Iowa History Timeline: Text Version

 


B.C.E. = Before Common Era
C.E. = Common Era
1890:
Iowa Event

Coal Palace Opens in Ottumwa

The Coal Palace was built in 1890 in Ottumwa to publicize Iowa's importance as a coal-producing state. The building featured a 200-foot tower, a dance floor, a large auditorium for concerts, plays and speeches, and even a 30-foot tall waterfall. In contrast to its dark exterior, the interior was bright, with vast rooms decorated with colorful displays made of wheat, oats, corn, sorghum and cattails, including a wall-sized portrait of Chief Wapello. A reconstructed coal mine was featured beneath the structure. The palace was dismantled in late 1891.

Find out more about Iowa's exposition palaces.

1890:
Iowa Event

Meteor Strikes Near Forest City

A huge meteor struck the ground 11 miles northwest of Forest City.


1890:
Iowa Event

Iowa's Population: 1,912,297

Federal Census of Iowa's population: 1,912,297

Find out more about the people of Iowa.

1890:
Iowa Event

Boies Elected Governor

Horace Boies was chief executive of the state from 1890 to 1894.

Find out more about Iowa government.

1890s:
U.S. Event

Steam Powered Engines

Steam powered engines started to replace horses on the farm.

Find out more about early farm machinery.

1890:
Iowa Event

Second Bluegrass Palace is Built

A second bluegrass palace was built in Creston to replace the first one. It was used until 1892.

Find out more about the Bluegrass Palace.

1890:
Iowa Event

George Washington Carver Comes to Iowa

George Washington Carver walked from Missouri to Indianola, Iowa, where he was admitted to Simpson College.

Find out more about George Washington Carver.

1890-1920:
U.S. Event

Golden Age of Farming

Farm productivity soared during these years.

Find out more about early farming in Iowa.

1890s:
U.S. Event

College Football in the Midwest

Football had become a part of college athletics by the 1890s.

Find out more about football in Iowa.

1890s:
U.S. Event

Bicycle Craze

Fifteen years after the first bicycle was displayed, the bicycle swept the nation. It had been redesigned with two wheels the same size and pneumatic tires.

Find out more about bicycles in Iowa.

Top

Late 1800s:
Iowa Event

Insurance for Traveling Men

The Iowa State Traveling Men's Association was one of the nation's first insurance companies to provide protection for men who traveled for business.

Find out more about the insurance industry in Iowa.

1890:
Iowa Event

Iowa First in Corn

For the first time Iowa took first place in national corn production.

Find out more about the growth of corn production in Iowa.

1890:
Iowa Event

Union Mine Workers of America

Most of Iowa's 5,000 coal miners were part of a miners' labor union--the United Mine Workers of America.

Find out more about labor unions in Iowa.

1890:
Iowa Event

Eight Hour Work Days

Coal miners won the right to work eight hour days. Before this they were required to work 12-15 hours a day.

Find out more about labor unions in Iowa.

1891:
Iowa Event

George Washington Carver Transfers to Iowa State College

George Washington Carver's art teacher at Simpson College in Indianola urged him to transfer to Iowa State College in Ames.

Find out more about George Washington Carver.

1891:
U.S. Event

First Zipper

The zipper was patented.

Find out about Iowa inventors.

1891:
Iowa Event

Artist Grant Wood Born

Born on farm near Anamosa in Jones County, Grant Wood is Iowa's most famous artist. As founder of the Art Colony at Stone City, supervisor of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) art program in Iowa, and professor of art at the University of Iowa, he left a lasting legacy of so-called "Regional" art.

Find out more about Iowa art and artists.

1892:
U.S. Event

First Gasoline Tractor

John Froelich built the first gasoline tractor.

Find out about the development of farm machinery.

1892:
Iowa Event

Froelich Invents Gasoline-powered Tractor

From his workshop in Clayton county, John Froelich's invention of the gasoline-powered tractor revolutionized the farm machinery industry. The Hart-Parr company of Charles City became a leader in the production of tractors, and life on the farm was never the same.

Find out more about this Iowa invention.

1892:
Iowa Event

Weaver Nominated by Populist Party

James Baird Weaver of Bloomfield was nominated for president by the Populist Party. Weaver won more popular and electoral votes in this election than any other third party candidate in history until 1948.

Find out more about James Weaver and other Iowa Presidential hopefuls.

Top

1892:
U.S. Event

Sierra Club Created

The Sierra Club was founded by John Muir.


1892:
Iowa Event

Flax Palace Built

People from Winnebago County built the Flax Palace in Forest City on the fairgrounds.

Find out more about the Flax Palace.

1892:
U.S. Event

Start of Basketball

James A. Naismith, of Springfield, Massachusetts, was hunting for a game that could be played inside during the winter. He fastened two peach baskets to a gym balcony and had players try to shoot the ball so it would drop into the baskets. This was the be

Find out more about high school basketball in Iowa.

1893:
Iowa Event

The Masonic Opera House Built

In What Cheer, Iowa, the Masonic Opera House was built. It is still used today as a theater.

Find out more about opera houses in Iowa.

1893:
Iowa Event

Iowa State Federation of Labor

Iowa trade unionists started the Iowa State Federation of Labor. Its purpose was to work for the interests of labor in the state legislature.

Find out more about labor unions in Iowa.

1893:
Iowa Event

Tornado strikes Pomeroy

A tornado strikes the town of Pomeroy in northwest Iowa, killing at least 60 people.The tornado was one of the most destructive in Iowa's history.

Find out more about tornadoes in Iowa.

1893:
Iowa Event

Antonin Dvorak spends summer in Spillville

The famous Czech composer Antonin Dvorak was in the United States as head of a music institute in New York. He was homesick and his secretary, Josef Kovarek, suggested that a vacation in Spillville, a Bohemian (Czech) settlement in Iowa, would be a welcome change. Dvorak enjoyed his three months in Iowa, and while he did not (as legend holds) compose the "New World Symphony" there, he did compose a string quintet and the "American String Quartet." He also played the organ in St. Wenceslaus Church each morning for Mass. There is a small museum devoted to Dvorak in Spillville.

Find out more about the Czech community in Iowa.

1894:
Iowa Event

The Iowa Bystander Begins Publication

The Iowa Bystander became known as one of the leading African-American newspapers in the Midwest. From its base in Des Moines it exerted much influence over African-Americans throughout Iowa. It was published for many decades.

Find out more about the Iowa Bystander.

1895:
U.S. Event

Radio Invented

Guglielmo Marconi invented the radio in 1895 and opened the world's first radio factory in England in 1898.

Find out about Iowa's first radios.

1896:
U.S. Event

Rural Free Delivery Started

Rural Free Delivery (RFD) was begun. This government service brought daily mail delivery to rural areas.

Find more about Rural Free Delivery.

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1896:
Iowa Event

Rural Free Delivery to Iowa Farms

The Rural Free Delivery Act broke the communications isolation of the farm. Now farmers received mail daily and were in regular and constant touch with the rest of the world. They received and mailed letters daily, instead of having to wait until the weekly trip to town. With the RFD came the mail order catalog, and the products that could be ordered through these "wish books" helped to level the differences between people who lived on farms and people who lived in towns. Sears, Roebuck and Company and Montgomery Ward, the two leading mail order catalog firms in Iowa, provided almost every product that could be purchased anywhere.

Find out more about Rural Free Delivery in Iowa.

1896:
U.S. Event

Segregation Legalized

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled to legalize racial segregation in a case of Plessy v. Ferguson. Separate but equal facilities were allowed for blacks.

Find out more about laws and civil rights.

1897:
Iowa Event

Iowan Appointed Secretary of Agriculture

James "Tama Jim" Wilson of Traer was appointed secretary of agriculture in President William McKinley's cabinet. Wilson served as secretary of agriculture under three presidents: William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. He was called "Tama Jim" Wilson because when he served in the Iowa legislature there was another James Wilson. He was from Fairfield and nicknamed "Jefferson Jim" Wilson. They were named for the county they represented.

Find out what James Wilson had to do with book farming.

1897:
Iowa Event

Wild Rose Becomes Iowa's Official Flower

The Iowa General Assembly chose the wild rose as Iowa's official flower.

Find out more about the Iowa General Assembly.

1897:
Iowa Event

First Consolidated School Opens

The first consolidated school in Iowa opened at Buffalo Center in 1897. Consolidated schools spelled the beginning of the end for the one-room rural schools and the independent districts. Because of the excellence of Iowa's educational system, the literacy rate in this state rose to be the highest in the nation, hovering around 99.5%.

Find out more about education in Iowa.

1898:
Iowa Event

Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm Changes Name

The name for the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm in Ames was changed to Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. It would later become Iowa State University.

Find out more about higher education in Iowa.

1898:
Iowa Event

Newsboys on Strike

About 200 newsboys in Des Moines went on strike trying to get better wages.

Find out more about newspapers in Iowa history.

1898:
U.S. Event

First Automobile Insurance in the Nation

Travelers Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut, issued the first automobile insurance.

Find out more about the insurance industry in Iowa.

1898:
Iowa Event

Palmer School of Chiropractic

D.D. Palmer and his son "B.J." founded the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa.

Find out more about Iowa communities.

1898:
Iowa Event

Iowa's First Nursing School

Nursing education at the University of Iowa began in 1898 when University Hospital opened.

Find out more about nursing in Iowa.

Top

1898:
Iowa Event

The Society of Iowa Medical Women

The Society of Iowa Medical Women was the first state medical women's society in the country. It was founded so women doctors could give support to one another.

Find out more about Iowa women in medicine.

1898:
U.S. Event

Wallaces' Farmer Begins Publication

Wallaces' Farmer began publication. The famous farm magazine was published in Iowa by the Wallace family.

Find out more about Wallaces' Farmer

1898:
U.S. Event

Spanish-American War

The United States declared war on Spain in a dispute over Cuba's independence from Spain. The war lasted only five months. As a result of the war, the United States took over Puerto Rico and the Philippine Islands. Cuba came under the protection of the United States.


1899:
Iowa Event

Iowan Elected Speaker of U.S. House of Representatives

David B. Henderson of Dubuque was elected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. Henderson's election was symbolic of the political power of Iowans at the turn of the 20th century. Senator William Boyd Allison was recognized as one of the four most powerful senators in Congress, two Iowans served in the cabinet, and major committees of the House and Senate were chaired by Iowans. President Theodore Roosevelt once remarked that when he wanted legislation passed, he had to "ask Iowa."

Find out more about Iowa government.



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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