Iowa History Timeline: Text Version

 


B.C.E. = Before Common Era
C.E. = Common Era
1830:
Iowa Event

First School in Iowa

Isaac Galland, an Illinois doctor and lawyer who had established a settlement called National (now in Lee County), designed and built Iowa's first known European-American school.

Find out more about Iowa's first school.

1830:
Iowa Event

Neutral Ground Established in Northeastern Iowa

The "Neutral Ground" was a 40-mile wide strip of land running from the northeast corner of the state in a southwesterly direction to the upper fork of the Des Moines River. The U.S. government set this land aside as an area where members of any Indian tribe could hunt and fish without being charged with trespassing. It was a "buffer zone" between enemy tribes-- the Sioux and Sac and Fox.

Find out more about Indian removal in Iowa.

1830:
U.S. Event

Early Steam Locomotives

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad tested its first steam driven locomotive. The "Tom Thumb" traveled at the unbelievable speed of 18 miles per hour. Railroads became key to settlement in Iowa and had a major impact on the economy. In the late 1800s and early 1900s Iowans depended heavily on rails to transport goods and people.

Find out about railroads in Iowa.

1830s:
Iowa Event

Changes to Rivers

Changes that allowed navigation on Iowa's major rivers began.

Find out more about Iowa's rivers.

1830s:
Iowa Event

Quakers Arrive in Iowa

Members of the Quaker religion, known as "Friends" arrived in Iowa and established the town of Salem.

Find out more about religion in Iowa.

1830:
Iowa Event

Relocation of Native Americans

The U.S. government relocated a number of tribes within the area that became the state of Iowa.

Find out more about the Indian Removal in Iowa.

1832:
Iowa Event

Treaty Gives Iowa Land to U.S. Government

After the "Black Hawk War" the Sauk tribe was forced to give up land on the west side of the Mississippi River to the United States. A 50-mile wide strip of land from the Neutral Ground to the Missouri border was given up. This land became part of the Iowa territory.

Find out more about the Black Hawk war.

1833:
Iowa Event

Iowa Territory Opened for European Settlement

Land given to the U.S. government by the Sauk Indians after the Black Hawk War was open to European settlement after June 1, 1833. The most immediate result of this treaty was the large number of people who moved into the Dubuque area with the intention of mining lead.

Find out more about Iowa's path to statehood.

1833:
Iowa Event

Iowa's First Postal Station

The Dubuque Mines were designated as Iowa's first postal station.

Find out more about Iowa's path to statehood.

1833:
Iowa Event

Iowa opens for Non-natives

The United States government opened Iowa for settlement by non-native people.

Find out more about the settling of Iowa.

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1833:
Iowa Event

Native American Stories Translated to English

For centuries Native Americans passed their stories orally from generation to generation. In 1833 the first Native American stories were recorded in an autobiography of Sauk chief, Black Hawk. The chief told the stories to Antoine Le Claire, who then tran

Find out more about Iowa literature.

1833:
Iowa Event

Christian Churches in Iowa

Methodists built the first Christian church in Iowa.

Find out more about religion in Iowa.

1834:
Iowa Event

Iowa Becomes Part of Territory of Michigan

Law enforcement was lax in the area and the need for a formal structure of government led to the attachment of the "Iowa" area to Michigan, with a capital at Detroit.

Find out more about Iowa's path to statehood.

1834:
Iowa Event

Original Fort Des Moines Established

Fort Des Moines # 1 was established near the Des Moines River rapids.

Find out about Iowa's early military conflicts.

1834:
U.S. Event

First Corn Planter

The first corn planter was patented by Henry Blair. He was the second black man to receive a patent.

Find out about the development of farm machinery.

1835:
Iowa Event

Albert Lea Travels Through Iowa

Three companies of soldiers under the command of Stephen Watts Kearny went on an expedition through the Des Moines River valley and north central Iowa. Participating in this expedition was a man named Albert M. Lea. Lea would later write a book telling about his experiences in the state. Many credit this book for attributing the name 'Iowa" to the land.

Find out more about Albert Lea's adventures in Iowa.

1836:
Iowa Event

First Newspaper Published

First newspaper in Iowa was published: The Du Buque Visitor.

Find out more about Iowa's early newspapers.

1836:
Iowa Event

First Bank in Iowa

First bank in Iowa starts--Miners' Bank of Dubuque.

Find out more about Iowa's early business.

1836:
Iowa Event

The "Keokuk Reserve" Opens to European Settlement

After the Black Hawk War the U.S. government allowed the Sauk and Mesquakie to retain 400 square miles of territory along the Iowa river, near what is now Louisa County. This tract was named the "Keokuk Reserve" because Keokuk was the principle chief at the time. Opening the Keokuk Reserve to European settlement increased the land area available for claims on the west side of the Mississippi River and moved the Sauk and Mesquakie further into the interior.

Find out more about Indian removal in Iowa.

1836:
Iowa Event

Iowa Becomes Part of Wisconsin Territory

Iowa became part of the Territory of Wisconsin with capitals at Belmont, Burlington and Madison.

Find out more about Iowa's path to statehood.

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1837:
Iowa Event

Second Black Hawk Cession Gives More Land to U.S.

In October 1837 the Sac and Fox gave 1,250,000 acres to the U.S. government.

Find out more about Indian removal in Iowa.

1837:
U.S. Event

The Panic of 1837

Serious economic problems led to the Panic of 1837. Many banks and businesses throughout the United States were closed. Many people lost their jobs. Many people left the eastern United States to new lives in the West.

Find out about the economics of agriculture in Iowa.

1837:
U.S. Event

Steel Plow Is Born

John Deere begins the manufacture of the steel plow.

Find out more about the John Deere plow.

1837:
Iowa Event

First Iowa Grist Mills Built

Samuel Clayton and his two sons built the first grist mill in Iowa west of the Des Moines River.

Find out more about grist mills in Iowa.

1837:
Iowa Event

Fire in Burlington

A fire destroyed the territorial capitol, five stores and two groceries in Burlington.

Find out more about the insurance industry in Iowa.

1838:
Iowa Event

Black Hawk Dies

Black Hawk died at his home in Davis County.

Find out more about Chief Black Hawk.

1838:
Iowa Event

Territory of Iowa Created

With more and more settlers crossing the Mississippi River, a separate Iowa Territory was formed on July 4, 1838. Its boundaries stretched far north of the current border. It went into Minnesota and the Dakotas. Because the population had already reached 22,859 the settlers had the right to elect their own legislature. Robert Lucas was appointed territorial governor.

Find out more about Iowa's path to statehood.

1838:
Iowa Event

Federal Land Offices Established at Dubuque and Burlington.

As additional lands were acquired by the United States from Spain, France and other countries, Congress directed that they be explored, surveyed, and made available for settlement. In 1812 Congress established the General Land Office in the Department of the Treasury to oversee the disposition of these federal lands. Federal land offices were established at Dubuque and Burlington in 1838.

Find out more about Iowa's path to statehood.

1838:
Iowa Event

First Legislative Assembly Meets in Burlington

William Conway, secretary of the Territory of Iowa, arrived before Governor Robert Lucas. Because Conway owned land in Davenport, he designated that city as the capital of the territory. When Lucas arrived, he placed the capital in Burlington, so the first assembly took place there.

Find out more about Iowa's path to statehood.

1839:
Iowa Event

The Honey War

The "war" was the result of a dispute over the boundary between southern Iowa and northern Missouri. Iowans claimed the border was further south; the Missourians claimed it was further north. The difference between the two lines was about 2,600 acres of rich farm land. The people living in the disputed area thought they lived in Iowa. When the Missouri government tried to collect taxes from these settlers, the Missouri tax collector was arrested by Iowa authorities.

Everybody thought war between Iowa and Missouri was unavoidable. But before any shots were fired, the Missouri troops were dismissed and the Missouri government agreed to the northern boundary line.

Find out more about the Honey War and Iowa's southern boundary.


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1839:
Iowa Event

Ralph Montgomery Wins his Freedom

"The Case of Ralph" was decided by the Territorial Supreme Court allowing a slave residing in Iowa (a free state) to retain his freedom. This decision was overturned by the Dred Scott decision nearly two decades later.

Find out more about Ralph Montgomery

1839:
Iowa Event

Iowa City Becomes the Capital

Iowa City was selected for the capital of Iowa Territory.

Find out more about Iowa's path to statehood.

1839:
Iowa Event

Religious Group Moves to Iowa

The Mennonites originated in Europe in the late 16th century. A disagreement over the practice of shunning lead a group to separate from the main Mennonite group. Calling themselves Ammish, the group was led by Jakob Ammann. Persecution sent them to America. They settled in Pennsylvania and gradually colonies expanded westward reaching Iowa. They settled in Buchanan and Washington counties.

Find out more about the Amish in Iowa.

1839:
Iowa Event

Fort Madison Becomes a Penitentiary

Fort Madison became a state penitentiary--built by prisoners. It is the oldest prison west of the Mississippi River.

Find out more about Iowa communities.



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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