Iowa History Timeline: Text Version

 


B.C.E. = Before Common Era
C.E. = Common Era
1860:
Iowa Event

Tornado Strikes Camanche

Tornado struck in Camanche killing at least 42 people.

Find out more about tornadoes in Iowa.

1860:
Iowa Event

Iowa's population: 674,913

Federal Census of Iowa's population: 674,913

Find out more about the people of Iowa.

1860s:
U.S. Event

Railroads Move Cattle to Market

By the 1860s railroads were used to transport cattle to markets where they were processed by meatpacking plants. Farmers sometimes drove the cattle by foot from the farms to the nearest railraod.

Find out how railroads changed life in Iowa.

1860s:
Iowa Event

Wild Elk Disappear

Elk were hunted for food and skins--and for sport. By the 1860s elk were no longer in Iowa.

Find out more about Iowa's wildlife.

1861:
Iowa Event

Annie Turner Wittenmyer organizes Soldiers Aid Society

Annie Turner Wittenmyer from Keokuk was a noted leader for improvement of the conditions in Civil War hospitals. She led the fight for better food and better nursing care. For her service she was recognized by President Abraham Lincoln and by General Ulysses S. Grant.

Find out more about Iowa and the Civil War.

1861:
Iowa Event

Iowa's Response to the Civil War

Iowa's response to the outbreak of war between the states, called the Civil War, was an outpouring of enlistments in the army supported by financial contributions and by production of tremendous quantities of food to supply the Union armies. 75,000 Iowans served in the Civil War and 13,000 died.

Find out more about Iowa and the Civil War.

1861-1865:
Iowa Event

Civil War Changes Lives

When the Civil War started, many Iowa men marched off to war leaving the care of farms and livestock to women.

Find out more about Iowa and the Civil War.

1861-65:
U.S. Event

Civil War

The Civil War was fought between the Union (North) and the Confederacy (South). In 1861 seven southern states seceded from the Union. They formed the Confederate States of America. One reason for the fighting was the issue of slavery. By the end of the war 360,000 Union soldiers had died, and 260,000 Confederate soldiers were dead.

Find out more about Iowa and the Civil War.

1862:
U.S. Event

Agricultural Colleges Formed

Congress passed the Morrill Land Grant College Act which gave government lands to the states to help support agricultural colleges.

Find out about higher education in Iowa.

1862:
U.S. Event

The Homestead Act Is Passed

Congress passed this act which offered 160 acres of land to anyone who would live on and farm the land for five years.


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1862:
Iowa Event

Samuel Freeman Miller appointed to U.S. Supreme Court

Samuel Freeman Miller of Keokuk was the only Iowan ever to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. He served from 1862 until his death in 1890 and was noted as a leading Constitutional scholar and interpreter, and also for the number of dissenting opinions he offered. His home in Keokuk is now operated as a museum.

Find out more about Iowa government.

1862:
Iowa Event

Homestead Act becomes law

The Homestead Act was a federal law that allowed people to settle on unsold land, improve it, construct buildings on it and receive the land free after a five year residency. Much of Iowa was surveyed and sold prior to this law, but some land in north central and northwest Iowa was eligible for homesteading.

Find out more about Iowa's path to statehood.

1862:
U.S. Event

Pacific Railway Act of 1862 Passed

The Pacific Railway Act gave land grants to railroad companies to build railroads across North America.

Find out about railroad building in Iowa.

1862:
U.S. Event

Native Americans Lose Iowa Land

By 1862, all the land in Iowa that the Native American tribes once owned was the property of the United States government.

Find out more about Indian removal in Iowa.

1863:
Iowa Event

Iowan Writes Popular Poem

John Luckey McCreery from Delaware County in Iowa wrote a poem--There Is No Death--that became wildly popular throughout the country.

Find out more about Iowa literature.

1863:
Iowa Event

State Dental Society Formed

The Iowa State Dental Society, now called the Iowa Dental Association, was formed so dentists could meet to discuss new techniques and products.

Find out more about medicine in Iowa.

1864 or 1865:
Iowa Event

George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver was born. He was a former slave who became one of the country's most famous scientists.

Find out more about George Washington Carver.

1864:
Iowa Event

William Stone becomes governor

William Milo Stone became the governor of Iowa.

Find out more about Iowa government.

1865:
Iowa Event

Iowan Appointed Secretary of the Interior

James Harlan of Mount Pleasant was the first Iowan to serve in a president's cabinet. He was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln and also served briefly under President Andrew Johnson. He then reclaimed his former senate seat. Harlan's daughter, Mary, married Robert Todd Lincoln, the only surviving child of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. The Harlan home in Mount Pleasant is now preserved as a museum.

Find out more about Iowa government.

1865:
Iowa Event

Effects of the Civil War in Iowa

The effects of the Civil War included many deaths, injuries and diseases. It also brought about the supremacy of the Republican Party in Iowa politics for the next several decades, through the efforts of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a veterans' organization of soldiers who had fought in the Civil War. The Women's Relief Corps, the women's auxiliary, was also a potent political and social force in Iowa for many decades. As a result of the Civil War, Iowa farming became much more commercially oriented, less subsistence, and the outlook of Iowans became less provincial, more a part of the national scene.

Find out more about Iowa and the Civil War.

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1865:
U.S. Event

President Abraham Lincoln Is Assassinated

On April 14, 1865 President Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth. He died the next day.

Read more about Lincoln, Iowa and the Civil War

1865:
U.S. Event

Baseball Becomes a National Sport

Baseball became the national game after the Civil War. Soldiers in the war learned how to play the game in prison camps or in training. When the war was over they went home to different parts of the nation and took the game and rules with them.

Find out more about baseball in Iowa.

1865:
U.S. Event

Ku Klux Klan Founded

After the Civil War ended, some whites formed the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). They used terror and violence to discourage African Americans and other minorities from exercising their civil rights.

Find out more about the Ku Klux Klan in Iowa.

1866:
Iowa Event

Baseball in Iowa

Just a year after the Civil War ended, Iowa starting forming baseball teams. There were teams in Mount Pleasant, Des Moines and Council Bluffs.

Find out more about baseball in Iowa.

1867:
Iowa Event

First Iowa Insurance Company

The first insurance company in Iowa was Equitable Life Insurance Company of Iowa started by Frederick Hubbell.

Find out more about the insurance industry in Iowa.

1867:
U.S. Event

The Grange Established

The Grange started out as a social group for farm families. It became a source of education about new farming methods and later a political group.


1867:
U.S. Event

Barbed Wire Patented

The invention of barbed wire made it possible for farmers to mark off their land and to keep their livestock from roaming.

Find out about advances in technology on Iowa farms.

1868:
Iowa Event

Patrons of Husbandry Organize First Grange in Iowa

The Patrons of Husbandry, commonly known as the Grange, was an organization devoted to improving the educational and social lives of farmers. Because of the economic distress on farms following the Civil War, the group came to have economic and political activities as well. The railroad reform laws in Iowa were erroneously referred to as "Grange Laws," and the Grange did fight for the rights of farmers versus the power of the railroads and the elevators. Much of their political program was adopted by the Populist political party later in the century.

Find out more about agriculture in Iowa.

1868:
U.S. Event

Steam Tractors

Steam tractors are used for the first time.

Find out about the development of farm machinery.

1868:
Iowa Event

Iowa Integrates Public Schools

On September 12, 1867, 12-year-old Susan Clark was denied admission to Muscatine's Second Ward Common School Number 2 because she was black. Her father, Alexander Clark, brought a lawsuit to allow admission of his daughter to the public schools in Muscatine. In 1868 the Iowa Supreme Court held that "separate" was not "equal" and ordered Susan Clark, an African-American, admitted to the public schools. This effectively integrated Iowa's schools 96 years before the federal court decision, Brown vs. the Board of Education in Topeka, did the same thing on a national scale. Alexander Clark, Jr. was the first black graduate of the College of Law at the University of Iowa. Alexander Clark, Sr. was the second one.

Find out more about Alexander Clark's fight for equal rights.

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1868:
Iowa Event

Iowa Ratifies 13th Amendment

Iowa supported the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the United States Constitution. In general Iowa supported the abolition of slavery, the making of former slaves as citizens, and the legalizing of the right to vote of former slaves. It is worth noting that all of these changes only involved men. Women were not allow to vote until 1920.

Find out more about laws and African-American Iowans.

1868:
Iowa Event

Merrill Becomes Governor

Samuel Merrill was elected governor of Iowa.

Find out more about Iowa government.

1868:
Iowa Event

Refrigerated Railcars Used

The invention of refrigerated railcars allowed Iowa products to be shipped around the country without spoiling.

Find out more about Iowa industry.

1868:
Iowa Event

Iowa State Agricultural College Opens

The opening of Iowa State Agricultural College brought "book farming" to Iowans.

Find out more about the science and technology of agriculture.

1869:
U.S. Event

Knights of Labor Founded

The Knights of Labor, a workers union, was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Find out more about labor unions in Iowa.

1869:
Iowa Event

Iowa Board of Immigration Created

The Iowa Board of Immigration published booklets in several languages (English, German, Dutch, Danish, and Swedish) to encourage European immigration to Iowa. Agents went to Europe, particularly to northern and western Europe and distributed these in Germany, Netherlands and in Scandinavian countries. European immigration to Iowa burgeoned during the last two decades of the 19th century.

Find out more about immigration in Iowa.

1869:
Iowa Event

Woman Suffrage Convention Held in Mount Pleasant

In the spring of 1870 Quaker activist Joseph A. Dugdale issued a call for a state convention to organize the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association in Mount Pleasant. Dugdale was a nationally-known anti-slavery activist. After the Civil War he turned his energies to the woman's suffrage movement. The convention was a major event in southeast Iowa. About 1,200 people attended. Speakers included Amelia Bloomer and Annie Savery.

Find out about civil rights in Iowa.

1869:
Iowa Event

First Classes Held at Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm at Ames

The agricultural college at Ames led the way in what was called "scientific farming" or "book farming," and farmers were made more aware of the need to conserve the topsoil, to improve the quality of grain crops and livestock, and to accept the help of scientists and other experts to bring about more prosperity in rural areas.

Find out more about "Book Farming" in Iowa.

1869:
U.S. Event

Transcontinental Railroad Completed

The first transcontinental railroad was completed when the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific met in Promontory Point, Utah.


1869:
U.S. Event

National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) Formed

The goal of the NWSA was to pass a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.


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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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