • Randy Lyon, This Month In Iowa History, State Historical Society of Iowa.
  • The Challenge of Freedom. River Forest, Illinois: Laidlaw Brothers, 1982.
  • William Kovarik, Ph.D., Environmental History Timeline, Radford University,
  • World Adventures in Time and Place. New York: Macmillan McGraw-Hill, 1997.

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