Did you know that in the 1840’s, there was an up-and-coming Iowa town, located on the Mississippi River, that was a pretty important community in Iowa’s earliest history? Located about 40 miles east of Iowa City, Bloomington was the jumping off point for those who wanted to come to Johnson County and had traveled to Iowa on Mississippi River steamboats.
Actually, at it’s beginnings, Bloomington was a no-name trading post – founded by agents of Colonel George Davenport – immediately following the Black Hawk War/Purchase of 1832/1833. Colonel Davenport, who lived in Rock Island, brought in a stock of goods, erected a small log cabin near the Mississippi River, leaving his trading post under the supervision of one of his representatives.
In 1835, James W. Casey started a second trading post on the river near Davenport’s, and that spot became known as Casey’s Wood Yard or Casey’s Landing of Newburg. In 1836, Colonel John Vanater – who had been in the area several years earlier – returned, bought Davenport’s trading post, and named the fledgling community Bloomington – after his hometown of Bloomington, Indiana. On January 8, 1837, the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature, named Bloomington the county seat of the newly-established Muscatine County in the Iowa District of Wisconsin Territory.
After Iowa became a U.S. Territory in 1838, Bloomington continued to grow and was incorporated on January 23, 1839. Later that year, on May 6, its first community officer, Joseph Williams, was elected, and the population, at this time, was 71, with 33 buildings making up the entire town. But during the 1840’s, as Bloomington was growing up, there was a big problem brewing for the good people living in Muscatine County. Bloomington, you see, was not the only Bloomington in the growing Midwest. Actually, there were three different Bloomingtons – all located in three different Midwestern I states – Bloomington, Indiana – Bloomington, Illinois and Bloomington, Iowa.
This was causing so much confusion for the postal service, with mail and packages often ending up in the wrong Bloomington, the U.S. government stepped in, insisting that the smallest Bloomington change their name.
Yup, that’s right. You guessed it. So, in 1850, the good people of Bloomington, Iowa changed their city’s name – becoming a name I’m sure you’ll recognize.
Friends – Welcome to Muscatine!
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